Tattoos, photo shoots, and lessons learned since my marriage ended

Guest post by Laurasonja | Photography by Angelica Peady
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It was such an exciting time in my life: getting engaged, planning my amazing offbeat wedding, and enjoying the day. Then I was thrown a curveball a year and three months after our wedding date…

My husband came home and told me he wanted a divorce. It was completely out of nowhere. We were both unhappy with ourselves and it spilled over into our relationship. So much in life is geared towards these milestones that it felt like the ground had disappeared from underneath me. I was not expecting this.
 
The thing is, I have learned so many valuable lessons from this experience, ones that I would not have had the opportunity to learn if life had not unfolded this way.
 
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I learned that no relationship is a waste of time

This relationship taught me about what didn’t work and in what areas I needed to grow as a person. I now have a clearer idea of how I want my next relationship to look. When I met my ex it was like a fairy tale, he was my first love — he was my first proper relationship, and I was flying blind. I now realise what I deserve and what I will accept in future relationships.
 

I learned that I need to love myself first

And that you can’t love someone else enough to make up for them not loving themselves. It will never work. I lost my sense of self and I now realise that self-love and self-respect are vital for genuine happiness.
 

I learned that forgiveness is important to move on

It took a while to come to terms with this, it felt like I was condoning bad behaviour, but I learned that I needed to let it go and to not carry it with me into my future.
 
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I have been separated now for almost a year, and am able to file for divorce in a month. It is a huge chapter of my life that is closing, but I look forward to what is to come. It was a roller coaster eight-and-a-half years, and we had some wonderful times. I even look back on my wedding day fondly, and am glad I have those memories.

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Since I had an absolutely amazing wedding photographer, I called her up and we organized another amazing photo shoot — this time on my own… with my horse, who has been in my life for over 16 years and is my best friend. I totally used it as an excuse to wear my wedding dress again.

I also got a bird and cage tattoo to celebrate the fact I found myself afterwards, and was ready to fly once again.

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Anyone else have great lessons learned post-break-up? How did you commemorate that shift in your life?

Comments on Tattoos, photo shoots, and lessons learned since my marriage ended

  1. I’ve been meaning to write to OBB about my divorce so I’m happy to see I’m not the only one and there are others who have gone through the same thing. Sharing these experiences and lessons are so important because sometimes you can feel so alone. Thank you for posting and sharing. Solidarity to all my divorcees! <3 Jax

  2. Wow, this is exactly what I needed to read right now. I’m 2 months into my divorce and my circumstances almost match yours exactly. Thank you very much for sharing.

    My advice (even though I am no where near through this major life event) is to focus on what you want as a person, not the relationship stuff. Focus on what makes you feel happy and fulfilled in your life.

    For me it is my art. My new apartment is tiny but I have a beautiful corner where I allow myself to explode in creativity with a drafting table, work bench, and cork board for ideas and works in progress. Just looking over at that chaotic mess makes my heart smile.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I think you are very brave, strong and truly have amazing adventures ahead of you. Onward:)

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. Wishing you the best for all that comes next, you’ll be amazing! I love the idea of a photo shoot with your horse, they are such beautiful photographs.

  5. I’m three months into my separation, and I’m learning a lot of these same lessons too. Thank you for sharing, and I’m so glad you’ve found peace again.

  6. The thing that I have learned is that it is OK to be alone, no matter what your friends and family may think! I have had some stern words with people (hi mum) about trying to set me up with people, or subtly (and not so subtly) hinting that I need to get myself out there and meet people. But I love me, and I love me time, and I don’t need another person in my life while I am being the most fabulous me I can be!

  7. Thank you everyone for your kind words. It was tough and sometimes I wish I could go back to me in the very beginning, give myself a hug and let me know it was going to be ok!

    And I definitely agree with focussing on yourself and what you love. That has made such a difference in my life again and I will ensure I keep it up 🙂

    It is also nice to know that you are not alone in everything turning out differently to how you expected.

