Oh, the rollercoaster of it all. The falling in love, the wedding, the children, the disenchantment, the fighting, the falling out of love…the rebuilding life after divorce.
Remember your first rollercoaster ride? You climbed into your seat, fastened up, and threw your hands into the air and caution to the wind. And then the drop. That gravity vacuum that sucked the wind out of you and left you clinging, screaming, and wondering what you were thinking.
By the time the ride came to a screeching halt, your hair had given up any claim to a good day. And you dizzily walked away, wondering what had just happened.
Ending a marriage can feel a lot like that. You may not even have a firm grasp on how you got here, but suddenly the ride has ended and you’re climbing out.
Rebuilding life after divorce is like walking away from that ride you were so excited to try. Your legs are wobbly, your body almost numb. And your mind is reliving all the drops and loops while trying to process the unusual feelings coursing through your veins.
But somehow you know you will be standing in line for another ride. Just not yet.
Here are 6 tips to help you through that “rebuilding life after divorce” stage and get you confidently back into life.
It’s inevitable that you will feel a big hole where marriage, partnership, family, and all that go with them used to be. You spent a long time building your “normal,” even if it wasn’t perfect, and even if it eventually became unhappy.
This “living death” is going to take you through its stages, so you might as well get onboard and embrace it. Learning to expect the unexpected ways that grief shows up will help you not get swept away by your feelings.
2. Commit to being a survivor, not a victim.
Grief has its place and needs to be accepted. But there can be a fine line between grieving and feeling sorry for yourself.
Rebuilding life after divorce is a constant testing of your own limits. And that’s a good thing because it means you’re growing.
People who recover from divorce most successfully have made the mental shift from victim to survivor. They don’t let divorce define them. And they know when to allow a little wallowing and when to get with the program.
If you’re a parent, imagine what that attitude will model for your children.
3. Stop trying to change what can’t be changed.
This can be tougher than it sounds. Divorce, by its very nature, lends itself to ruminating. He did….She said….If he/she had only….I wonder why….
While moving on in a healthy way requires a fearless self-examination of your role in your marriage and divorce, it also requires boundaries. There are things you can never change. You can’t change the past, but you can lay the groundwork for a new future.
And you certainly can’t change your ex. You’ll want to — the urge to blame and lay responsibility outside ourselves is natural. But you have no control over who your ex was and is, nor what he/she did or does.
And that goes for parenting styles, too. Outside of extremes like abuse or neglect, you’re going to have to focus all that “fixing energy” on yourself.
4. Stay connected with friends and family.
Divorce carries so much negativity in its wake — embarrassment, shame, sadness, disappointment, depression. It can be very tempting to isolate from the world and wallow in the despair of it all.
All the more reason to stay connected to those who love and accept you for who you are. You will never forget the friend who held the tissue box while you did your ugly cries. Nor will you forget the relative who used his own divorce experience to support you into the best of your new life.
5. Embrace the financial change.
It’s one of the ugly realities of divorce. Resources that once supported one home and lifestyle are now divided between two. But remember, you’re a survivor, not a victim, right?
This is the time for you to rethink your priorities and focus on authentic sources of joy. Your financial mind shift may not be comfortable or easy, but it can move mountains for your confidence and stability.
Make the commitment to overcome your post-divorce financial fears by consulting a financial planner or accountant. Take an online course or read up on basic finances and investing. Educate yourself, establish a workable financial plan, and start setting short-term and long-term goals.
You have the opportunity to create life on your own terms. But you also have the responsibility that goes along with it.
Taking charge of this often frightening aspect of rebuilding life after divorce will do wonders for your self-esteem.
6. Learn to love being alone.
You don’t have to become a hermit or commit to life as a single person to love being alone. This lesson is really about building an awesome, loving relationship with yourself.
When you were married, you probably craved alone-time and rarely got it. Well, now you have it.
And, chances are, you’re not going to be single forever. So use this time to rediscover yourself. Indulge your interests. Daydream. Make bucket lists. Create new rituals, both for yourself and for you and your children.
Get reacquainted with your values and the big motivators in your life. Pay attention to that inner voice that used to get drowned out by everyone else’s needs.
Show up for yourself. And cherish the knowledge that you will always be your own best friend.
Rebuilding life after divorce is an ongoing process. But so are you. The important words here are “build” and “life.” Despite the heartbreak and the tearing apart of your world, there is never an end to the opportunity to “build life.”
Before you know it, you will start seeing signs of healing after divorce. Those wobbly legs will feel strong and stable again. And, when you look up at that high-speed twister, the drops and loops won’t seem so frightening. You’ll be ready for the thrill of the ride…hands in the air….
You’ve got this.
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