Divorce is not easy, nor is it something any of us anticipate as we gaze into each other’s eyes at the altar, vowing to love, honor, and cherish the other. Part of the devastation of divorce is the annihilation of those vows. I pride myself on my trustworthiness, integrity, and character. I struggled to find where those fit in, as I stood at the edge of the cliff, surrounded by the mountain of pain that had become my marriage, wrestling with the agonizing decision of whether or not to jump off. I stayed at the edge of that cliff for almost a decade until I lost myself in the waiting, I disappeared in the wanting, and I broke in the needing. From the outside looking in, I had it all—a 30+ year marriage, amazing kids, a beautiful house, and financial security. When I lost myself, I lost the strength, the will, the passion, the power and the longing to fly, so I crawled back down that mountain in search of one thing, and one thing only: Me.
In the aftermath of divorce, everyone questions aspects of themselves—their worthiness, their value, their wants, needs, and desires, and their ability to continue to hope and dream. Every day you make choices and decisions that determine who you are and how you will show up for your life. I want to share with you five powerful choices you can make as you learn to love yourself in a whole new way so you can create the future you truly desire. Starting over after divorce is, in reality, taking a brave step forward on your journey. Sometimes the journey does not take you where you want to go and is filled with challenging moments, but let those moments change you into someone stronger, wiser, kinder, braver, and always more loving.
1. Choose to face your fears and feel your feelings.
You cannot heal what you will not feel, and every divorce requires healing, even the amicable ones. We all have deeply rooted fears attached to unworthiness buried inside of us. Divorce calls them forward into the light. Question their validity and decide if they are true and if they still serve you. If they do not, you can decide to let them go as you commit to moving forward in truth. Starting over after divorce from a healthy, empowered position requires that you do not bury, deny, ignore, or deflect your fears and your feelings around those fears so that you can find your way back to love. Let the fear teach you the valuable lessons you now have the opportunity to learn and let those lessons lovingly shape you into the person you want to be.
2. Choose to be truly, deeply grateful for the lessons.
The lessons may not be what you want, but they will always be what you need. Choose to see the beauty in their complexity. Starting over after divorce is a long and winding road that can feel hazardous at times, but the gifts you will receive are truly worth the effort. Initially, the gifts may go unrecognized, as they are frequently overshadowed by pain, but do not stop moving forward. What you are meant to conquer will keep showing up, one way or another, until you effectively deal with it. Although we do not get to choose the lessons we learn, we do choose how many times we repeat the same unhealthy patterns before we stop, listen, and pay attention. Pay attention to what’s inside your heart. Let your heart break. It is time to stop feverishly trying to patch the cracks. Love the cracks! That is how the light gets in. Accepting your truth, standing in your power, and loving yourself completely, cracks and all, opens the way to forgiveness and allows access to deep wisdom and inner strength that will guide you to exactly where you want to be.
3. Choose to forgive what you can’t forget.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, because it expands your heart and frees your mind to experience the pure healing power of love. Forgiveness does not excuse another’s behavior, but it prevents their behavior from destroying your heart. Sometimes we forgive the person, but what lingers are the stories we replay in our own minds about the hurts we have endured. Forgive yourself for keeping the pain alive by continuing to remember all the things that hurt you. Forgive yourself for being who you needed to be at the time, and then forgive all the people that hurt you. Allow the journey of starting over after divorce to become a beautiful, healing, transformative experience, opening your future to unlimited possibility.
4. Choose to own your worthiness.
Many of us lose who we are when we are in a relationship and a divorce can leave us feeling lost, confused, and unsure of who we are or what we have to offer going forward. We give away our power and forget all the things that make us wonderfully unique. Starting over is an opportunity to own your worthiness and take your power back. What does that look like? It’s remembering who you are. It’s taking stock of who you have become, and it’s changing the things that no longer represent who you want to be. You need to love and honor yourself before you require that from others.
5. Choose to dream again.
You may feel like the dream you envisioned for your life has died now that you are starting over after divorce. You may be afraid to dream because you are so disappointed or disillusioned. Dare to dream again. Create a dream so big that you cannot achieve it until you grow into the person that can. Be determined to be the very best version of yourself from this day forward, and most importantly of all, have your own back. Love yourself fiercely and know that one day you will love again!