Who’s That Girl?

who's that girl
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Who’s that girl? They whisper as you walk away. “I used to know her when…” Reluctant to look you in the eye, they’ll watch you walk away. Their eyes burn your back. Talking to one another in hushed tones, they lean together conspiratorially. You would smile and say hello if only they would acknowledge you. Even so, you walk away with your head held high. I remember you, too you think to yourself.

You are free of their rules now. The girl you used to be was held by those traditions, customs, habits and beliefs. You’re no longer bound by them, their things or their hang ups. This freedom is threatening though. People are uncomfortable with it. They’re uncomfortable with you being out of reach.

Incidentally, what they criticized about you while inside the circle, is now ten fold since you’ve left. “You’re not the same person…” will be ringing in your ears.

If you’ve experienced this post divorce, chances are you’ve begun your metamorphosis.

But even though a big part of you has changed, inside your heart is exactly the same. It doesn’t miss a beat. It knows the people who accept you just the way you are, whether you’re transformed or unchanging. How could you not change? Your life has been turned on its head. Sink or swim. Immediate change is necessary.

One of those changes is taking less shit or no shit from anyone. Why would you? No one should be restricted by other people’s ideas, traditions or customs. We have our own, which may be new ones, that we must live by.

Divorce—or the big divide, truly exposes this reality. After all, if the institution of marriage itself is being rejected how could we not question those blind beliefs attached to it? How could we fail to question things just because that’s the way we’ve always done it (tradition) without a damn thought to ‘why’ or what it means to us.

One of the challenges toward the end of my marriage, or maybe it was the middle, is I couldn’t seem to keep up with the Jones’s. No matter how I tried, I often failed on some level. Let me tell you, nothing was above scrutiny. The gifts exchanged, the meals cooked, the wine chosen, the parties attended (or not), the friends chosen…these were all judged rather harshly. Eventually, I realized this endless cycle of scrutiny would undo me and was taking up my precious time. Time is a finite resource you know. This is not to say there were not wonderful moments spent on this merry go round. I learned from these people. In the end though, it was obvious that I couldn’t live up to their standards. I couldn’t live up to the traditions, customs, habits or beliefs in this circle. Yes, I felt their eyes burning my back when I walked away.

So began my transformation.

I had to re-learn what was important to me. I had to take stock of my life and every element of it. I had to get back to basics on a basic budget. For example, I had to learn that ‘cheap’ and ‘inexpensive’ were not bad things and didn’t make me less of a person. I learned to value people over things, love over acceptance. I was cognizant that I wanted that message sent to my children. The only way I knew how to do that was to be it. To live it myself.

Who’s that girl? She’s exactly the same but different.

Now, when I say metamorphosis I’m referring more to the internal change. However, many women (and men) transform on the outside as well. It can feel empowering to change physically because sometimes the outside or physical doesn’t match the inside. So we slowly make changes; hair color, style, clothing, makeovers, eating habits, exercise habits…all of these things are open to change. New customs and traditions are being made by you and that may include a lifestyle overhaul. Who’s that girl? they’ll be asking when you knock ’em out at the next school function.

I don’t know why we wait for a divorce to take stock of our internal happiness but that seems to be the way it works. A major change will cause changes everywhere in our life. Regrettably, we may have to let go of  marital friends. Whether you’ve found new friends or reconnected with old ones, hopefully those people ‘get’ you and support the changes you’re making.

This is the positive side of divorce; your chance to change.

The song to go with…

What did you change post divorce? Were your changes physical or internal or both?

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34 Replies to “Who’s That Girl?”

  1. “She’s exactly the same but different.” I liked that. This can apply to all women who’ve gone through something tough that changed them in some way.

    Great post!

  2. I love the song. I love the movie!!! Now I need to remember the plot. Was there a transformation? I hope so.
    I’m not divorced, but have experienced those life-altering experiences that made me the same, but oh so different.

    1. I love the old Madonna songs, best. I didn’t see the movie but it looks fun. You sure have experienced those life changing events, Tamara. Your heart doesn’t change though. 🙂

  3. Hi Lisa,

    Ah!! An all time favorite song 🙂

    Yes, we often wait for some things to happen in our lives before we bring about a change in ourselves – I wonder why? If it’s to happen it will – so why wait – the time is never right or wrong, it just is NOW.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    1. It’s been a while since I’ve heard that song but it’s fun to revisit the tune. Now it’s stuck in my head for the week—lol. The time is never right nor wrong…i love that, Harleena! Have a great week!

