Coming Out of the Darkness

My most requested topic to write about is my separation and divorce from Matt.  Labor Day weekend marks our one year separation.  I have so many mixed emotions about this one year mark.  In some ways it feels like this year has flown by and other times it feels like it has taken forever to get to this one year mark.  In the state of South Carolina you must be separated one year before you can file for divorce.  Now that our year is almost up our divorce will be finalized soon.  This past year has been one filled with many emotions from sadness to depression to hope. It has been a year of reflection and getting to know myself better.

This journey has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.  To break up a family when children are involved is never an easy decision.  It makes my heart so sad when the kids ask why Daddy and I don’t love each other anymore or why he doesn’t live with us anymore.  Those times are HARD.  Those times crush your soul. But it was the right decision for Matt and I.  Being removed from the situation I can see even more clearly it was the right path for us.  Sometimes however the right path is not the easiest one.

I have received so many emails me asking for advice on when I knew my marriage was over and wanting advice on separating.  I just can’t offer this kind of advice.  Each relationship is different.  Relationships are kind of like stars,  not one single one is alike.  They may have many similarities but ultimately they are their own entirety.  For anyone contemplating a separation or divorce I wish you strength and courage to make the right decision.  Often times it feels like there is no right decision and that makes it even harder.  I prayed to God many times for guidance through my situation he showed me my path.

I remember when I had my miscarriage no one talked about it and it felt like such a lonely and isolating time.  I wanted to have a baby so bad and it felt like everyone around me was getting pregnant so easily.  Divorce is very much the same way.  People just don’t really talk about it.  You often times don’t get invited to events because they are for couples or you go alone (which I did many times) and feel even more alone because everyone is with their spouse.  It can be a really lonely time.  You have to learn to comfortable just with yourself,  which trust me is hard!

Many people have commented that I seem to be handling things so well.  The truth is there were many nights I cried myself to sleep.  Many mornings I did not want to get out of bed.  Weeks where it felt like there was permanent black cloud hanging over my head and nothing made me happy.  I remember my mom came in town one weekend and wanted to go shopping and out to lunch,  things I normally love to do and I just sat on my bed crying telling her I didn’t want to do anything.  I often felt sorry for myself and would have a pity party.  I was in a dark, dark place.  But I had to make a decision to either stay there or pull myself together (especially for my kids) and take my life back.  My parents had many talks with me encouraging me to focus on the positive and everything good I had in my life.  I will always remember those conversations and treasure them because they changed my way of thinking.

 

At this one year mark I can say I am truly happy.  It took me awhile to get to this point but I finally feel like I am back to myself.  Last Sunday at church our minister gave a wonderful sermon and one quote that really resonated with me was ” what if you woke up tomorrow with only what you thanked God for today.”   Gratitude and thankfulness even in dark times is not easy but it will help you.

I have learned a few things on this journey I thought I would share.  I am no expert on anything these are just personal things I have learned and I wanted to share in case they help anyone else in a similar situation.

I am capable of doing everything on my own.  Do I want a partner and someone to share my life with, yes.  But I am fully capable of doing it alone.

Life is tough but so am I.  Many days I didn’t want to get out bed but I had to find beauty in the little things. An appreciation for life will slowly come back.  A quote I will always remember is ” a negative mind will never get you a positive life.”

It is ok to be sad, angry, upset, and depressed.  Those emotions are real and you need to deal with them in order to move on.  If you push them under the surface and don’t deal with them they will just keep reemerging. I first had to grieve our relationship ending in order to be able to move forward.  Feeling those emotions is not easy but they will help you heal.  It seems like the sadness will never end but it will.

Don’t compare your life to others.  This was especially hard for me being in this business because everyone paints a picture of how perfect their lives are on social media.  When I felt like my life was crumbling and falling apart it made it hard for me to look at pictures of all these perfect families in their perfect houses.  It made me feel pretty crappy but then I realized their lives have nothing to do with mine and my happiness.  It taught me to focus just on myself and my kids.  It doesn’t matter what others have, my life and appreciating what I have is the most important key to my happiness.

