12/31/2012 02:51 am ET Updated Mar 01, 2013

Divorce Is A Game Of 'Find the Lesson'

My ex and I got together when I was 19. By the time I was 22, we had our first child.

My husband was away at work every weekday, so it was just me and baby number one at home, from seven in the morning until five thirty in the evening, every weekday. Eventually, my husband and I found ourselves with three children, and we were now both working in the same industry. We worked for his company, and he was still away at work every day while I managed to work from home while taking care of the house and the kids.

We worked apart for all of our marriage, and we got to the point where, when we were together, we had very little to talk about besides the kids and work. Eventually, there was even less to talk about; my ex-husband to be was getting more and more distant. I sensed the distance, sat him down and said, "If you're feeling like you want to be a single man, don't go behind my back and sneak around because you want to be with someone else. Don't make me do all of the detective work that I see those poor women on TV having to do before finding out that their husbands are cheating on them. If that's what you want, then go. Let's cut our losses now, and do it amicably." To which he replied, "I would NEVER do that! I don't want to be single! I love you guys! What would make you say that?"

Apparently, at about that time, my soon to be ex-husband was slowly developing younger woman syndrome, and eventually (sort of) decided that he would rather be a single man. So, to make a very long story very short, I wasn't about to leave the home that I raised my children in, so he left (That's the movie version of the novel.)

In the process that followed, I became well acquainted with anger, arguments, court dates and resentment. But since all of the divorce mess has calmed down, I've been attending the school of thought that says that all of the things that happened in that process (good and bad) came about in order to teach me a lesson or two.

With each phase of the process came a new lesson, but one has to pay attention to actually benefit from those lessons. The first phase was definitely blinding anger, followed closely by betrayal, which came before overwhelming sadness and feelings of failure, which were replaced by apprehension.

Apprehension stepped aside to welcome self-pity. Major self-pity. Self-pity was quickly replaced by revenge.

Each stage came with its own set of ups and downs, but there are five distinct and valuable lessons that the various stages taught me:

1. I learned that my divorce wasn't necessarily about me, which in turn taught me not to take the whole thing so very personally.

2. I learned that I don't have to get into every argument that's handed to me.

3. I learned that I can be the bigger person.

4. I learned that as long as I take care of myself, my children will do wonderfully.

5. I learned that I'm much stronger and much more powerful emotionally and mentally than I ever thought I could be for having gone through this thing called "divorce."

If we pay attention, even during the bad moments in the divorce process, we'll find that it contains little jewels that teach us something valuable.

I'm happy with my life and with who I am at the end of the divorce process.

Divorce can give us the strength, and believe it or not, the confidence to be the people that we are supposed to be.