Truths to hold onto as you sit alone and contemplate your life as a divorced man.
Your bed is empty. Your house, silent.
Your life seems to have come to a standstill.
There is nothing like that feeling after the judge grants your divorce. You walk out of that courtroom with a piece of paper, with the life-altering words: divorce granted.
With it comes opportunity, freedom and a new life, but that’s not what we usually focus on after this painful experience in our lives.
We divorcees often come out feeling like we just walked out of a funeral parlor. We just laid our marriage to rest and didn’t even have an opportunity to offer our condolences.
We walk out to a new life carrying the ashes of dreams, the embers of our missing future, and the residue of shared memories and happy times.
As you sit down alone and glance at the heavy words on this legal document in your hands, I have a message for you.
You’re not a failure.
You couldn’t hold this marriage together. You couldn’t make the changes you needed to. You couldn’t find a way to make it work. You’ll think about every way you ruined this marriage and were responsible for it. As much as blaming your ex, you’ll blame yourself for your decisions, your actions and your behavior.
You’ll feel like a failure, but you’re not. No one fails in relationships. You grow in relationships. Yes, even in relationships that end with divorce.
You tried everything you knew. You gave it your best effort. You tried, you compromised, you went to counseling, you tried to make the best of the situation. Sometimes, relationships just don’t work. Two people bring many of their own past wounds into a relationship and find that you create many more wounds in it.
Not every restaurant is right for you, not every car is the right fit and not every relationship will stay forever.
You’re not a failure as long as you learn from this, grow from this and improve your life from this experience. Even if you come to see this experience as a “failure,” remember that it was your marriage which failed. Not you – you’re not a failure.
Your success in this world and worth as a person doesn’t come from the status of a relationship.
You won’t be alone forever.
It’s the one thought that will percolate your mind from the day you thought this divorce might actually materialize.
No one’s going to love you. No one wants you and you’ll be a hermit the rest of your life.
It doesn’t matter what age you are. Luckily in today’s modern world, there are many people like us out there – much more than before. who have broken off relationships, ended relationships, and lost partners too soon in life. There are many more single people today than ever in history, in every culture, and in every age group.
While the most immediate thing in your mind may not be another relationship, know that another relationship is not impossible. You may have some work to do on yourself and may need to deal with some of the emotional issues of your past relationship, but a new relationship, new love and new friendships are out there for you.
Your life’s not over.
In fact, it’s likely a beginning.
All those things that made you unhappy in your marriage will now wash away as you get an opportunity to start over and live the life you want. Gone are the struggles, the unhappiness, and the bad treatment from your marriage. Gone is the gloom and doom of your future.
Now is the beginning of the life you’ve secretly desired.
After something so terrible happens you have the freedom and the availability to pursue those dreams, cultivate those life passions and maybe even launch a new career.
Your former married life is over. Your new single life is just beginning and you have complete freedom to shape it as you would like.
What others think of you doesn’t matter.
Everyone will have an opinion about you and your divorce.
Some will think ill of you. Others will see you as the trouble-maker. Some will think you’re the cause. Some will think you ruined the reputation of your family or your community.
Some will distance themselves from you.
Now, more than ever, is the time to come to this big life realization: what others think of you has no impact whatsoever on your life. If you live a life according to what others think, you’ll live a life of guilt, regret and influence. You’ll live a life of people-pleasing and ignoring your gut instincts.
Maybe part of the problem in your marriage was that you cared too much about what your spouse thought so why not throw all opinions out the window? Why not start over, living your own truth and listening to yourself?
At the end of your life, what others think of you will have no bearing at all. Life is temporary; life is much too short to spend your time caring about what others think.
Where others are at in their lives doesn’t matter.
What others are doing in their life has little bearing on yours.
Society has defined what success is. Your community or circle of friends might have defined success for you. You feel good when you meet the standards of this small circle of friends but by no means does this small circle of friends have to define you.
Stop comparing yourself to where your friends are in life. It doesn’t matter. They are living their lives and you are living yours. Don’t believe the big lie that there’s only way to live your life. Just because everyone is pursuing one path doesn’t mean you have to pursue a similar one.
You have choices now. You have freedom. You have your intuition to guide you.
This is a race against yourself: to do better and improve your own life. It has nothing to do with how you stack up against others. If you feel out of place or ashamed of being around people who you’re comparing yourself to, it’s time to spend less time with that crowd.
This isn’t karma and you’re not being punished.
Life or the universe isn’t punishing you. You didn’t do something in your past life that is now creating the pain and confusion of divorce.
You didn’t “deserve” divorce for your past deeds as some spiritual gurus might claim.
During your weakest hour, you’ll have lots of questions about why this is happening to you. You’ll be susceptible to astrologers, fortune-tellers and past life theories as to why you’re experiencing what you’re experiencing. Know that you’re in a vulnerable place and you’re likely to believe whatever you’re told. Be conscious, aware and awake to what you’re hearing. If it doesn’t make sense or sounds odd, ignore it.
Love and marriage, breakups and divorce are a part of life. It’s like nature—it doesn’t give you answers. You can’t ask the tsunami why it struck. You can’t ask the tornado what brought it about. Yet we regularly try to do this with life.
God isn’t after you.
If you’re of the religious sort, you might really start believing that God has it in for you. I thought this often during my separation and divorce. Where was God during my worst crisis?
I thought God was out to get me.
Is God listening? (I ultimately wrote a book about this, by the way.)
Once again, it doesn’t have to be God or the universe out to get you. You don’t have to find a cause for your suffering. The cause could simply be growing out of love or incompatibility. You could be going through this so you’ll find your real soulmate in life. You could be going through this for growth and learning.
Leave God out of the why’s.
You’re not a bad person.
Only bad people get a divorce, right?
Only evil people get a divorce. Only those with bad karma get a divorce. Only those who hurt others get a divorce. Only those who want to shame their family get a divorce. You could go on and list hundreds of reasons about why you’re a bad person and deserved this divorce except none of it is true.
Society, some cultures more than others (Indian people and the entire Asian continent, for example) have tried to shame, insult, and destroy divorcees. Divorces and divorcees undermine the social fabric of some cultures. When everyone is following the prescribed path, you’re not allowed to stray.
If you get a divorce, and are happy, all hell might break loose. So, society is going to do its part to make you feel estranged and even deranged if you get a divorce. But you’re not going to let society decide or judge who you are. Society does not get to decide if you’re good or bad depending on your life circumstances and marital status. Capisce?
You will find happiness again
Yes, you will, but first, you’ll go through a funk. Some of us longer than others, but you will come through to the other side.
After the pain, shame, and blender of heartbreak, you’ll come out as fresh as a morning strawberry smoothie – healthier, tastier, and yes, happier.
You’ll come out of the emotional turmoil. You’ll come out of the mental prison. You’ll come out of the darkness as you realize that you’ve been given a gift to start over and live your life again. You’ll breathe in peace and breathe out relief.
What will you do today?
Read a book.
Enjoy a quiet meal.
Call a friend.
Play a game with your child.
Photo: Getty Images