I used to be ashamed of my two divorces not to mention my subsequent failed relationships.
I have often felt enormous moments of failure and sorrow, but years later I can truly say I have no regrets.
I married out of love both times, even if they may not have been right for me. Now I can look back and feel grateful for so many things that I gained, learned, and took with me from all of my past relationships.
Here are ten things that I learned about starting over:
1. Take time off. Jumping into the dating scene right away takes essential time away from healing and growth. Taking time off from dating gives us time to process, mourn and hopefully learn from our past relationships.
2. Learn basic skills. Hang pictures, start the grill, unclog the toilet, tub and sink, change a tire and the car oil. All the things we sometimes take for granted that our partners will handle, makes us feel empowered when we learn to do them ourselves.
3. Know your body. Men definitely seem to have a better handle on this one, so to speak, but in a word: masturbate. There is no shame in knowing how to give ourselves pleasure. Regular orgasms keep us happy, healthy and in touch with our intimate selves.
4. Spend time alone. After one of my divorces, I spent a year alone, including all major holidays, and learned to dismiss all those awful New Year’s Eve movies that tell us we are losers if we don’t spend it doing something fabulous with our soul mates. Go to a movie, dine out, or spend time alone in nature: life will open up.
5. Travel alone. There is no greater way to learn more about ourselves than taking a trip solo. It is a wonderful time to reflect and work on our inner growth and a great opportunity to meet new people (whom we might otherwise not even speak to if we were traveling with others).
Tip: Eating alone at a restaurant bar is a great way to get information from the bartender about the best local things to do in the area!
6. Find a good therapist, life coach, or spiritual advisor. Even though I am a therapist, I think we can all benefit from professional, unbiased support while we go through this transition, and perhaps beyond. It allows us to examine our choices and delve deeper into what motivates us and how to move on from what can be a very painful period in our lives. If nothing else it is an hour out of our week that is all about us. And why not? We are worth it.
7. Make time for fun. Just because something ends does not mean we can’t find happiness again. It is a good time to reconnect with our hobbies and passions and also reconnect with friends and loved ones who support us (and who we may not have made time for while we were in relationships). Those who can make us laugh and uplift us are invaluable during this time.
8. Find joy in simple things. The beauty in children is that they are unencumbered by the obligations and hurts we inherit in adulthood. They see life through rose-tinted glasses. We can learn from them by remembering to see the wonder and beauty in the simplest of things. Take walks, sing in the tub, dance in the living room, listen and remember to feel the joy we all experienced as children.
9. Be kind to yourself. We are not perfect, but through all we experience and endure, we grow. In being kind and forgiving to ourselves, we learn to forgive others, which allows us to let go.
10. Love yourself. There is no greater truth than knowing that we cannot truly accept love if we don’t love ourselves first. If we learn to nurture and cherish ourselves it will transcend to all other parts of our lives and allow us to open up to receive love from others.
Editor: Emma Ruffin
Photo: Alex Bellink/Flickr