A member of our social network recently wrote a post entitled, 12 Hard Truths I've Learned From Divorce, which was filled with a number invaluable insights that she learned while navigating her divorce. Now having begun the process of moving beyond her divorce, she recently posted her words of wisdom about what she's learned from life after divorce.
She writes, "there are certain truths you learn after divorce, and even though twelve is a rather small number in the scheme of things, here are some things I learned that I'd like to share":
- STBX, EX, ISO, or whatever you call him will always be in your life. He will try to friend you relentlessly for the first year after the separation or divorce. It is a phase that comes and goes and each time you refuse, you will be labeled 'mean spirited', 'hurtful', and 'uncaring'. Bitch may or may not be applied. YMMV.
- NEXT, the Other Woman or Girlfriend (sometimes Boyfriend) that they left you for will be held up as a paragon of virtue to any children your marriage might share. Do not be surprised that your kids see her as the 'fun' mom substitute. It hurts and burns hard. Keep your eye on the prize and know that it too is a phase. Don't hold it against your kids.
- Your family, if religious, may despise you for moving on after the divorce. They may even blame you and tell you that your eternal soul is doomed. The fact that you were dumped, cheated on, or had enough self-respect to ask for a divorce due to abuse/cheating/etc. will not be factored in. Choose to accept and move on or suffer in silence. They will not change their opinion any time soon.
- Holidays are always going to be bitter-sweet from now on. It may lessen as time marches, but the fact is that you will now have to share your kids unless you were fortunate enough to have him sign over parental rights. Be prepared for him to see these days as 'days to upstage mom'. He may not talk to them, visit them, or have much shift with them the rest of the year but holidays will be viewed as days to buy their love. So don't try to compete. Simply try to create your own memories. You can't buy love.
- If you have moved on into a new relationship, your family may not accept them. The family may even go to lengths to point out that they do not recognize this new person. Letters and postcards may be sent solely to you and your children. Holiday invites may include misspellings of your new SO's name despite the fact that you have sent emails and letters with correct spellings. Do not be offended. They are entitled to their opinions. But remember these actions when it comes time to decide who is truly on your side.
- Find a hobby. It is important to create things in your life to replace all the broken pieces. Don't try to glue things back together or keep it as it was. Allow this time to be used for retrospection and growth.
- Make a list of all that you heard was 'wrong with you' from your Ex. Chances are these claims will be re-impressed through your ex-in laws and even your own family. So give them a fair hearing. In the privacy of your home, with an open mind. If you find truth in some of them, fix what's wrong. Maybe you are a crap housekeeper. Set 30 minutes aside every day and tidy. Allow yourself to improve your own character while validating that you are a better person than they give you credit for.
- Set goals. It is easy to get bogged down in the loneliness and the feeling that your life is over. So give yourself a chance to attain something new. In my case I have begun a business that forced me to learn web-design.
- Renew your spirit. You've been put through the blender. Take time to get in touch with the new and emerging aspects of your personality. You may find that you are no longer a mouse. Now you are a tigress. Allow yourself to appreciate that change and to test it out. Don't be afraid of the change. Embrace it.
- Children can filet your spirit faster than your EX can. They may already be doing it and playing you against your EX. Find a confidant who you can vent your hurt and frustration to. Allow your children to know that what they say hurts, but do not hold it against them. They are hurting too, and you are there. Your ex is allowed the position of 'fun parent' simply by their absence. Do not allow your kids to get away with their viciousness. Send them to their room when they choose to be cruel. But at the same time do not lash out at them.
- Venting is not limited to during divorce only. You will regress and you will still hurt. But each time you make a step forward, bask in the glow of knowing that you really are doing better than you were this time last year.
- There is always hope. Hope for new beginnings, hope for personal growth, hope for healing, and hope for him to get what's coming to him. Do not ever give up. IF you fall, get up. If you regress, push ahead. The best revenge is a life well-lived and that is something no one can do for you.
Bonus lesson: You will find yourself a mentor to others that are just going through divorce. And they will start popping up from all over. Do not be afraid to reach out to them and share your own experience to help them as they start this journey. Revel in the ability to give someone the hand that was given to you so long ago. And rejoice with them as they too step out of the darkness.
There are women in all stages of divorce on our social network, finding support from one another. In the words of one of our members in welcoming someone new to the network, "we're all filled with lots of compassion, love and sound advice. It's an incredibly supportive place, and we're all here for each other."