The day you are served with divorce papers is rock bottom if you are someone who wanted love and marriage, was committed to love and marriage, then felt blind-sided by having a husband say “I’m not happy” one day, move out the next week-end, and serve divorce papers first thing Monday morning. That was my story, and the day the papers were delivered was shocking, devastating, embarrassing, and overwhelming. My worst day ever.
If someone told me then I’d look back on that day as the best day of my life, I would not have believed it. Yet that’s how I look at from my current vantage point.
Turn Your Life Around After Divorce! 10 Steps to a Thriving New Life!
- Get your mind around it.
It happened. This is your life now. Your dreams are crushed, your ego is crushed; you are going through stages of grief – shock, denial, bargaining, and anger. Your job right now is to try to get to the acceptance stage because you don’t want to stay stuck. Do not be telling yourself “this shouldn’t have happened to me” and “I didn’t do anything to deserve this” and “it isn’t fair”. Those are all ways of saying you shouldn’t be having the experience you’re having, and they all keep you feeling bitter at the hand life has dealt you. No good comes from that headspace.
- Do not let that story define you. Do whatever it takes to quit feeling sad, bad, wronged and victimized. I’m not saying you weren’t wronged, maybe you were, but don’t tell your sad story over and over, endlessly elaborating on the injustice of your experience. Your friends will either run at the sight of you or reinforce your “poor me” thinking by throwing the pity party for you. That is not the energy vibration you want to be living in. Tell your story once or twice, and tell it to a professional if you need to process on that level, then absolutely quit telling it. And whatever you do, don’t be telling the story to new people you date. Find a way to state what happened in three sentences or less in a way that doesn’t cast you in the victim role, and without a huge emotional charge to the delivery.
- Do not expect closure. Waiting for closure is a gigantic time waster. This is true when you lose a relationship, job, home, or business. There may be some point in the future when you look back with clarity on what happened, or you get a piece of information that makes all the pieces fit together for your aha moment. But don’t count on it and don’t put your life on hold for it.
- Own your piece of it. The more you can take responsibility for your part in creating your experience, the more quickly you’ll bounce back. If you can only see 1% that was on you, own that. In some way you contributed and colluded in creating this experience. Accurate perspective taking is balanced – you don’t blame yourself 100% and you don’t blame someone else 100%. I ignored certain signs, I avoided painful issues, I didn’t always ask for what I needed – in these ways I was complicit in creating my situation.
- Give other people their dignity and freedom. I had to acknowledge his right to choose. He gets to be happy, he gets to create the life he wants, and if he needs to divorce me to be happy he gets to make that choice. I don’t have to like his process, and the pain it caused, but I do have to accept his freedom to live his life making choices for his own happiness.
- Commit to reinventing your life in such a way that you’ll look back on this as a stumble on your journey, not going off the cliff. It is a defining moment, so let it define the moment you fully committed to reinvent your life as something radically better. Commitment is Find a compelling reason WHY you will not let what happened define you as wrong, bad, or a failure. Your life has just burned to the ground and you get to build back anything you want. Keep the focus on what you do want to create (not on reacting to what you didn’t want to happen and think shouldn’t have happened).
- Invest in yourself. Get the professional help that will keep you moving toward your dreams. You’re at a low point and discouraged, so it is easy to give up. You need to find the support that will hold on to your dream for you during the times you can’t. If you are ever going to invest in yourself, that time is now. Dig into the rainy day fund if you have to. There’s no better use for your money than saving yourself and pulling your dreams out of the fire. Use coaches, counselors, workshops, retreats, spiritual work, energy work, whatever resonates for you, whatever helps. There is a vast array of helping professions and professionals – find what works for you to heal the trauma and move forward. This is not the time to go it alone. When you choose your support person, be absolutely sure the person you choose is invested in supporting you to move forward.
- Dream bigger. Counter-intuitively, if your dream has failed, you need a bigger dream. After the stunning crash-and-burn of my first marriage, I set my sights on a different kind of love; I had actually set my sights too low the first time around. When I started dating again, I was more true to myself and thus I attracted a man who saw the real me. By being more authentic I found love that was stronger, more committed, and a much better “fit” for me. My new relationship isn’t more work; it is actually much less work and struggle than the first time around. I feel the joy and gratitude that comes from being with the right life partner every day.
- Get out of your head. When your head wants to explode with the effort it takes to process all you’ve been through, then it’s time to give the mind a rest. Find something you love, or that you’ve never done, and immerse yourself in it enough to set your mind free from the spin cycle it is on. (Creative pursuits, endurance training, cooking, guilty pleasure reading and movies, volunteer work, taking on a goal such as a job promotion or finishing a degree, learn to meditate, do yoga, kayak, run a race, or sing karaoke). Refocus some of that energy on something that’s a stretch so it will really consume you both mentally and physically in order for you to blow off some steam and have a new frame of mind (or at least get some sleep).
- Become sincerely grateful. I am truly grateful my first husband divorced me. It brought forward all my issues that needed healing. It caused me to look deeply into my life on all levels and started me on a journey of personal growth that is still evolving. I have changed, grown, and become a person with more capacity to give and receive love. In the process I have learned to manifest every dream for my life. Why wouldn’t I be grateful for that gift?
A new relationship requires you to heal, make peace with your past, change your mindset, and take the right kind of action to attract your new love. If you are lonely, fearing the best love of your life is in the past, and yet you long to create a future that holds the most deeply felt love relationship of your life.
One last thing… When you lose someone you love due to death rather than divorce, don’t expect to ever look back on that day as the best day of your life. However, you can look back on it as the day that changed the course of your life, the day that started a transformative journey, and the beginning of a new path toward purpose and meaning in your life as you become a stronger, better, more compassionate person.
What strategy would you add to this list? What has worked for you? Leave your comment below.
Carol Merwin, M.A., CPC, helps women transform so they can achieve their dream of a soul-centered love relationship. Carol uses a unique and holistic approach to help women reconnect to their core values for what they want in a relationship, then implement a creative and systematic approach to attract it. She trained as a Whole Person Life Coach through Baraka Institute and has degrees in Computer Science, Addiction Counseling, and Spiritual Psychology. Carol has spent three decades in the business of growth and change – she has taught recovery skills to convicted felons, and she has helped hundreds of people move out of their comfort zone into new work processes in her capacity as an I.T. Project Manager for an International Fortune 500 company. She both learns and teaches how to fulfill heart-felt dreams – through her marriage, parenting, coaching, service work, and spiritual practice. To work with her, visit www.carolmerwin.com.