When you are married, life is pretty straightforward for the most part.
That is not to say that it is always happy or lovely or peaceful, but there is, for most, a general feeling of security and routine when you are the wife of somebody. There are the meals that you regularly cook, the TV shows you always watch and the specially allocated days for washing, ironing, and shopping. You and your husband generally socialize with the same group of folk and vacation at the same spot or spots you have been frequenting for almost as long as you’ve known each other.
There is routine and routines make life easier to deal with.
Then one day, you find yourself DIVORCED. No longer a Missus and that feels daunting, overwhelming and frightening! But here is the thing. No matter the circumstances of your divorce, whatever it was that brought you to this crossroads, there IS light at the end of that long dark tunnel you currently find yourself staring down.
This is your chance to find out who you REALLY are, without the shackles and the ring and the routines. Remember, you were someone before you were a wife. That girl is still in there somewhere and it is your job now to go find her again.
Here are three strategies you can start using, right now, to help you create a new life after divorce.
1. Mourn your old life
The end of a marriage is a death, of sorts. It is the end of the life you shared with your significant other, the conclusion of shared hopes and dreams, and of any and all visions of your future life together as a concrete couple. This is no small thing!
And, in order for you to create a beautiful new life for yourself … the end of this life needs to be grieved, just as any death is grieved. This grieving process cannot and must not be skipped. It can be painful, it can be uncomfortable, it can be a downright agonizing nuisance at times.
Make no mistake here - the temptation to simply block and numb the pain will strike. But for your own good, ignore this temptation. Grieve, and do it well. You will be doing yourself, and your future mental and emotional health, a HUGE favor if you allow yourself the time and the energy to mourn your loss now, by feeling and processing the emotions as they come along.
Grieving is a very individual process and there is no specific timetable or timeline to adhere to. The important thing is to not deny or block whatever feeling arises or to try and numb the pain associated with the feeling with alcohol or drugs or sex or all night partying (examples only!). When the feeling comes … sit with it, feel it, process it. Then let it go.
Don’t skip the mourning phase – do it and do it well. It is the only way to ensure that you are starting your new life with no (or at least not much) baggage from your past.
2. Rediscover who you are. Learn to LOVE yourself
So, you are slowly coming to terms with the end of your marriage, and working your way through the myriad of feelings and emotions that have come along with you for the ride.
It is now time to begin seeing yourself in a new light, to rediscover YOU – the YOU that was somehow forgotten amid the years of routines and restraints, and being a wife.
Depending on the circumstances of the divorce - whether it was wanted by you or not, and whether it was sudden or a long time coming, you are probably not feeling yourself and have been left wondering when you will feel “normal” again. You just don’t seem to know who you are right now, or where it is that you fit in.
But here is the thing. Your “normal” is not what it used to be - in rediscovering yourself, your idea of who and what you should be is shifting from what it once was. And with a little self-care, you will soon not only be feeling at peace with where you are at, you will begin to LOVE who you are.
To really connect with who you are, spend some time alone. Hard as it may be, do this. Go for walks, read, write in a journal, fill yourself with wholesome food, sleep. Whenever you get the chance, switch off from electronic media and the world - even if just for an hour at a time - and just be.
Contemplate what you have been through, all that you have overcome, and what you would like the next chapter of your life to look like. You have survived a lot. The “new” you will likely have reserves of strength you were not previously made aware of. And for this, you can, and should, be proud.
3. Embrace the NEW you
Okay, so what next? The short answer is – whatever you want! Anything. And everything. The fact is, divorce is a beautiful opportunity to reinvent yourself - don’t waste the second chance at life that you have so generously been given. DO NOT!
Think of some things that you would have loved to have accomplished while married, but somehow never found the time, or perhaps courage to do. Something simple such as changing your house or apartment around to make it more “you”, or joining a gym or taking up yoga. Or, something bigger, such as going for your dream job, or planning a trip on the road. This may all sound a bit cliché, but it needn’t. This is your life – make it how you want it to be.
Set some goals, get back in the dating game…whatever you have a hankering for, whatever sends a little shiver of excitement up and down your spine as you contemplate it … that is what you need to do.
Think outside the box. Socialize with different types, wear a different style of clothes, experiment with your personal style. The world is yours for the taking. So, get out there and clasp it. Make a new life for yourself and embrace every moment of it, both good and bad.