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“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” — Charles DuBois.
For eight years, I was the artist’s wife. I attended gallery receptions and museum cocktail parties, where I shook hands with collectors and smiled politely at their wives. I wore tailored black dresses which I packed carefully into suitcases each time my husband’s career called us to New York City, Paris, and Venice. I never set out to be a part of the art world, but I had married into it, thinking very little of what I originally wanted to become in life. 
Over time, it mattered less and less, because my identity was the wife of an artist. I couldn’t imagine life any other way. Until, of course, life changed. My marriage began to disintegrate, and I felt I could only watch as it disappeared, like paint peeling slowly away from a cherished masterpiece, and no one knew how to save it. I saw myself fade away along with it, piece by piece of me chipping off into a history that was my marriage, and my whole life as well. Now it would just be a blip among the archives.
It is always so difficult to imagine that our lives will one day be drastically different than they are in this moment. We wake up in the morning, assured that the person we love, who we have built our existence with, will always be there, and will always be that person. Dress shirts and skirts hang neatly side by side in the closet. Dinner is ready at eight. The familiar sound of a key turning in the door reminds us we are home. And even if you do hate the way he clears his throat and clinks his spoon against the dish, when Divorce makes the house fall silent, there is a void in your heart, and in your life. In that silence, you question what your life will be like now. More than that, you may question who and what you are now. One thing is certain. You are no longer someone’s wife.

Painting the Big Picture

Image Courtesy of The Teaching Studios of Art


Letting Go and Learning to Dream

When I could no longer look forward to the reassurance that I would end each night next to the person I had dreamed beside, I stopped dreaming. I couldn’t imagine a world where I existed as a different person, no longer attached to or a part of anyone or anything. From a pair, I had become one, alone and uncertain.  I had never started my own career because everything was invested in his.I would have to reinvent myself, and I had no idea where to start. For many months, I wandered the huge now empty room that had been my husband’s art studio. I remember how surprising it seemed that what took years to build up, he had been able to move out in a single day. The paintings, all the furniture, gone. The van pulled away and I sat on the floor and wept. The room remained empty for a long time.
 
I have often heard people describe their divorce as being like death. And it is like a death, and not just the death of a relationship. It is also the death of the person you were when you were married. It is natural to grieve for the marriage, and for the death of your former self. But the nature of the world is to be in a constant state of change, and energy never dies. Even if who you were no longer exists, the person you will become is inside you. The time to grieve must eventually come to an end, as new life emerges.
 
Emerging as the New You

Now single, with bare walls and what seemed like empty days ahead, I realized that it was completely up to me to paint the picture I wanted to see everyday. We are all the artists of our own destinies, crafting the way we live, who we interact with, and
how we approach every single thing we do. It is the big picture that matters in the end, and with that in view, it becomes easier to move forward. For most of us, moving forward means taking small steps at first. Maybe you decide  to rearrange the living room, or adopt a cat. Maybe you buy a simpler coffee maker, so mornings can be a little more relaxed. You sleep on the other side of the bed, and listen to music late at night. Whatever you need to do to create the life you want for yourself, it all matters. One day, you’ll be ready to take bigger steps. Instead of a cat, you adopt a new career. You might move to a new city, learn a new language, or even fall in love. Creating the life you want is in your hands, and they are capable of anything.   
 
Painting the Picture of the Life You Want 

I still can’t say that I have fully emerged as a new, complete person. As with a painting, life is a work in progress. I haven’t filled the empty room, or the empty space that still lurks in my heart, though more quietly now. The important thing is that I keep making progress, little by little. Yesterday I added a chair, and maybe tomorrow I will add two. One day, those chairs will be filled with friends, some of whom I know I haven’t even met yet. We will laugh about the past, and in that room new memories will be made. The paint has dried on
the picture that was my old life, and is now stored among the archives of memory. The important thing now is the new picture I am painting, the one with the life that lies ahead of me.


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3 comments

  • Comment Link Meme Friday, 19 June 2015 03:30 posted by Meme

    Wow this was soooo inspiring!

  • Comment Link Claudia Tuesday, 25 June 2013 02:32 posted by Claudia

    Beautiful. So touching. I am also going through my own divorce so I can deeply relate.

    Picasso's quote brings me comfort as I dream about what lies ahead... Learn the rules like I pro, so you can break them like an artist.

    As an artist myself, I know Art will heal my soul.

    Much love,

  • Comment Link 2nddivorce Sunday, 16 June 2013 03:26 posted by 2nddivorce

    This is a very good way to look forward and not back after divorce, without feeling sorry for ourselves and moving on gracefully.