Living Life Free of Fears
Each and every day dawns upon us brand new. Today can be the day you take the chance to make entirely new choices. (Yes, it is.) Rather than waiting for the perfect day or time, now is the best chance you have to start over and make everything right. Really, it is! So why wait? The sooner you get on track and begin living the life you want and deserve, the sooner you will reach your goal.
Life after a long relationship ends is difficult (just a slight understatement). In the very beginning I was just another lady down on love. I was married for over twenty years to the same person, and it came to an abrupt end one day—on our anniversary, no less. It was a terrible way for the marriage to end. After taking time to lick my wounds, I once again became my ever‑optimistic self. I have found my way through divorce’s aftermath by staying positive, always putting my children first, and focusing on my freedom to make positive changes for myself as a result of my divorce.
As with everything in life, there will be both good and bad days following the realization you’re getting divorced. Even if the divorce “goes well,” you are still forced to mourn a former love and learn to live without considering him or her in your big life decisions and even some of the smaller day-to-day things. Mourning is an important part of the process that will help you to move on.
Part of mourning will entail taking a look back over the entire relationship. The beginning of my relationship was almost magical. I would hop out of bed every morning happy and thankful for everything I had, pulling the curtains open and saying out loud, “Good Morning, World!” Looking back, I was so pleased with everything around me, including my relationship, because I was able to do everything I loved. I was excelling in my job as a district manager for GM Parts. Our home was filled with music and laughter. I was married to a great person who was committed to God, our family, and country—he was a United States Air Force student pilot. When our children were young, we were still happy. We loved rainy days; the children and I knew we would eventually be dancing in the rain and stomping in the puddles. Gradually all of those things fell by the wayside.
We had our ups and downs, just as any marriage does, but he was always my best friend. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when that stopped; it was a gradual but steady decline. I became less myself and more just a person who dealt with my husband as he became a somewhat bizarre and difficult person to be around. While the end of our marriage was a slow process, in some ways it felt like happiness just came to a screeching halt. It really started to hit home as my husband become more and more distant and less invested in me, the children, and the marriage. The music and laughter were replaced with hurtful comments or silence. All of my activities, hobbies, and happiness faded away.
I decided to take the reins in my hands and sit down and talk to my husband about our marital issues. I wanted to feel some reassurance that things in our household would get better. I hoped we would make a commitment to being better spouses, which would help us build a household our children would be happy to grow up in. I expressed that there were things I would no longer tolerate should they continue to happen. I guess I was trying to squeeze water out of a stone because his decision had already been made.
Instead of committing to change for the better, my husband continued on the same path, criticizing me or ignoring my existence. During our last six months of marriage, my ex only said one nice sentence to me. He asked, “Do you want me to pick up the grandchildren from school today?” I was shocked to hear the kindness in his voice again. At the time I thought his anger was melting, and things would start getting better. Immediately upon his arrival home I realized reconciliation was not going to happen. His eyes were filled with hatred, and while walking past me, he spat in my general direction. Finally, I decided a separation was the best idea. He did not want a separation (surprise, it wasn’t his idea so it was not a good idea) because he felt a divorce was the best solution. I found I had no real argument with him. I put one foot in front of the other and walked on to my future. This is the story of how I dealt with the end of my marriage and the end of my fears.
Without a doubt, I knew crossing the breach to a new life after the end of a long relationship was going to be extremely difficult. After being married to the same person for the best years of my adult life, I needed to start all over, which required a complete shift in my thinking and actions.
This abrupt alteration of my life was both good and bad. On the negative side, I was hurt because I had lost a love somehow, somewhere; it had slipped away during the years we had been together. On the positive side, I am now fairly confident in the choices I have made (don’t ask me on a bad day), since I am much happier. I no longer need to give away so much of myself fixing a yoke that’s falling apart, anyway. In fact, after I mourned the end of our marriage, I discovered that I felt revived and was ready to do my best to get to know the new, adult, and post-marriage me.
My husband’s decision to divorce was what he wanted. I had absolutely no choice but to put one foot in front of the other and walk on to my future. One step, one breath, one long moment at a time, I decided it was time to begin again. The best part of this decision was realizing that changing priorities in life matters more than you might think.
If I could make it to the other side, so can you!
Thriving after Divorce
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Oh my goodness, how did this happen? How did I get here?” Going through a divorce is never easy, and whether or not it was your idea, you need time to heal. It is very painful and hard enough if you were the one leaving, or even if you both agreed divorce was the best option. However, it can be more difficult if you didn’t see it coming. It can create a maelstrom of emotion. You might feel literally speechless or even hysterical because it is a heartbreaking and painful experience, leaving a family torn apart, confused, and angry. Children are hurt through the process, even if, in the end, it’s best for them, too.
