Divorce changes the landscape of our lives. 🌪 Trust is lost. Relationships are no longer the same. I know. I’ve been there. I am there.
But, there is one persistent question through it all. It’s the question that I asked myself when I was ready to grab the reins and thrive. It’s the question I ask my Life After Divorce coaching clients.
And, I need to ask you this question now.
Are you going to just go through your divorce? Or are you going to grow through it – and emerge into a stronger, healthier, happier woman?
So many of us just want to put the chapter of divorce (and marriage) behind us. We just want to get it over with. I understand that tendency.
But I believe that your divorce can be a beautiful opportunity for you to grow. I believe you can choose to grow through it… to learn a lot about yourself, and what you want in your life – and in future relationships.
The only catch? Growth can be hard work.
When it comes to change, there’s no magic pill. Change is messy, so you must be willing to go through the pains of labor. No one can do it for you, because when it comes to personal growth, you just can’t pass the buck.
That being said, I promise you that this hard work pays off – and that I will help you along the way. Through the hard work, you can release the pain of the past. You can make space to emerge into a new Life After Divorce that you love.
To do this, you’ll need time to start to explore who you are, what you want, and where you want to be. You’ll need to grant yourself grace to strengthen your relationships with yourself and others, and to heal from the wounds of your divorce. By releasing pain, learning to trust again, and becoming the best version of you… you can also open your heart again – to family members, friends, and even to a new partner when the time is right.
In this post, I want to share with you six important choices – shifts that help you move toward healthy relationships after divorce. Let’s dive in.
1. Choose to actively build trust – and your confidence again.
Were you betrayed by an affair or lied to about an addiction? Do you worry about falling into another toxic relationship? Are you hesitant to believe that others are telling you the truth?
For so many of us, after divorce we find trust has been broken. We closely guard our hearts now because we were deceived and / or betrayed.
As a result, we can doubt ourselves – because we didn’t see some of the red flags along the way. We’re hesitant to believe others when we’ve constantly been lied to. (This is especially true for those of us whose spouses were hiding addictions.)
The work of rebuilding that trust – and the confidence we have in ourselves to trust again – is critical to moving forward.
By pushing through your fears, you’ll build that confidence. And, frankly, you must. The healing starts with YOU, so make space and time for it!
2. Choose to embrace the beauty in life – today!
Show some extra TLC – to yourself and to your loved ones.
Start with yourself – and incorporate some easy self care into your routine. This doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. In fact, this article outlines six self care ideas for you – easy things you can do in less time than it takes to brush your teeth.
Start small. Start today. Taking one to five minutes for self care says, “This is what’s important to me today. I choose to take time to experience the beauty and peace in life.”
Embrace your current relationships, and nurture them.
This past year was a rough one for me. At 73, my father, who has Alzheimer’s, moved in with us. Later in the year, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away about a month later.
The reason I’m sharing this with you? Because so many times after divorce, we shut down emotionally. We forget that the Earth keeps moving and time keeps ticking.
But we won’t get another shot at this life thing! So, slow down and open your heart. Work to ensure it’s not hardened. Show love in small ways. I know your heart is broken, and it’s not easy, but what are some small ways that you can start expressing the way you feel for others?
Wake up NOW and stop putting your life on hold. Hug those close to you. Say I love you. There are no guarantees in life.
3. Choose to give yourself permission to grieve.
A coaching client of mine recently said, “It would’ve been so much easier if my spouse had died.” That statement was so telling to me.
Let me be clear: It’s not that she truly wished for this. She was actually recognizing something so many people don’t see… that divorce – like death of a loved one – requires a grieving process.
Sometimes we hear, “Oh, just keep moving on. You’ll be fine. Don’t think about it, don’t worry about it.” But that’s not great advice, in my opinion.
The reality is you need to give yourself permission to grieve – because you’re mourning the future that you had envisioned… people who may no longer be in your life… feelings of security you had…
You may have developed relationships with your ex’s family, and all of a sudden, they’re no longer in your life – by choice or by default. You might stop going out with friends that you both knew as a couple. Perhaps you’re not seeing your kids every day now.
And, many times, you’ve built this nest egg together – and now you find you have to split it in half, so your financial security is threatened.
So, there is often much to grieve. And, like in grief over death, this step can’t be skipped. So, give yourself time to feel your feelings.
I tell my clients, “Don’t fake the easy way out.”
So many women put on a plastic smile and tell everyone, “Don’t worry. I’m okay,” when they are far from it… or fill their lives with meaningless things in hopes of finding joy… or run straight into the arms of another relationship, hoping to soothe their heartbreak. I’ve also seen some clients bury themselves in work, just so they can feel in control and somewhat productive in their lives… all in an effort to avoid grief.
