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  • Writer's pictureJesse Mahan

Rewriting Life Post Divorce

Rewriting Life Post Divorce

Divorce at 25 was never in the plan; neither was falling in love so young, getting married, having a surprise child, and buying a house all before the five-year mark together—and yet here we are. Life was on fast forward for the two of us. We met in college, myself a senior taking courses online so I could work full time and travel for my career and her going into her first year of nursing school. We worked hard, squeezed each other in between the cracks, and the attraction came naturally.

A year together and I felt the weight in one knee, and so came the proposal. Two years together and we were getting married, finding out—to our surprise—the week of the wedding that we were pregnant with our son, Lincoln. I moved her down to Memphis and we started our careers together, working long hours as we anticipated the arrival of our next great adventure. In August of 2019 Lincoln was born and our lives changed forever. It was no longer our show, we had to learn to be selfless and responsible for our son. Less than a year later we moved to Evansville in the dawn of a pandemic—eager to get away from the crime and negative energy in Memphis—to plant our roots as a family. We bought our first home together here.

Life was fast and we ignored the signs that we weren’t working out the way we had hoped we would. We were quick to justify the tougher moments of our relationship with the stresses of our careers and the milestones in life that we were hitting one after another. In reflection, where we thought that these milestones were the obstacles getting in the way of our happiness together, they were truly the glue that held us together those five years.

We lost sight of the foundation upon which any great relationship is built: trust, effort, selflessness, reciprocation, and communication. When we began dating, it was fun and romantic as all new relationships should be. We were both individually successful people with ambitious plans for the future, and that energy at such a progressive time in our lives created an intensity that allowed for little conflict. We had so little time in our respective schedules that there was no time to not have fun. As we found out, when the dust settled and we lived together we were not so perfect a pairing, and so followed the many discussions that eventually led us to our decision to separate.

We wanted it to work out, but we failed. We not only failed the construct of marriage, but we failed each other. Where we both committed to being the partner that we so desperately needed in life, we fell short in our promises and our efforts to each other. For the better part of our final year together we made so many strides towards a happier union, all shy of what was needed to make our marriage last. The toughest part about a divorce made on mutual terms is admitting to the woman you so loved that you can’t be the man that she needs and deserves, and that conversely your needs have gone unmet as well.

There is beauty in this, however, because through the mutual decision to have a healthy separation, before things were allowed to go downhill, we have been given a second chance. Where we were unable to show the world that we could be the young couple that got married and lasted together, we now get to be the example to others for what a healthy co-parenting relationship should look like. We get to show all the couples like us who didn’t make it together that, through a mutual love for our child, we can be more of a family separated than we were together. Where before Lincoln had two parents who together were both operating at 50%, he now gets two parents separated operating at 100% and will reap the benefits of seeing us at our bests and of us having more of ourselves to give to him and our respective future partners.

This new journey has given me a renewed sense of responsibility and purpose, as I now have to be more diligent than ever in my organization, communication, and empathy to ensure that my legacy was that of a good father to my son and as a healthy co-parent to my ex-wife. More importantly, and this could come off wrong to some who have yet to reach this stage in their own journey, I’m faced with the opportunity to redefine who I am—this is my chance to rewrite my life post-divorce.

In the life ahead of me I am going to choose happiness every day and I am going to pursue my peace. I am committed to my physical health, because I want to continue to adventure with my son and to see longevity in this vessel. I am committed to my mental health because my son deserves the empathy, emotional intelligence, stability, and nurturing love that I had so desperately sought. I am committed to my spiritual health because there is no example that I want to set for my son that doesn’t include centeredness, awareness, and atonement.

I am redefining success for myself beyond the constructs of accomplishment and material accumulation, looking forward to a life of balance, of my pursuit of curiosity, and of pouring myself into the people and activities that bring me joy and peace and simultaneously removing that which doesn’t. Success will be teaching my son how to love himself, how to love others, how to love learning, and how to love life by setting the example in my own.

None of this will come overnight, and I recognize that acknowledgement is only the first step to creating lasting change. There is a lot of work to be done—a lot of introspection, reflection, and commitment to these values and the lifestyle I seek. I will continue to share my journey through this process here at Draft No. 2 and I’d like to open the door to anybody willing to share their lessons or struggles through their own similar journey so that we can learn from each other. Thank you for again for joining me in this.

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