I am stronger than I thought was.  Fear of being alone kept me in my relationship longer than I should have been.  The first few months when I was truly alone were the hardest but I learned to appreciate the quiet and alone time.  I am a better mom now because I am happier.  I was in a dark place for so long and it made me short tempered with the kids.  I wasn’t happy and they could tell. It took being alone and relying just on myself to show me just what I am capable of.

I am damn lucky to have my kids.  Matt will forever be a part of my life and I am so incredibly grateful we created these two amazing kids together.  I will never ever regret our relationship because of that.

Rely on family and friends.  In the beginning I was so confused and didn’t know what do.  My family and friends picked me up and lifted me up in ways I can’t even put into words.  They helped put me back together and showed me so much love.  When you are going through a difficult time you need the support from family and friends.  It can be a very lonely time so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you can keep things amicable do that- especially for the kids.  Matt and I have tried really hard to do that.  Sometimes it is not easy but we ultimately put the kids first and ourselves second.

Have fun dating it can seem weird to get back in the dating game after being out of it for so long but enjoy it.  It is a new exciting chapter in your life.  I know so many people have asked if Matt and I are dating and yes, we are both dating and in relationships.  We are in a good point in our relationship where we can share this with each other.

Writing is very therapeutic to me so if you made it to the end bravo.  Deep thoughts on a Thursday:)

 

 

43 Comments

  1. Erin
    August 31, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing! This has been my favorite post of yours. It is so real and honest and I’m happy to hear you are doing well. It can be hard being on your own, but I have found it to also be very gratifying to know that I can do everything by myself and that I am can do it well! You look genuinely happy 🙂

  2. August 31, 2017 / 12:41 pm

    This was so well written and well thought out it moved me to tears. While I haven’t been married yet but do come from a divorced family, I have such respect for you and what you are going through. To this day I am so happy my parents did what made they happy which resulted in a better upbringing for me. I can’t imagine how hard the past year has been but I will say as a long time reader, you have handled it with such grace and respect for not only yourself but Matt as well. Being alone and getting to know yourself can be one of the scariest things but I don’t think you can be happy in life until you are happy with yourself and to me that starts within. So excited to hear you are dating and feeling happy. Have a great holiday weekend!

  3. Danielle
    August 31, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    You are one of my favourite people to follow because of your positivity and optimism and grace through all the tough times. When you share your heart it helps the cracks in others heal. Keep sharing and keep healing yourself. You’re doing it beautifully Natalie!

  4. MAY
    August 31, 2017 / 1:10 pm

    Great post!! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Laura
    August 31, 2017 / 1:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I know it’s really personal, and you did an excellent job expressing your feelings. Love your quotes… so true. You’re incredible, keep it up!

  6. J
    August 31, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing Natalie!

  7. Meaghan
    August 31, 2017 / 1:24 pm

    I applaud you for your open and honest post. I’m glad you’re sharing your journey since like you said, people just don’t talk about divorce or how marriage can be very hard. Add in kids and everything gets amplified. I’m glad you’ve found happiness and your personal strength. Every person should find it regardless of their situation but finding it in dark times is tough. You should be very proud of yourself and I’m sure your kids see it too. I wish you and your family all the best.

  8. Abby
    August 31, 2017 / 1:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing this personal part of your life with us. Your honesty and frankness about giving advice is very admirable. I think only people how have been in your situation can see it that way and they should not try to impose thoughts onto others, so thanks for that!
    Your post is helpful for those going through divorce and those who have friends dealing with hard times and provides insight to how to help and understand. I am the same age and have close friends who have gone through it and are going through it and I just want to make it all better for them. I am sure your family and friends felt the same way.
    It has got to be the hardest thing to go through but you have done a great job at coming out of it and keeping your focus on your family. I wish you nothing but the best going forward!

  9. Stacy
    August 31, 2017 / 1:32 pm

    So beautifully written Natalie. I’m sure you poured your heart into this post. Thank you for your vulnerability & openness. It’s very brave to put yourself out there like that & I applaud you. Your story will help many women. I wish you all the happiness & love in the coming year!

  10. Julia
    August 31, 2017 / 1:33 pm

    Praying for you, Natalie! I am sure it took a lot of courage and introspection to write this. Your story will help someone. I know it!

