Enjoying Life After A Divorce
These days more and more people have experienced divorce, finding themselves single again, after expecting to be in a relationship for the rest of their lives.
As you read this, you may be facing divorce yourself, or trying to recover from the pain of one.
Divorce is incredibly painful and can take a long time to recover from; and along with the emotions you go through, you also have to deal with other factors, like the responses of other people.
There are many pains and challenges to face as a divorced person, however the good news is that there is life after the break up of a marriage, it is not the end, even though it may feel like it.
In this Hub, we will look at some useful keys which can help you recover, and move forward, so you can enjoy life after a divorce.
The Emotional Pain
I once heard someone say that divorce is similar to the grieving process. It can be as painful as the death of a loved one. There is pain connected to divorce that goes far deeper than just breaking up with someone you have been dating. The hurt and pain can be one of the hardest parts of divorce to deal with and recover from.
It is important to understand that this takes time. You cannot expect to get over the pain overnight, but nor should you be carrying that pain many, many years later. There will be tears, and there will be days that you hurt all day and night. You need to understand this is part of grieving the break up of your marriage.
However like any other emotional pain, you can heal up, and move on.
If You are Divorced, What is Your Age Range?
You Are Not Alone
Years ago, if you were single in your 30s or 40s you were likely to be in a small group of people your age, but it is not longer like that.
These days there are multitudes of single people in all age ranges, from their twenties through to eighties and above, and you are no longer 'the only single person your age'.
Many of these people have also experienced divorce, so you do not need to feel like you are alone in what you have gone through. Yes, each of our circumstances leading up to the divorce may be unique, but others have managed to recover and rebuild, and so can you.
A Fresh Start: A Second Chance at Life
One of the positive sides to divorce (if there are any) is that it gives you a second chance, the chance to start over. I am not encouraging divorce for those who are still married as a way to get a second chance though. If you are still married, do whatever you can to try to rebuild the relationship.
However if divorce has occurred, it gives you the chance to 'restart' your life. No matter how old you are, you can restart, and use your remaining years to the full.
Having a second chance has so many benefits. You have the chance to do things better, make better choices (including the type of person you get into a relationship with), as well as make major direction changes in your life like career and location changes.
How to Rebuild after a Divorce
Going through a marriage breakup, it can feel like your entire life is falling apart, however things can be rebuilt.
Here are some tips to consider to help you this process:
1) Allow Yourself Time to Heal
You cannot expect to get over the pain over night, and it is important that you allow yourself the time to heal up from the hurt.
How long this takes will vary for each of us, however I personally say it will take about two years. This may seem like a long time, however this recovery time is important if you are to go onto the next phase of your life free from the hurt of the past.
Emotional pain can be like a physical injury. Injuries take time to heal, and sometimes if you expect too much of an damaged body part too soon, you can cause further damage.
Doctors recommend different recovery times for injuries, depending on the specific injury. A broken leg needs recovery time. Even a cut needs time to heal. If you keep picking at a cut which is trying to heal, you can reopen the wound, delaying the healing process.
You need to recognise that there is recovery and healing taking place inside you. During this recovery time you may look within yourself a lot, examine who you are and why things happened to you how they did. You may evaluate your life, and begin to think about where you want to go from here.
2) Start to Get Stronger
Just like a broken legs needs recovery time, it must also come to the place where you start to strengthen it up and use it again. It cannot remain a broken leg all your life, but must start to become a useful part of your body again.
After you have allowed yourself time to heal from the pain, you then need to make the decision to strengthen up again inside. Recovery should not take a lifetime, but rather you want to recover so that you can enjoy the rest of your life.
Heal up, recover, then strengthen up.
Part of coming to the strengthening up stage is reaching the point where you make a decision to move on. It may take some will power, but it is a point you need to reach within yourself. It may start with a conscious decision that, 'Now is the time to get up, shake off the dust and start to get strong again.'
Have You Experienced Divorce?
Dealing with People who Look Down On You
Attitudes towards divorced people have changed in recent years, however there can still be negative reactions from some toward those who are divorced.
This could include certain religious groups or people from some cultural backgrounds.
The religious reaction to divorce
Depending upon your religious affiliations (if any), you may find yourself looked down upon. Fortunately many religious groups have managed to come to the place where they do not look down upon divorced people, but there are still some that do.
Cultural attitudes toward divorce and those who have gone through it.
Depending upon your cultural background, you may find yourself facing more challenges than other people.
Overcoming these stigmas can be tough, however you need to decide whether other people are going to define who you are, or if you are going to rise above their judgements and negative attitudes.
