23 Jul Recovering from Divorce: How to Pick Up the Pieces
The period just prior to a divorce can be a tough one – it may seem as if the world has turned upside down. You’ve just gone from sharing your life with someone – whether you shared a house, a bank account, a dog, a child, or simply a relationship – to suddenly being on your own. Divorce can be disorienting, as people have to learn how to live their lives again – you can’t go back to being who you were before you were married, but you aren’t the same person you were before your divorce. Furthermore, you have to deal with the remnants of your relationship while still trying to cope with your split – aspects such as custody battles, alimony, and division of property take up your time and energy. Accordingly, it is easy to become depressed and withdrawn, even as your friends and family offer support. It’s difficult to connect with others as you are trying to deal with your personal pain. However, it’s important not to lose hope; even though you may feel as if your life has spiraled out of control, you can get back on your feet and get your life back on track. You can become better and stronger than you were before your divorce by taking the time to look inward, and following a few general tips:
1. Focus on Yourself
Being married means that you no longer speak in terms of “I”, but of “we” – as a result, it’s easy to lose track of who you are amidst all of the aspects of your life that are now shared between you and your spouse. After a divorce, however, you are suddenly thrown back into your independence – and many people find this difficult to face, as they are so used to sharing their lives with another person. However, in order to pick up the pieces following a divorce, it’s important to change your perspective on loneliness. Following a divorce, you can use all of your newfound freedom to focus on yourself.
This is your time, and no one else’s – focus on you, and rediscover what it was that made you passionate about life. Did you like to paint? Go buy some art supplies and get started. Always wanted to learn a language, but never had time? Sign up for classes. Been planning to get in shape? Go buy yourself a gym membership. Pay yourself some much-needed attention, and get the pleasure that you deserve out of life.
2. Don’t Jump into a Rebound Relationship
Craving companionship following a divorce is understandable, but going straight into a rebound relationship will only cause you more pain. Rebounds are common; newly-divorced, you are looking for someone to boost your self-confidence and heal your broken heart. However, the result isn’t worth the short amount of pleasure; in the period during or immediately following the divorce, you may not be in a mental or emotional state to form a lasting relationship with anyone.
In many cases, rebound relationships end badly, and you’ll only end up breaking your heart again (and possibly someone else’s). Furthermore, jumping straight back into a relationship without taking the time to rethink who you are and what you want only invites more trouble back into your life. Although you may be lonely, it is more important to learn to love yourself and be comfortable being alone before you are in any shape to be with another person again. Then, once you feel that you understand the person you have become, you can begin to form meaningful relationships with other people and find someone who will appreciate you for who you are.
3. Don’t Dwell on the Past
Not dwelling on the past will probably seem like the most difficult part of recovering from a divorce because it’s such a big event that you can’t not think about it. However, the key to not dwelling on the past isn’t that you can never think about it, it’s that you can’t let it affect your life negatively. Constantly asking yourself what you could have done differently, or dwelling on what went wrong in your relationship will only keep the pain fresh, and will prevent you from moving forward and creating a new life for yourself.
Thinking about the past is helpful if you use it to help you learn to avoid your mistakes. However, merely continuing to think through the messy details of your divorce, or how much you miss your ex-husband or ex-wife, is counterproductive. Instead of dwelling on the past, think about the future: what are you going to do now that you have a whole new life? How will you make your life more about you, and less about your ex? What will bring you joy and passion? Focus on the future and make steps towards it.