Is There Life After Divorce?
Yes, there is life after divorce, and often a life that is stronger, filled with less drama and allows you to be true to yourself (whoever that turns out to be?!)
The pain of making a decision you had hoped you never have to make, the loneliness you endured at the time, these may be behind you now. But the feeling of having failed at something so important can linger on. It’s one of the hardest feelings to let go of; yet it’s so important to release those feelings in order to get on with your life.
There was a time when being divorced, particularly for women, was a rare and shameful event. This is less true today, and yet the stresses of modern life and our own expectations of relationships often leave us feeling defeated at the conclusion of a divorce. We’re surrounded by images of happy successful relationships in films, television and advertising and it seems almost impossible to imagine that your life is ever going to be happy again. How does anyone get through life without that all important “other half” when our whole culture seems to see anyone on their own as not a complete person?
The truth is, the time just after divorce is often a period of quiet reflection on the person you are outside of that label as wife or husband. If you were in an abusive relationship, it may be time for counselling to regain your sense of self-worth. If your situation was one where one of who had outgrown the other, it can be a freeing time of change and stimulation. Sometimes a decision to move on can release you from others’ expectations and allow you to explore and redefine who you truly are as a separate individual. Of course, it all can’t happen at once. You need to take those little steps first.
Taking the Plunge
Sometimes you just know that you’re relationship doesn’t work for you anymore. Either of you. You’ve tried it all: couples counselling, vacations together, redefining the relationship, but nothing seems to work. Every relationship is different and every breakup is different as well. But most couples will admit after their divorce that they knew long before the breakup that the writing was on the wall. Sometimes, just a simple thing like a knowledgable and approachable book on divorce can give you the tools you need to make a start. It can help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel and not feel isolated whilst searching for your way out.
You’re going to need help and support at a time like this. Don’t hide from friends and family – some of them (not all of them!) may be the best support system you can have right now. Realize that you will go through an emotional roller coaster and let those close to you know. Many people feel ashamed of relationship problems and keep quiet about getting divorced. Don’t turn away from those who can help, divorce isn’t new and seeing it through another person’s eyes can make a difference.
Redefining your Goals
Sometimes one of the best things to come out of a decision to leave a marriage is the realization of how many personal goals you had put on hold for the sake of the marriage. This is especially true of women, but both sexes experience this and often don’t discover it until after a divorce.
Look at your life from all angles; find out what really makes you happy and also what really challenges you. Get involved with some goals for your life that will encourage you to look forward, not backward. Where do you want to be in your life in a year? How about in five years? Many people find themselves suddenly drawn back to the arts, sports, or even a new business enterprise once they have gone through the divorce and looked at what was important in their lives.
Shaping your new Identity
Getting a divorce doesn’t mean you are divorcing your friends as well. If you have lost contact with many of your friends from before the marriage, get in touch with them again. You can also use organisations like MeetUp to find new friends with similar interests. Even if you are getting yourself out there and meeting with friends, often divorce leads to discoveries that who we were when we got married is not who we are now. Yes, you are still you but who exactly are you today?
This is where books, blogs, websites can be so helpful. There was a time when we all went through the hell of divorce in silence and unsupported. Thank goodness that’s not the case anymore and you don’t even have to leave home to get support. These days, there are all kinds of internet forums, books and support networks online to support and guide you through your divorce. One of these is my ebook Essential Divorce Wisdom which has been written to help you through the emotional and logistical aspects of your divorce, as well as New Single You for when you’re ready to start thinking about romance again.