  11. Toni :0)
    August 31, 2017 / 1:36 pm

    Cheers to new found happiness! May this new journey bring you joy and contentment. Thank you for sharing, it was nice to read something other than clothes shopping.

  12. Nickie
    August 31, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    Wow, thanks for being so honest about a difficult and personal experience. I went through a divorce too and I know how difficult it can be. It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job at “life” so keep breathing and hang in there. Many prayers to you and your kiddos and best of luck!

  13. Kerry
    August 31, 2017 / 2:02 pm

    As a long time reader I am SOO HAPPY to hear you found your happiness. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard this past year has been for you especially with the kids (mine are the same age as yours). This post was so beautifully written and so thoughtful you should be so proud of yourself. It moved me to tears and I have read it twice already you are such a strong amazing woman thank you for sharing!

  14. Kristen Gallimore
    August 31, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    Great post Natalie! I am so glad to hear how well things are going. You look so happy! Divorce is never easy. My parents split up right after I graduated from high school after 30 years of marriage. It had a major affect on me in my first year of college and I went through lots of emotions. I believe young or old it still is hard. I knew my mom wasn’t happy and that their marriage wasn’t great, I think she stayed with my dad and waited until I got done with school so I wouldn’t have to deal with stepparents and custody battles. I am so thankful today that they split up because my mom is so much happier and I gained the best stepdad ever!! He loves me like his own. Happy Thursday and sending hugs!

  15. Beth
    August 31, 2017 / 2:35 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve often wondered how you were doing since you and your husband separated and am really glad that you are finding happiness. I’m also going through a divorce and know first hand how difficult it can be to adjust to a new life. Your story gives me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel!

  16. Elizabeth
    August 31, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story, Natalie. We can learn from others and I am certain that your story will resonate with many. Even more important, perhaps, is your message of hope, positivity and growth. We can all take inspiration from this, regardless of our marital situation. And by the way girl – kudos to you for being so professional and running a top notch blog during a time of such emaotional upheaval!

  17. Jenn
    August 31, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. The timing is unbelievably impeccable. I just signed my divorce papers 2 weeks ago and will be moving out this Labor Day weekend. I have been wondering what this will mean for all my Labor Day’s going forward….a reminder of a painful change in direction but also one that was so very needed. We have a 4 year old little guy and just this week explained to him what is happening with mommy and daddy. It has been heartbreaking to hear his questions and know that he is worried about what is to come. Like you said, I hope he finds himself with 2 much happier parents that can finally show him what love and life should look like. Wishing you well on this 1 year anniversary!

  18. Emily
    August 31, 2017 / 3:10 pm

    I appreciate your honesty and willingness to put your real life out there for everyone to see. I’m glad you are in a better place now, even though I cannot imagine what you went through and are still going through. Keep your head up; you are definitely stronger than you give yourself credit for!

  19. August 31, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing this Natalie! I’m sure it couldn’t have been easy to write, just like I can’t imagine how hard the past year has been. So many people will read and take away from this, and I know everyone feels like they “know” you because of how open and honest you are with your blog. It’s really admirable! So happy that you have the hard part behind you and have grown so much! I hope you have a great LBD weekend! Sending hugs!

    The Sarcastic Blonde

  20. kate
    August 31, 2017 / 3:16 pm

    You are strong, brave, and your kids should be proud of you and Matt for how you seem to be handling this. Kudos to the both of you, and for the grace you have shown the situation through social media.

    Showing your kids respect, strength, happiness, and love are some of the most important aspects of parenting. Sounds like you are nailing all of those. I’m so happy to hear that you are happy. Wishing your family the best.

  21. August 31, 2017 / 3:20 pm

    Your honesty and bravery are so inspiring. It couldn’t have been easy to write such a raw post, but those are the ones that have the most impact. Your advice is spot-on: every relationship is so, so different. I also admire that you and Matt have strived to put the kids first. My parents did the same when they divorced, and it made everything so much easier for me and my brother. Thank you for sharing!

