Saying that divorce is hard, is a colossal understatement. It’s not just hard, it is soul-crushing and agonizing. I would even go as far to say that divorce can sometimes feel worse than a death. With divorce, your former spouse is still out there, living their life, and you always have that in the back of your mind while you try to pick up the pieces and glue your shattered life back together.
During my first divorce, of which I was vehemently opposed to at the time, I honestly had no idea how to survive each day, let alone imagine a future where I could ever smile again. It deeply pained me to think that the person I thought would always love me, chose to leave my life forever.
After months of depression and negativity, I decided to take my life back and find ways to better myself and find happiness as a strong, independent woman. I’m hoping that some of these suggestions can help you to conquer your divorce as well!
1. Laughter Truly Is The Best Medicine
I know that it sounds corny, but laughter really is what got me through some of the darkest moments of my divorces. Those times when all you want to do is wrap yourself up in a blanket and cry alone, are the exact times you should be surrounding yourself with the people who make you laugh the hardest.
It may be tempting to turn on a depressing movie or a sad song and wallow in your sorrow, but trust me, that isn’t going to help you to heal. What you should be doing is watching a funny movie, reminiscing with friends about good times, going to the comedy club, or reading a hilarious book. You can even think about the time that you were eating at an outdoor restaurant with your ex and a bird flew by and pooped on his head. TRUE STORY!!! They say that animals have good intuition, I wish I would have realized then that he was a real shit-head.
Finding humorous stories of other people recovering from divorce, made my journey a little more tolerable. One book that had me laughing out loud was, Drunk, Divorced & Covered in Cat Hair. I’m no cat lady, but I still found myself able to relate to this divorcée’s story. More importantly, the author brilliantly made me see the funny side of what I was going through! You can click the book below if you want to take a look at it on Amazon. Maybe you will find it to be comforting as well.
Laughter decreases stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, the feel-good, pain relieving chemicals released by your body. So, whatever it is that makes you laugh, embrace it and let your endorphins do their thing.
2. Back to School, Back to School…
Did you just read that headline and think of Billy Madison? Haha, I couldn’t resist!
One of the first decisions I made as a young divorcée was to finish my college degree in Education.
This was honestly my way of saying a giant, “F**k you”, to my former husband, who had guilted me into college when I wasn’t ready, at the age of 20. I had no plans of attending college after high school. No one in my family had earned their bachelor’s degree, so I really had no reason to think I needed one. One day my ex husband said to me, “I can’t be married to an uneducated woman”. Uhhhhhm, isn’t this a little too late, since we are already married?! He made it very clear that if I didn’t enroll in college that he would divorce me, so I chose a major and started attending classes.
After a couple of years I came to the realization that I was wasting time and money going to school, when I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be. I dropped out and began working as a daycare teacher, since I had always loved children and early education. I continued in this profession until the demise of our marriage.
Once the divorce finalized, I started to consider how I could better my life and find a career I was passionate about. My love of working with children and desire to help my community, led me to the major, Community Education. Soon after, I re-enrolled at my state’s university.
Not only did I finish my degree, but I graduated Summa Cum Laude, which is a fancy way to say, “In the top 3% of my class”. This was extremely empowering and made me feel like a Badass! I still feel so much pride when I think back on that moment. Finishing my degree not only opened up my future to new opportunities, but it also was a great distraction for when I was struggling with sadness and loneliness during that first year following the divorce.
2. Support and Camaraderie
As a twenty-six year old woman, I had a difficult time finding women who could relate to me when I went through my first divorce. Out of a desperate need to vent and bond with like minds, I found a Divorce Care group in my home town. I honestly didn’t attend every meeting, but when I was feeling particularly depressed or anxious about the future, I would go and share my doubts with the group.
I have always been my hardest critic. During my divorces, I blamed myself for everything that went wrong. It took a long time for me to see that it wasn’t all my fault. Divorce Care was very instrumental in this process. Through sharing my experiences with others and receiving feedback, my eyes were opened to a lot of the abuses I had endured. It was extremely therapeutic to have people who understood what I was going through and could offer encouragement.
I highly recommend finding people whom you feel comfortable opening up to, whether it is here online, a friend, family member, psychologist, or a support group. Venting and discussing how things went wrong can be a very beneficial coping mechanism.
4. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
During my first divorce I was terrified of living on my own. I had no idea who I was without being someone’s wife. I was used to my Ex telling me how to act and who to be. Suddenly, I was thrown into the real world and had to figure out what I liked to do and what really made ME happy.
Have you noticed how it is perfectly normal for a man to sit alone in a bar, but if a woman does it people look at her with sympathy or judge her? When I first started living on my own I decided that it was depressing to watch football on Sundays alone in my studio apartment. I began to venture out to sports bars to watch the games. In the past, I never would have imagined myself doing something like this alone.
Men simply could not wrap their brains around the fact that a woman was at a bar alone, watching football. I would get approached with corny lines and questions. If guys got too annoying, I would say, “I’m here to watch the game, not be your entertainment”. Most of the time I was left alone though. I joined in with the cheering and high-fives and soon would be part of the celebration and no longer a sideline attraction.
