If, like so many of us you have found yourself - willingly or unwillingly – on the other side of the merry-go-round that we call Divorce - welcome!
You are about to begin a new chapter in the journey of your life, a chapter which you may find lonely, exasperating and frightening at times, but with a few tweaks here and there you may just find to be the most fulfilling and exciting chapter of all. Don’t waste this opportunity to create an even better version of the beautiful creature that you are.
Here are 7 ideas which may help you on your way for reinventing yourself after divorce:
1. Mourn the wife that you were
It doesn't matter what age you were when you walked down the aisle, or how long you were married for - the fact is, none of us entered into this institution with the knowledge or hope that it would one day come to a screaming halt. So, grieve the loss. Acknowledge and work through the feelings and emotions as they arise.
Personally, I went through the stages of grief in a topsy-turvy manner, and that was OK. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance – I felt all of these things at different times, all of the time. I cried, I screamed, I laughed and I shook. And I came out the other side perfectly well.
Don’t skip the mourning phase – do it and do it well. If and when the time comes for a new relationship, you can be sure that you won’t be bringing any (or much!) of your old baggage into the new situation.
2. Let go of bitterness
This is of course not an easy one. Depending on your situation - what you have been through, how much you have hurt, how much time has passed - it is probably safe to say that there will have been some feelings of resentment during the divorce process. This is normal and OK. However, try and recognize that you will never be able to completely heal and move on whilst these feelings linger.
To become the new you, you need to really let go of the bad things. It has taken me almost two years, and a lot of soul-searching, but I can now look at my wedding photos with a smile on my face, and appreciate what a beautiful time in my life that period was.
3. Cherish some time alone
Before you can get out there as the new you and paint the town red (in a big way!) you need to learn how to be alone. To uncover who YOU are, without all of the people and bells and whistles and distractions. If your situation allows, dedicate some time at home on your own. Potter around the house, sort things out, move things around, listen to music.
I would make myself do this on a regular basis, just to find out who I was without a kid screaming for me, or a husband bellowing my name. Then, when I was feeling brave enough to really face the loneliness head on, I would hop in the bath, sometimes for hours, with just my tea for company – no books, phones, screens, magazines or distractions of any sort. It was hard until one day, it was bliss.
4. Set some goals
During a massive life shift, such as divorce, there is a definite power and excitement to be found in intention or goal setting. You have finished one chapter of your life, so it makes sense to lay some plans for your how you would like the next chapter to be. Of course, the goals may change over time as your psyche slowly adjusts to your new life and reality, but that's OK. Even if you don't achieve a particular goal, or it changes significantly to accommodate your changing self, there is an explicit power in just letting yourself envision and plan.
I had a goal of saving a certain amount of money in a certain period of time. I honestly don’t think I would have attempted this target whilst married, let alone achieve it!
5. Learn and embrace new roles
My husband was (probably still is) a great cook, so by default he made himself responsible for feeding the family each night. When he left, it soon became pretty clear that the kids and I would somehow still need to eat…so I had to learn to prepare cheap meals quick smart. This may sound very basic or trivial, but it needn’t. I have no doubt that the sense of responsibility and satisfaction I got from the simple act of teaching myself to cook helped get me through the early dark days. I had a new sense of purpose, an important one.
Think of something - important to you - that you’ve always wanted to learn or accomplish, and set about doing it. Don’t underestimate the sense of power this will give you.
6. Spend time with different types
When I was married, I rarely spoke to anyone new or different or outside my circle of regular people. I felt stupidly secure in the knowledge that each night I would be going home to hubby, and therefore didn't really see any need to meet new or interesting folk. As a single woman once again, I strangely found myself going out of my way to say hello to people I wouldn't normally feel comfortable enough to speak with.
As you evolve and change, so do your tastes and perceptions. Your soul naturally wants to seek out different people and experiences in the name of growth. Don’t stifle this! Be brave enough to hang out with or date the people you feel drawn to, even if they aren't your “regular” types. Your “regular” is changing from what it once was!
7. Discover the woman you were meant to be
You will always be the same person, but change undoubtedly and unashamedly transforms you. If you are willing and able to be brave enough to look at your divorce experience from a different angle, you will most certainly grow in the best possible way from this experience. Instead of asking “Why me?” ask “How can I use this thing to help me become an even better version of myself?” If you can do this (and it is hard, I know) you will absolutely grow and prosper from what you have been through, whilst remaining the gorgeous and strong woman that you always were.
Go find your passion. Remember, you were someone before you were a wife. That girl is still in there somewhere. Find her! Stay strong and remember who you are, always.