Divorce Isn’t The Scariest Thing

Before I left for the airport this week to celebrate New Years in Chicago, my 2 year old niece asked if being grown up was scary. “Sometimes,” I said with a million memories flooding my mind. 

The truth? Hell yes it is, but I can’t say “hell” around her or she’ll repeat it and I’ll be in trouble. While I would have loved to say no with confidence, I’m sitting here writing this letter a few hours later with all these questions still flowing through my mind. 

As a kid, I think I was scared to grow up because everyone around me seemed so mad. Their lives revolved around leaving home and returning upset. I didn’t know why or what to blame but myself at first. Well, that and some lady called “a manager named Linda.”  

As an adult after a lot of therapy, I realize they were struggling with their mental health, bad bosses, and divorces. But the only thing to blame that I really understood in any tangible way was divorce because it had consequences I could see and feel. My Mom’s divorce was the first time I ever saw her cry.  It was the only thing I could blame for suddenly not spending time with my Dad or Stepfather’s family. All of a sudden, these people I saw every weekend became memories. 

Adding up all the missing people in my life as an adult, I decided I would never get divorced. From the time I was 12 until I turned 23 and got married, I recited this rule like an actor rehearses their lines. “Everyone in my family has been married twice and divorced twice. I am never getting divorced.” 

Almost 15 years and two divorces later, I can tell you with confidence that divorce most surely wasn’t the scariest part of being an adult. The scariest part is realizing my rules might be the reason behind when I feel unhappy. It’s the little realizations I have every day that the rules I made might not be true. Not just the one about divorce, but the ones about my body, working hard, and friendship, too. 

It has taken a lot of work to unwind and rewire these rules I made to survive. To stop fighting for things because I repeated them for so long, but instead to fight for what made my life feel worth living. To realize there’s no wars, no winning sides – both are just made up things that linger and haunt us. They tell us we’re doing something wrong when we’re all just trying to survive in a world with no map, no rules to follow. 

The more I unwind all these tiny little lies I told myself, the more I get to live. As much as the escape into van life gave me room to realize I was following imaginary rules, surrounding myself with family separated from me by my Mom’s own hatred and rules is a reiteration of these new life lessons at warp speed. 

This next chapter of life is a rewiring of my history and beliefs about accepting love. About being present. About saying what I need without regret. Lessons I’ve been working on for over a year now, but have to practice every day surrounded by people I love instead of strangers. I can’t drive away and work it out in my head any more. I stay present in this new reality of love, even when I’m scared of the living. 

Weekly Letters

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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