You can beat divorce – if you’re willing to do the work.
The aftermath of divorce can wreak havoc with your heart and play all kinds of tricks with your mind. As if the shock, grief, and change in everything aren’t enough, you also have to worry about your quality of life after divorce. Where will I live? How will I make it financially? Will I spend the rest of my life alone?
The truth can be of little consolation when your life has come unhinged. And yet, there is consolation in the fact that the truth is just that -- the truth. When you feel no stability and no familiarity, you can at least look to that beacon of hope that is steadfast.
And the truth is this: You have more control over your quality of life after divorce than you think you do.
You will have choices to make, however. And you will have to take accountability -- for the past, for the future, and especially for the present. You may not be able to undo your divorce, but you can take charge of your quality of life after divorce.
The biggest choice you will have to make is who is going to win -- your divorce or you. You alone get to choose whether you go down with your failed marriage or learn powerful lessons from it and rise to a better life.
How do you know if you aren’t taking control over your quality of life after divorce? These are some of the easy-to-do but not-good-for-moving-on behaviors you might catch yourself in.
- Stalking your ex on social media.
It’s so difficult not to do this. Even those who don’t like social media can’t escape it. And you and your ex probably have a lot of common friends, not to mention a forever-documented history of your life together.
But if your Facebook check-in involves rushing to your ex’s page to see what he or she is up to, you are allowing your divorce to control you. Is your ex going out without you? Dating again? Smiling without you? Taking that trip you were always going to take together?
If you are going to take charge of your quality of life after divorce, you will have to consciously fight the urge to “go there.” If you have to unfollow or unfriend your ex to remove the temptation to keep tabs, then do so.
How does this help you determine the quality of your own life? First, there is nothing to be gained from constantly immersing yourself in the energy of your ex’s life. You both have to move on.
Second, each time you resist the temptation, you take a positive step forward. It may not feel like it at the time, but it’s one small step for today, one giant leap for your life tomorrow.
- Following your ex or showing up accidentally.
As the saying goes, there are no accidents. You may have some genuinely accidental run-ins. But if you are intentionally detouring through your ex’s neighborhood on your way home or showing up at his/her favorite spots, you’re stalling your own progress.
Ask yourself, “What am I hoping to see? Will I be happy if his car is there? Suspicious if there is another car in the driveway? Will I swell up with jealousy if I see her having coffee with another guy? What do I want my ex to think or feel if we bump into one another? What are my true intentions -- that I should be the first one to be happy? That my ex isn’t allowed to be happy without me?”
How does controlling this urge help you take charge of your quality of life after divorce? Again, it is one small urge resistance that pushes you out of the familiar pull of a relationship to which you can’t return.
Your life on earth is finite. Why would you want to spend it on a dead-end street hoping to see that someone you once loved is also miserable? The world is a lot bigger than that. And so are you.
- Trying to skip the grief by finding a replacement.
Surely it feels unfair that something you didn’t bargain for on your wedding day is now putting your life on hold. Maybe you didn’t want the divorce. But now you are expected to grieve it before you can move on with your life?
Grief is inevitable. And yet, it also carries an element of choice. You alone decide whether you will embrace the process and its lessons or stay in denial and reject it. No amount of “getting back out there” into the dating world is going to send grief packing.
When you accept that grief is a natural journey, you have the support of the universe to get you through it. You also have the assurance that on the other end of grief’s dark beginning is acceptance and liberation.
Believe it or not, hope is the companion of grief. And it is the greatest friend you can ask for when taking charge of your quality of life after divorce.
In addition to consciously avoiding behaviors that keep you stuck, there are proactive behaviors that will propel forward your quality of life after divorce.
- Let go of blame, regret, and guilt.
This is a process that takes time. It also takes a lot of introspection, even working-through with a therapist or other support system.
Think of these negative players as pawns on a chess board. They take up space and you have to work around them or get rid of them. When you clear them out, you open up the playing space of your life to make bigger and better things happen.
And when you accept responsibility for your own contributions to your divorce, you grow up a little more. All of a sudden you realize that, just like you, everyone else (including your ex) is on a journey of “growing up.”
There is enough blame to go around. There is also enough love to go around. Choose the latter, and life will unfold beautifully before your eyes.
- Choose forgiveness.
Of yourself. Of your ex. Hand everything and everyone that is a challenge to you over to your Higher Power. Forgive so that you can be forgiven. Forgive so the negativity doesn’t take up any more space on your chess board. Forgive so love can do its work.
- Learn, learn, learn!
Choose to see your challenges as opportunities to see what you might otherwise not have seen. Allow the light to reveal those areas that need correction, and make them.
Life is all about lessons. Learn them and move on, or ignore them and stay stuck. One way or another, life is always blessing you with the opportunity to be happy.
- Ask for help.
You are only as alone as you choose to be. Divorce can leave you feeling vulnerable, afraid, lonely, and even unsociable. But it also gives you the opportunity to welcome new people and resources into your life.
Your new financial situation may push you to learn about areas formerly handled by your spouse. And so you stretch, grow, and become more self-sufficient.
Perhaps you need help with your children so you can work, and suddenly you have a “village” that becomes your lifeline. “Ask, and it will be given to you.”
- Practice gratitude.
Be grateful for all you have and all you can do. And as you work on letting go and forgiving, allow gratitude to remind you of all the gifts and lessons you received during your marriage.
Gratitude keeps you grounded in the present, even as it reminds you of the gifts of the past. It keeps you from wanting what you don’t or shouldn’t have. It is the most beautiful, natural way to recognize that your quality of life after divorce is as extraordinary and simple as “thank you.”
Taking charge of your quality of life after divorce isn’t all about financial and materialistic quality. If it were, you could stay clinging and stuck for the rest of your life.
Your quality of life is a reflection of your own way of seeing your life. What is important to you? What truly matters to you?
And, most importantly, do you trust yourself...and do you trust life...to manifest it?
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. If you’d like additional support in creating a good life after divorce, you can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or you can schedule a 30-minute private consultation with me.