For some it may mean finding new groups to spend time around who do not judge you, for others it may mean coming to the place where you can hold your head up high and walk amidst those who want to judge you, without it affecting you.
3) Admitting You Are Divorced
There are two parts to admitting your marriage has broken up. Firstly there is admitting to yourself that you are divorced, and there is admitting it to others.
Admit it to yourself
As mentioned above, divorce is like grief in many ways, and one of the stages of grief is denial.
When you fill in forms that ask if you are married, single or divorced, it can take a while to tick the 'divorced' box without feeling like you are terrible for doing so. When you meet new people, and they ask if you are married, you may be tempted to just say you are married, or that you are single.
It is good to face up to the fact within yourself, 'I am now divorced, and there is no shame in being so'
Admitting it to others
One of the hardest things to deal with is admitting to other people you are divorced, especially if it is your first divorce.
If you grew up in an environment where 'marriage is supposed to be for life', and 'divorce should never happen', it can make you feel very ashamed to 'be' a divorced person.
You may feel shame, guilt or like you are less of a person. Questions like 'what will other people think of me' are likely to fill your mind at some point.
Quite honestly most people these days will not feel anything bad about you because you have gone through a divorce. It is not quite the 'black mark against your name' that it used to be.
You are likely to find that most people do not think anything bad about you when they hear you are divorced, and it may surprise you to hear that they are too!
You do not have to feel ashamed of what you have gone through, or guilty about being divorced
4) Rebuilding Your Confidence
Sometimes a relationship can leave a person with low self confidence, especially if they have felt that they are not good enough for their partner, or been put down by them. When the relationship went wrong, there may have been lots of arguing, where hurtful things were said, and your self image may have taken a blow.
People blame themselves for things going wrong, and this can leave them with feelings that maybe they will never succeed, maybe they will never find the right person, or maybe they are destined to be single.
Rebuilding your own self confidence is an important part of recovering from divorce. Finding ways to start feeling good about yourself.
The next couple of points include ways that will help you rebuild your confidence
5) Making Changes to Yourself
One way to feel better about yourself is to go through an image change.
Now understand, you are not doing this for other people, you are doing it for yourself. Simple things like getting a new hairstyle (or colour) or changes in your clothing can really have a big effect upon your confidence and the way you feel about yourself.
Do things like join a gym, make exercise a part of your life if it is not already; or take up dance lessons. Find a new hobby, something you enjoy doing, or have always wanted to do.
The changes could even be more extreme like moving to a new city, or even country, or taking the opportunity to travel.
I am not saying you have to make changes to yourself in order to move on from divorce, you may prefer to stay the way you are, however it can be a great way to make a fresh start.
Creating a new 'you' can be part of your moving forward toward a new life past divorce.
6) Start to Get Out There and Socialise
There may be times you want to isolate yourself and stay away from other people, or when you feel like sitting on the sofa all day watching television. Isolation can be one of the effects of divorce, especially when you are still going through the pain of it.
However making the decision to get out and start socialising can have a very positive effect on your recovery. Depending on your personal interests, the way you do this may vary, however I encourage you to find a way to 'get out there'.
For you it may be joining a book reading club, starting to have nights out again on the town, forming new friendships, or rekindling ones that were lost in the past. As mentioned above, this may include joining a gym or taking up dance lessons.
These are just a few ideas of ways to get back into socialising rather than isolating yourself.
Loneliness can be one of the painful 'after effects' of a divorce, and often with loneliness comes a desire to isolate yourself further. You need to reach within, overcome the desire to isolate yourself and start to connect more with people again.
7) Entering the Dating World
At some point you may want to think about dating again. Only you know when you are ready for this, but consider the fact that jumping into anything too serious when you are not properly over your divorce can mean carrying lots of baggage into the new relationship.
For some, it can also be one of the hardest and most intimidating areas of recovering from divorce, especially for those who were married for many years and have not 'had to date' for a long time.
Getting out there and mixing with single people can be intimidating, however there comes a point where you need to put the past behind and start to step forward. Start with forming new friendship on a social level, then progress onto dating when you are ready.
8) Entering Relationships Again
Following on from dating may come entering a more serious relationship again. Understand though that there is no shame in remaining single if you prefer to.
For those who do decide to develop a relationship again, you may find yourself facing concerns or fears of repeating the cycle of divorce a second time. Maybe you feel you were the cause of the break up of your marriage and think you will cause it again in your new relationship.
It may also dig up hurts you thought you had recovered from, causing you to have to face them again.
However none of this should stop you. We all want to have love in our lives, and being divorced does not mean you cannot have love again.
I hope these points will help you in the process of finding life after divorce. Understand that yur recovery is a process, however there is hope and life after divorce.