  4. That is a powerful message Lisa. Most of the times we are bound by those traditions, compulsions and the necessity of acceptance for others…those we care for by throttling our own identity, our own desires, almost smothering our own self. In many cases those who continue to live like this forget that they were alive one day and they could choose but they let their delusory world becomes their reality.

    Those who quit and have the courage to take their own decision despite all the negative thoughts that dissuade them, are the real heroes. It may be very difficult to escape those fetters but it is worth trying…to meet true freedom…”The Great Escape” Yes!!
    Love and hugs dear friend.

    1. Ah, yes the acceptance of others. It used to be so important to me but I’ve learned that there are some people who won’t like what you do, how you dress, wear your hair, what you read…no matter what. That’s ok. Learning to let go of what others think is the first step. Then realizing we don’t have to agree with traditions or beliefs of other people ‘just because we always have’. Asking ourselves ‘what’s important to me’ is a great way to start the process. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Balroop!

  5. Very thoughtful piece. In considering your points, I think I am now more the person I always was and was always meant to be, and rather I have discarded the persona(s) that I adopted to be able to live in my dysfunctional marriages, much like getting rid of uncomfortable clothes or shoes.

    1. Hi Ellen, I love that analogy ‘getting rid of uncomfortable clothes or shoes’. That makes all the sense in the world. That’s awesome that you’re who you’re meant to be. We know when we’re there because everything just ‘feels right’ all the time. Thanks for sharing your POV, Ellen.

  6. This is such an inspiring post about sticking up for who you are and being who you want to be. Who’s that girl? Such a great question, and a question that can feel accusatory when it comes from others but a more reflected question when we direct it to ourselves. Sorry to hear that you felt like you had to keep up with the Jones’ but felt under so much pressure. As much as we should not let others’ opinions get to us, sometimes it is what others think of us that brings us opportunities and networks.

    “your chance to change.” We all deserve this chance. I have never been divorced but earlier this year went through a rough patch with my health. For months I felt very down, thinking negatively and didn’t bother keeping up appearances. Then I got better and now have a routine where I eat much better and have taken up hiking. Sometimes a change in your life not only distracts you but lets you see that there are better things to spend time on 🙂

    1. Hi Mabel, great point “As much as we should not let others’ opinions get to us, sometimes it is what others think of us that brings us opportunities and networks.” Always good to keep that in mind. If we care about what everyone thinks we’ll never live genuinely but knowing who’s opinion really counts can make a difference. Our health is so important, I can understand why you were feeling down and negative. So glad you’ve made some lifestyle changes that have improved your health. Changes in life can lead to good things, for sure!

  7. I can’t agree more with you Lisa. And maybe it’s the best thing divorce gives you, the chance to change and become who you were meant to be, the chance to be happy.

    Good for you and for all the women experiencing the roughness of divorce. It’s worse the pain in a way!

    1. Thanks, Marie. Even for those who didn’t choose the divorce, the change can be embraced and rewarding eventually. The chance to be happy is everything.

  8. I definitely changed inside and out, and I’m happier for it! I changed how I dressed, more because I also got a new position at work as well, so that helped with the exterior changes. I stopped hanging out with the group of unhealthy people associated with my ex and haven’t frequented any of the same places. I made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and really developed a new found love and appreciation for myself.
    Every now and then I pinch myself at where I am now with a wonderful and kind and supportive and SHARING partner…and I hear the ex’s voice in my head telling me I don’t deserve to be happy or loved or taken care of in such a kind and beautiful way…and then I shake it out of my head by repeating aloud how I DO deserve this and how I AM a good person and I AM worthy.
    And yes, I stand up for myself more, I ask for help and expect to receive it, and I don’t accept being treated deplorably by anyone anymore. I know my worth in life…and no person can tell me otherwise ever again.

