Divorce is a death. The death of a relationship. The death of hopes and dreams. The death of plans and a mapped out life that might have made sense at one time.
The only way to recover is to allow yourself to grieve.
If you're like me, grieving took a backseat to parenting, working, and surviving. Of the stages of grief, I think denial was prevalent throughout the 12 years leading up to the divorce while guilt and anger permeated my life for a long time after. Depression, though, was the one thing I thought I skipped until I made the decision to move from the home we purchased during our marriage.
It wasn't an easy decision, and it was one born of necessity more than anything else.
We bought the house in 2008 with the intention of living there for at least five or 10 years. We'd started making changes throughout – new flooring, new paint, with plans for more. But when he left – and was unable and unwilling to pay child support, I learned a hard lesson about trying to maintain a 1400 square foot home by myself.
Repairs went undone. Basic maintenance felt impossible. It was all I could do to keep it clean and tidy. If my 45-minute commute (one-way) wasn't a deciding factor, the expense of upkeep definitely had an impact. Those were the practical reasons to move.
Moving, while difficult, was also the fresh start I needed in life. I just didn't know it until the moving truck pulled away from the house. Here are five reasons why I am happy I made the decision I did.
1. Moving gave me a clean start. The moment the truck pulled out of the driveway, I felt a 500-pound weight lifted from my shoulders. I'd had no idea how much I hated living in that house until I saw it in my rearview mirror. A new home was a clean break from an old life.
2. Time to make new memories. Old memories can play like bad tapes in your mind if you aren't careful. Everywhere I looked in that house, I saw broken dreams, missed opportunities, and the bad times I desperately wanted to forget. A new home meant new memories in a new life.
3. Less stress is a good thing. After the divorce was final, I set about cleaning up my life. Better health, more time for my children, and making plans for the future were all top priority. But, as any single parent knows, the stress was a constant. Moving removed a big stressor from my life, leaving me free to focus on the things that helped my little family instead of things that didn't.
4. It's a sign of independence. I met with property managers. I drove around town. I made the phone calls. And ultimately, I chose my new home. It wasn't easy, and it came with its own brand of stress, but at the end of the day, I found a home to be proud of. It was a “hear me roar” kind of moment.
5. Gaining confidence through home décor. For the first time in my adult life, I could do what I pleased with my home. There were no discussions. There were no differing opinions. Better yet, there were no compromises. It sounds like an insignificant thing, but for the first time, I could make something completely my own. After feeling like I'd broken something (my marriage), it was nice to create something instead. It gave me a much-needed boost of confidence.
There are plenty of good reasons to stay in your home after the divorce is final and just as many to move. We all have to do what feels right for our family. If all you do is stare at the walls of your home and replay memories (good and bad) in your mind, a new home could help you move forward in your life – a little bit happier, a little less stressed, and with a new outlook on life.