The ink is nearly dry. You’ve had conversations with yourself, your friends and family and there are few words, if any, that will turn back the clock and allow you to retry this marriage. Your children are adjusting at their own pace and life goes on.
Whatever will you do with yourself? Might you go on that vacation that’s been on your dream sheet for three years but you always knew that Mike would just be a drag?
Might you get that manicure and color your hair that flashy auburn red so as to give yourself that little boost of confidence before putting yourself back out there? Sounds great and I’m sure you could add twenty more things to this list so I’ll let you be on your way.
Just be sure you NEVER EVER do these 7 things after your divorce.
1. Wallow in self-pity: You’re every woman right? Good, because the gal I know doesn’t let divorce define who she is or slow her roll.
2. Listen to friends or family who have the “I told you so” or, “I definitely saw the signs” bug. Yes, these people (mostly) want to help but how exactly are they helping you by telling you things you already know or feeding gossip? I’ll let you in on a secret. For the most part, people who give you these words of wisdom are generally telling you because they want to be the center of attention.
3. Look for signs that may validate your decision to divorce. You’re divorced, feelings are feelings and history is history. This is not to say you put on a mask and there’s a whole new you with no regard or thoughts about the past but looking for signs is looking for validation. What do you need to validate? That you made the right decision? Ink is dried and you’re every woman right?
4. Get a tattoo or plastic surgery less than nine months post divorce: I know, you’ve been wanting to get that tattoo for eight years, but Malcolm would’ve hated it. And now, you don’t want to wait another minute. Step back, breathe, look inward and ask yourself if you want(ed) the tattoo because of the person you truly are or the person you wanted to be when you felt trapped. I have four tattoos and no negative judgment of them on anyone, but I know that getting them shortly after a tough event (read: divorce) is not a good idea. Besides, if you wanted it for eight years, waiting nine months won’t kill you. The same goes for plastic surgery of course.
5. Spend money you do not really have simply because of the temporary pleasure you may glean from it. “He never let me get that Prada bag. I was constantly chastised for wanting a Vespa. Well, now I’m free to buy whatever the f**k I want!” Yep, you are. But is buying it a matter of personal desire or situational revenge? And can you afford these things or does it mean more credit card debt and less money for the things that will truly make you happy? I am a huge shopper but, much like the tattoo discussion, I don’t shop when I’m angry or when I’m going through a tough time. Vulnerability and plastic do not go well together.
6. Hook up with that guy that you’ve had mutual admiration and perhaps a couple of minor flirtations with during your marriage. You’re feeling it and you know he’s feeling it. You’ve crossed paths and exchanged pleasantries in the break room to dripping effect at times. So why not just take that plunge? Because, the you that comes out may just become the new you. You will find yourself falling into a world that is intriguing and feels good but may be in direct conflict with your real self. Parrot says, “Step back, breathe and look inward. Casual sex, if mutually desired is the bees knees and the wings. But jumping into it without investigating yourself and your true needs and wants is bad news.”
7. Do things that are not meaningful or relevant to you simply to ‘stay busy’: It’s healthy to find things that can occupy your time and mind when you’re stressed or dealing with a tough issue. But filling that time with meaningless things is wrong for so many reasons:
- Every meaningless minute wasted means a meaningful minute wasted. What are you not doing that you could be doing?
- You could be creating a false sense of purpose and enjoyment that will eventually catch up to you. You will soon step back and realize you’ve just wasted nine months of your life doing things that seemed right at the time but were ultimately dissatisfying. When people discover this, it can often be a major setback to their recovery overall. The idea of a purpose-driven life is real, even in the non-spiritual/non-religious sense. What moves you and why are you not focusing on those things?
There are some resonant themes within this list. The first is that it is incredibly important to move on psychologically, emotionally and physically. Seeking more validation or listening to the eager mouths of others does not aid in this at all. The second is that there is a real you at one point and perhaps, sometime between year three of your marriage and divorce, it got lost. You don’t find the real you again by finding ways to reinvent yourself. Reinvigoration is important but being another person and making decisions the real you would not make may be momentarily satisfying but ultimately unhealthy. Be healthy by being you.
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