Divorce is the end of a relationship and the dreams that go along with it.
In a divorce, someone leaves, and someone is left.
The finality of it all can throw a person into grieving and mourning, even if they want out of the marriage. Knowing the end has come – that it is all over – can leave you feeling unsettled and scared, even empty.
Losing a spouse by marriage is similar to losing a spouse by death, except in divorce, the spouse chooses to leave, which can be especially hard to deal with, sometimes even harder than death, some experts claim.
According to Oklahoma State University, “Individuals may go through several stages of mourning or grief. The emotional intensity of this period usually reaches a peak within the first six months of separation. However, the grieving process may take as long as two years. Although you are likely to experience all of the grieving stages at some point, they may not occur in the same order for each person.”
Regardless of how the marriage ends, you must find a way to land on your feet. Healing is a process, so take your time. Meanwhile, here are some tips to help you find solid ground again along your journey to recovery.
Change Your Viewpoint
Some people feel lost at the end of a bad marriage and the resulting divorce. They’re not sure who they are anymore. So, after the divorce, they must re-adjust how they look at things.
Thankfully, getting a divorce no longer carries the social stigma it once did, usually.
And remember, just because you’re no longer married doesn’t mean your life is empty, pointless, or that you’re “less-than” in some way, even if people take sides with your ex.
During this time of self-renewal and rediscovery, spend time with family and friends, try new things, live your life!
Enjoy your freedom and the excitement of discovering what kind of person you want to be!
Learn & Grow from Setbacks
Divorce is painful. It’s a horrible, tear-filled experience that can leave you with the loss of things most precious, like daily time with your kids, certain friends, or even a career you worked so hard to build, and it can fill you with doubt and second-guessing.
When that happens, it’s human nature to blame your ex for your situation and everything that went wrong, but that gets you nowhere. All it does is keep you stuck in pain and suffering.
As painful and humbling as it will be, you must evaluate the marriage to learn what went wrong in the relationship and the part you played in it coming to an end.
To keep yourself from becoming a victim and ensure you don’t bring those issues into your next relationship.
When you allow yourself to be a victim, you’re never free; you’re always under the thumb of your oppressor. Blame is toxic.
Learn and grow to be free. Acknowledge your wrongs; work on yourself and become better; improve your life.
Swallow your pride, and take responsibility and ownership of your actions to bring your best YOU into your next relationship without any drama or toxicity.
You can blame your ex, or you can be happy. The choice is yours.
Don’t blame. Do an autopsy of the marriage; lay out the facts. Channel your anger and disappointment into understanding what you want and don’t want in a relationship and what kind of partner you want to be.
Address your insecurities and failings; seek therapy or counseling, especially if you were abused in some way or had the misfortune of being manipulated or oppressed by a narcissist.
You’ll go from feeling sad, weak, and helpless to feeling peaceful, centered, capable, and empowered.
Give Yourself Credit
As you put the broken pieces of your life back together, try not to fall into the bottomless pit of feeling sorry for yourself and seeking sympathy; avoid being a martyr. And don’t punish yourself emotionally by blaming yourself or beating yourself up.
Instead, acknowledge what you did right and your positive contributions to the marriage.
Also, celebrate all your hard work and how far you’ve come since the divorce; be proud of yourself!
Be the kind of friend to yourself that you’d be to one of your best friends who was recovering from divorce; be supportive, affirming, and positive! You’re making progress by taking positive, productive steps forward. Forward is forward, no matter how fast or slow you’re moving.
Give yourself credit for making tough phone calls or learning how to handle something that used to be your partner’s responsibility.
You’re strong, intelligent, and more than capable. So celebrate every small success in your daily life.
Be Grateful for What You Have
Counting your blessings is one solid way to land on your feet after a divorce.
Also, find something to be grateful for in your failed marriage to break its hold on you; gratitude disempowers negative emotions.
Instead of gazing longingly at what you’ve “lost,” count your blessings for what you still have and for the people who remain who deeply care for you.
List as many positives as possible to help you appreciate your life.
And when you start looking back on your marriage with nostalgia and start feeling guilty or feeling sorry for yourself, remember why you agreed to end the relationship – remember those moments when you felt unheard, unloved, ignored, neglected, or abused emotionally by your partner.
You probably felt lonely and rejected many times and cried yourself to sleep often.
Compare those moments with your life now and the support of your friends and family.
Even though you might be on your own and want to be married again someday, you now have the freedom to make new friends. You can enjoy new experiences like volunteering, enrolling in a class, or simply becoming a more active community member.
Give yourself credit for putting your life back together piece by piece but stronger and much wiser this time.
Schedule Things to Look Forward To
You’ll have more free time after a divorce. Don’t spend it all catching up on chores, work, and running errands.
Set aside time for yourself daily, even if it’s just ten or fifteen minutes, for things you enjoy, like gardening, painting, praying and meditating, or just taking a walk; taking time for yourself lowers stress and anxiety, and brightens your mood and adds happiness to your day.
Other ideas include:
- Joining a book club
- Attend a local art gallery
- Go to a museum
- Host a game night and invite a few friends over
- Enroll in a ministry in your faith community
Divorce is the end of one road and the start of a new one. It’s only natural to feel a bit unsettled and scared. Give yourself some time; it’s different for everyone because no two situations are exactly the same.
But with time, as you rediscover yourself and rebuild, you’ll start feeling ever more hopeful and excited about your life as you embark on a new adventure of exciting possibilities. Own the process and trust yourself because it gets better, and life will feel warm, safe, and full of promise again.