It’s finally official. You’ve signed the papers. You’re no longer married. You’re now about to embark on an entirely new journey- but that doesn’t mean you’re feeling ready for it.
After the death of a spouse, divorce is rated second in the most stressful life events you can endure. And if you’re going through a divorce, this should come as no surprise. The separation between you and your spouse can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining.
However, life after divorce doesn’t need to be bleak. This time can be a wonderful opportunity for reinventing yourself and carving out a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Allow Yourself To Grieve
Regardless of the circumstances, you will likely experience some kind of grief and mourning in the aftermath of your divorce. After all, at the core of it, divorce entails profound loss. Some of this loss is physical- you are losing another person and potentially losing certain assets like a home. The more painful parts of the loss tend to be emotional- you are losing a sense of identity and losing future hopes and dreams.
Allow for these feelings and make room for them. Share your struggles with loved ones. Talk it out with a therapist who specializes in divorce counseling. Give yourself the time and space for vulnerable expression.
By accepting and working through this pain, you honor your healing process. And by honoring your healing process, you’ll likely recover faster than you would if you tried to suppress, minimize, or avoid your feelings.
Embrace Being Alone
Many people lose their individual identities within the confines of a marriage.
However, if you’ve been with a partner for a long time, the idea of going out solo may seem terrifying. But this is your time to rediscover yourself!
Remember that being alone doesn’t mean you’re a loser. It doesn’t mean you need to succumb to total isolation. It just means that you need to find comfort and enjoyment in being with yourself.
Start by reflecting on the things that you’ve always wanted to try. Did you sacrifice trying them because of your marriage? What hobbies or activities did you enjoy doing before you got married? Take the time to identify and cultivate some of your unique strengths and characteristics. They’ve always been there- you may have just lost sight of them over the years.
Try Something New
One of the best ways to start a new chapter is try something new. Perhaps you've always wanted to try painting, take up golf, run a marathon or even read more. Now is the time to add something to your life that will not only keep you occupied, but also bring you joy.
Bonus points if the new thing you're trying also gets you out of your comfort zone. Now that you are in a new phase of your life, it's time to shake things up a bit and that means breaking out of the status quo. Stretch those wings and push yourself! Not only will you gain more confidence, you might also meet new people, learn new things and bring some much needed novelty into your life.
If you’re on the fence about what to try, sit on it for a week or two. Make a pros-and-cons list. Reflect on your interests. Then make a decision and do it. If you don't like it, no problem, simply try something else.
Lean On Your Support
Friendships may change after your divorce. This is especially true if you and your ex-spouse shared several couple friends. It’s also true if most of your friends are still married, and you are newly single.
Friendships can and should evolve. However, you still need support during this vulnerable time. Can you reach out to some of your single friends? Are there any family members who can cheer you up when you’re feeling sad? Can you join a club or sign up for a class to meet new people?
Talk To Your Children
We all know that divorce can impact children of all ages. As a parent, it’s your job to demonstrate compassion, support, and love during this delicate time. Many children feel worried and unsafe in the aftermath of a divorce. They may blame themselves, and they may obsess over the changes coming ahead.
Don’t shy away from these difficult discussions. Kids will have questions, and they will have fears. You need to reassure them that it’s okay for them to come to you. That said, you also need to reinforce that the decision was an adult decision related to adult issues.
Building Your Meaningful Life After Divorce
Change is stressful, and divorce is one of the most significant changes you can experience in your adult life. No matter how long you were married or the circumstances surrounding its dissolution, you will have some powerful feelings about it!
Therapy offers a safe, compassionate, and nonjudgmental space to explore some of these emotions. With the right mindset and coping strategies, your life after divorce may be the best life you ever live.