07/07/2016 03:06 EDT | Updated 07/07/2016 03:59 EDT

I Grew Up After My Divorce

Jeffrey Hamilton via Getty Images
Bride and groom figurines standing on two separated slices of wedding cake

Wish I knew Then What I Know Now

That Summer of Love in 1967 I turned 18 years old. My next birthday is fast approaching and that number 67 will be on my cake this year. I wish I knew then what I know now.

I was such a brash and flamboyant teenager. All of it to cover up this very insecure inner self. Middle child syndrome was alive and well in my head. As a result of those insecurities I tried too hard to prove my worth.

Back then and for many years, I measured my personal value by my then boyfriend and later my spouse. The girls that were independent thinkers in the 1960's were a mystery to me.

Marriage was the only step in my early 20's. Small town girl, call me "Mrs" -don't call me 'Missed'. Too late, I learned my youth and innocence were exploited. I was no match for crafty deception. Trust and honesty should never be assumed. Divorce many years later was the greatest gift.

Rumi says "The wound is the place the Light enters you."

My sons are the Light of a deeply wounding experience.

It took till I was in my mid 30's to realize I was born to go to school. By the time I really got going with higher education a divorce got in the way and plunged me into financial austerity. No money for education. Post graduate work was not possible. Were it not for that I would still be in school. Instead of just one degree, I'd have several, in several disciplines.

Having friends in the teen aged years was all about belonging. You had a group of friends and your worth and credibility were measured by your friendships. Belonging to the 'in' crowd.

Now I know, friendships will be found and lost throughout life. BFF's might really be BFFN's (best friends for now). Some friends will fill your sails and others collapse them. And some friends will do both.

Fifty years ago I thought everything lasted forever, including those intense teen aged friendships. Now I know nothing lasts. We can expect so much from some friendships and place enormous pressure on others. When cracks appear it is hard to patch it before it breaks.

People will disappoint you. You will disappoint them. Incredulous events will take place. People will turn their backs on loved ones, and people will turn their back on you.

We own our choices in life. My personal belief is that externalizing the blame is a residual of teen life we carry into adult life. We were always looking for the best excuse with our parents when we broke rules. It was someone else's fault or circumstances beyond our control. Much of our teen aged time was spent madly trying to find an excuse that would flummox our parents.

In my own life, I have a personal favourite. On a school trip in grade nine all the girls made a first stop in the washroom to pile on eye makeup. It was the early 1960's, Peggy Moffit was the standard. Her eyes went on forever. Pooling our various meager makeup supplies we emerged 'mod and glamorous'.

A rainy day in the big city and I looked like a raccoon when I got home. I looked my mother straight in the eye and said it had been quite awful as we were made to walk through some coal dust along the street. All of it said with a perfectly straight face and a few tears to seal the deal. I was 14. It beat admitting the truth.

Those high school fibs sets the stage. Externalizing the blame spilled over into our adult lives. How long did it take for us to grow up and realize we own our choices in life? Some of us never did.

I tried to control so much of my life back then and that spilled into my adult life as well. I've learned that the less you push on life, the easier it is. There are so many things we have no control over and if we push back it often makes matters worse. As simplistic as it may sound, letting the universe unfold is often the best path to follow.

Patience it is said is a virtue. Teens are very impatient. Talk to any teen and they want everything to happen yesterday. Now I understand the benefits of patience but that is always a hard fought lesson throughout life.

The joy of every birthday for the past seven years is that I share it with my oldest grandchild. One of the best birthday gifts ever.

My sons see many positive changes in me since the divorce twenty years ago. I say I finally grew up.

In many ways I was fearful fifty years ago and now I am quite fearless.

I am woman hear me roar.

In three words I can sum up everything about life: it goes on.

Robert Frost

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