A year ago, I left behind a pretty great life in San Diego, California, and started over in the south of Italy.
I get asked almost daily why I chose to make such a drastic change. My pat answer is that my son graduated from high school and moved to Florida, and I was ready to “do me.”
While that’s true, the real answer goes a bit deeper.
Unbecoming My Old Self
I think anyone who is married to someone for a significant amount of time (for me, I was with my ex for 17 years) recognizes that they shift into someone else as a result of being in such a long-term relationship. I was 21 when I started dating my ex. We experienced so many formative events together. Traveling to Europe. Having a child. Moving to several different states. Starting businesses. Watching them fail. Losing parents.
Somewhere along the way, I lost myself a little. In my early 20s, I’d been a bright and sassy young thing who rarely compromised and was quick to voice her own opinion.
But during my marriage, I found myself acquiescing to his wishes. Each time we moved, it was because he had a job opportunity or friends who lived in another city. We started businesses I wasn’t keen on, and we lost a lot of money in doing so.
It’s been seven years since the end of my marriage. During that time, I’ve gotten reacquainted with that cheeky, bold girl I once was. I’ve had the privilege of living life on my terms. I’ve picked up the paintbrush again, after a long hiatus. I’ve gone deeper into my spirituality, and I like the person I am becoming, now that I’ve unbecome who I was during my marriage.
Once my duties of raising an intelligent young man subsided a little, I decided it was time to take a bigger leap. Moving to Italy, something I’d been toying with for years, would be the first time in my entire life that I chose where I wanted to live.
Taking a Beautiful Leap into the Unknown
People constantly tell me that I am brave to leave a familiar life behind for something new. And I accept this. It was brave to come to Italy, not being of Italian descent, knowing virtually no one, with 11 boxes, two suitcases, and two cats.
I am fiercely proud of myself for doing this. A year later, I 100 percent know it was the right decision for me. I now am living authentically, which looks like swimming in the crystal clear Ionian Sea all summer. Exploring Greek (yes, this used to be Greece) ruins with Italian friends. Eating my weight in gelato. And even finding an Italian man who makes me open to loving again.
Don’t Let Your Divorce Define You
Sadly, I’ve met a lot of women who seem stuck after their divorces. Sometimes they’re still in victim mode, frustrated with the cards they were dealt.
But life is short.
If we let the end of a marriage define us for the rest of our lives, it’s not really better than being in a bad relationship, is it?
I’m passionate about telling women that they deserve to find out what it means to live authentically. That might not mean moving to Italy (though if you do, look me up!). It might mean starting a business. Traveling alone (something I highly recommend). Exploring a new hobby.
I look at life as having different phases. For those of us who are divorced, that time we were married was one phase. We have to let it go to open up to the magic and wonder of what comes next.
And believe me: it’s gonna be better than you could possibly imagine.