    1. Ah, Michelle this is a beautiful comment. Yes, yes and YES you deserve the best. You are worthy! So many of us can relate to these feeling you mention and accepting that we deserve the goodness in our life is the very first step. Thank you so much for sharing your experience here! Other women will be inspired by you. 🙂

  9. What a wonderful post, Lisa! Love it! And yes–sometimes I can’t believe the difference of the “old” Jane and the Jane I am now. I really resonate about the heart remains the same…when I was getting out of my abusive relationship, and starting to stand on my own two feet emotionally, one of my best friends observed–now THERE’S the old Jane, after I had laughed out loud at a shared joke. And I remembered…wow it had been a long time since I laughed like that! <3
    My next step on the healing process is to stop looking over my shoulder when I feel happy. To let go of the anxiety when I feel too much at peace…that's my PTSD expecting something bad to happen when I am doing good. Ah…a work in progress…but I"m definitely so much more happier and at peace after my divorce. <3

    1. Being surprised at our own laughter makes us realize how we’ve been missing our sense of humor. So glad you found yours again, Jane. Feeling happy and accepting that with complete joy in the moment, that’s true healing. A work in progress, for sure. Cheers to your new found happiness!! You deserve it!

  10. Hi Lisa,

    It is so true. Going through a divorce helps bring out qualities inside of us we didn’t know we had. Or have been there but we just didn’t let it out.

    We do go through a change and it is for the good. It is something that is positive and it feels so darn good!

    -Donna

    1. Hi Donna, yes it’s change for the better almost always. Some people choose to continue in an unhappy marriage because they are afraid of those changes. They can’t see the improvements and happiness that could be theirs. Glad to hear your positive point of view here! 😊

  11. Great post Lisa. I think any life altering situation enables us to regroup and change. For myself it was when I moved from role of stay at home mother, to empty nest. I had to redefine myself and for the first time in a long time had an opportunity to focus on myself.

    1. Hey Kim, that’s a big change! I eased into it slowly because of the divorce. Empty nest can be a hard time for many women. That’s great that you’ve made that time for yourself. Your hugely successful blog is proof!

  12. Love this line, Lisa: “I don’t know why we wait for a divorce to take stock of our internal happiness but that seems to be the way it works.”

    You know, it wasn’t just happiness in my life but relationships, work, dreams, spirituality and more. Divorce is a chance to start anew and be the person you’ve always wanted to be.

    Did I welcome divorce into my life? not at all. But I’m certainly embracing the new person I became post divorce.

    Btw, heard about the new HBO series out with Sarah Jessica Parker about divorce? I heard the interview with the creator on the radio a couple days back but haven’t watched any episodes yet.

    1. Hi Vishnu, thanks for this “Divorce is a chance to start anew and be the person you’ve always wanted to be.” Your optimism is infectious! I haven’t watched the show yet either but definitely want to tune in!

  13. This is beautiful Lisa. A lot of my friends are starting to find that the people who they married were not the ones for them. It is a wild transformation to see them go through. I never really realized how much a person can change someone – better or worse. Some have blossomed and reshaped themselves – grew strong. Others well, I don’t know. Perhaps they were the ones that needed the help.
    Each relationship I do believe you take something with you. Grow from it, learn from it. But you are still undoubtedly you in there. Always beautiful.

    1. Hi Kim, yes who we marry can really change us. When I think about it, being someone’s wife can be a ‘role’ we play in a sense. When we play a role we don’t always live authentically. It’s true that moving on can really cause a transformation for better or worse. There’s certainly difficult phases to get through before the good stuff kicks in.

      this: “Each relationship I do believe you take something with you. Grow from it, learn from it.” That’s so true, Kim!

  14. Okay, one–I love that song and will totally have this stuck in my head all day (THANK YOU!) and two–I know what you mean with this. It’s impossible to be the same but change because of circumstances. By living, learning, and growing, we can’t help but shed some of that young, jaded self weight. As much as I hate encountering ghosts of the past, I think it’s important to remember and reflect on who I was at that time in my life–when things were just DIFFERENT.

    Really beautiful post, Lisa–and as always, powerful message <3

    1. Haha, I just played it again and now it will be stuck with me all day! Ghosts from the past…indeed. Things were different yet we can appreciate what those people taught us. Thanks, Charlotte!

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