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When you’re in the divorce process there tends to be the idea that once it is over things will get back to normal. You’ll move on. You’ll put this behind you. You’ll adjust to your new life. So, while you are signing papers and dividing property you keep telling yourself that you are almost there—just one more signature, one more court appearance, or one more email.

When you walk out of court a divorcee, you imagine that somehow everything will have fallen into place.

Only it doesn’t.

Ten months later you’re still dealing with the same issues, still waiting for normal, and so frustrated with your lack of forward movement that you could spit. 

If this is all too familiar then consider these five reasons you may be stuck in a rut.

Wallowing in Self-Righteous Indignation

Divorce hurts. There is just no way around it. Getting a divorce is a painful process, and, in general, the events leading up to the decision to divorce are even more painful. Whether it is some sort of narcissistic abuse or infidelity or some other issue, there is sure to be pain and suffering involved—especially if you were wronged in some way. There is a tendency to hold on to the hurt and nurture it.

It feels good to be able to have other people give you sympathy and tell you what a jerk your ex is. It’s nice to have your friends gather around and build up your fragile ego, bring you your favorite ice cream, and wipe away your tears. There is an affirmation that we get from all of that sympathy—and sometimes it’s the first bit of affirmation that we’ve gotten in years. Often, it’s the only attention we get. Why would we want to let go of it?

Well, if you want to move on you’ll need to let it go. You were hurt, admit it, deal with it, and resume being an independent adult.

Talking about Your Divorce

This is hard for me. I tend to be pretty transparent about what is going on in my life, what I am thinking, and how I am feeling.

Oh? You’ve noticed?

Talking about the divorce just keeps you there. Sure, it was unfair and there are things that you need to work through. Sometimes you really need to talk it out! Be picky about who you talk to, though. You want someone who will listen and encourage you to move on not someone who will listen and crawl down in the swamp with you. Talk to work through issues not rehash them.

Hanging on to Keepsakes

This one is tricky. There are things that you will want to keep because of the memories involved, but try to keep it to a minimum. I handed our big box of pictures to my oldest daughter and asked her to take the images that belonged to her father out and send them to him. I separated the wedding pictures out, too. I didn’t throw them away, but I do have them in a place where I won’t be looking at them and wondering how we went from there to here. 

Put the pictures up and box the keepsakes to be stored in the attic until you are ready to deal with them, or one of the kids is moving out and wants them—whichever comes first.

Refusing to Accept Change

Once again, I am tattling on myself here. I hate change. For example, yesterday I got a new computer, and I went from a Windows operating system to a MacIntosh. I love the Mac, but I hate changing things up. It messes with my brain.

My relationship is so much better now than my last one, but I still hate the change involved. I find myself continuously trying to replicate the way things were and getting frustrated because I can’t. I want to be organized like I used to be, but ADD, C-PTSD, and middle-aged brain have all conspired against me. My house is a wreck most of the time. I lose things. 

Accept that your life is going to be different. There will be good differences and differences that you don’t like—it’s OK.

Giving in to Fear

This is probably the biggest one. You don’t do things that can help you move on because you are afraid.

  • What if I get hurt?
  • What if it doesn’t work?
  • What if I lose everything?
  • What if I’m wrong?

Well, what if everything works out and you find you are living in your very own fairytale? What then?

Fear keeps us from doing the things that would most benefit us. The only way to move ahead is to believe that you have a wonderful life in front of you and reach out for it. Accept that you’ll make mistakes and have setbacks but that ultimately you will reach your goals. 

If you haven’t set any goals, there is no time like the present to set some!

These are only five of the many things that might be holding you back. Look at your life and make a list of what you are allowing to hold you back, and then work to remove those attitudes from your life. Celebrate each small step forward!

If you feel like you are the only one who has ever dealt with these feelings, you’re wrong. Join First Wives World and speak with others who have been where you are.


Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User: Chris Marchant

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  • Comment Link Gale Thursday, 29 October 2015 05:24 posted by Gale

    It is almost a year since signing those divorce papers and I've moved to another state with two of my adult children. I have a 16 yr old son who stayed with his father because he's so angry with me. He feels it's my fault for the divorce. I was in an abusive marriage for almost 20 yes. He was financially and verbally abusive to me and the kids. We lived in a mold, rodent infested apartment. I encouraged him to get a better paying job to support us, as he did not want me to work. After a few years he was making enough money so that we would be able to live in a mold free apartment. He lied about our finances, always told me that we were broke but one day I found out he had thousands of dollars in the bank. We lived in scuallor conditions and he had all this money. My kids were not allowed to have any friends, I was alienated from my family and had no one to turn to. Today I'm happier than before but he has been interfering with my communication with my son. My son cannot call me or visit me. When he does, his father will yell at him for hours, so to keep the peace, he doesn't call me or his sisters. I'm so sad about this but don't know what else to do.

  • Comment Link twillet Tuesday, 25 November 2014 20:38 posted by twillet

    Very informative and I am guilty of all 5 things and then some!! Been divorced almost a year (Jan/15) and I can't seem to get past everything that led to divorce and now my ex's emotional abandonment of our daughter who by the way is doing great. I wish I could get past all the hurt and disappointment myself and start living again or maybe trying to go back to the person I was before I married my now ex. Just never thought it would end up like this and never thought he would be the ass he became. Anyhow, article really hit home and I need to follow the advice!!! :)

  • Comment Link marye Monday, 24 November 2014 03:19 posted by marye

    Sadfrsthrtsecn - my daughter did not talk to me for nearly 2 years and I was unable to see my grandkids for a large part of that. Things have healed and now we are as close as ever. There is always hope... Praying for you.

  • Comment Link Sadfrsthrtsecn Sunday, 23 November 2014 06:41 posted by Sadfrsthrtsecn

