It’s that one constant in life: change. A new home, a never-thought-I-could-do-this career move, the death of a loved one, getting used to life after divorce….They’re all about change, movement, growth...and adapting.
Some change you expect, whether you welcome it or futilely wish it away. There is, after all, a reason those in-the-know say that aging isn’t for sissies, despite the irony of its blessing.
Some change happens on a dime, and it can just as easily be for profit as for loss.
Some change comes from tragedy — split-second, terrifying, incomprehensible, forever life-altering.
And some change happens with your full awareness and full participation, regardless of any prescience of the outcome.
Divorce, despite its collective branding, is unique to every couple. It is also unique to each individual within that couple.
There are, after all, multiple histories that build the foundation of every relationship.
And, if and when you leave that relationship, you will leave with a new history.
You will always have your personal early chapters. But relationships can shift the way even those are read and ultimately perceived.
You will also have new chapters. Chapters influenced by the melding of two histories in the creation of a new history. And chapters rich in individual character development that can serve as the starting point for a new, expanded story.
In TV lingo, it’s a spin-off.
In relationship lingo, it’s getting used to life after divorce or a breakup.
Whether or not you want(ed) your divorce, your new life is going to be filled with change.
Some will frighten you. Some will excite you. Some will baffle you. Some will exhaust you.
The constant in all of this change is you. And therefore, getting used to life after divorce is going to be part of a new history that you write.
What do you need to know to set yourself up for success?
Here are 7 snippets of insight and wisdom to help you regain control of your life without being thrown off-track by the unpredictable.
- You will experience a lot of emotions. You just will. Embrace them.
You basked in emotions when you were dating and planning your wedding. All that euphoria, anticipation, and dreamy-eyed wonder about marital bliss. All those shades of white for your picket fence.
Life was so uncomplicated then.
And now? Now it’s all heartache, anger, and disappointment. What the hell happened?
Life changes bring everything up. They’re like the once-a-decade move-all-the-furniture house cleaning. Cobwebs and lost Legos everywhere. Streaming sunlight making a marquee of all your dust.
You know it will all come together at some point, but right now you’re feeling a bit Agnostic.
It may be a while before you’re able to look back and say, “My life got better after divorce.” But, if you can at least accept the emotional ebbs and flows as messengers of vital information, you’ll be pointed in the right direction.
And know that there are always camaraderie, support, and expert help available.
Your emotions may be yours alone. But you don’t have to navigate them alone.
- You will journey through grief, even if you wanted your divorce. Embrace it.
You don’t have to be pining for your ex to grieve the loss of your marriage. You were half of that union, so losing it is like losing part of yourself.
You were vested — body, mind, and soul — in your marriage.
Grief is, despite its undesirability, an acknowledgment of that investment. Looked at positively, it is a process of remembering what is worth our efforts, even when we don’t get what we were hoping for.
- You will lose friends as part of the divorce. Thank them in your heart for being part of your life and bless them on their way.
As if the loss of your marriage isn’t bad enough, now you have to permanently change your invite list.
Sides are always taken, even without malintent, especially if a divorce isn’t amicable. It can be messy for everyone, not just the couple.
Take a deep breath and strive to remember your gratitude for the experience of those alliances in your life. Spend time with the lessons they taught you, even as you grieve the loss (perhaps only temporary) of treasured friendships.
Remember that everyone is on a unique journey. And you were part of their journeys just as they were part of yours.
- You will make new friends during and after your divorce. Welcome them into your life.
Life is funny that way. It removes things from your path so you can see clearly what it has gifted you just up ahead.
And so it is with friendships, alliances, and even love.
You are on a new path. You have new feelings, new hopes, new needs. Do you honestly think life would neglect you when it is asking so much of you?
Welcome the unexpected. You never know when your lifelong greatest friend is going to be one accidental encounter away.
- You will be asked by life to do things you have never done before. Embrace the challenge to learn and grow.
Whether it’s learning finances or re-entering the work field or doing your own laundry, getting used to life after divorce is going to challenge you.
It can be tough to remember this when you are emotionally wiped out. But your life has great purpose. And, no matter how much you may lament the frustration of realizing it, it is aligned with all you need to achieve it.
Acknowledge the frustration, but embrace the opportunity to grow.
- You will find yourself standing in front of the proverbial mirror a lot. Look closely. Change what doesn’t serve you, but learn to really love the person looking back at you.
Tough not to blame your ex for the failure of your marriage, isn’t it? He just didn’t get me. She didn’t appreciate me. He ignored. She nagged.
Even if your marriage had an imbalance in fault, there is always enough responsibility to go around.
If you’re going to take credit for the good stuff, you have to own your share of the no-so-good too.
Getting used to life after divorce is, to a great extent, about getting reacquainted with
It’s easy to get lost in the “us” role of marriage at the expense of knowing, caring for, and taking responsibility for yourself.
But now is the time to take a deeper look.
What do you love about yourself? What could use some work? How did you contribute to the demise of your marriage, even if that contribution was neglect or avoidance?
What still needs to be acknowledged, healed, strengthened inside yourself so you can be part of a more vital relationship in the future?
Every relationship is a mirror. And none is more important than the mirror you hold up to yourself.
- You will come to realize that you are stronger than you ever imagined.
Strength is built over increased load, repetition, and time. It’s the presence of change and challenge that increases the load, decreases your endurance, and makes you sore for a while.
And it’s the presence of perseverance that gives unlimited promise to all that sweat equity.
Getting used to life after divorce is no more an overnight achievement than getting to the point of divorce was. It’s a process.
And the success of that process will be determined by you.
You will never know all that’s around the corner in this “new life.” But your willingness to look around the corner as you walk down a new street will open your life to endless possibilities.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. If you’d like additional support getting used to life after divorce, you can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or you can schedule a 30-minute private consultation with me.