In the initial shock of a divorce, especially when you are caught off guard, your mind most often shields itself with denial to help you survive emotionally. Denial can temporarily help you soak up the initial trauma and the harsh feelings of betrayal, desperation, and rejection. You might be telling yourself, whether consciously or unconsciously, that it isn’t really happening. You may even try to convince yourself that your spouse was just bluffing, and you may avoid telling anyone your mate has left because you are still in utter disbelief.
I know that feeling. You just want to get through the horrific pain that left you feeling as if you had everything inside of you ripped out. The pain is even more intense when you begin to try coping with your own suffering while still maintaining a sense of normalcy for your children.
The laundry is waiting to be done, bills need to be paid, your house needs to be cleaned, there’s work at the office, and your children need you. Getting through the day with all these responsibilities when you’re emotionally torn seems like an impossible feat. And then more bills need to be paid. (For more on the practical realities of life after divorce, see the second book in this series: Divorced and Scared No More! Practical Advice for the Newly Divorced.)
Hurt and denial don’t do the laundry. They don’t pay the bills. They don’t clean your house. You still need to work, more than ever now, yet you need to be your very best at parenting at the same time. It’s a difficult balance, to say the least.
Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop turning just so you can grieve the end of your relationship. No matter how strong a person you are, a major change in life such as a divorce is bound to leave you staggering before you find your feet again. You need to believe in yourself and know this is definitely not the end of the road, that there is a long journey ahead, and that joy is still possible for you.
Though it won’t happen overnight and probably won’t be as easy to do as it sounds, you will eventually shake the baggage from your past off your shoulders and move ahead full throttle. Everything is yours to handle alone now, but don’t shortchange yourself. You’ve probably been doing it all on your own anyway; now you’ve got to do it without a chunk of the income. So try—again easier said than done—but try to deal with issues head on. Keeping a roof over the kids’ heads and food in their tummies will always come first. Although it seems like money and career can’t wait, you can steal a little time from them. Prioritize! You will never need your skills in prioritizing as much as you need them now.
Recognize also there will be times when you feel alone even in a room full of people. Realize the lonely feelings will not last forever, unless you let them. Take a moment and really think about it: you probably were alone before your ex-spouse physically left, and now you’re dealing with the reality of life without their presence. In some ways, it might be a relief—no more walking on eggshells. You can say whatever you want, whenever you want! You get the bed all to yourself and all the blankets to boot! It’s okay to be you and do the things you like. This is a major life change; time is your friend now. If you work on processing your feelings, time will help heal your wounds. Give yourself permission to accept this transitional period while you work on all the pieces of yourself.
Accepting Divorce and Creating a New Future
ow many married people envisions being single, or single with children? For many, it feels like they were living their dreams, happily married with a bunch of beautiful kids, living in a lovely home, and everything was going along smoothly. One day they wake up, finding themselves in the middle of divorce proceedings with dreams shattered into millions of pieces. If this sounds like you, do not feel alone—many of us did not see our marriages falling apart. We were giving up a little bit of ourselves a piece at a time to keep the peace, or we began putting everyone else’s needs first and did not realize what was happening. Some people realize the marriage was a mistake from day one, and they never really invested themselves in it.
When people are not invested in something, they do not notice changes happening.
There is no such thing as a happy divorce. Any divorce leaves a certain amount of shame, pain, and guilt. Whether you were the one who left or the one who was left, you might feel like a failure. It becomes much harder when there are children involved as everything in all of your lives change.
Soon enough, you begin to wonder, “Why us? What went wrong? What did I do and did not do? Am I not good enough?” You begin to feel enormous guilt. If you have children, they need care and attention, and you seem to feel inadequate as a parent. It is hard to answer questions from children and difficult to protect them from this painful ordeal.
No matter who you are, where you are, or what you do, breakups are tough. Splitting up a relationship you have put a lot of time, emotions, and energy into is a difficult prospect—even if you really do not even like the person anymore. Sometimes, it seems like nothing will ease the pain of a breakup, but all things get better in time. To quicken the pace, understand what breakups mean and learn how to avoid the mistakes of a bad post-breakup phase and get on the road to your future.
Divorce is an extremely stressful, life-changing event. The strain and upset of a major life change can leave you emotionally and physically at risk. You are going through the emotional wringer and dealing with a major life adjustment. If you do not move forward from divorce, you possibly may begin to suffer from chronic health problems such as: high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. It is crucial you take the steps necessary to shield your emotional and physical health and wellness throughout this time.
