Rebuilding your life after a divorce is obviously hard.
One of the positives can be having the time to really look at yourself and where your life is going. In a way, you’re forced to re-evaluate everything. Some of us naturally take time every once in a while to do check-ins with ourselves. I know I’m like that. But for others, it takes a crisis or special event before we take stock in whether what we are doing will get us the outcomes we want in life. After a divorce, you don’t really have a choice. You need to make sense of the past and how your decisions got you to that place.
A break up can sometimes afford you the opportunity to re-invent some aspects of your life and undo destructive habits that may have formed. But for each person under different circumstances, it can be challenging. If you have children are you now primarily parenting on your own? Do you have financial issues- can you support yourself? Family issues, re-negotiating friendships, and housing situations are also factors in how you will approach remodeling your life. Now you need to figure out what it is you want and what steps will take you there.
Where to go?
It helped me to think through areas where I might have done better but it’s confusing when you feel you did your best and it still turned out badly. Sometimes you can pinpoint obvious decisions that were wrong turns and sometimes you can’t. What do you do with these thoughts? How do you go forward trusting your future decisions? How do you trust in general?
Time and focused effort are needed to rediscover who you are. During a struggling marriage, you often lose your sense of identity and self-esteem. Try to remember what things made you feel like yourself and do those things.
Prayer and meditating on scriptures about wholeness is also a way to invite God to speak to your heart about who you are.
Sharing with others that are in a similar situation can allow you to identify emotions, gain insight and feel compassion and validation.
Get counseling and focus on your self-care. This could mean taking time alone to focus on what you need and where you feel you are. It doesn’t have to be a long period away from everyone since you most likely will not have that option. It can look like setting aside a few minutes a day to a couple of hours a week. Be sure to schedule that time for yourself and book appointments with a counselor or look for other affordable options.
If you are a friend supporting someone going through this stage you can help them find an option or even offer to babysit so they can free up time for appointments or rest.
Release the past and learn to trust your instincts again
I feel as humans we are always looking for shortcuts and formulas in life to help things make sense. I love these formulas. The idea that if you do things a certain way that you will have x y and z outcomes is motivating. Having come from an athletic background I know the reality is even if you make great decisions of what to eat, how to train, and discipline yourself that the outcomes will vary based on a whole host of variables. Your genes, rest, injuries, other people, weather, and more unknowns, might mean that even at your best you’re not guaranteed to win a race. You might still get some good outcomes- being stronger, healthier, and running personal best times even if you don’t make it to the Olympics.
The same is even more true in relationships. You can and should do your best in choosing and applying healthy principles to your dating life and self-care but there are so many unknowns that you can’t control. I think for those of us who have gone through a divorce it can feel like a personal failure. From the outside, as I mentioned in a previous blog, it can look like an easy fix.
But now you must make peace with the past and listen to your instincts in a new way. Depending on how your relationship ended it can be difficult to know how to trust your instincts. If you felt something was wrong for a long time and others told you that your feelings weren’t valid or if your decisions backfired it can create huge areas of self-doubt.
It makes you question trying again. How can you trust yourself or even others? I’ve had people ask me if I noticed things beforehand that could have been indicators for a failed relationship or what things I felt I did wrong. The truth is there will always be things that you notice about people that are good and bad because people are humans, not robots. Things that might be bad for you could work for someone else and so just looking at things in a black and white way isn’t really helpful. What could be an indicator of a broken future relationship could be present in other relationships that continue to be secure. It’s important to do your due diligence but helpful to remember that anything can happen. The best thing you can do is grow into becoming a faithful and maturing person that is committed to becoming the best version of yourself -at least most of the time.