By: Tara Bradford
“You can be controlled by fear or you can take control of your life!”
Imagine a girl who was divorced at the age of 26. She put a smile on her face for 6 months and went to work like nothing was wrong even though she was in couples counseling once a week, she had lost 15 lbs she didn’t have to lose, and she was so anxious that sometimes she had to remind herself to breathe. She felt like a failure. She had broken a promise to herself, her family, another person, and their family. She had been living a lie. How could a hopeful romantic fail at marriage?
She filed divorce papers and moved out of her home on what would be her 1 year wedding anniversary. She was supposed to be spending the week in Hawaii. Instead she would use her vacation time to pack up her things and move them to a storage unit. She also would delete her wedding photos, wedding website, and wedding registries. For those sites where they wouldn’t allow her to delete the evidence of her failure she would change the names of the people on the site and remove all of the pictures so that a google search would never reveal her mistake to the world.
She would spend the next 6 months cursing herself for being so efficient at changing her name on everything. It’s interesting how when she got married she changed her name to whatever she wanted it to be and people said, “Congratulations!” But, when she went back a year later and told them she just want to be her old self again with her old name (that they have on file) they made her fax copies of her divorce papers.
And for the next few years whenever she would go anywhere where they made her fill out a questionnaire that asks about marital status she would have to argue with herself about whether she should check the box that said “single” or the box that said “divorced”. Did her doctor’s office really need to know these details about her past in order to do a routine physical or eye exam?
At 26 she was the only person she knew who was divorced and she felt as though she had entered herself into the witness protection program. She carried the divorce like a scarlet letter buried deep beneath the surface, deep beneath guilt, fear, and shame. She thought that if she buried her fear under the hope that nobody would be able to see it then it would go away.
That girl is me.
August 7th, 2017 would have been my 7 year wedding anniversary and instead of celebrating my anniversary, I am celebrating emotional freedom.
Emotional freedom means no longer carrying your past around like it’s a burden to bear.
It doesn’t make you happy.
It doesn’t mean nobody is ever going to judge you.
It doesn’t make you perfect.
It doesn’t make you better.
It doesn’t help you grow.
It makes you scared.
It makes you judge yourself.
It holds you back.
I did it for 5 years and now that I have 7 years between me and my wedding day I realize that if I hadn’t experienced that, then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be happier than I have ever been in my life right now. I’m not saying I don’t believe in marriage and I’m not saying everyone should give up when it gets hard. I’m saying you have a choice. You can be controlled by fear, or you can take control of your life.
Here are the 10 things I learned from my divorce:
Stop isolating yourself because of your problems. You are not the only person to experience what you are going through and once you start talking about it you will find other people who have gone through something similar.
Even people you love will lie to you and sometimes you have to learn to forgive someone for something they never apologize for.
Trust your gut.
You do not have to solve every problem. Sometimes when the problem involves another person they don’t want to have their problem solved even if you know how to do it.
Compromise means asking for what you want and then saying what you would be willing to accept. You won’t always get what you want, but once you’ve compromised you have to let the problem go and move forward even when you get the thing you would be willing to accept.
Try your best even when it’s hard.
Know when to give up even when it’s hard. You aren’t really giving up, you are changing directions because you have exhausted your resources. If you trust your gut on this one then you will know when enough is enough.
When you fall down 100 times, get back up 101.
Know when to ask for help.
Let people help you, especially when you don’t know what you need help with.
What lessons have you learned from your most painful failures and how can you honor yourself in the future by thriving because of them?
Tara Bradford is a Growth Strategist & Success Coach. She is the founder of The Potentialista®, a global mentorship program to help extraordinary people become visionary leaders and bring their ambitions to life. Tara has 9 years of experience helping individuals and families through tragedies. When she reached the top of her career path by the age of 26 she discovered that happiness and success are not the same thing. After reinventing her own life, she completed her certification in high performance coaching with a focus on neurolinguistic programming so she could help others change their lives as well.
Tara is passionate about helping high achievers live happy, fulfilling, successful lives by guiding them to develop fierce confidence and limitless self belief. She is also committed to helping empower 1 million women to become leaders in their industries by 2020.