Make the story of your divorce recovery bittersweet and successful instead of just bitter.
Divorce is tough. The worst part of it is that there's loss after loss after loss.
You've lost your marriage.
You've lost your dreams of "happily ever after."
You've lost being married to one person for your entire life.
You've lost having your kids grow up in an intact family.
You've lost being able to see your kids growing up on a daily basis.
You've lost the conveniences that come with marriage - one home, shared responsibilities, shared parenting, etc.
These losses are only the tip of the iceberg of things you say goodbye to when your marriage ends. Divorce recovery is a tale of grief.
But the losses don't tell the whole story. They just set the stage - a stage of destruction.
It's the rest of the story that's the most powerful, the most affirming and the most wonderful. The rest of the story is about creating and rising from the ashes. It's a talk of you creating your life into something better than it was - a life you love even more. (Yes, it's possible.)
The trouble is you're probably not feeling all that heroic. And that's completely understandable. The destruction and misery surrounding you aren't exactly breeding grounds for motivation and energy.
Luckily, being (or becoming) heroic in the midst of divorce recovery doesn't have to be difficult.
You can make things better and develop a sense of hope about your future. You can get over your divorce (a hero has to have a seemingly insurmountable task to overcome) if you simply start asking yourself four questions.
The first question is about who you were before you got married: What are some things you gave up for the sake of your marriage?
Obviously, you gave up being single, but what are some of the other things? To give you an idea of where to start, let me tell you a couple of the first things I gave up for the sake of my marriage. I stopped expressing myself with a colorful vocabulary because my ex didn't approve of my use of the word "sh*t". And I stopped going out dancing.
The second question is about curiosity: What are some experiences you’d like to have or things you’d like to try?
When you’re married, you tend to dampen your curiosity to include only those things that fit within your marriage rather than things that satisfy your need to explore and have new experiences. So throw off those restraints and allow yourself to rekindle your sense of adventure and wonder as you answer this question.
The third question is about life purpose: What are some dreams you moth-balled because of your marriage?
Maybe touring the world or becoming a physician were dreams you chose to put on the back burner because they didn’t fit in with the life you were living with your spouse. The good news is that you don’t have the same constraints anymore, so dust off those dreams and see which ones still inspire you.
The final question is about your future: Who do you want to be a year from now? 5 years from now?
Fuzzy answers are OK right now especially if your divorce is in progress or recent. But you need to come up with answers because that’s who you get to start growing into right now.
One of the answers I frequently hear when I ask this question is “I want to feel happy and not sad all the time.” If that’s your answer too, start being on the lookout for one thing every day that makes you happy or at least less sad. It could be the smile on your child’s face or the beautiful clouds in the sky. Whatever it is make note of it. The more often you do notice these things the more quickly you’ll be able to lift your veil of grief.
But just because you focus on answering these questions (again and again) to pull yourself through your divorce recovery, it doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel sad, lonely or grief-stricken. What it does mean is that things will start feeling a bit different, less overwhelming and all-consuming.
And the longer you continue moving forward toward what you want the greater your appreciation for what was and the fact that it’s ending is what’s contributing to you becoming who you are now and who you want to become. So really, the losses were just the setting and the beginning of the rest of your life story. The story where you’re the hero and you wind up happy and fulfilled again.