  22. Anna
    August 31, 2017 / 3:47 pm

    I’ve followed your blog for years and am not one to leave comments. However, after reading this post I felt compelled. I wish I could have read this 11 years ago when going through my divorce.. It can be such a shameful, judgmental, dark and lonely time. I found a lot of people didn’t really understand because I hadn’t been outspoken about my marital issues. You are absolutely right, no one talks about it! For the longest time I felt like I had a big “D” written on my chest. Yet, there are so many others going through it too. It took me a long time to be proud of what I had been through. I am stronger, more caring, less judgmental and a much happier person. Looking back, it was the best decision I’ve ever made for my daughter. Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone. You’ve written this with such eloquence and grace. Your words are going to help so many.

    Something I always try to remember…
    “Avoid a demanding man, a demanding child, a demanding job, demanding friends, demanding parents, etc. The only demanding part of your life should come from within… and that should be tempered. Be happy and enjoy. Life is short.”

  23. August 31, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    Amazing post. Writing is so therapeutic. Thank you for sharing. Love love love your blog and wishing you the best life has to offer! 🙂

  24. song an
    August 31, 2017 / 5:29 pm

    thank u for sharing. u r so brave and beautiful!

  25. Ellen
    August 31, 2017 / 5:30 pm

    I look forward everyday to reading your blog! You are one of the best bloggers because you are real and regular with your posts. What a hard thing to write about, and you did so wonderfully and tastefully.

  26. Debra
    August 31, 2017 / 5:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing . I will be married for 19 years this December. It is not easy. Your words and honesty have resonated with me a lot especially not comparing my life to others which I sometimes do. I am so happy for both you and your kids. Continue to seek God and He will continue to guide you.

  27. Meg
    August 31, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    Big share. So nice to see the less pretty part of a blog.

    Happy for you!

  28. Jodi East
    August 31, 2017 / 9:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing this…. I am happy in my marriage but the part about not comparing yourself to others truly hit home for me!!!

  29. Steffy
    August 31, 2017 / 10:24 pm

    Long time reader who looks forward to your blog everyday! Thank you for sharing and how brave of you. I wish you and your beautiful children nothing but happiness… XO

  30. Lori
    August 31, 2017 / 11:43 pm

    God bless you, Natalie!

  31. September 1, 2017 / 12:23 am

    Your honesty is much appreciated. I am so glad you’re doing well and in positive spirits–continued blessings for you and your beautiful children.

  32. kate
    September 1, 2017 / 12:48 am

    I’m a long time blog reader, first time commenter. Thank you for sharing your experiences so candidly. I wish you all the best. <3

  33. September 1, 2017 / 12:52 am

    I admire your grace and strength through such a difficult chapter. And PS, I want the scoop on the new guy, is that bad? Happy for you!! xx

  34. September 1, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    What an amazing read. I really admire you for how brave you are for sharing this and how you kept it together. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  35. JM
    September 1, 2017 / 2:15 pm

    I’ve been where you are, with two kids around the same age, feeling a lot of the same things. I remember the one year mark like it was yesterday. It was a sadness and pain like no other but a relief and weight lifted at the same time. The one year separation and final divorce was so surreal, like I was watching someone else’s life play out but it was mine. A little over a year later, it’s still hard. I still have moments I question my choices and wonder what I could have done differently. Especially when things get really tough in everyday life. I still have to answer my children’s innocent and heartbreaking questions if Daddy can move back in or why we can’t all live together.
    PSA: The Parent Trap movie does not help their sense of closure. Rookie mistake. Whew.
    It’s a constant battle between heart and head. I know the decision to end our 10 year marriage was the right one, for me, for him and ultimately for the kids. I didn’t want my children to grow up seeing us as an example of what marriage should be. We were roommates on a good day and fighting and angry on bad ones. So, I have to actively tell myself every. single. day. that us not being together is for the best in the long run. And it’s really hard for an instant gratification person like myself. Very hard.
    And the isolation of it all is indescribable. I’ve lost so many “friends” because I chose peace and happiness over sticking it out. I disrupted the social scene we were all accustomed to and comfortable with to find myself and do what made me happy. My family didn’t even agree with my decision in the beginning. But in the end, now that the dust has settled and I finally feel like myself again, the people that really care about me see how truly happy I am and are supportive.
    I’m now in a relationship that is loving and sincere, really honest and deeply connected but it’s still hard, as any relationship is and I constantly worry about my children. I am on edge and short tempered with my kids from time to time (more than I’d like to admit) I take my frustration out on them and get overwhelmed doing it all myself, but then I get an unsolicited hug or kiss and see their resilience and lack of grudge holding and it shows they will be ok. And I will try and do better.
    I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few years and it sounds like you have to. I’m still learning everyday but I truly believe God only gives us what we are capable of handling. And He obviously believes we are two strong women!!
    So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing. I don’t know why but it feels comfortable to know I’m not the only one going through something so difficult, not that I’d wish this on anyone, but knowing you’re not alone may bring you the same comfort or relief it has me. And maybe those aren’t even the right words but I can only describe it like walking through the darkest, scariest jungle alone and knowing there’s someone walking alongside you a few feet away.
    I will keep you and your adorable kids in my prayers for strength, courage and happiness. And for you to get through the next phase of this process because it’s a doozy… but you’re not alone. You will get through it.

