August 3, 2016

How to Start Over After Divorce & Heartbreak.

Kyle Jones/Flickr

Life after divorce felt like I was stumbling in the dark.

For years I had defined myself as a spouse and partner. When I was no longer part of that marriage, I struggled to figure out who I was exactly, and how I could define myself as I attempted to move on with my life.

It took years to learn that it didn’t have to be so overwhelming and confusing, and that I was making the process harder than it needed to be. Surviving divorce after years of marriage gave me the gift to redefine my identity and live on my own terms—a journey that has been as fun and rewarding as long as I remembered the following:

I was not just a divorcée. I was Wonder Woman.

For nearly a decade, I defined myself as a wife and partner, and the roles I played centered on taking care of and watching out for everybody else but myself. When the marriage ended, I remember thinking, “Well—who am I now?”

It wasn’t until after much struggle and tears that I actually realized the gift the divorce brought me: the chance to redefine myself.

Many of us may feel overwhelmed with this concept when a relationship ends, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. When I started asking myself the following questions, things became clearer.

“Who am I? What do I identify with?”
“Am I a dreamer, doer, and/or thinker?”
“When am I at my best?”

Once I started seeing myself outside the box of a divorcée, I saw that I was in charge. When we have this revelation, we then have the freedom to do what we want, when we want, and treat ourselves with the love and attention that was missing in the marriage. Despite the heartache, the post-divorce life was the opportunity to start thinking about the next chapter beyond divorce.

That “heartache” part of our lives is a mere two percent of who we are. The amazing things we have done and all the great things we have in store is where our energy must reside.

Like everything in life—have a plan!

Planning for life after a divorce can leave us confused. It can be difficult for us to find our voices again. But our life, our dreams and our goals do not stop when the marriage ends—they just change. And that change means that we now have the freedom to construct our new journey on our own terms.

That blank slate can be overwhelming at the beginning, but with a plan the overwhelm can diminish. The way to start planning is as simple as answering the following questions:

What do I want for myself? Professionally? Personally? Financially? Spiritually?

What steps will I need to take to get what I want?

What obstacles do I feel stop me from getting what I want?

Who can help me along the way?

It can be difficult identifying the steps to get what we want as we continue to redefine ourselves after divorce. Living under different circumstances than we did when we were married makes us sometimes think that we will will not be able to do the things we want, but this is not necessarily the case. There are many excellent resources and professionals waiting to help us thrive during the next chapter. The key is recognizing that we deserve to be happy and that with some planning, we will get there.

Divorce is still viewed negatively in our culture, and many have a misconception that because the marriage ended, they failed at something. This idea could not be further from the truth.

We must stop thinking of divorce as a tragedy, but instead as a gift. It may be the end of our marriage, but it is also the ability to change and define our life on our own terms and write the new chapter of our lives and create the best possible future for ourselves.

Nobody can change the past. However, a past that includes the end of a relationship does not mean that we are unworthy of celebrating the rest of our lives. Moving on and defining ourselves beyond the label of divorcee, learning to plan for the things we now have the freedom to do, and viewing life after divorce as the key to an amazing future, is how we can heal and move on.


Author: Martha Bodyfelt

Image: Flickr/Kyle Jones 

Editor: Emily Bartran; Apprentice Editor: Lauren Robbins 

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