It’s no secret that divorce is one of the most traumatic events you can go through in life, from the early days of deciding to split, through to the legalities and then, after the dust has settled, piecing your life back together again. This is especially true if you have spent years raising a family, putting others before yourself so much that you are now in danger of forgetting who you actually are.
So, whether your children have grown up and moved out, are living with your former partner all or some of the time, or are still at home with you full-time, this is a good time to start thinking about who you are, what you want out of life and how you think you might make the best of your new, post-divorce life.
Take Stock and Reflect
Don’t rush into any hasty decisions in the immediate aftermath of a divorce, especially anything involving drastic life changes or a lot of money changing hands. You need to spend time re-evaluating what’s important to you. It is perfectly normal to feel a sense of loss and pain when a marriage or partnership ends, and you are allowed to grieve for the fun times you knew in your previous life and to feel anxious about what lies ahead. Take good care of yourself and your mental and physical health at this point, with plenty of exercise, good food and, crucially, lots of rest. Call on your friends and family for support too – choose people to talk to who can make you laugh – and cry when you need to. In other words, to be there for you and help you move on to your new way of living.
Back to Basics
Think about what you used to enjoy before your life became consumed with the stresses and worries of adulthood with its worlds of work, responsibilities and complex relationships. What did you enjoy doing as a child? Did you have to give up your hobbies when you became an adult? Can you reconnect with them now? Whether you indulged in painting or ballet; woodwork or motorcycles, try to reconnect with your former interests. See if there are any clubs you could join, or events happening locally to get you out of the house. Or, if you can’t quite face going out yet, look online for like-minded social media groups and fora to join in some digital conversations.
Look to the Future
As well as old hobbies that can bring back a sense of comfort and self-fulfillment, look beyond your present-day circumstances to see what new things you can add into the mix. Have you made your bucket list yet? Perhaps now is the time to do just that. Have you always fancied travelling? Grab an atlas and get planning! Pining for a new pet? Visit your local dog or cat sanctuary to see if you can find a new companion. For further inspiration, check online for any deals for events and activities that grab your attention. Your local college or adult education center may have some interesting courses to help you discover something new and exciting to do. This is also a great way to make new friends and build up your confidence at the same time.
Learn to Let Go
Things always happen for a reason. In all bad or bitter situations, you sometimes need to let it go. Sit down and think about how much better you will feel if you just move on or forgive someone for something they have caused you. Holding grudges is never helpful and will only have a bad effect on your life. If things did not work out between you and your partner, then maybe you weren’t meant for each other. This does not necessarily mean it was a wasted time, no, exactly the opposite actually. We learn things from every single person we meet even if we don’t realize it at the moment. Take away only the good things from every part of your life that has ended.
Make a Change
Change your lifestyle, change the place where you live, or add a new aspect of your life that you were always interested in. Changing things in your life after the divorce is probably the most positive outcome of the divorce. You have all that free time, that you might not have had before. Use it wisely. One thing you can do is redecorate your home, or even sell it if you feel like it. Getting rid of old things that remind you of the old life you once had, are usually really positive changes in your life.
Be True to Yourself
Above all, take a leaf out of Shakespeare’s book and ensure that ‘to thine own self be true’. You may not even realize how much of yourself you have given up over the years to help your relationship and family life tick along more smoothly. Listen to your gut when it comes to making decisions and trust your instinct. You are, after all, the boss! While it is unwise to rush into anything, it can be just as damaging to become stilted by indecision or lack of self-belief. Do whatever feels right to you and make sure you are happy with the new direction you are taking. If it helps, keep a journal to record your feelings and how they change over time to make sure that you are moving in the right direction. Remember, now is the time to heal after a difficult period of uncertainty, worry and flux.
Emma Ward is a writer and editor who writes on a wide range of topics. She is based in Surrey in the UK. She has been writing for Shortlands (Family Law Experts based in Hammersmith,London) for a few years.