When you get divorced, many times it means moving out of the marital home and setting up a new home somewhere else. On an emotional and spiritual level you also need to move out of the ‘married person’ place where you were living, and find another place to stay as a newly single person. Think of this transition as finding a new home for your heart. This home would be a kind of mansion called the ‘house of healing and recovery’. In this house there are nine rooms and each room is locked.
As you are getting divorced, you are handed the bunch of keys and it is your quest over the next weeks, months and years to use these keys to open all the doors in the beautiful new house where you will now be living. At first you may manage to open only one or two rooms, living in a small space for a while, and that’s okay. Until you notice all the other doors around you, and you start rattling your bunch of keys to find the one that fits and opens up a whole new vista for you.
Here are a few clues to help you along on your quest, as you keep using your keys to open up all the rooms in your own personal house of healing and recovery after your divorce.
1. Take time to process and grieve
Don’t rush this process. Grieving is hard work, and if you stuff your hurt away in the basement of your heart it will ferment and rot, resurfacing at a later stage to cause you more pain and trouble. It is also not good to rush into another relationship before you have properly healed from your divorce. One rough estimate says that it takes about one year to recover for every four years that you were married. So be patient.
2. Be kind to yourself
Self care is one of the big keys in your bunch. Make sure you find that room as soon as possible. After all, if you don’t look after yourself you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. This is especially vital when you have children; they need you to be there for them as this divorce is affecting them too. So take that extra long hot bubble bath, go for walks in nature, and buy yourself something pretty to wear (and a chocolate or two of course.)
3. Work towards closure
Closure can be one of those elusive things that you think you have and then you don’t – like the slippery soap in the shower. Don’t think that as soon as you have the divorce certificate in your hand you will experience full closure. It may work that way for some, but remember there are at least five levels of connection in a marriage: sexual, physical, emotional, financial and legal. So it may take a while before you feel completely free on every level, especially emotionally.
4. Read as much as you can
Information brings understanding and identification. Whatever you have been through, do some research and find out all about it, whether there was abuse, alcohol, addictions, adultery or anything else. As you read about others who have been through similar situations you will learn how they coped and found help, and you will realize that you are not alone. When you find the key to this room, go in and sit in the corner and read, read, read. You will feel a lot better, and one day you will realize how much you have learned.
5. Write, Journal and Talk
Besides reading, it also helps to write down your experiences. Get a nice big journal where you can record all your feelings. Maybe you like to draw, or write poems, copy out verses or quotes that you find helpful. The main thing is that you are expressing how you feel and letting your pain bleed out of you onto the pages. And talk to those you can trust. Just hearing yourself say what happened can help you to get your mind around it and to reach the place of being ready to move on.
6. Take responsibility for your past and future
In a divorce it is very easy to slip into the blaming game, and no doubt there are ample reasons. However, blaming makes you feel like a victim. So it’s much better if you can take responsibility for your part in whatever happened. The important word is ‘your’ part – not the other person’s. Whatever you part was you can learn something from it. Then you can use what you have learned to forge a new future for yourself.
7. Get the skills you need
The key to this room of your recovery house involves learning new skills. Perhaps your spouse was the one who always paid the bills and saw to the finances. Or maybe you never needed to know how to use a drill or a snow blower. Now is your time for some lifelong learning. You may want to take some courses or seminars to upskill and empower yourself. This is especially true if you need to re-enter the marketplace and find employment.
8. Build up a support system
We all need support and this is true more than ever when you are going through a divorce. Reach out and lean on those family members and friends who are open and supportive towards you. You may also be surprised to find support from unexpected sources; because of what you have gone through, others may open up to you and share their similar experiences, to comfort and encourage you on your journey.
9. Find purpose and meaning
The last key on your bunch will open up a beautiful place of acceptance where you can find your own purpose and meaning in what you have gone through. Although divorce is never a good experience, much good can result from it. Over time you will be able to look back and say, “I learned so much through my divorce and I am a much stronger person now.”