Divorce can be an extremely painful experience and bring on feelings of tremendous loss that may follow the same patterns of emotion after losing a loved one. After all, in many cases, people are grieving the loss of a relationship and the vision of a life that was unfulfilled. In addition to losing your spouse and marriage, someone who goes through divorce may also experience loss in other ways:
- Loss of extended family
- Loss of friendships
- Loss of financial security
- Loss of a sense of purpose
- Loss of self-confidence
- Loss of equilibrium
Even in unhappy marriages, there may be a sense of loss or fear of the unknown. You may feel you have lost your sense of direction. Humans are designed to thrive on a direction, a path, on some quest forward wherever they see their life headed. When obstacles arise and that loss of equilibrium is felt, it can sometimes make you feel hopeless. You’re suddenly given a blank canvas to redraw your life. To redraw yourself, friendship circles, family dynamics, purpose, your “WHY” that made all of this worth it. You know you are headed in the right direction when you can look back and say, “Wow! I’m grateful for that difficulty because look at where I’m headed now.” Here are some things that have helped me on my healing journey after my divorce:
1. Forgive Yourself
You may look back and wish you could have done so many things differently. Even if the divorce is what you wanted, you may have regrets. Some of the hardest conversations I personally had were with myself. I knew I needed to have peace from within before I’d be able to lift a marker to my life’s new canvas.
2. Forgive Them
This can be one of the hardest parts. Every marriage and divorce is different, but it’s so easy to blame and be angry. The problem is that it doesn’t change your outcome or serve any positive purpose in your life moving forward. Forgiveness can be whatever you want it to be. A simple mind shift out of anger and into a place of acceptance. Maybe it’s an eventual friendship or a more positive co-parentship. Forgiveness is the label I give to the day you wake up and decide you don’t want to live with blame, anger, regret, or hate any longer.
Taking the “why did this happen to me” and turning it over to a belief that things happen for a reason. Such a common phrase, but yet not helpful when you are hurting. I searched forever for answers to why I had to go through what I went through. Why did my happy, loving marriage come to an end? Why do I have to live a reality that I don’t want? The only thing that gave me peace was knowing elements of my life were simply out of my control. There would in fact be another path for me to begin, but it wouldn’t be the one I envisioned for myself and my children. And that is by design.
Time is the number one healer. It’s the only guaranteed fix. You will have really hard days that will eventually get easier with time. The hardest part is giving yourself the patience needed to let the time heal you. Patience certainly isn’t my strong suit, but it has absolutely taught me the value of waiting.
5. Sit in Your Grief
There are so many layers to this, but for simplicity’s sake give yourself quiet moments to process and feel. It’s so easy to be distracted by outside influences or avoidance by finding other uses of your time. The biggest growth for me came in the days and nights I spent alone. Truly just alone. In the silence where the only thing left are the words of your mind and heart. Listen to them. Feel them. Allow the reality to be processed. Otherwise, your life carries forward with what feels like unfinished business. It honestly helped me to close the chapter and open a new one.
6. Pick your Support Systems Wisely
In order to move forward, you can’t live in the past. You can’t dwell on hurt feelings, you can’t change awful actions. Don’t let others keep you in that chapter. It’s helpful to vent, to feel like you have people in your corner, but the best support comes from those that remind you of your promising future. Those that heal with you and allow room for positive growth.
Your support systems may come in a lot of shapes and sizes. Family, friends, people from your workplace, people in your social circles, and trusted advisors, like your attorney, financial advisor, tax advisor, etc. can all help. Pick and choose wisely, lean in when you can, and you may be surprised at who may lift you up along your journey
Just know, at the end of all of it, you will be okay. Life is full of wonderful blessings that are continuous reminders of why being here with our loved ones is so important. It honestly takes a village to get through some of the hardest points in our lives. Use your village, and give yourself grace and time along the way.