Thursday, April 7, 2016

Divorce: 3 Lessons Learned

 image “Hand Of A Man And Woman Tearing Apart Heart Symbol” by Sira Anamwong via


Yes, it is a life changer. Anyone who has been through it knows that with it comes a complete upheaval of your life. But it doesn't have to be all bad. For both men and women it has it's challenges, no doubt but with those we can remember to cling to several lessons divorce teaches us.

Lesson #1: 
Learn to trust yourself, your instincts and personal wisdom. 
Give yourself credit. 

After divorce we become better at choosing what behaviors we will and won't put up with. When we go through a divorce, unless it was amicable more than likely there was a significant unhealthy dynamic between us and our soon to be ex. Maybe one person was a narcissist, even worse a sociopath… in that case the personality disordered individual was downright toxic to be married to. Anyone who has experienced the toxic abuse of an ex knows firsthand the challenges in coping with someone who isn't healthy. That being said… when it comes to implementing no contact with an ex who has proved time and time again through his or her actions that you shouldn't engage with them… that thinking may very well carry over into other relationships as well. When I was invited to a reunion a few years ago, I declined going. One relative in particular was up in arms about it, attempting the guilt trip routine but I stood firm. Even my sister voiced her concerns I wasn't attending it. It wasn't until after she had fought highway construction, the added stress of finding an area she wasn't familiar with and terrible late night traffic with her young children in tow going and coming back to attend said reunion did she text me later that night saying I'd made the right choice and in hindsight she wish she'd declined as I had. There was zero ill will towards these relatives… it's just that jumping through hoops and giving of your time to be with folks who then behave indifferently isn't healthy. I had empathy for her, saw her effort and desire for a different outcome yet had known it wouldn't go well based on past actions. Just because we don't wish to engage with others doesn't mean we can't wish them well. We often learn to re-evaluate and value our time, our needs and wants more after giving too much to the wrong people. Tapping into our instincts we have about others is something we certainly have the right to and should do. Trust your gut. Forming boundaries with others is essential and not swaying when we shouldn't is even more vital. Divorce helps us become stronger, to say no more often and when needed, to take more initiative in our life as the captain of our own ship… we are fully capable of making the decision of who stays on board and who doesn't.

Lesson #2: 
Be the parent you always wanted to be and make your child's
 remaining childhood the best you can. 

After divorce we certainly have the opportunity to become better parents. If we had children during the course of our marriage we know if the union wasn't great that tension may have trickled into our parenting as well. Stress, anxiety, walking on eggshells from a toxic spouse may have left us snapping at our children or merely wanting to just zone out on the couch to decompress. Since being divorced I feel more relaxed in my parenting… meaning less stressed out. Once were single and rid of all the stress that we experienced before we may surprisingly and pleasantly find ourselves calmer and more connected with our children. Having more energy now that isn't expended on trying to calm or tip toe around an abusive/indifferent spouse leaves us with much more for our children. Creating a more peaceful environment for our children and having that extra energy for play means more opportunities to connect and have fun which translates to a happier, more well adjusted, nurtured child. At the end of the day children don't really care about living in the bigger house, having the nicer car or wearing the designer clothes… what they want are the three things money can't buy… their parents time, attention and love.

Lesson #3: 
Say goodbye to negative thinking patterns that do nothing but make you feel trapped. 
You hold the power to new thinking. 

Several times during the course of my divorce and in it's aftermath of finalization I began sinking into what I'd call catastrophic thinking. No one could really blame anyone for going into this negative mindset regarding divorce… there are many days we literally feel like we won't make it another day much less another hour. It's so incredibly easy for depression to set in… especially if were already prone to it due to family history, ADHD, etc. Catastrophic thinking is comparable to quick sand… you dip your toe in with one or a few bad self-defeating thoughts and before you know it… yikes, you're full blown drowning in that mess… and it's harder than heck to get yourself out of it once you're in it. 

Catastrophic thinking is the false idea that:

 "IT WON'T EVER GET BETTER!", "I CAN'T DO THIS!", "I'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO FINANCIALLY SUPPORT MYSELF!", and "I'LL NEVER MEET ANYONE!", "NO ONE WILL WANT ME NOW!!", "I NO LONGER HAVE A TRADITIONAL FAMILY!", "WHAT AM I GONNA DOOOOOOO?!", "MY LIFE IS OVER!!!", "I WON'T EVER BE ABLE TO AFFORD OUTBACK AGAIN!" (If you're addicted to Bloomin Onions you know that's a true concern).  But, seriously, deep breaths… it's no wonder you're perhaps thinking like this… you're going through a MAJOR LIFE CHANGE and that can send us into a spiral, to begin having panic attacks and needing reassurance that it's all going to be okay. I'm here to tell you today: 


Yeah, you might need to readjust the finances… more than likely you aren't going to be living at the same level you were. But you are still here. Deep breath. God is not done with you… you are here and when you can't take another step He will renew your strength to power on. You might need to frequent the Dollar store for your kids to have activities to do. You might need to live off canned chicken and dollar bread for awhile… mayonnaise and parmesan cheese might become luxury items. You might need to go without buying any new clothes for a year. Or two. Or three. You may have to sell items from your old life to pay for things you need in your new life. You may have a Birkin from your old life and yet be eating ramen noodles. It happens. 

Yes, you will meet new people… you're going to be pleasantly surprised when God puts certain people along your path that have been through similar trials… and who knows… you may meet someone who sings a song your sweet heart knows and even better… fall in love with him or her and share a new life you are both blessed to live. 

The next time catastrophic thinking knocks at your door… realize that's a conversation the devil wants to engage you in… it's a talk that goes nowhere but down and takes you with it. Rebuke those negative thoughts and remember that nothing remains exactly the same… were all in motion… even in tiny steps… were all moving forward and circumstances that seem hopeless today will change and improve bit by bit. God has you and even in the darkest days He is there. 

You aren't worth less because divorce has caused your life to change. The things you can and cannot do don't define you. Your faith, your courage in the midst of uncertainty and pressing on… being there for your children and taking care of yourself so they have the best mommy or daddy possible is what matters. Your perspective will shift. Those fancy pillows at Pottery Barn won't seem so important… that gotta have it piece of jewelry at Macy's won't be a priority… divorce forces us to get back to basics… to making popsicles for our kids, playing tic-tac-toe and reading outside on a blanket under a shade tree. Hug your children and remember more than ever they need you right now… that's why it is so important to practice self care during and even in the aftermath of divorce. Make sure you're getting plenty of sleep, (nap if you need to) take your medications regularly as prescribed, pray, exercise, take Vitamin D, eat as healthy as possible and take time for yourself… sports, movies, whatever helps you decompress… reading, bubble bath, funny sitcoms, crafting, gardening, journaling, etc. If you believe you are depressed seek the help of your doctor in finding a medication that would best suit you… have your Vitamin D levels checked and make sure you have a support system in place of people that know and understand what you're going through. Check out DivorceCare at a local church if you're not already a member… it's extremely helpful to find people who will share their faith and similar circumstances for support and fellowship. 

Divorce is a life changer no doubt. 
But one of the best things about it is now you are the leading lady or man. 
Not your ex husband. 
Not your ex wife. 
Not your ex-mother in law.

It's your time now.
It's your time to dive into who you were destined to be… 
It's a new beginning… 
Be brave… 
Take God by the hand and jump in. 

© ~ 2016 

To My Readers: 
Thank you for reading,
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