Recovery from divorce is hard. The good news is YOU CAN DO IT. In fact, with some focused effort and a little help from your friends, you can recover from divorce faster than you ever thought possible.
When I first got divorced, I was at a loss for how to handle it. I thought no one else had felt the shock and shame I felt. Nor did I realize I possessed the necessary personal resources to get through the recovery process. I thought I had to make my “comeback” alone if I were to feel good about myself.
I knew I was afraid of venturing into an unknown future but I had no idea how to deal with it – especially the emotion-based reactions I was having. Nor did I realize the importance of dealing with all the hopes and dreams I had lost. In a nutshell, I was a basket case roaming free on an unsuspecting society.
Had I only known that what I was going through was similar to what millions of others had gone through – and the key to a successful recovery from divorce had certain steps and phases that had to be walked through.
The following seven tips highlight what I did not know then, and describe what needs to be done in order to thrive in sculpting your next chapter of “life after divorce.”
Tip #1: You’re not unusual – You are not alone
Statistically, there are a lot of us. 40% of first marriages and 60% of all remarriages eventually end in divorce. Emotionally, everyone is pretty much in the same boat. Ambivalence rules the day. Roller coasters are the preferred method of emotional transport. Realistically, anyone you know whose has gone through, or is going through a divorce, can identify with the reactions you are having. You are not alone.
Tip #2: You can make a successful recovery from divorce – because you have done it before
You say you haven’t been divorced before? Doesn’t matter. All transitions force us to go through the same process of change – whether it is losing a job, getting married, starting a family, death of a loved one. Whatever. What we’ve learned from these life experiences we can apply to making it through our current transition through divorce.
Tip #3: You already possess all the personal resources necessary to recover from divorce
Confidence, a sense of direction, and hope seem to be the first to go when trying to recover from a divorce. But, not to worry. You have the ability to deal with it. More specifically, we gain confidence from successfully navigating past major life transitions where we:
- Find stability of direction from our unique set of personal principles,
- Obtain courage to press on from our personal sources of hope, and
- Obtain reassurance that we are on the right track through a sense of gratitude for the good present in the current situation.
Tip #4: You need to recruit at least one “change buddy” for social support and feedback
We need to find people (or at least one person) we can lean on for emotional support and count on for objective feedback while we make our recovery from divorce. These folks must have two important characteristics. They must have no personal agenda and they must be able to be honest with you. Only then can you count on their feedback as being objective.
Tip #5: You can and must dissolve the massive resistance to change that comes with divorce
Fear, loss, and uncertainty about what to do next sabotage our efforts to make a victorious recovery from divorce. However:
- We can handle our fear of the unknown future if we have a plan,
- We can let go of how things used to be — even the good stuff — when we realize there is even more good stuff in the next chapter of our life after divorce, and
- We can resolve our rational reservations for making a recovery with old-fashioned problem solving.
Tip #6: You can and must use what you have learned from going through the divorce process to make your recovery successful
Only by using your experience to clarify your future requirements, needs, and wants for our life after divorce, can you capitalize on the great opportunity divorce offers. These learnings apply to your entire life including finances, health, relationships, and self expression.
Tip #7: You must lay the groundwork for the many changes that will occur in order to make a successful divorce recovery
Divorce brings change in our relationships, our health, our financial situation, and our opportunities for creativity and self expression. A successful divorce recovery demands that we attend to and plan for this wide range of changes in order to fully and joyously embrace the next chapter in our life after divorce.