  8. I had to learn to be alone and love who I am before I found the right person for me.
    I spent most of my twenties single and it was the best choice for me, I figured a lot of things out about myself in those years. I learned that I am quite happy being on my own and that is can be a really great way to live actually.
    There is way too much emphasis placed on finding a partner and not enough on being good with yourself and then finding a person if that is what you want.
    My partner and I were really clear about what we wanted when we got together and we have had a a very smooth and easy relationship with each other and a believe it is because we are comfortable with ourselves first.

    • That was the funny thing, when we met I was a very independant person and my horses were my life, I was happy and didn’t need anyone to fill me up.. Somewhere along the way I lost part of myself and I have gone back to finding happiness inside and doing what I enjoy 🙂 so that was a very important lesson! And I agree that you have to be happy and whole yourself, not look to someone else for that.

      • Yeah I was independent too, and when I found the right partner, I became very dependent for a few years. We’ve grown out of that, but what I have learned is that you can’t always decide how to be. In my case, my independent self-reliance was out of necessity (although I thought it was a choice). So the unconditional love I found was a missing experience. We’ve gone through a mini-life cycle: dependence like a child, pushing and testing like a teen, and now finally become more like adult equals. I needed to do that in the context of a relationship–I hadn’t gotten to do it with my parents. So sometimes when you “lose” yourself, it’s really that another part of you is coming forward to claim a missing experience, whether or not the relationship is the right one for it. In my experience anyway. <3

    • Well, “best choice for me” is a BIG part of how all that life stuff plays out. Just because I met my person when we were in middle school, doesn’t mean I’m not good with myself. That worked for you and that’s great! That’s what it’s all about! I found my person when we were both young and we grew up learning together what we wanted. Cultivating our individual happiness AND our together life goal stuff is something we all have to learn in our own way. Your first me, then us strategy is great for you–but my way works for me too. We all have to find our own way to happiness.

      A big part of that for me has been learning to reconcile the *idea* of what I thought my life would be like with the *reality* of these are the choices I make because they’ve made me happy–so this is where those choices lead.

  9. It’s taken me about 10 years of almost constant dating and one failed engagement for me to realize what I really wanted and needed out of a relationship. It’s not an easy thing to figure out, and if I’m honest, I’m still learning, and so is my partner. I think the biggest thing for me is learning to accept that we are all flawed human beings, and that it’s okay to not be perfect all of the time. And that’s something I’m definitely still working on, both for myself, and in terms of my expectations of other people.

    The only thing I really disagree with here is the part about loving yourself. I see this a lot, so it is probably true for a lot of people, but for me personally, I deal with anxiety and depression, and in reality, I don’t love myself a lot of the time. Trying to do so all of the time is emotionally exhausting for me. I end up in this ridiculous loop about how I need to be nicer to myself and love myself more, and that I’m failing at it, which just makes me angrier at myself because I’m being too hard on myself and so on. So I try not to worry about it too much. When you have anxiety and/or depression, having a supportive partner who really gets you can be incredibly helpful in getting through the especially dark patches. I think the key there is the supportive bit, and being able to recognize when someone is not being supportive, which is not always easy to do.

    Anyway, I’m really glad that you feel like you came out of your divorce having learned something. I think every relationship we have has something valuable to teach us. 🙂

    • I actually agree with you on everything you wrote. I have been battling depression on and off for years, and yes, it is often incredibly difficult to “love yourself,” especially during those “on” times. For me, having a partner and going to counseling has definitely helped me cope with my depression.

      If you are going to have a partner, look for one who meets your needs in a relationship and never be afraid to make it clear to them about your expectations. If one person won’t fulfill those expectations, chances are that there is someone else who is more than willing to do so.

