What lessons did divorce teach me while going through the process? I’m going to share it with you today.
The end goal of most people dating is to end up married and live happily ever after. After all, that’s what Disney and fairy tales have taught us. Cinderella lived a really tough life until she met Prince Charming and they lived happily ever after. There were no arguments, they didn’t bicker and fight and things went swimmingly well. Well at least that’s what we all think when we hear “happily ever after”, right?
I don’t really talk much about my marriage and what I went through in the 15 years that we were married. But just like any marriage, there were good days and bad days. I grew up on the notion that marriage was forever, because my parents were married for almost 50 years when they both passed away. My brother has been married for over 30 and I have aunts and uncles who have been married for over 40. As a matter of fact an uncle, who recently passed away, was married for 62.
I can now consider myself to be the only divorcee in my family. I am that statistic that I never thought I would be. For months before I decided that filing for divorce was the only option for me, I really did consider staying and trying to make things work. After all, marriage is a lifelong commitment, but a marriage is only as strong as the people in it, and a marriage won’t ever work if just one of you want it to. It takes both people actively working towards keeping it together. Like my mom would say. “One hand can’t clap“.
No one wants the end goal of their marriage to be divorce. Divorce can be a difficult and painful experience for anyone, but as a woman I have learned some valuable lessons that have helped me grow and move forward. Here are 10 things this experience taught me:
1. My worth is not defined by my relationship status.
Going through a divorce made me realize that my value as a person is not determined by whether or not I am married. Yes, it was great being married but that doesn’t mean that my worth is diminished now that I’m single. As a matter of fact, I now feel liberated!
2. Self-care is crucial.
During the divorce process, I had to prioritize self-care in order to stay mentally and emotionally healthy. This meant taking time for myself, practicing mindfulness, and seeking therapy when necessary. Therapy played a huge part in my process if I’m being honest. Without it I would have been a blubbering mess. I had to learn how to decompress, take time out for myself, whether it’s simply taking a bubble bath, or just going for a drive alone with my thoughts. Whatever you decide is self-care for you, you should do it.
3. I am capable of handling difficult situations on my own.
Going through a divorce can feel overwhelming, but it also showed me that I am strong enough to handle challenging situations on my own. I had to learn to be a single mother all over again, how to do things without another adult being there for me. And while it was difficult at first, it did get better. But there were times when I did need help which leads me to the following point.
4. It’s okay to ask for help when I need it.
While I was able to handle much of the divorce process on my own, there were times when I needed to lean on friends and family for support, which taught me that it’s okay to ask for help when I need it. Without my family and friends, I’m not sure how I would have been able to deal with it all at times. They really showed up and out for me.
5. Forgiveness is powerful – even if it takes time.
Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight, but holding onto anger and resentment only hurts ourselves in the long run. Learning to forgive my ex-spouse was one of the most difficult but ultimately rewarding parts of the divorce process. I really had to dig deep and learn to forgive and it’s the best thing that I could have done for myself.
6. Communication is key – even after the divorce is finalized.
Communication with an ex-spouse can be challenging, but maintaining open lines of communication can make co-parenting easier and less stressful. Also when it comes to co-parenting, while it can be difficult, I do have one word of advice for you. Never talk bad about the other parent, and instead try to help your kids through the marriage’s end. Kids don’t need to know the full details of what’s going on, and eventually kids do grow up and can figure things out on their own. When they’re ready to have that chat, you can have that chat, but still, keep it respectful.
7. It’s important to set boundaries – both with others and with myself.
Establishing clear boundaries helped me protect my mental health during the divorce process and beyond. This doesn’t just work with your ex partner, it also works for everyone. I had to learn to set boundaries which protected my inner peace. It can be difficult to do at times, especially with family, but you’ve got to do it.
8. Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting what happened – it means accepting it and choosing to focus on the future instead of dwelling on the past.
There’s a saying that if you keep looking back in the rearview mirror, you won’t see where you’re going. I was so stuck in the past at times that I couldn’t move forward. I kept questioning myself, thinking that maybe if I had done things differently that it might have been different. It took months of therapy for me to see things differently and to stop ruminating on the past. With therapy, I’ve now forged a way forward for myself that just gets better and better.
9. Happiness comes from within – not from external sources like relationships or material possessions.
I used to think that in order for me to be happy, I needed to have someone in my life. So I was very co-dependent on my ex. I always valued his opinion, I wanted him to always be around etc, and I used to feel that without him I could not exist. I also enjoyed the finer things in life and thought that they were the bane of my existence. However, moving halfway around the world with little to no possessions taught me that I didn’t need those things to be happy. As a matter of fact, I’ve also been purposely single for 2 years and couldn’t be happier. Simply do the things you love and you’ll be happy.
10. Finally, going through a divorce may close one chapter of your life but opens up another opportunity for growth.
Many like to think that when you’re divorced that your life is over. But you couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, your married life is over, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be alone forever and it’s impossible to love again and even get remarried. That chapter of your life is over but there is still more to come. Many have found love and happiness after divorce, despite all the challenges that may come with it. Don’t give up on yourself – there are many possibilities out there! Keep looking, keep believing, and keep striving for a better life.
Overall, while going through a divorce was certainly challenging at times, these lessons have helped me become a stronger person today than before this experience began. And while it might have been nice to still be married, there is absolutely no regrets here. I’m a much stronger, self-aware and confident woman that I’ve ever been in my life.
So to those going through the divorce process themselves, you’ve got this!