Divorce is like a death because it is a death of a relationship, so allow yourself to grieve the loss. Despair is a natural reaction to loss, and divorce or the end of a loving relationship involves several losses:
The loss of someone to share your life with and the loss of companionship·
The loss of someone to help you, whether financially, intellectually, socially, or emotionally·
The loss of someone to share your hopes, plans, and dreams with (these losses can be more uncomfortable compared to sensible losses)·
The loss of someone who humiliates you in public·
And the loss of someone who accuses you of being the reason for their unbearable moods, bad behavior, or mistakes·
Acknowledge your emotions and do not combat your feelings. It is normal to have a great many ups and downs, and to feel many conflicting emotions, like anger, resentment, despair, anxiety, worry, insecurity, and confusion. It is essential to recognize these feelings. Most of them suffocated in you long before the divorce when you boxed them in for the sake of the marriage. There is no more need for boxes—these feelings have the chance to escape and be expressed. Let them flutter out like birds.
Even if it is difficult for you to share with friends, it is essential to find a means to do so when you are grieving. While these feelings will frequently be unpleasant, attempting to restrain or dismiss them will only prolong the mourning process; it’s just nice to have a friend who doesn’t mind listening to you talk about your feelings. You may find most of your grieving may be for the loss of the “normal” ideals you had for marriage and not necessarily for the spouse who lived in your home.
Remind yourself you still have a future, even though it’s another future now. It is tough to allow yourself to let go of all those old dreams. Creating the new you is the goal. Acknowledging your feelings can be freeing for you, but remember not to harp on the negative feelings of the past or over-analyze the past. Feelings such as resentment, anger, and blame toward your ex and yourself are very normal. Do not let these feelings consume you because when they are allowed to flourish, they will cheat you and keep you stuck in the past, ultimately delaying you from recovering and progressing. As you grieve, you should be motivated by the reality that brand-new hopes, desires, and opportunities will be filling your life.
Lessons to Learn about Yourself
lenty of things will happen in our lives due to our differences. Unfortunately, ending a relationship is sometimes unavoidable, and the transition from marriage to single life is very difficult. But if you do the work to heal and process your past, you will love again. Additionally, this love will be stronger than before because this time you will be better equipped to find the right person.
While you were married, you had somebody to discuss troubles and issues with; now you will need to solve everything on your own. At this time, you have to handle the worries of daily existence unaided, and then go home to a quiet house or possibly a loud house with children to care for alone. It can even be difficult to merely experience an evening at home alone when you have been accustomed to sitting quietly alongside another person. Eventually, though, most individuals find their way out of loneliness to the enjoyment of being alone. Once you enjoy your own company, you are ready to discover companionship in a new, healthy relationship.
Following the death of a marriage, each individual will be ready for dating at a different time. Relationship expert Tamsen Fadal recently said, “It’s not a contest to see who gets out there first. You date when you are ready to get back out there and not before.” Immediately after the official divorce procedures are over, feelings are running at high speed, and suffering people need a chance to heal before putting themselves back in the dating world.
Start dating by dating yourself first. Spend time repairing your self-esteem and taking the time to build up confidence in yourself. Pursue things you wanted to do either before or while you married but never had the time to try. Discover your own desires and dreams (for more on finding your sense of self again after divorce, please see the first book in this
series, Divorced and Scared No More: Emotional Support for the Newly Divorced). Take time to consider what your hopes are for any new relationship. Recognize all you have to offer another person, realizing why you are worthy of the most wonderful and best possible partner. You are a real catch, and you are lucky to have you. There will come a time when you will want to get back on the dating horse, but for now it may be best to go horseback riding in real life as one of your new activities because the “dating horse” is wild, and it’s easy to get thrown off.
There are many places you can visit on a date with yourself. If at first you are worried that people might notice you are alone, or you feel nervous about being alone, go to an art gallery because most people walk alone from painting to painting with a glass of wine in their hands. Learn some art lingo though, so you can answer someone who may ask you about the non‑organic, neo‑surrealistic avant-garde style. Or go to a game dressed in the appropriate team‑associated clothes, cap, and sunglasses. Get a hamburger, a cool drink, and enjoy yourself. Watch the game, yelling to your heart’s content. Who knows, there might be another fan trying it on their own, and your presence could spark a flame. Getting out into the world again will also prepare you to not feel too awkward on your first date with another person.
With time, you will find yourself wanting to get back into dating again. You are beginning to open your heart, and hopefully it will soon start to swell with love. Unfortunately, for many, there is also a little voice contemplating just what could possibly fail. Say “Hello” to Mr. Nerves and his companion Ms. Jitters. They are so alike, they would probably be a couple by now, but they are both too afraid to ask each other out. They come visit all of us at least once or twice. Acknowledge them and send them on their way.