Women are often the ones that ensure that their spouse’s needs are met, the children are fed, and their nests are in order. This is in the midst of cooking, cleaning, worrying, and loving, you can lose yourself.
Even in the best of circumstance separation and divorce is a life-changing event. You’re definitely not the person whom you were before the process began. And for some women, redefining ourselves after divorce is even harder than the divorce itself.
But this is what I’d like you to know, and right now it may be hard for you to imagine. – believe it or not. And yes, you will laugh again and you will recover and heal and you will get a good night’s sleep again.
You will stop obsessing about the things you can’t change, and eventually, it really won’t matter what your former is doing or who with because you will be living your own life…..a new season, full of excitement, fun, adventure and hope and yes even love again.
You can go from total despair to coping with your divorce to unbelievable happiness, and back to being the strong, powerful optimistic, woman you were created to be. I know for sure that there are certain things you can do to help you move on. I didn’t learn these lessons quickly or easily – but with time. If you can get the following firmly into your head, you’re sure to begin your journey of moving forward. GO FOR IT!
Let go of your need to blame. Quit blaming your ex for something that you can’t go back and change. This keeps you stuck in the past and stagnated in the present. If you have anger towards him, don’t feed it by focusing on what he did or didn’t do. It can take up too much time and space in your life. Leave it and move on.
Take responsibility for your part of the marriage break-up. Knowing what part he played in the problems is easy, but you also need to recognize how you contributed. Owning up to responsibility is probably the hardest part.
It takes two to tango. What did you do or not do? There was some contribution you must have made for it to have reached the divorce stage. Be honest. You can’t learn from the adversity of divorce if you don’t admit to flaws and failures of your own.
You can’t move forward and make productive choices in life if you continue to hold onto behaviour patterns that helped lead to the demise of the marriage.
If you can own up to your participation in the marriage, you have gained power. For example, by admitting that you stayed in a bad marriage for economic reasons, you, therefore, can choose to find a good-paying job and leave. When your perspective is one of choice, you gain power and control over your life.
Admitting that you put up with a bad situation out of choice allows you now to make decisions to do things differently in your new life. Once you accept responsibility for your life, be careful to not turn your anger inward. You did the best you could in your given situation.
It’s in the past, and you now have the power to move forward. Release the hold that resentment has over helps you to regain control over your life again. You no longer need to feel like a victim, and your self-esteem will begin to rise.
This is the next chapter of your life. Think of the divorce as the next chapter of your life. It takes a lot of courage to let go of the familiar, even when the familiar isn’t working or causes you pain. Consider the end of your marriage simply as a transition into the next phase of life.
Focus on what you do have, and what you can control. Remember that we paralyze ourselves by focusing on the things you don’t have and can’t do.
Do some personal development work on yourself. Strive to become the person that God created you to be. Become the best that you can be.
Forgive yourself. Do not beat yourself up. Life already does that for us.
Create a realistic vision board. You have a blank new page. Rediscover and recreate a future that you will work towards that speaks of new dreams and desires for you and your children. Look at it every day. Begin to build a future.
Create a bucket list. What have you always wanted to do but have never been able to do? It can be very little things to big things. Put it down on your bucket list. Make your new free time count.
Understand that the divorce will affect your friendships too. Friends will take sides and this will hurt. But there will be those who stick by your side.
Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. This helps fight depression – so practice self-care.
Don’t neglect your other relationships. Build new healthy relationships. Force yourself to stay involved with people and socialize for business and for pleasure.
If you have children, remember to keep your relationship civil with your ex. You have a responsibility to do everything in your power to keep their relationship with both parents warm and loving, and civil, if possible. For better or for worse, their lives were changed without their consent.
Don’t talk negatively about your ex. That could end up straining your relationship with your children, or worse, damage their emotional health
DO NOT Self Medicate. Self-medication is a response to tough emotional issues. It happens when you turn to prescription or illegal drugs, or alcohol or work or sex in order to deal with situations you find hurtful, stressful or emotional. It’s a crutch to lessen the pain and help you ‘cope’.
The problem is that some of those ‘ solutions’ are very temporary and may at the time. Divorcing people are often wounded people and wounded people sometimes hurt so much that it clouds their judgment. When one is hurting, one can be tempted to do almost anything that promises to remove the pain.
The problem is that some solutions for removing pain work well in the short term, but can be dangerous in the medium and long term. If you do not use your judgment in deciding how you will cope with your hurt.
Let go of the past. And this is terribly difficult. It took me a long while to let go of the circumstances of my divorce. But it’s important to let go of the past – otherwise, you get locked in negative thoughts and feelings, which moves you even further away from your healing.
This is also living in denial. There are women I have met who after ten years, still believe their ex-spouse will come back to them – never mind that they have re-married. Talk through your pain and let it go. Hand it over to and leave it with God and get on with your life.
Start Healthy Routines. This is a major primary strategy means of self-support that we often overlook. Divorce is a stressful time of change, and many of the good habits one has formed to help maintain health can be lost in the shuffle.
Can you remember some of the pre-divorce family routines? Keep select pre-divorce family routines intact, such as eating together as a family, or church as a family, shopping, bedtime routines especially for your children, homework, school functions (also let the school know what has happened) visiting relatives over the weekends like on Sundays. This continuity can be a comfort to all.
