Divorce isn’t a sign-and-done deal. Its aftermath can be emotionally eviscerating, leaving you to think you will never be whole again. (But you will be.) You may wonder if you will even recognize the signs of healing after divorce, given how badly you feel in the moment. (But you will.)
By the time two people get to the point of deciding to divorce, there is usually a lot of pain already under the bridge. Whether the marriage has been on slow dissolve or has suffered the blow of betrayal, divorce is the culminating loss of a great dream.
Even the most amicable divorce is an explosion of what was once at least somewhat predictable. You knew what you had, even if you didn’t have what you wanted. Your kids knew where “home” was. And your life was defined by the story you all wrote together.
But there is always a tipping point to mounting discord and disappointment, regardless of the cause. And reaching it can be shocking and surreal when you are left teetering on the precipice of an unsure future. Will there ever be healing after divorce? And will there be signs of healing after divorce to help guide you into future happiness?
The answer, believe it or not, is yes.
The realization that you have moved on from your divorce won’t come with fanfare and the passing of predictable milestones. Usually, something will happen that would normally elicit an emotional reaction, and you will sail right through it.
It will be as if you forgot to remember to have feelings about what happened. And it will dawn on you that you have been this way for a while.
Here are 7 signs of healing after divorce. If you are going through a divorce or its aftermath, keep this list within reach. These signs will remind you that you are, in fact, getting over the end of your marriage.
1. The memories lack their emotional power.
When you’re going through or are just out of a divorce, everything is still fresh in your mind. Your life lacks orientation, and the only things that ground you are the memories of a life you have just said goodbye to. The stronger the memories, the stronger the gut-punch every time they come up. When you have truly come out the other side of your divorce, those memories will become facts in a story — nothing more.
Sure, you may have a whisper of sadness or regret. But you won’t feel like curling up in the fetal position whenever you remember or talk about your marriage.
2. You stop wanting to talk about your marriage and divorce all the time.
Talking is a form of processing, so it’s only natural that you’ll want to bend any ear that will listen. You want a circle of supporters who will sympathize with all you have gone through and are still suffering. The urge to weave the topic of your marriage and divorce into every conversation can be almost uncontrollable.
But one of the signs of healing after divorce is not wanting to “go there” all the time. You have so many other things to talk about — like, how busy you are creating an awesome new life.
You also become more selective about when and where you talk about your marriage and divorce. And you recognize the value of professional help in processing your experiences and strategizing your future.
3. You can acknowledge the good things in your marriage.
Rarely is there nothing good in a marriage — even a marriage that ends in an ugly divorce. You wouldn’t have married your ex if you both didn’t at one time enjoy one another and look forward to adventuring through life together. When you’re going through a divorce, especially if you don’t want it, it’s easy to console yourself by disparaging your entire marriage. Somehow it takes the sting out of what you’re going through.
But the truth is, you chose your marriage. And you remained in it, for whatever amount of time, because of the good that held you together as a couple.
When you’re getting over your divorce, you’ll catch yourself remembering positives about your ex and your marriage. You’ll smile to remember some of the rituals and kindnesses unique to your relationship. And you won’t seek to cast off the lessons learned during your marriage.
4. You take responsibility for your role in the marriage.
No matter what brought your marriage to an end, no spouse is totally responsible, and no spouse is totally in the clear. In the early stages of your divorce, you may be quick to blame your ex for all that wasn’t good in your marriage. But after you’ve had time to reflect and heal, you’ll find yourself taking ownership of your own stuff. You’ll have greater clarity and won’t feel threatened by acknowledging where you could have done better. Of the many signs of healing after divorce, acceptance of personal accountability holds the most promise for a future relationship. It signifies growth and emotional maturity and shows that you learn from all your experiences.
5. You stop stalking your ex.
It’s exhausting to keep your ex on an emotional ball-and-chain. Checking your ex’s Facebook page, driving by your ex’s home or office, asking mutual friends for information on your ex — it’s so much work! When you’re truly over your divorce, you stop doing all that. You just don’t have the interest or time — primarily because you are so busy being interested in your own life.
6. You don’t compare your new love interest to your ex.
You may notice similarities between the two, but you’re not swiping left or right because of them. If there’s a positive similarity, you embrace it as a sign that you appreciated and learned from the good in your ex.
If there’s a negative similarity, you don’t drag your negative feelings for your ex into your new relationship. And you evaluate your new love interest on his/her own merits.
7. You are happy for your ex and grateful for your marriage.
Gratitude is an incredible sign of healing after divorce. And when you can combine gratitude for your experience with happiness for your ex’s new life, you’ll know you’ve healed.
There’s no question that divorce turns your life upside down and inside out. It causes pain and a slew of other emotions you couldn’t have expected. It throws you into grief, it pulls you out of your routine, and it makes you question everything.
But please trust that life does get better. And love is not a lost cause.
The signs of healing after divorce will appear when you finally stop fighting. And you will recognize yourself again — now stronger, more responsible, and power-packed with skills to love again.
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