3 Steps to Moving On After Divorce
Moving On After the Ink has dried
Divorce is almost always awful. But life after its all said and done doesn't have to be. It takes time to adjust to a new and sometimes terrifying reality, even if it is something you think is best for you in the long run. Just because something is the right thing to do, doesn't make the process any easier.
1. Forget about who's fault it was.
It is human nature to sit and mull over every single detail that leads you to where you are today. Especially in something as significant as divorce. It is no surprise that people will often find themselves ruminating over what their significant other did or didn't do, the things they did or did not say. This can be detrimental no matter who you determine is at fault.
If you think it is your fault, you will sit and replay instances where you think you could have done things differently. You will wonder what a different outcome could have looked like. Self-reflection about your flaws is always okay, but when you get to the point of feeling the same emotional response over and over again it is time to walk away. Feeling guilty for what went wrong over and over again is an incredible weight to bear. It is only going to hold you down and turn into self-loathing. It is time to forgive yourself for whatever role you may have had in it and be done.
If you think it was the other person's fault, then thinking about their shortcomings over and over again will probably not get you anywhere either. It will only cause you to develop animosity towards that person. There is no need for animosity at this point. You have both decided life would be better without each other and it needs to be left at that. However good or bad the events leading up to and during the divorce were, it is over now. No one is perfect, and you have had an opportunity to learn about someone else's flaws. Use this as an opportunity to find what it is you are looking for in your next partner.
If a professional basketball player misses an easy shot, or a quarterback lobs a pass that gets intercepted, the mark of their ability as an athlete is how they respond. Much the same, your real test now is how you respond to the situation you have found yourself in, not how you go there.
2. Reconnect with people in your life.
It can be really easy to lose touch with people during a marriage. Your old roommate, your friends from school, coworkers. All of these relationships can fade away during the natural course of adult life and marriage. Think of this divorce as an opportunity to get back in touch with people who have brought joy to your life in the past. Social media is a fantastic tool to do this. All it takes is a message or a comment. If you still have phone numbers, shoot them a text or go old fashioned and just make a phone call. You will be surprised to learn that people usually haven't just forgotten about you. In most cases, your old friends are probably going to lend a sympathetic ear and be excited to hear from you at the same time.
It can extremely tempting at this difficult point in your life to go into hiding and seek out solitude. That can be healing for a while but eventually, you are going to need a support system. At first, it may seem like the support you get from those around can't compare to the support you got from the person you just divorced. In time, as relationships grow and become closer, you will learn to rely on those around you more and more.
3. Be selfish.
Take this opportunity to do all the things you have always wanted to do, but your significant other didn't. Go see the movie they didn't want to see. Go to the restaurant they never wanted to go to. Spend time with the people you enjoy but they never really liked. For some of us, this time in between relationships may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. You may never find yourself with the ability to do exactly what you want, when you want to, ever again. So enjoy it.
This is a great time to take up any hobbies you thought about when you were with the other person but felt like they wouldn't be supportive of or that you didn't have time for. Try anything and everything that interests you. Take a class, learn a language, master a skill, write goofy little articles on the internet. Whatever it is you have always kind of wanted to do, now there is absolutely nothing stopping you.
Was there ever a time during your marriage where you felt like you weren't able to give work the attention it needed? A time when coworkers were going out and doing something that you felt like you couldn't join in? Was there a project that you wanted to be a part of, but felt like the time commitment would drive a wedge between you and your partner? Now is the time. Next time one of these opportunities presents itself jump on it. Make sure you make a mental note of the fact that you can do this right now because you are single. It will help reframe the way you see your life post-divorce.
Divorce is one of the most emotionally taxing things we can go through in our lives. It is probably never going to be easy. Often, we can be left feeling empty and alone. It doesn't have to be this way. It is something that millions before you have gone through and millions after you will as well. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to keep going one day at time and find joy in the newness of your life. Take advantage of the way things have changed. It'll all come out in the wash. I promise.