Why divorce was the mak­ing of me

When her 13-year mar­riage ended Kerry Wal­lace, 33, feared she would face the fu­ture alone and un­ful­filled. how­ever, one year on the mum-of-three re­veals why it was the mak­ing of her

Woman's Own - - CONTENTS -

Get­ting ready for my first night out as a sin­gle woman in 16 years, I felt a mix of dread and ex­cite­ment. Part of me couldn’t wait, while an­other part wanted to put my PJS on and hide away. I was newly di­vorced and my con­fi­dence was at an all-time low, but I knew I couldn’t spend any longer feel­ing sorry for my­self. Af­ter 13 years of be­ing a de­voted wife and mother, this was my time.

I had met David* through mu­tual friends when I was just 16 and he was 20. I was liv­ing at home while he was in the Navy, which seemed so grown-up. When he was away at sea, I’d write him let­ters and count down the days un­til he re­turned.

Mar­ried but alone

In Fe­bru­ary 2003, about 18 months af­ter we started dat­ing, David asked me to marry him. Of course, my fam­ily was wor­ried as I was so young – es­pe­cially as so many friends were only just start­ing to go par­ty­ing or study at uni. But I loved David and knew it was what I wanted, so that De­cem­ber we tied the knot.

In April 2004 I had our first son, Ai­den. I started work­ing as a carer in 2006, but af­ter hav­ing our sec­ond child Char­lie in 2009, I be­came a full-time mum. With Billy then born in 2012, life was hard with three small chil­dren and only one wage, but we made do.

As David was still in the Navy, he could be at sea for nine months, some­times with lit­tle com­mu­ni­ca­tion. When he came home, it was tricky as I ad­justed from be­ing on my own to part of a cou­ple again. I would get frus­trated by small things, like hav­ing to change our rou­tine be­cause David was used to eat­ing din­ner later, or find­ing he’d put the Hoover in a new place. The ten­sion ac­cu­mu­lated.

While David was away, my so­cial life was prac­ti­cally non-ex­is­tent. Friends and fam­ily would of­fer to babysit so I could go out, but I was ex­hausted. I knew what I’d signed up for when I mar­ried a Navy man, but I couldn’t help en­vy­ing peo­ple who got to be with their part­ners al­ways.

By Septem­ber 2015, I felt like I was hang­ing by a thread. Be­tween the house­work and all the kids’ clubs, school trips and foot­ball matches, I was run off my feet, but by then they were older and didn’t need as much ‘mum­my­ing’, so I had more time on my own to think about how my life was turn­ing out.

I re­alised I had spent al­most a decade fo­cus­ing on ev­ery­one but my­self. I’d look in the mir­ror and see a tired, pale and over­weight ver­sion of my former self. When I mar­ried David I’d been 11st and a size 12, and now I was 15st 9lb and a size 18. I tried to pre­tend it didn’t mat­ter, but deep down I felt bad about my body.

As I wasn’t happy in my skin, a phys­i­cal dis­tance de­vel­oped be­tween me and David. The spark we’d al­ways had when he re­turned from leave was no longer there, and I’d feel jeal­ous when I saw cou­ples in the street hold­ing hands. My hus­band and I weren’t like that any more.

‘i had spent a decade on ev­ery­one but my­self’

Grow­ing apart

In May 2016, ev­ery­thing came to a head. David and I didn’t in­tend to have a big heart-to-heart, but one evening I men­tioned the grow­ing dis­con­nect be­tween us and we ended up talk­ing for hours about how we’d grown apart rather than to­gether. We agreed we’d changed af­ter hav­ing kids and spend­ing a good por­tion of our 13-year mar­riage apart. Af­ter lots of hon­esty and tears, we

de­cided our re­la­tion­ship had run its course.

David’s ab­sences were the only thing that had been keep­ing our mar­riage go­ing for the last few years, so rather than have a trial sep­a­ra­tion, we de­cided to get a divorce right away.

When we broke the news to the boys, Billy, then four, was too young to un­der­stand. Ai­den and Char­lie, then 12 and eight, were shocked but said they were used to us be­ing apart so it wouldn’t be a big up­heaval.

A week later, David moved out – and even though he’d so of­ten been away for weeks on end, his ab­sence re­ally hit me. I was truly on my own now, start­ing over.

Those first weeks, I spent count­less nights watch­ing TV when the kids were in bed, drink­ing cof­fee and con­tem­plat­ing my fu­ture. Some­times I’d cry, feel­ing like a fail­ure as a 30-some­thing di­vor­cée and over­whelmed by thoughts of what would hap­pen. Other times I’d tell my­self this was the start of an ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture, but the truth was I was emo­tion­ally ex­hausted.

That Septem­ber, four months af­ter David and I had split up, I con­fided in friends that I of­ten felt like I could crum­ple into a heap. One of them said I should look at my divorce as a spring­board to a new me, rather than some­thing that would break me. An­other had re­cently joined a gym and sug­gested I go along. I hadn’t done any ex­er­cise since school, but af­ter the first few self-con­scious ses­sions, feel­ing frumpy, I started to look for­ward to build­ing up a sweat.

Confident in my­self

As I be­gan to embrace life, my con­fi­dence started to come back. I even lost 3st, drop­ping down to a size 12-14 at 12st 6lb. There were still days I’d feel I couldn’t face life on my own, but my friends were al­ways there, re­mind­ing me to fo­cus on the bright fu­ture, rather than the un­happy past I was emerg­ing from.

When my divorce pa­pers came through in July 2017, I cel­e­brated with six friends on an 80s-themed fancy-dress cruise. I wore a Madonna-in­spired out­fit and had one of the best nights of my life, danc­ing and drink­ing with my friends. It was such good fun and re­ally helped re­in­force the pos­i­tive out­look I’d started to de­velop. I’m now look­ing into go­ing back to col­lege to study hair­dress­ing. David’s still a great father to the boys and our re­la­tion­ship is am­i­ca­ble, so in that sense I’m in­cred­i­bly for­tu­nate.

I’ve dis­cov­ered that the dat­ing world has changed a lot since I was last sin­gle – I down­loaded Tin­der af­ter a friend sug­gested I try it, but deleted the app af­ter about half a day as it seems far too ca­sual for my lik­ing.

I have been asked out a few times though, by friends of friends, and on nights out, and I’ve even gone on a cou­ple of dates – but for now, I’m re­ally just en­joy­ing life as a sin­gle woman.

I never imag­ined I’d get di­vorced, but it’s made me a stronger and bet­ter per­son. I can do what I want, when I want, and I make all the de­ci­sions – no one else. And that is a re­ally em­pow­er­ing feel­ing.

No one en­ters mar­riage think­ing they will split up one day, but sadly it does hap­pen. But get­ting di­vorced re­ally can be the mak­ing of you – it was for me.

‘the dat­ing world has changed since i was last sin­gle’

Kerry grew apart from her hus­band as he worked away in the Navy

Dressed as Madonna at a fancy-dress cruise, look­ing and feel­ing great Sup­port­ive friends have been key

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