Healthy distractions. Having ‘me time’ where you can sit and enjoy a book, a movie, listening to music, go walking or cycling. Exercise, meet up with friends (except don’t talk about your separation – just chill!). This can be very helpful because being ready and able to distract yourself, stops you from playing and replaying ‘the negative tapes that we often do. It takes your mind away from painful feelings that otherwise might drag out into depression.
Explore New Interests. In a divorce, one door slams shut, and people tend to spend a lot of time adjusting to that closure. What you will come to see after a while, however, is that when one door closes, others open. Divorce is a beginning as well as an ending, and a perfect opportunity to explore new interests.
New interests capture attention and bring it into the present, away from a focus on the past. In so doing, they help you to start thinking of the future and what you can be ‘doing’ – because you enjoy it! When you explore new interests, it does make you happy and you make new friends.
Put Things Away. As soon as it is practically possible, put old photographs and mementoes away. This way you don’t have to keep looking at them all the time. Get rid. Start handling all those aspects of your life that your ex used to handle like the bills, and chores around the home. In general do what you can do to confidently look forward towards the future, rather than backwards at your divorce. Limit your contact with your ex-spouse.
The whole experience of my divorce was worse than experiencing the death of a loved one – my dear father. This is not to take away from the pain and loss of death, however with my father’s death, it was a clear ending to his life here on earth and we celebrated his life. I grieved him and as the years have gone by, the pains of losing him have gotten less and less and now remember him without that pain.
Whereas with divorce, it’s open-ended and can go on and on, especially when there are children from the marriage.
Healing from divorce is not easy, often traumatic. Despite the abuse and heartache that happened in my own marriage and the shock and pain that accompanied my divorce, the learning and growth that continues to come from these experiences have been my greatest blessings. I have learned to lean on God and to become an advocate for myself and daughter.
It is possible to heal through your divorce and come out ‘the other side. However, the big question you need to ask yourself, is ‘do I want to get healed through this experience? ’ Then ask yourself what you would like your ‘healing’ to look like – break it down, and be very specific for example ‘I’ll feel I am healing when I can talk about my ex-spouse without anger’.
This will help you know when you have achieved your ‘mark’ by the achievable ‘milestones’ you’ve laid out for yourself.
Here are the last gems to help you through your healing and recovery:
Begin to take responsibility for your healing: You’re the one with a broken heart. You need to take responsibility for your own healing. You’re the one who needs it. Your healing will also help begin your children’s process of healing, that they desperately need.
Healing means not only taking responsibility but being intentional, otherwise, it’s easy to get carried away with the flow of emotions, fighting your ex, looking after the children, divorce practicalities and the daily tasks.
What does healing look like? The healing process won’t be easy and will take time. It will call for you to go into your inner self and feel the emotions that were so painful that you may have ignored or denied remained stuck in them. Here are some areas that may require special attention in your healing:
The Judgments: More than likely you made judgments about our spouse because you were angry with him. If you’re a Christian, it is important for you to acknowledge the judgments and ask the Lord to cut your ex-spouse free from these judgments.
Inner Vows: We all make inner vows (a promise to yourself) because of your experience of divorce. As a result of the pain, you will make an inner vow to guard yourself against feeling such pain again.
A good example for many women is ‘I’ll never trust another man again’. If you are a Christian, vows carry significant power in the spiritual realm and it is important to deal with those and break them so that they do not become a reality.
Your Identity: When you get divorced you are no longer part of a couple, so your identity changes. Some people no longer feel comfortable in social settings with couples.
As a result, many people will withdraw and become isolated. You need to start rebuilding new friendships and going out, preferably women – this way there aren’t any relationship complications. It is a good time to rediscover and rebuild you.
Generational Healing: If you are a Christian, and your former spouse comes or you come from a family where divorce has been prevalent, it is important to ask God to break the generational predisposition in their family lines, and to free the family from the effects of divorce.
Children of Divorce: Children of divorce in this country are forgotten and suffer silently. Just as you go through divorce and separation, so also do your children, and for them, the trauma is worse and can produce lasting effects and scars. Some of the wounds your children will need healing for are (ironically) the same as yours and your former, such as guilt, rejection, fear anger, grief, and shame.etc.
Restoration: The road towards recovery in divorce is marked with countless twists and turns along the road. Often we just need to take a step at a time, then two steps at a time and always moving forward. There will be those days when you feel like you’re moving backwards, and that’s okay. But don’t stay there, pick yourself up and keep moving forward. Be aware and careful of your emotions because they are can still be raw and this can easily jeopardize your healing.
At each juncture on the journey, you can choose to let go of the past and move on with life or stay stuck with feelings of hopelessness, regret and sorrow.
Letting go means trusting God’s unconditional and never-failing love in the midst of confusion and doubt.
During this season, it’s easy to lose hope. Life can often seem so painful and hard to get through. And this leaves a mark, like ashes of grief, in the deepest parts of our souls, where on-one but God can really see you.
And many times we wonder and ask, “God where are you?” His Truth is, He is and has always been with you, through it all. And though we may not always see or feel it, or even understand it, we can know beyond a doubt that He is always there.
Still with us as He promises:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
There will be times of deep loneliness, where you feel no one can possibly understand the way you’re feeling. Yet, it is impossible to be alone and not lonely, for those who seek their comfort from the Lord Jesus. He has made so many promises to those who love Him. And He keeps every single one of those promises to us. My healing came through clinging to those promises, day and night. Pray you can do the same.