Divorce Is the End of Your Marriage, Not the End of Your Life
It may be the first time the word “divorce” is spoken out loud and you realize that it is a potential reality. Or maybe it is when one of you moves out. It could be when you are holding the divorce papers in your hand, dividing up the pieces of your life together. It might not happen until you put your signature on the line that signifies the end of your marriage. At some point in the process, you might feel like your life is ending.
I know that feeling. I know that knot in your stomach that is clenched so tightly, you can’t take a deep breath. I know that gnawing fear of the unknown. I have been overwhelmed by the thought of how in the world I was going to be able to do everything on my own as a single mother. I understand that feeling of failure. I have felt the self-doubt and worry that I would be alone for the rest of my life.
I am going to tell you what I wish someone had told me when I was going through it all. Your divorce is the end of your marriage, not the end of your life. As hard as it is to believe right now when your world is falling apart around you, life goes on. Your life goes on. You will smile again, and even laugh out loud again!
But first, you must grieve what you have lost. What many people don’t realize is that divorce IS a death. It is the death of a dream that two people once shared. It is the death of a marriage. A lot of times, it is the death of a family. Give yourself time to grieve that loss, just as you would any other death. Acknowledge what you lost. Mourn it. Say good-bye to it.
I do not believe that there is a set time for “getting over your divorce.” I know there is some sort of magic formula out there where you calculate a ratio of how many years you were together to tell you how much time it will take you to get over it. Personally, I think that is a bunch of crap. I think it depends on a lot of factors that can’t be calculated…like the reason for the divorce, how self-aware you are, whether you get counseling, what kind of support system you have, etc. In my opinion, you never “get over it,” it simply becomes part of who you are.
When I was going through my second divorce (yup, I’m a repeat offender), I was broken. I was in a very dark place and struggling more so because I had never fully grieved or healed from my first divorce. I remember having a meltdown in my pastor’s office and telling him I didn’t know HOW to move on. The grief was so overwhelming, it dominated my life.
He gave me the absolute BEST piece of advice. He told me that I needed to count five blessings every day. They couldn’t be my kids, which will always be my greatest blessings. I had to find five different things every day that I was grateful for that happened that day. At first, I wasn’t sure how that was supposed to help. But, I did it. At the end of each day, I thanked God for five things that I was grateful for.
I’ll admit in the beginning, there were days I struggled to find five things. However, as the days passed, I found myself appreciating little things more and more. Slowly, I began to focus more on the positive things in my life than the negative. That shift in perspective changed my world. When you are focused on what you are grateful for, you have less time to focus on the things that broke you. As a result, you start to heal.
The key is perspective. Only YOU have the power to shift your perspective. No one else can do it for you. You will have to make the conscious decision that you are going to find things to be grateful for. You will have to start focusing more on the potential your future holds than the losses of your past. You have the power within yourself to change your world.
One day, you realize that your stomach isn’t in that tight ball anymore. You are spending more time making plans for your future, than mourning your past. Before you know it, you realize you haven’t thought about your divorce in a few minutes, then a few hours and eventually, a few days. While you will always carry the scars of your divorce on your heart, they will just be one part of who you now are.
Hi! I’m Keri Lauderdale Olson, also known as Recovering Cinderella, www.recoveringcinderella.com. I am not a therapist (although I can probably use one) or divorce professional. I am simply a woman who has lived through divorce and wants to help support other women through their own divorces with honesty, humor and a healthy dose of reality.