  36. Wendi Schmidt
    September 1, 2017 / 2:46 pm

    Great Post!! Thank you so much for sharing. I admisre your strength and grace through such a difficult time!!

  37. Tracy
    September 1, 2017 / 3:53 pm

    This was a wonderful post, one that many women can resonate with. I, myself, am divorced and raising a soon to be teenager. It is hard. I work full time as a teacher and have a house of my own. Sometimes life can be so overwhelming and you feel like you can’t do it all. But from somewhere, you find the courage and strength to keep going. You mentioned that you are capable of doing life by yourself, but would like a partner to share it with. I do too. I’m in a promising relationship, but it’s always a little scary. Anyway, I applaud your strength and admire your willingness to share. Thank you and good luck! Xo

  38. Christie
    September 2, 2017 / 12:31 am

    Your so sweet. It is so hard to go through what you have been through – and I am so happy that you made it through the year. Your story resonates with me – my kids were 6 and 8, and they are now 14 and 16. It was hard, but we are doing great! I love your blog, outfits and all of your recipes – I go to them over and over. I wish you had a cookbook, because I am sure with your amazing style I would give it as gifts to my friends. I also like recipes bound in a book even though I look up the recipes online still. :). Best of luck to you – I look forward to watching your journey and your beautiful children. XOXO

  39. CWalker
    September 4, 2017 / 4:19 am

    I certainly needed to read these words tonight…….

  40. Lindsey
    September 4, 2017 / 3:58 pm

    I can’t thank you enough for your post. I am going through a separation/divorce as well and I have been searching high and low for posts like yours. Something that offers some sort of comfort in this difficult season of my life. It is comforting to know I am not alone. I never understood the phrase “alone in a crowd” until my separation. He was my life, the father of my baby boy, and my best friend. I am in the stage of wondering if things will ever feel “ok” again. I feel like I am lost. I don’t know how to be just “me “and not “us.” You and I don’t know each other, but I follow (and enjoy!) your blog. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers daily. You have given me hope – which is something I haven’t had in a while. Thank you.

  41. Meg
    September 6, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    Wishing you and your sweet children continued happiness. Matt as well.

  42. Anonymous
    October 9, 2017 / 7:29 pm

    I cannot thank you enough for sharing your heart here. And for keeping it real. I’m in the dark days of facing the inevitable in my own marriage and feel terrified and confused. I literally stopped looking at Instagram just now because I couldn’t look at one more ‘perfect’ family without my heart breaking. I decided to catch up on blogs instead (I lurk, but rarely comment) and I feel like checking in with yours today (a particularly low one) was literally the answer to a prayer. First of all I want to send you and your beautiful children all the love and energy I can muster. You’re one brave lady and an incredible mom. Second – thank you again for sharing with your readers. It can’t have been easy, but know that you’ve helped so many people feel a little less alone. God bless. ❤️

    p.s. I’m sorry to post anonymously – things are still so in flux, I don’t yet feel comfortable disclosing.

  43. Johnetta
    October 15, 2017 / 9:05 pm

    These post are both awsom and mind blowing thank you may god bless you to continue what you do 🙂

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