I was with my ex-husband for 16 years and have been divorced for three. The separation and divorce process are at times heartbreaking, heavy, confusing, and throughout it all, always enlightening. Here are 5 lessons I learned along the way.

1. When people show you who they are, believe them

I love this so much I’ll say it again. When people show you who they are, believe them. You can work on those parts of yourself that are pliable. Work to better communicate and listen, practice mediation and seek other methods to help you be the best version of yourself. The flip side of that is, deep down, some parts of ourselves are firm. People don’t verbalize their deepest inner workings; mostly they don’t even see the truth for themselves. People show you who they are subtly. Every day in hundreds of ways. Pay attention. You’re being shown something very valuable. Don’t ignore it.

2. It starts with a whisper

Some lessons, the ones we really need to learn will keep coming back in different ways until we pay attention. It starts with a whisper. Hmmm this doesn’t feel right, something is off. You ignore it. Next week, year or decade it will come back. This time its more obvious, a cosmic knock now, more blatant than a whisper, in the hopes you’ll pay attention. Hmmm ok, I don’t really believe you but I guess your explanation could make sense. Uh-oh, you’re in trouble. It’s coming back. This time it’s a loud bang on your front door. Hopefully most will at this point pay attention, do what needs to be done to put whatever lesson that needs to be learned in the checked column. Some of us…wont. Sadly I have been here. Brushed away the whisper, ignored the knock, buried my head during the banging and so what happened? The whole damn house fell down. I’ll tell you what, at that point buried under rubble, there was no way I could get out of it other than deal with it and get through it. Take it from me, listen for the whispers and don’t ignore the knocks. Face them head on before it becomes a bang and a house falling down on you.

3. Trust your gut

We all have our own inner GPS. Should we choose to follow it, is up to us. There are so many reasons we don’t trust our guts; we want to believe what we want to believe, we aren’t ready to face what’s in front of us, our gut is telling us something that throws a wrench in our plans. In the quiet moments, you know what’s going on. If you choose to ignore it, at some point you will tell yourself, “I knew it and I knew I knew it and I wish I had listed to myself .”

4. Wherever you go, there you are

New boyfriends, husbands, jobs, homes, friends, haircuts, hobbies… are all just band-aids that temporarily stop the bleeding, They don’t heal or truly make anything different. When the bloom is off whichever new rose you pick, you are still stuck with yourself. Instead of spending time and energy focused on anyone or anything else, focus on yourself first and get yourself to a place in which you are truly content with who you are and how you move through the world.

5. Give up the life you planned, to live the life waiting for you

Yes, we make plans and God laughs. At some point it’s wise to let go of what you envisioned and get on with what is. Rowing harder does not help if you’re going in the wrong direction. I am type A, happy with a plan. My plan as it was, has been thrown out the window. I don’t know what my life will be. It’s unsettling at times, but I am happy. I am happy and I am not looking at the marriage that I had for the next 40 years. For that, I’m embracing the uncertainty.