I remember it like yesterday–the day I found out my marriage was ending. Seventeen years down the drain. Kaput. It was the day it felt like the very floor, not just the rug, was pulled out from under me and everything in my world was turned upside down.
The timing sucked. It was the holidays. To make it worse, my daughter’s birthday was a month away. We didn’t want her big day clouded by the break-up so we decided he would stay in the home until after her birthday.
So imagine: your whole world is turned upside down, you’re trying to right yourself back up, and you can’t get any traction on moving forward because the environment isn’t changing–he’s still there only you can tell he’d rather be with his new partner moving on.
I joined a divorce support group a couple weeks after I found out and each week met with other women who were also going through a divorce. It was a difficult time in all of our lives. When the time came for my ex to move out, they all were anxious the following week to see how I was doing. “Are you okay?” “That must’ve been really hard.”
“I feel like a butterfly,” I said. “I feel free.” I was surprised by my reaction when the time came for him to move out and how much lighter I felt. I didn’t want the divorce; I didn’t ask for it. I initially pleaded for him to stay for the kids’ sake. “You can live down the hall.” Turns out, my fear of being forced to move on without him was groundless–I felt incredibly optimistic and positive about my future when he finally left. Almost like surrendering to what is…the reality of breaking up and having to move on. I felt at peace.
All of my energy had been focused on making things stay the same. When my ex forced me to move toward change, I had a choice to make: give in and surrender, or refuse to let go and be miserable.
The divorce took almost 3 years. 3 years of a roller coaster of trying to keep the children out of the fray, make ends meet, go to school full-time, go to court where there is no justice or fairness–at least in my experience, handle parental alienation, and lots of other experiences that co-occur with the process of divorce. It wasn’t easy, but it was one heck of an incredible learning opportunity!
When you’re faced with divorce, you’re faced with an opportunity to start anew. You may not have asked for it, but it’s there anyway, facing you down. What do you do? Do you try with all your might to make things stay the same? Spend countless hours feeling sorry for yourself and thinking about all your lost dreams, lost memories, and how it all sucks? Because you can–I mean, all that exists–it is certainly true that what you’ve gone through is tough. But, are you going to stay in it or are you going to take 100% responsibility for your thoughts, words, and actions and turn your life around?
You have an opportunity to create your best life–how are you going to do it?
Do you want to thrive after divorce and not just survive?
Here are 5 habits that can help you be happier after divorce:
- Find a support group. This can be a formal one–like the one I attended, or it can be a group of people you know who are positive, motivating, supportive, and who lift you up and don’t put you down. You want a group that inspires you, not a pity posse. I am all for talking through your issues to process them, but don’t use most of your interactions with this group to foster a victim story.
- Incorporate fun and inspiration into your daily routine. Don’t forget to live! Don’t forget to focus on the positive side of life. Be playful and have something fun to look forward to. Incorporate inspiration and beauty into your day. Focus on the gifts and blessings all around you.
- View your challenges as learning opportunities in disguise. What are you meant to learn from this experience?
- Take up some new practices: Self-care and forgiveness. Forgiveness is the extreme art of self-care–of yourself and others (like your ex).
- Find a theme song. Music can help you emote (get out your emotions; feel your feelings). Find a theme song that really feels empowering, find a song that makes you happy, and find a song that makes you cry. When feelings get stopped up in you, they can do all kinds of things to your body, mind, and spirit. I used “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor as my empowering song. I had lots of songs that made me happy like SpongeBob’s “Best Day Ever” and “Nina Pretty Ballerina” by Abba (gosh, anything by Abba really). One song that makes me cry is “Say” by John Mayer.
Divorce isn’t easy, but I know you can make it through. There are so many things you can do to empower yourself through one of life’s toughest challenges. Divorce is right up there on the list of incredibly stressful life events. If you can make it through this, you can make it through anything. Life is a gift. We may not ask for some of the “gifts” that come with it (divorce is a gift if you can understand what it is teaching you). Let go of the anger, worry, sadness, and resentment.
Trust that divorce is part of the process to put you on the path to your best life.
If you find yourself stuck getting past divorce or if you need some support and guidance, have you considered divorce coaching? If you resonate with this article and want to create your best life but are having a hard time doing so, click here to find out if divorce coaching is right for you: DIVORCE COACHING.
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My passion is to enrich people’s lives by helping them create extraordinary relationships. I am a certified life coach, have a Master’s degree in psychology, and am a Marriage and Family Therapy Candidate. I am the author of Attract Your Soul Mate: A Simple Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life Using the Law of Attraction and Other Spiritual Methods (BRAND NEW!), Transforming Divorce, the Transforming Divorce Workbook, and co-author (with my husband Don Nenninger) of The Secrets of Loving Relationships, and The Art and Science of Parenting: How to Act When Your Kid’s Acting Out. Check out my Shop page for more information on these books and more!