      • I agree. Self-love is the awesome-est AND some kinds of growth happen in the context of a loving relationship. We’re mammals like that. Doesn’t mean it has to be a romantic relationship; therapists and friends can be there for you too. ps: and the funny thing is, asking for and accepting help when you can’t do it yourself is a form of self-love 🙂

  10. I love to see stuff like this. Our marriage is going through some troubles now, and it’s hard to know if we’re working so hard to save a good thing, or because we’re both afraid of what comes after. It’s nice to see people who have gone through a divorce and are still standing, so to speak. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I spent ten years in a bad marriage because of my fears of being alone. It finally got to the point in which I was contemplating suicide as my only way out when I simply had a nervous breakdown. After that, it was much easier to tell my husband that we needed to divorce for his and my sanity.

    When he left the house, I loudly played the Eurythmics’ “Thorn in My Side” and began writing a therapeutic romance novel to make up for our celibate marriage. When the divorce came through a year and a day later, I had my very first glass of wine (because we had a dry marriage, too).

    Anyway, if it doesn’t feel worth saving, if one partner isn’t doing their share of work, if it simply comes down to having married or lived with the wrong person, get out. Trust your instincts, because the only person who is able to rescue you is yourself. Don’t wait.

    Don’t let fear waste your youth like I let it do to mine.

    • I would love to hear more about what a dry marriage looks like. This isn’t something I’m familiar with.

  12. Question, was your dress black to start with or did you dye it? Either way the pictorial along with the story is an inspiration.

  13. Its ten months since my bad break up and I went through a lot of these things on the way to the other side. Learning to love myself and finding confidence to know my needs were two great gifts I received. I’m 28 and happily single. My break up tattoo clearly states my views on life and love: Your experience may vary.

  14. Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell my college self “Don’t marry that guy! This is not all there is!” but then I realize that I’m very happy with who I am today, and I would not be the same person if I hadn’t played lost-and-found with my identity. I learned a lot through that relationship and I won’t deny that ending it was one of the scariest and most difficult things I’ve ever done, but I came out so much stronger and immeasurably happier. I’m now, finally, at the point where I no longer regret the bad relationship, instead I’m grateful for the lessons learned.

  15. Thanks for sharing. I’ve also learned a lot post separation, a lot about who and I am what I want from my life. Thanks so much for sharing.

    I love the idea of a solo photo shoot! I also really appreciate the sentiment about no relationship being a waste. I am thankful for my relationship with my ex husband, and am glad that I got to experience it. It has made me who I am, and brought me to where I am in my life.

  16. Thank you for sharing this story! I recently (yesterday) walked away from a paying job that was damaging my confidence, and although a job and a relationship are different, the “no relationship is a waste of time” part really resonated.

    Also, I wanted to ask: tattoo photo? Is there one? (I’m a bird nerd. :))

    Also? Awesome hair, awesome dress! 🙂

    Thanks!

  17. I can’t tell you how much this hits home for me. The month leading up to our one year anniversary my husband said he wanted a divorce. And this was out of nowhere at all. I actually thought things were going much better than they had earlier following our nuptials.
    However, we are trying to both work on ourselves to make this marriage work. I know that both he and I lost our true value of self love along the way and I hope we can find it again, whether together or apart. I can say that I love him enough to let him go and be truly happy, even if I’m not in the picture.
    Fingers crossed that we can make this journey for self love something that makes us stronger than ever before.

  18. Those photos are incredible. As the article unveiled them it was amazing how well they fit the story the writer was telling. So much so, I would have been disappointed if she wasn’t the actual author.
    You look very content now, thank you for sharing your story.

  19. The court has granted my divorce (and it became legal on the weekend) so it’s all over now. I am ecstatically happy right now (but there are all sorts of emotions whirling around in there). This means that I can let it all go and live the life that makes me happy and follow my dreams. I wish the same for Mark (my ex-husband). “Sometimes you fall down, because there is something down there that you are supposed to find.” This quote is so true, even though some lessons were tough, I needed to learn them. I am thankful for these valuable lessons. I am thankful for the relationship and what it taught me about myself and life. I am exceptionally thankful for every single person who has supported me through this journey!

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