HerStories, our new series on women’s friendship, continues today with a powerful essay from Kimberly Bither. Read her story about how her divorce has opened her up to be vulnerable to new experiences and new friendships.
After 15 years of marriage, and two children, my husband asked for a divorce. I was in an unhappy marriage, with years of arguing and failed communication. But I was holding tight to the ideal that a good mother stays married, supports her husband, and keeps her family together no matter what. Even though I desperately wanted out.
I can’t remember the first person I confided in, or exactly when it was, but when your marriage ends you can’t keep it a secret, you’re forced to tell people. When I started opening up to my friends and neighbors, everyone was in shock. They had no idea that anything was wrong because I did such a great job hiding the truth, feeling too vulnerable if I opened up to people. I never felt comfortable talking to my friends about how unhappy I was or what was wrong with my marriage.
However, it was when I allowed myself to open up to my friends, that I realized how many friends I actually have. I began to experience close friendships, that my life was lacking for quite sometime. I told myself this was because I was too busy being a mom, but now I see that it was because I didn’t allow people to truly get to know me.
Once I started to share myself with others, I couldn’t believe how much comfort I felt from doing so. I began to reach out more, and decided to attend a conference of primarily women, BlogHer. Being a blogger for nearly seven years, I was excited to see if I could actually take my blog to the next level. It was at this conference that I met many amazing women.
After the first day of sessions, I wound up going to dinner with a few women I met. As we left the Hilton and ventured out in New York City to find a place to eat, one woman I met named Danielle, asked me if I had children. I then began to tell her my situation. Suddenly, she confessed to me that she went through the exact same thing.
She was around my age, had two children, and she struggled to accept her divorce. It inspired her to start a blog, 52BrandNew. The blog focuses on her attempt to continue experiencing new things in life (one new adventure for each week of the year), despite feeling as if her world ended when she got divorced.
As the other women listened to our conversation, they showed great interest in both of our stories. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in a restaurant with three women I just met a few hours ago and we are sharing our life stories as if we knew each other forever.
One of those women was Lisa, whom I would now consider a dear friend, although we have only known each other less than a year. We made an instant connection and our conversations flow without pause. She grew up in New Jersey just outside of Manhattan, I grew up over the bridge on Long Island, and I think we have a New York connection.
At first it seemed as if we just naturally got along, our personalities in sync with one another. Along the way we discovered we have a lot in common, as well. We both love to shop, we like many of the same actors, movies, and musicians, all things Italian, and we seem to be able to relate to one another on just about any topic.
But over the past eight months, which has included multiple trips to visit her in Rhode Island, as well as numerous phone calls that can easily go on for hours, if we have the time, I have discovered that we share more than a personality and cultural connections. We are two women who share the dream of living an extraordinary life.
We both think big and dream big, feeling the need to create something that comes from within us and from our passions. We struggle to find the balance between motherhood and our dream of conquering the world. And the timing of our meeting couldn’t have been planned any better because we are both at a point in our lives where we need to make our dreams come to life.
She has been working to build her dream through her blog, Lee Lee’s Room: Life and Lyrics, which is about her love of Bruce Springsteen and how his music as helped her throughout her life, including her battle with thyroid cancer. Her plan is to take it to the next level and create a place for people to share stories of how music has helped and inspired them in their lives.
Coincidentally, I am working on a new website, also inspired by my love of music and art, Hot Pink Vinyl. As we both try to get our ideas off the ground and share our passions and insight with the world, we have been there for each other, supporting and inspiring one another through our journey.
While many of us have friends that we share things in common with, I have found in my own life, that when you have a friend who shares your passions, those friendships are the most rewarding. It’s a chemistry between two people that can not be explained. You “get” each other.
And while at first, my divorce seemed so devastating, I have come to discover it was the best thing to ever happen to me. It forced me to step outside of my shell and build meaningful friendships that have brought richness, comfort, and purpose to my life. I have experienced what it feels like to truly have a friend to depend on in times of need, but have also felt the satisfaction of being there for them when they need me.
How did your life and friendships change after a relationship ended? What did you learn about yourself?
Kimberly Bither, M.S. is a lifestyle writer, who has worked as a nutritionist, health professional and adjunct professor of the health sciences. Kimberly currently writes at KimberlyBither.com on various health and wellness topics, but will be launching a new website this spring, HotPinkVinyl, following the adventures of a post-divorce woman’s need to live an unconventional life. Kimberly has been a featured writer for Livestrong.com, DoleNutrition.com, EmpoweringParents.com, BlogHer.com, and Mint.com.
With HerStories: Tales of Friendship, we are excited to hear your stories of friendship, be they lighthearted, gut-wrenching, or somewhere in between. Send your essays to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will ask for a 500-1000 word essay (approximately) as well as a 2-3 sentence author bio.