The path to move on from divorce and divorce recovery isn’t straight and narrow.
(NOTE: This article is a classic and was written in 2015. As a result, the dates and years passed are not accurate today. Enjoy!)
I recently got a new computer. And if you’ve ever had to transfer files from one computer to another, you know that it can be kind of fun to take a peek at what has been hogging up space on your hard drive.
Well, on my expedition through all of my files, I found emails in my inbox that were more than ten years old! Some of these ancient notes even had details about the negotiations my ex and I went through to settle our divorce in 2002. Not really anything I need to have hanging around any more, right?
Believe it or not, I paused before hitting delete and trashing all of that ancient correspondence. I was flooded with a variety of thoughts and questions. “Those emails were part of my personal history,” I thought to myself. They were part of what defined me — back then. “Would I be throwing away a piece of myself if I deleted those emails? Would I be disrespectful of that old relationship?”
Yes, ten whole years after my divorce was complete, seeing those emails brought up some of the turmoil that I went through when I got divorced. It was fleeting, but it was absolutely there.
Does this sound familiar? Most people believe that that once the divorce decree is signed, that should be the end of it. Most people also think that once you’ve moved on, things will never pop up again to remind you of the huge transition that your divorce was in your life. That’d be nice, but the truth is that your divorce will always be a part of your personal history. Even after you finish the bulk of your transition from married to single, there will be events, people and things that remind you of both the unpleasant and pleasant parts of your divorce. It’s okay and it’s normal. As you get more and more involved in living your life for you, the impact your divorce has will diminish to barely a blip on your radar.
How do I know? Because more than ten years after my divorce was finalized, when I found those emails detailing the negotiations about our division of property, I paused. But I paused for only a moment before I hit delete and felt really good about my current life. And you know the best part? I wouldn’t be here today without having gone through what I went through back then.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
What are you holding on to that you might be ready to let go? Consider the things, thoughts, and ideas that you’re holding on to currently. The ones that bring you the most pain might just be the ones that you consider letting go of.
What might be the consequences of letting them go? Thinking about the repercussions of letting these things go, you’ll discover both positive and negative possibilities. Get them all out so you can really see what the cost of letting them go might be. Sometimes the consequences of letting them go are really wonderfully positive.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
When I was 13, my Grandpa died. I was devastated. He was my favorite person in the entire world and I was never going to see him again.
I wasn’t alone in my grief, my entire family was devastated – especially my Grandma. Grandma and Grandpa were very happily married and they were each other’s world.
Eventually, we were all able to process our grief and move on with our lives – except for Grandma. For the next 20 years, until her death, my grandma mourned the loss of her husband. When things happened that she didn’t like, she’d say, “Your grandpa wouldn’t have let that happen.” When things happened that she did like, she’d say, “Your grandpa would have liked that.”
It was really hard for me to hear her make comments like these. Every time I heard her make one of these statements I would cringe internally. It seemed to me that she must be missing out on life since she was so focused on the past and what she had lost.
I have very similar feelings today when I hear one of my clients tell me about how much they mourn what they used to have in their marriage. Don’t get me wrong, grief is a very normal and necessary part of divorce. No one can tell anyone else how long they need to grieve.
The thing is I also know that sometimes people don’t know how to finish grieving and start moving on after divorce. They wind up keeping themselves imprisoned in what was and what they believe should have been instead of figuring out ways to enjoy what is and what might be. I certainly don’t want that to happen to you.
What I’ve discovered in my years working with people dealing with divorce is that the individuals who are most successful in moving on after divorce are those who have hope that their life can and will be good, if not great, again.
Going through divorce can feel like you’re stuck in a long, dark, dank, cobweb-filled and scary tunnel. Hope can be the light at the end of the tunnel.
One of the quickest ways to find hope and start the process of moving on after divorce is to get in action – directed and planned action. To do this requires thoughtful planning. I’m not talking about the kind of planning that you force yourself to accomplish by a specific deadline. I’m talking about creating plans that inspire you to take action, that make you happy to think about accomplishing and that you are willing to do what it takes to achieve.
For many of my clients moving on after divorce often starts with the hope of being in another relationship. We start to turn this hope into a plan by stepping back from the idea of being in another relationship by figuring out what has to happen before they can be in another relationship. Usually that means they need to be dating. If they’re not currently dating, we take a step back and ask what needs to happen before they can be dating. Usually that means they need to meet people they can date. We continue this process of backing things up until we find an action they can take right now. An action that gives them hope that what they want to have in their life they can!
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
What do you hope to have in your life? Allow yourself to truly dream when you answer this question. You can look at divorce as a chance at a do-over. What do you happily hope for?
As you take a step back from this hope, what needs to happen before your hope is a reality? It’s OK if you don’t know the EXACT thing that needs to happen before your hope is realized, just think about what in general needs to be true before your hope is realized.
Continue taking steps back until you have an action you can take today. Every day you have choices you can make about what you do. Wouldn’t it be great fun if one of the things you did today got you closer to making your hope a reality?
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice . And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach.