So many people have traveled the painful path of divorce that an understanding allegiance of divorcees should be easy to find.
Yet instead of finding an axis of exes, I keep finding divorced husbands and wives who are more judgmental than my married friends.
Like I need people to make my decision more difficult?
It has been six months since I asked for a divorce. New problems arise every day, hindsight becomes clearer and you start to realize just how much of yourself you sacrificed. You struggle with your perception of your marriage while you were in it, and your new reality now that you're out.
For anyone out there considering divorce, know that you will struggle with many things.
You'll see relationships fade and sides taken.
You'll watch your ex date someone new and your kids will treat this new person better than you recall being treated.
You'll miss your kids, but you'll learn to enjoy the downtime.
You'll then feel guilty for enjoying that downtime.
You'll hope for civility with your ex, but emotions will flare up and verbal venom will be spewed when you least expect it.
You'll begin to doubt any chance of civility.
You'll see a new side of your ex that makes you wonder if you ever knew your spouse.
You'll begin to piece yourself back together.
You'll resent missing out on this new "you" for all those years.
You'll second-guess your decision because your kids will struggle with a multitude of emotions.
You'll often be the target of their anger and pain. It will hurt.
You'll wonder how divorce will alter your children in the long term.
You'll wonder if you should go back, if just for the kids.
You'll convince yourself that the kids would rather come from a broken home than live in one.
I'm not condoning divorce. It's a personal choice.
But I don't want myself -- or anyone else going through this -- to allow another human to make me feel inferior for a decision I believe was ultimately right.
You have to let go of what others will think. Let people choose sides. It saves you the trouble of weeding them out. Trust that your kids will be fine. Life alters all of us. Just be there for them.
Don't let the venom spewed by your ex get to you. Easier said than done, I know. There's a reason you aren't together. And you aren't going to get your spouse's approval at this point.
Be civil and speak kindly of the other parent to the kids. You can only control your actions.
Of course, you'll miss them when they're with the ex, but it's acceptable to enjoy your time without them. Guilt is natural. We're parents. That downtime you get will give you the energy and mindset to make the best of the time you do have with them.
No more resentment or regret. There's no time for dwelling on what you should've done. All you can do now is take what life has taught you and use it.
If ever there was a time your kids truly need the best of you, it's when you divorce. The best gift you can give your kids is to show them what it means to live a happy life as your authentic self.
So go on. Live again. As you were meant to. You're allowed.
Even if the divorcee in the bleachers at the football game holds a different opinion.
(Heather Tempesta is a Brandon, Fla., mother of two sons, 17 and 10, and a daughter, 15.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service www.shns.com)