    it is almost 13 mos since the divorce was signed. My teens (girl 15yo, almost 16, 12yo son) hate me. My daughter is so angry with me(I didn't ask for the divorce)the ex hates me and his views are reflected in my children. I love them, I can't reach them. He saids he doesn't respect me(probably never did) and that our kids don't either. I just shrunk through the 18+yrs, feel very sad ,and lonely. the divorce needed to happen, but I feel he was a significant part in my teens totally dissing me. I was a good mother to them I thought, I worked hard, could have spent more time with them(worked nightshift,nurse)but I was tired alot(a year before the divorce,finally diagnosed with sleep apnea) could have done some things different,but never believed I would lose the family I had. He wanted out so bad, he said it the last 5 years, was unhappy with me, I thought I had time, that we loved each other our problems would not last. he gave up on me and turned our children against me. he said stu many ugly, vile things to me, he was very cruel, his behavior, and then the teens-it hurts so much. I keep tomyself, don't want to bring others down with my sadness. i dropped out of grad school,put on weight. The only positive thing is I go to work(I am a good nurse) and maintain the townhome that I bought. I am so stuck. the teens wanted to live with him, so I gave in. It hurt but , I feared significant discipline problems if they lived with me against their choice. ok , guess what it is still bad. My daughter hates me, my son acts up too(but I feel if I could reach my daughter he and I would be ok. It is not happening. the Ex all he talks about is the teens hating me,not wanting to be with me(visitation) and just wait 2more years with my daughter 6 more with my son and they can't wait to be away from me. He texts that to me on a regular basis. I love my children so much. My daughter is so mean, almost cruel in her behavior towards me (like her dad)I never say that, but I do tell her I am hurt by her behavior, and that's not the daughter I know,but I will always love her. It hurts but I truly believe that once they are 18 I will never hear from them. This is so painful,devastingly so. counseling not working -they refuse to talk. They refuse to go anywhere with me. so they just stay in my house during visits,refusing to go anywhere with me. it is so ugly, I am ashamed to tell people how bad it is. I pray,yet I am so so hurt. The divorce ok I get it,it needed to happen, but he was so angry I got a attorney, and got 1/2 of his pension. Hell I didn't go for so much my attorney advised(yes wrong move,but I was overwhelmed with the situation, I didn't know my worth,I wasn't thinking money, I was so hurt about the ugliness from him and my teens. He said I let myself go. hell I worked and took care of the house and the kids as they were coming up. He ignored me,was very critical of me,I felt like shit, when I tried it was not noticed. He became very verbally abusive, some mean gestures,but he never beat me-but there was just a progressive mean/cruel manner he had toward me. I denied alot ,trying to believe that maybe I was being too overly sensitive. I cried alot, he even said that was unattractive(among so many other flaws I possessed) .I felt I couldn't correct all that I needed to stop his criticism. I was overwhelmed financially, we had money problem early before kids, which ended with my paying ultilites,houshold stuff,kids tution,my carnote, I carried the health insurance for me the kids and he paid the mortagage& his vehicles. He continued to get pay raises, I struggled with a 2nd moonlighting job(still nightshift). I took the kids to there activities ,did homework,very tired,sleep deprived-but I kept going-thinking it wouldn't always be this way,it would get better.- so of course it tanked. I was the always sleepy mom, I didn't alway polish my nails , I always fell asleep,but I volunteered at the school, taxied kids to soccer,swim club,girl scout(cookie mom, leader one yr)cub scout(active mom ,until son went up in rank)I did birthday parties, I briefly played mom soccer,tennis lessons, mom volleyball . Trying to keep my weight down. but I was always sleeping when I was off, and he &the kids would do things which I thought great I'll rest while their out(cause I was frequently falling asleep) something had to give. But did he have to be so mean,ugly-like he was really angry I got an attorney(I was the dumb slob who would take what he gave me,just as long as I left his house and the kids. Well I didn't totally forgo all my wise attorney's advise(I know I frustrated him) yes looking back I should have done some things different . So I am paying child support14% not the 28%(he make 3x my pay)I have to pay 1/2 of their school& extracurricular stuff, I still have to keep them on my health insurance. and I'm doing this along with my housenote,carnote,etc. but I am doing it . I live frugal ,my only vice is netflix. I dont' go out, definitely not dating.(I am never getting married again, and too old for anymore children thank God. What is ironic is I never really saw children in my future, I just wanted a companion ,someone to love and who loved me. So guess I totally screwed that up-I am so done, but I love my children yet fear that I have lost them. I am a good person, I work hard. I care about those I love. I am not vicious ,cruel or mean spirited. I treat others as I would want to be treated. Will my children ever remember how much I have loved them, I have never physically harmed them, I have given them so much of myself. yes I should have gotten off nightshift, but that allowed me to do all the things I wanted to for them . I hurts so much , my teens won't let me hug them, they tell their dad they love him,tell me they hate me. They talk about "their dad"' I say nothing, I know you're not suppose to bad mouth the other parent ,so I don't. But my daugter told me "I'm the stupidest woman she knows'in front of her father(this when I was still in the house couple of months before the finalizing). My son has said he hated me so much I have stopped counting. My one good friend said , it may never improve with my children- how does a mother live with that, it hurts so much. I am crying now,better stop. I am not looking for anyone to pity me, I just want to know do i have any chance with my children, Does anyone know anyonelse who as gone thru this. I know absolutely no one who has been in this situation I am in. thank you anyone that can suggest what more I can do, I will try it.

  • Comment Link Stephanie monson Saturday, 22 November 2014 16:49 posted by Stephanie monson

    It's amazing how everything wrong in his life is my fault. I walk on eggshells everyday trying to be someone I'm not. He doesn't even try. He just points his finger at me and tells me he can't forgive me for everything he blames me for when it was not just me. I've been lost and in a constant state of fear that he will hurt me and he does everyday. God I pray for strength to leave and heal. My biggest fear is not being able to let go of the "fantasy" that he created when we met.

  • Comment Link Meg Friday, 21 November 2014 05:08 posted by Meg

    This was amazingly helpful. Especially the last section regarding fear. Thank you kindly.