Just because a piece of paper says your marriage is over, doesn’t mean you’re automatically able to get over your marriage. If only it were that simple! Going through a divorce is a long, exhausting process – so much so that we tend to lose ourselves somewhere along the way.
By the time my divorce was finalized, I was tired of the fighting, tired of feeling stressed, and tired of thinking about my failed marriage and my ex. I barely had the energy left to take care of myself on a daily basis, let alone make plans for how I was going to move on from the crumpled emotional state I was in, but I knew it was necessary to try.
It was only through taking small steps each day to regain control of my life that I was able to rediscover my energy and sense of self. The process of moving past my divorce was challenging at times, but worth every effort. These are the five critical things I did to move on after my divorce that helped me maintain my sanity and continue to be the best mom I could be for my kids:
1. Prioritized My Own Happiness
A turning point in my journey to recovery from my divorce was when I decided to set my sights on creating the happiest possible future for myself. It was an active decision I had to make – the choice to plan ahead rather than allowing my past to define me for the rest of my life. We each have agency in our own lives, the power to make decisions that will impact our futures either positively or negatively.
When I was emerging from the difficulties of my divorce, it was hard to imagine that I could ever feel whole again, but I forced myself to seek opportunities for growth and happiness. I joined a book club, took up cycling again, and didn’t berate myself for indulging in a sappy chick flick once in a while. These were all things I had stopped enjoying near the end of my marriage when so much of my energy was spent arguing or tiptoeing around my ex to avoid conflict.
I finally realized that creating new, positive memories today and in the future was the best remedy for overcoming the urge to wallow in the memories of my marriage. It’s not necessary or possible to fully forget about your marriage – or your divorce, for that matter – but it is important to prevent yourself from obsessing over past mistakes and decisions so that you can experience happiness once again.
2. Ended Non-Essential Contact with My Ex
They say old habits die hard, but cutting my ex out of my life proved easier than I’d expected. Once I made the commitment to cut all non-essential communication with my ex, I felt I owed it to myself to keep my word. The first hurdle was blocking him on Facebook and unfollowing him on a few other social media sites, like Instagram and Twitter.
Of course, I couldn’t fully delete my ex from my life. He still plays an important role in my children’s lives, so we have to communicate occasionally in order to be effective co-parents. However, I have no reason to speak with him about matters beyond our parenting responsibilities and visitation schedule. In fact, ever since I quit following his online activities and posts, I find it easier to keep our conversations short and respectful. I no longer see pictures of him with another woman on Facebook and wonder who she is. I no longer want to prod my children for information about their father’s social life. I feel released from that burden.
I’m not saying you won’t experience temptation. If I’m being honest, I still feel compelled to message him once in a while, for example, to tell him not to let the kids stay up past their normal bedtime when he has them for the weekend, or to ask him if he thinks our son should sign up for baseball. I feel more at ease and more confident each time I resist. I’ve cultivated a stronger sense of self because my identity is no longer shackled to a failed marriage or my ex-husband.
3. Focused on Taking Better Care of Myself & My Kids
I had become sluggish and sedentary during the slow decline of my relationship, and things only worsened during the divorce – I’m sure many of you can relate. But now that I am excited about the future once again, I understand the importance of self-love and self-care. I no longer view going to the gym as punishment for ruining my diet, but find exercise energizing and empowering.
Eating healthy and staying active has helped me rediscover my zest for life. Making healthier choices today ensures I’ll be able around tomorrow to help my parents as they get older, to support my friends in tough times as they have supported me, and – most importantly – to watch my children grow up.
Taking better care of myself not only shows my kids that I want to be there for them as they get older, but it also teaches them healthy habits of their own. I hope to influence my children to enjoy eating healthy foods and to recognize that an active lifestyle can be maintained at any age.
4. Sold My Engagement & Diamond Rings
Another reason I was able to move on from my divorce was my decision to sell my engagement ring and wedding band. I stopped wearing my rings long ago when I first realized my marriage was over, but it took me some time after the divorce was finalized to make the decision to part with them completely. I had an unhealthy attachment to those rings, even though I no longer believed in the love they had once symbolized.
As soon as I had sold them, it became obvious that hanging on to my rings had been holding me back in ways I hadn’t even realized. Selling them meant I had fully accepted that my marriage was over for good; it meant that I wasn’t secretly expecting things to go back to how they had been before. I was ready and excited for the future I was beginning to build for myself.
Selling my rings also meant I had some money to spend – so I splurged some of that extra cash on myself with a spa day and a nice dinner out. Spoiling myself, even just a little bit, gave me a much-needed boost of confidence. I managed to transform my rings – reminders of a past I no longer wanted to remember – into an opportunity to feel good about myself and remember that I am worth pampering once in a while.
5. Accepted Help from Loved Ones
Getting over my divorce also involved opening up about my experience with close friends and family. Although it was hard to talk about the breakup when I was experiencing it, my best friends stuck around and continued to support me after the divorce was finally over. With the worst of the drama behind me, I made an effort to open up to a small group of trusted friends and relatives who I knew were genuinely concerned about my wellbeing.
I have several friends who have experienced divorce firsthand, so they understand the turmoil that my life had been during the whole process. They were more than willing to forgive me for the months I was too busy to make plans and too stressed to discuss my situation. Finally opening up to my friends and family about my divorce reminded me that, even though my marriage ended, I still have many close relationships with people who value my presence in their lives.
My divorce doesn’t define me and I won’t let the past hold me back. Moving on from my divorce has allowed me to focus on enjoying the present and planning for the future, which has greatly benefited my children as well as myself. I’ve stopped dwelling on the past and started looking forward to the future – which is looking brighter and more exciting every day.