The point of me telling you this is, that going out and doing something you normally wouldn’t have done alone can be liberating! Go to a movie alone, go out to eat by yourself, grab a drink at the bar. There is no reason you can’t go to the places you enjoy going, just because you are alone. Doing things like this used to scare me, but once I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, I found that I could have fun and relax just as well without a man there with me.
5. Cut Off Communication With Your Ex (If Possible)
Are you still communicating with your Ex? Does it feel like torture every time you have to hear their voice? I found it cold and heartless during my first divorce when my Ex cut off communication, but now I see that it really did help us both to move on. It is painful not speaking to someone you are used to speaking to daily, but it honestly can be just as painful speaking to them and knowing there is no longer a future for you two. No one can heal properly when the source of their pain is constantly present.
Obviously, if you are still in the divorce process, or if you have children together, cutting off communication won’t be possible for you. Though you still need to talk, you may find it beneficial to create distance, by living apart and not conversing unless absolutely necessary.
6. Do the Things You Love
One of the best ways to move forward and heal is to get back into doing hobbies and activities that you love. Whether it is knitting, running, reading, spending time with friends, dancing, painting, etc. it is important that you take care of yourself and do things that make you happy.
This is also a great time to discover new activities. I joined Jazzercise during my first divorce, because I had always loved dancing and felt like it would be good to be around other women. Not only did I lose weight and build muscle, but it was a fun distraction and stress reliever. Find something you have always wanted to try and do it. This is your opportunity to reinvent yourself and do what you want to do!
7. Work It, Girl
I know that the last thing you’ll want to do is go to work while you’re getting divorced. It’s difficult enough just gathering the strength to get out of bed, let alone shower and go into the office. That being said, working really was therapeutic for me. I was fortunate enough to be a daycare teacher when I went through my first divorce, so I was blessed to have cute little people giving me hugs and making me laugh every day. Regardless of the hugs, I found that throwing myself back into work helped me to keep my mind busy and not so intensely focused on my personal life. There were times where I’d have to excuse myself to the bathroom to shed a few tears, but overall, it was extremely helpful to be out of the house and using my brain for something other than thinking about divorce.
8. Meditation & Spirituality
I had never tried meditation before I got divorced. I was always nervous that it wouldn’t align with my religious beliefs or that I wouldn’t be able to shut my mind up. I found that it doesn’t matter what religion you are or where you are on your spiritual journey, meditation is more about finding inner peace, which is exactly what I needed! I found that taking a few minutes each day to sit by a window in the sunshine and think of nothing, was great for my soul.
I don’t want to focus too much on religion, but there are some that are supportive during times like this. If you do have a religion that you feel connected to, and that is accepting of your current situation, getting yourself involved with that community can sometimes be healing as well.
9. Help Someone Less Fortunate
During times like this it can be hard to remember that there are people out there that have it worse than you. You may be thinking, “You obviously haven’t met my Ex”. Yes, your Ex may be a living nightmare, but there are people who aren’t eating today and are sleeping on the sidewalk tonight. I’ve always had a passionate heart for our impoverished community, so I found that one of the best ways I could get through my divorces, was to volunteer with different organizations around my city and assist those in need. It felt great to know that I was helping people, and it was also therapeutic to remember that despite my current situation, I really have been quite fortunate. Whatever cause has your heart: poverty, homeless animals, battered women, there are plenty of people and animals out there who.would really love someone like you to volunteer your time to make their day better.
10. Erase the Reminders
One of the most detrimental things to your grieving process can be constantly seeing reminders of what once was. I’m guessing that your phone’s photo album and social media accounts are not littered with the fights and bad memories you shared with your ex. Maybe you have a unique sense of humor, and you’ve stored photos of you crying over a glass of wine, but chances are that your photos are of happier times.
Facebook also has a special way of giving annual memory reminders. Thanks Facebook, it’s great to see that exactly one year ago, I was drunk with my ex at a bowling alley! Do yourself a favor and give your Facebook a Facelift and put your photo albums in the trash.
I remember thinking it was harsh to delete all of my photos right after the divorces. I created a Google Drive to store the wedding albums, so they weren’t permanently gone, but were placed well out of sight. I’m not sure why I thought I’d ever want to take a trip down that demented memory lane again, but I had a hard time doing something I may regret. I did, eventually, delete the albums when it felt like it was the right time to completely sever ties with those memories. You know what is best for you. Maybe you’ll want those memories some day down the road, but for now, hide them from view so that you can properly heal.
It’ll Take Some Time
No matter how you choose to cope with this difficult time in your life, give yourself a chance to grieve. It’s ok to be sad and cry, as a matter of fact, crying can be just what you need to do some days. Don’t be so hard on yourself, everyone deals with this devastating life-change in different ways. It’s just important to know that you’re not alone.
You will make it through this and be happy again. Focus on you and do things that will bring you joy, and you will eventually be in a place where the pain doesn’t sting as much anymore. Forgive yourself and try to work on forgiving your Ex. Most importantly, learn to love yourself again, because you are so much more than just a Divorcée!
I’m always excited to hear from my followers! Please leave any questions, stories, comments, or suggestions in the comments below and I will do my best to respond to you.
May you find peace!