During my marriage, my identity became wrapped up in being a wife and mother. My sense of self, who I was as an individual, became lost in those roles. This is a common problem for women who are stay-at-home moms and wives. Maintaining our identities takes a backseat to making sure our children and husband have their needs met. When leaving that marriage I was charged with finding a new sense of self after divorce, though.
Before I married I had dreams about what I wanted in the future. I was a vibrant, inquisitive woman who constantly explored different ways to broaden my horizons. My weekends were packed with activities that filled me up emotionally and intellectually. I was a fully autonomous being who had no problem identifying what I liked and didn’t like and what I wanted out of life.
After my divorce, I couldn’t have told you which way was up, let alone who I was as an individual and what I wanted out of life. My identity, during the marriage, had vanished and been replaced by my husbands’. When we divorced not only was I left with two children to raise on my own but the need to rebuild a new sense of self. Not an easy task!
How does one develop a new sense of self after divorce?
1. Focus on self-improvement: Focusing on self-improvement keeps at bay feelings of self-doubt and any insecurities you may feel about your ability to move forward and build a new life for yourself. And, by focus, I don’t mean sit around and think about how you can improve yourself. True self-improvement only comes about through action. Marrying thoughts of positive self-improvement with actions that promote self-improvement is the only way to true self-improvement.
There is an old Hindu proverb that best describes how I felt about my own quest for self-improvement after my divorce, “There is nothing noble about being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.” Make the choice every day to be your best self!
2. Don’t waste your free time: You are going to find you have a lot of free time on your hands after divorce. Time you spent with your ex will now be time you spend alone. In the evening after the children were in bed, on movie dates, or sitting next to each other at school events, a lot will change. You are no longer partnered and shouldn’t use this alone time to sit and ruminate over the fact that you are alone.
Instead of watching TV alone in the evenings, do a nightly exercise routine. Or, take an online class while your children sleep. Use your children’s after school activities and sporting events to get to know other parents and form new friendships. Are their hobbies you’ve wanted to take up but put on the backburner? Now is the time to pursue interests outside your marriage and your children.
3. Make room for the past: Revisit the old you, the person you were before marriage and identify dreams and plans you had that fell by the wayside. Did you one day want to travel alone, or start your own business? This may be the perfect time to rekindle some of those lost dreams and make them a reality.
4. Take a self-inventory: Ask yourself what your best qualities are. Do you have good qualities you wish to accentuate and bad qualities you wish to change? Divorce has a way of shining a light on the negative aspects of our personality we need to rethink. Acknowledge your weaknesses and allow your positive qualities to replace them. As the Andrews sisters sang, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and latch on to the affirmative.”
My experience, after years of self-growth and self-actualization, a good self of sense leads to a fulfilling life so, get out there and get started finding out what it means to be you.