For Michelle Monroe Morton, her divorce 13 years ago was the worst…and best thing that ever happened to her. Her ex-husband came home one night and just said good-bye, packed his things, and walked out the door leaving her and their 10-month-old-son—all alone.
“I spent a lot of time in bed or on the couch crying,” recalls Morton, who was married under three years at that time. “It was hard to function sometimes just doing the everyday things.”
But then one day she had enough.
“I told myself to get up and go out and live life,” she says. “I was young and knew that I had a chance even though it was not by my choice to have a clean slate.”
During those early years, most of her friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors, were supportive but she admits that there were several who were not.
“Without my family I would have never been able to have gotten through it,” Morton says. “I thank God everyday for my parents, my sister and my grandparents.”
Morton, who describes herself as a Mompreneur, is now happily remarried—for 11 years—and has a total of three sons. Her current husband and her sons continue to inspire and motivate her.
“My husband always supports me no matter what I want to do and he is always encouraging me to do it,” she says. “And my boys are my drive. I want them to be proud of me and look up to me and know that they can accomplish anything that they set their minds to—they just have to believe in themselves.”
Morton believes that one of the most difficult issues facing people who are divorced, widowed, or separated today is that it is very hard to let go of the idea that you are no longer a couple.
“I wouldn’t say it is completely denial but it can be hard to move past the whole ‘wow we are no longer together,’” she says. “And then of course there is the denial and— depending on the reason for the divorce—that can be hard to move past because there are all kinds of emotions from fear, to anger, to hurt, to the loss of losing someone, and the list can go on.”
Like others who have gone through a similar experience, Morton says that one day you may feel something entirely different from the next.
“I feel that it is normal to go through the ups and downs and to allow yourself to feel the emotions that come along with it and by allowing yourself to feel I believe it is your body’s way of healing all the pain,” she says. “Don’t try to mask it and that is easier said than done because we all tend to want to protect ourselves from that type of hurt—me included. It was much easier to pretend than it was to look it straight in the eye but in order for me to move on with my life I had to look it straight in the eye.”
The advice Morton would share for those who are moving on to the next phase of their life is that there is a reason that this event happened to you—“you do not know the answer now and you may never know the answer and that is okay. Believe in yourself and know that there is something out there waiting for you.”
To this day, Morton doesn’t look at her divorce as a bad thing because if she did, she would not have her son and certainly she would not be happily married with two more sons.
“Mine was a win-win for me,” she says. “Find the good and do your best to stay focused on what is good in your life. The hurt never goes away but the key is to not let the hurt be your main focus on a daily basis. Allow yourself from time to time to ‘acknowledge’ that hurt but then move past it. Get it out of your system and move on.”
While you will experience ups and downs, Morton says it shouldn’t always be down or shouldn’t always be up because then you are not being true to yourself.
“It is okay to hurt, it is okay to feel those things,” she says. “Everyone is human. Find a great support system whatever that may be for you and use that to stay positive. The more you share and the more you can be honest with yourself then the faster you will move on.”
Her final piece of advice is simple. As you’re moving on with your life, Morton says do not worry about what others lives “look” like.
“I know it’s hard when you’re going through the worst time in your life,” she says, “and you look around and everyone else seems happy. That’s not always the case so don’t focus on that. We all have to go through struggles in life and we don’t go through them all at the same time. If we did, we wouldn’t be able to be there to support someone else. You’ll become a different person and you will then be able to help someone else when it is their turn. We don’t all have the same struggles because life is not meant to be lived that way—just don’t give up on you. Work on starting the day by smiling and go from there.”