As terribly cliché as it sounds, many people find divorce as an opportunity to rediscover themselves.
Needless to say, divorce comes with overwhelming emotional turmoil; it is a loss just like any other, and all losses require some time for grieving. When it happened to me, I knew it was the right decision (maybe the best one yet) but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel the loss on many different levels. I could have done many things in a better way during the divorce process, but in retrospect, I’m proud of myself for acknowledging this feeling, yet not letting it bury me deep underneath the pain.
In fact, I think I was simply tired and exhausted from months of feeling terrible prior to the divorce; I couldn’t stand all the negativity anymore, so bit by bit, I looked for ways to make life easier for myself, as mindfully as I could. I will share with you the things that helped me embrace a happier mindset the most. That said, this is not a proverbial band-aid for the pain you’re feeling, but advice to help you do the same and reach a happier place.
5 Post-Divorce Changes That Will Bring Back Your Smile
Learn a new skill
I’ve written previously about the significance of hobbies in coping with divorce stress. They helped me a great deal, as they kept me busy and away from thoughts that would drive me mad. If you think you don’t have time for hobbies, think again, and try to make time. It could be doing something with your children (such as crafting) but I strongly suggest finding some time just for yourself. If you feel you can commit to learning a new skill, by all means, join a class or teach yourself something you’ve never done before. Is there something you always wanted to know how to do, such as sewing or kickboxing? Now is the time to commit yourself. Your mind will be engaged in something new and productive and you will feel proud to see the results of your efforts.
Surround yourself with love and positivity
This is beyond important because there will be days when you’re overcome with sadness despite your efforts and you’ll need a shoulder to lean on. Build a support system of friends and family, and draw strength from the love and understanding they offer. But I put great emphasis on the positivity part. If your friend or family member wants to comfort you by bashing on your ex, however tempting that may be, tell them that’s not the way you want them to go about things. This is about you entirely, not your ex, and no negative feeling can be cured with more negativity.
We all need tenderness, especially at a time of loss and emotional exhaustion. Show affection to your children and hug them (they really need it now also), hug your friends and family, snuggle your pet and if you don’t have one, go to a petting zoo with your kids or offer to pet-sit for a friend. The simplest hug warms our heart and gives us hope, and psychology acknowledges that skin contact is essential for our overall well-being.
And I mean both emotionally and physically. The emotional decluttering is much easier said than done, as it includes forgiveness and letting go…something I was personally not ready to do for a long time. So I resorted to what I could do at the moment to help myself. I cleaned out my home of the remnants of my old life and the complicated memories they represented to me. Some things I was not quite ready to throw out yet but I didn’t want to be constantly reminded of them in my home, so I sent them away to a storage facility. Years passed until I was ready to stop clinging to them, and that’s when the process of emotional decluttering was finally over. I came to terms with myself, with what had happened and with the new dynamic I had with my ex, which was based entirely on co-parenting. Each individual does this at their own pace, but the sooner you can do it, the better. Either way, it takes willpower and a lot of mindfulness. …And regarding that wedding ring you still don’t know what to do with? You might want to read this inspiring story about the symbolic gesture of selling it.
Make your needs a priority
We naturally put our children first, and after divorce, you’re likely to end up ignoring your emotional exhaustion while trying to help them cope. But give yourself a break every now and then if you want to remain sane, and it will prove much more effective in the long run. Remember, self-care does not equal selfishness. If you need some time alone, send your children to their grandparents or to a camp or a vacation with their father. Don’t wait to be offered, it is okay to openly demand this. Go to that vacation with your friends you always wanted to go to, and don’t feel guilty about it, I beg of you.
As terribly cliché as it sounds, many people find divorce as an opportunity to rediscover themselves, myself included. Be grateful for what you have and don’t dwell on the past, assigning blame or regretting things. It’s the only way to go forward and find peace of mind. Don’t look for quick fixes, because a new haircut or quirky tattoo won’t make you feel better. Your relationship is over, but your life is not, so consider this a new chapter and write the pages to it.