Divorce is up there with one of the most stressful events you can go through in life. Even if you have been unhappy in the marriage for a long time, divorce seldom comes as a relief. And if the request to divorce is unexpected, you have no idea your spouse was unhappy – you are left feeling like your world has been turned upside down and inside out. How do you move on post-divorce when you are still hurt, angry, depressed and feeling unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Recognize that this is going to take some time
You may find yourself getting angry at yourself because you continue to dwell on sadness and depression. Someone even told you bluntly to “get over it” as if those three words could magically release you from your pain. Instead of criticizing yourself because you just can’t seem to move on, be gentle with yourself. Repeat to yourself that this “will take the time it takes.”
Everyone has their own timetable for divorce recovery and no one is identical. Rest assured that one day you will feel less sadness and you will be able to start moving on. That day may not be today or tomorrow, but know that it will happen when your mind and heart are ready to accept this. Trust that your future will be a happy one.
Forgive your partner
This is probably that last thing you want to do but it will truly help you move on after the divorce. Attention: forgiving your partner does not mean pardoning him. Forgiving them is something you are doing for you, and you don’t even need to share this with them. Forgiving your spouse will provide you with peace of mind and a release of the anger you are carrying inside, anger that is hurting you only. (Your divorced partner probably doesn’t care about your anger anymore, and it certainly won’t bring them back. So let go of it by forgiveness.)
Forgive them, acknowledge that what your spouse did was hurtful and, in your eyes, wrong, but you are letting it go because you refuse to let his actions affect you in a negative way. A good exercise towards forgiveness is to write out what you’d love to say to them in a letter (but don’t send it or share it with them), and, write out an imagined, caring response to your letter.
You’ve felt so much pain, but don’t let that become your identity
After the divorce, it seems like your world has become one big ball of pain. Fortunately, your supportive friends and family are there for you to help you carry this ball. You start incorporating pain as part of your identity. You are the victim of this person’s bad, life-altering decision. You wear this day in and day out. Until that is all you are. But this is not all you are, and you need to start reaching out and incorporating other more positive things to identify with.
To replace some of that pain, try practising some better habits. Have a look at your eating patterns? Are you eating to soothe or buffer the post-divorce emotions? Change that up by putting into place a healthy, balanced diet free from sugary and processed foods. You’ll be amazed at how much better changing your dietary habits can make you feel. What about sleep? Are you staying up far too late, losing yourself in binge-watching series or sappy movies? Stop that now, and make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep each night. This will greatly impact your recovery and replace your pain with something better: more energy and a more balanced way of living.
Get rid of the triggers
There are certainly plenty of reminders of your past married life surrounding you. Some of these are difficult to change – a shared home, for example—but there are small tweaks you can make even to these unchangeable things to help you reclaim a brighter future. Some people change up their home’s color scheme, repainting a room or two so that your favorite colors are now on display.
Move any of the triggers out of your sightline—box up books, take pictures off the walls, sell his old bike, start drinking a different type of wine there are a million ways you can create your own future free of the things that trigger memories—and start moving on to a better you. Each time you get rid of a trigger and replace it with something better that you choose, you are adding a positive layer of bad memories and moving on in a healthy way.
Get ready to try on a different life
Many people moving on after a divorce search to recreate the same thing they had known with their ex-spouse. After all, you were comfortable in that paradigm. But to move on in a healthy way, it is a good idea to try out different models for your future. Date people who are radically different from your ex (just to see what they have to offer. You may be surprised!). Try new restaurants featuring different cuisines from what you and your ex-partner loved to eat. Challenge yourself with a totally different kind of physical activity. If you both went to the same gym, stop your membership there and try a different type of sport: belly dancing, tap dancing, archer, anything that says “I’m a new person now, and I want to see where I can go with this!”