Lying on the floor of my house surrounded by an Everest-sized mountain of Kleenex and pillows, I sobbed like a sullen teenager on the phone with my sister. I could barely make my way through each day.
My moods varied between manic and morose. I had cried for an hour the day before when I’d found an old pair of my ex’s boxers in the bottom of a dresser drawer. And at the end of each conversation, I would ask her the same question that every divorced person asks the people around them, “When is this going to end?”
Well-meaning people will give you any answer they think will make you feel better. (Except my Aunt Nita). She told me stories about her sister, who never recovered from her divorce and died ten years later of a broken heart.
Not exactly the pep talk someone needs. But I digress. But regardless of the timeframe, there are signs that signal you are finally letting go of the pain and moving into a place of health, well-being…and hopefully moving on.
Below are 10 signs you’ve let go and are moving on:
One. You’re able to go about your day without ‘cheerleadering’ yourself into it. I used to have this internal monologue going throughout the day to make it through without falling apart, “That’s right, just grab some veggies. And we’ll get the chicken and be back home in a flash. Doing great! See, you can leave the house without falling apart! Nicely done!”
Had I said any of that out loud, people would have thought I was talking to a toddler…and some days I was. Me. If you’re managing to navigate everyday tasks without issue, you’re on the road to recovery.
Two. Little reminders of him don’t set you off like an MMA wrestler. Seeing his brand of cereal in the store, hearing his favorite song on the radio or hearing your children say something ‘just like he used to’ doesn’t cause a three-alarm meltdown. Instead of making you burst into tears, eventually you may even be able to smile at a memory or shake your head that it ever bothered you that much. Either way, they have stopped affecting you.
Three. You’re able to see him without it launching into WWIII. Seeing him used to make your blood boil…or miss him all the more. Either way, neither one meant you were any closer to getting over him. When you can see him and you don’t feel the urge to punch his face…or cling to him and never let go – you’re making progress.
Four. You begin making plans for the future. Now, I’m not talking about ‘making baked chicken for dinner next week’ kind of plans, no. I’m talking about planning a vacation, working toward a promotion or something that requires you to look into the future with hope. Promise. Happiness. If you are beginning to plan good and fun things for your future, then you know your life is moving on.
Five. You stop sleeping on ‘your side’ of the bed. The first few months after my divorce, I felt weird when my leg would drift over to his side of the bed. As if that emptiness were there to remind me of my solitude and pain.
About a year later, I woke up in the middle of my bed, pillows everywhere from the most amazing sleep – and I realized, he has no ‘side’ anymore because…he is gone. I promptly fluffed my pillows and snuggled down into my bed. Smack dab in the middle.
Six. You stop worrying about whether he will judge you on what you’re doing. I don’t care if it’s dating the pool boy or buying bargain brand sheets; we all were in the habit of seeking our spouse’s approval when we were married. Who hasn’t seen the eye roll as he held up something you’d bought as if to say, “Really?” Now, ya just don’t care. You may choose to go skydiving, skinny dipping, learn yoga, boxing or wear a shirt that shows more cleavage than a Kardashian. That’s okay because you’re not there to win his approval. Or anyone’s…for that matter.
Seven. You’re able to take a vacation without feeling his absence. This one may take a while. The first vacation I took without my ex felt like I was doing surgery on myself…without anesthesia. Two years later, I took both kids to Europe for a month and felt – completely empowered. Despite well-meaning friends cautioning me because, after all, I was a single mother taking two children abroad alone (gasp!)…I managed to make it through the entire trip without feeling like I was “missing” something by him not being there. Realizing you are a whole person and doing things accordingly is a huge step toward the healing process. That, and you’ll feel like a total badass.
Eight. You’re able to have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex and not feel guilty – or do it for revenge. Yes, it’s a little tempting when one of his friends asks you out and you think – only for a split second – ah ha! Revenge is mine!
But no, I’m talking about a relationship that’s solid and built on something other than the common thread of pain. A lot of my girlfriends started dating right after their marriages failed…but it never worked. That’s because you can’t navigate a boat and bail it out at the same time, my darling. Focus on keeping your own ship afloat. Then get a first-mate.
Nine. You stopped following him on social media and don’t actually care about who he’s dating, having dinner or drinking shots with at 2 a.m. Moving on means you don’t care if he’s taking the entire Army corps out for beer.
It’s his life, his money…and his hangover. Un-friending him, un-following him and generally deleting any links the two of you still have will mean you’re also ready to be independent emotionally. Constant reminders of him will not pop up on your screen, his cute little emoticons and duck face photos are no longer part of your day. Boom.
Ten. When someone asks you if you’re single and you simply say, “Yes.” That question doesn’t cause you to swallow the lump in your throat or charge into a lengthy rendition of, “Well, I’m actually divorced…”. You’re single. Period. The divorce happened, but it doesn’t mean that’s who you are. It doesn’t define you, your happiness or your future.
The final realization is different for everyone; maybe it’s that you buy a house and see your name on it as a single person. Perhaps it’s hiking the Alps with a group and realizing at the top how capable you are on your own. Or maybe, as it was for me, it’s waking up and finally feeling normal again. Happy. Good. Whatever the ‘thing’ that triggers your ah-ha moment of realizing that you’re over him and moved on, embrace that feeling. Wishing you all the best, my lovelies.
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