June 9, 2007, I walked down the aisle and my last name changed. So did everything about my life.
And my son’s.
I had been a single mother for 12 years, and I was pretty proud of how I managed to provide a good life for myself and my son on my own. If you read my book, then you know how my my soon-to-be husband came into my life. Unexpectedly and for me, unwillingly, but my heart changed, and I said yes to changing my consistent relationship status of single.
A little over two years later, my name would be back to Owens, but it would take a long time (if ever) for my life, and my son’s, to go back.
My next book will explain what happened and all the lessons learned. But for my 10 year anniversary, I wanted to share a few things I learned from an experience I never thought I would have- Divorce.
1. Less is more.
We had an extravagant wedding with over 300 guests. Although we paid for nearly everything ourselves, we went all out. The ballroom beautifully decorated for the reception was full. But during our first dance, I felt empty. He did too. The same was true of our house. Nearly 5,000 square feet of a beautiful home, but I longed for a shack to bring us back close. Do what you like on your wedding day, but even if my marriage had lasted I think I would feel the same way.
2. Remember it’s about you and him- But mainly you.
No, I’m not suggesting being selfish, but I am saying do what you feel in your heart is best for you. I moved forward with my wedding even when I had major doubts because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, let other people down, or throw away the money that been deposited on all the wedding stuff that ultimately did not matter. When it’s good, you’re the one gets to enjoy it. When it’s bad (or over) you’re the one who has to deal with it. I wrote a post about this that A LOT of people could relate to.
3. Who cares how pretty you are if you don’t feel loved.
Over and over I was told how beautiful of a bride I was. Sure, it was the appropriate thing to say to me on my wedding day. Maybe there was some truth to it. I had gotten up early to get my hair done, and the make-up artist beat the faces of the 13 women in my bridal party (told you less is more…I learned).
They had all spent the night with me in our huge house I moved into a week earlier. After selling my house faster than expected, I had lived with my friend and wedding planner near my son’s school until school was out. At the church she made me feel gorgeous. I spent nearly $1,000 on my wedding dress (the second one), and I laughed and smiled nervously in it. The nerves weren’t about the wedding. They were from my uncertainty about his love for me. I would have felt beautiful in a $5 dress as long as I saw love in his eyes for me.
4. Don’t beat yourself up.
I held on to my marriage when I was the only one communicating. The only one fighting for it. I already had the negative labels of teen mom and single mom. I didn’t want to add divorcee to my list. I didn’t want to fail. Although many things in my life had not gone as planned, I succeeded at whatever I set out to achieve. This marriage would be no exception. Except it was. I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep. And I became someone I really was not doing things that were not me.
When I finally let go, I felt guilt for a number of reasons. First, because of some things I had said or done that maybe contributed to my husband shutting down (I fully accept my role in our issues). Second, because of the impact both the marriage and the divorce had on my son. Then and now. The guilt consumed me for a long time, and it stifled my growth and ability to heal. But just like the marriage I struggled to save, I let that guilt go. When you have honestly done all that can do, forgive yourself and live your life.
5. Love yourself, and don’t give up on love.
Before I got married, I was very reluctant to allow someone into my life and especially my son’s life. After I did and it ended badly, my initial thought was to not let anyone else in. I would not allow anyone else to hurt me or my son. So for five years, I did not have any type of serious relationship with anyone. And I certainly did not introduce anyone interested in me romantically to my son. I devoted that time to getting to know myself and trying to get to know my son and trying to repair the damage the divorce had done.
After he turned 18, I decided to open my heart to consider allowing someone to try to break down my now brick wall. When asked if I would ever get married again, unlike some other divorcees I’ve met, I said, “I truly hope so.” The bitterness and even hatred that I felt towards my ex, really more my situation, was replaced with love for myself. I opened my heart to receiving love. However, with a better understanding of myself, I make better decisions about who deserves to be in my life.
So Happy Anniversary to me! June 9, 2007 was a big day for me. June 9, 2017 is even bigger because I know me, and I love me. I’m not bitter. Just better and better and better!
I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges. provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.
Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker? I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.