But it just doesn’t work. The only way out is through.
4. Choose to express yourself fully.
J. K. Rowling says, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies – but even more to stand up to your friends.”
The fourth choice – being real – is about how you now operate with people with whom your relationship feels a little rocky.
This is not just your ex. It could be your kids, your teenagers, your siblings, your parents… anyone significant in your life. I always say, “Divorce is a family affair. It affects all of us.” This is one of those ways.
As you start to get more acquainted with what you want and need in life – and as you get stronger – your eyes begin to open wider, and you start looking at other relationships in your life. You start to evaluate them differently. You start to have different standards for how you want to communicate and engage with others. And that is okay. In fact, it means you are growing.
When you do, I encourage you to not keep a lid on your emotions – or silently suffer. Being real and raw is about standing in your power and using your voice. So, it’s important to learn how to express yourself in a healthy and loving way.
One way to make this easier (and more productive) is to prepare for potentially-difficult conversations. Be intentional about choosing optimal times, places, and your approach. Role-playing can also be invaluable, and help you alleviate some of the anxiety leading up to the discussion. (You can learn more in this article about the process I follow with clients for preparation.)
5. Choose to set clear boundaries.
Boundaries get a lot of air time, especially around the divorce space, but they aren’t just a “buzzword.” Setting and communicating them clearly is one of the keys to healthy relationships. If you don’t convey them, it becomes difficult – or impossible to let others know if something needs to change – and you end up feeling guilty, awkward, or even bitter about it.
The truth is, many people truly don’t know when boundaries are crossed – because they haven’t been clearly set. It’s important to know for yourself what behaviors are acceptable and not acceptable, and to take action if they are crossed.
It’s your personal right to choose who’s in your life (or not), and how much you wish to share with people. You have the right to question the intentions of others and to deny their demands.
It is your choice to say your resounding “yes” or an absolute “heck, no.” You can choose to stay or leave a relationship that’s no longer serving you.
If you feel disrespected or uncomfortable, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t tell the other person, “Ouch, that hurts. I prefer for you not to talk to me that way… I’m going to choose to leave the room so we can talk about this later, and if you choose to not respect me, then I’d like to end this relationship.”
(Personally, I ended a long friendship because I wasn’t being respected in the way that I asked. So, yes, it happens. And you have every right to decide what’s best for you.)
Women who have been through divorce often struggle with this – perhaps because they don’t have much practice at it. But, when you start healing from your divorce, you start getting stronger and standing in your power and using your voice to say, “You know what? We need to have a talk” – and setting those healthy boundaries.
6. Choose to emerge into a whole new world.
Your divorce does not mean your life is over. On the contrary, it’s just the beginning.
You can create the future that you desire. You can embrace an entirely new YOU and emerge into a new life – one that’s better than you even thought was possible.
So, choose as if your life depends upon it – because it does!
Artist Candy Chang created a piece of art on an abandoned New Orleans home. She started a sentence, and invited the public to come and complete it:
“Before I die, I want to __________________________.” People flocked to add their bucket list items. Similar installations popped up around the world. Tens of thousands of people have now filled in the blanks across multiple locations.
None of us know when it will be our time. Start looking at your life now as an opportunity to recreate yourself. Decide who you want to be and what you want – and you won’t have any regrets.
(But don’t delay! Until you explore who you are, what you want, where you want to be, the relationships you want with yourself and others – it will be really hard to heal from your divorce wounds, enjoy healthier relationships and be fully engaged with life!)
So, I have another question for you. It’s not a simple one, but it’s important.
What do you want?
(What do you want for yourself after your divorce? Who do you want to be?)
(Hint: This is not what your mother wants. Not what your kids want. It’s probably a question you haven’t asked yourself in a loooonnng long, time. WHAT DO YOU WANT?)
What do you want your finances to look like? What do you want for your free time? What do you want your career to be like? What do you want fun to look like? What do you want your family life to be like? What do you want your health to look like? What do you want next year to bring? There are a million directions to go with this short question, of course!
Once you know your answers, here’s the next one:
What’s stopping you from getting to that place? … from being that person? … from having all that you desire?
Here’s the thing: Divorce is a traumatic event, but don’t keep putting off the changes that you need to make.
I’ve known so many women who wasted time in their marriage while miserable – and then even more years after the divorce because they didn’t know how to heal. They didn’t understand how to deal with their bitterness and resentment and anger. I want to ask you to please stop wasting your time. Find out what’s stopping you so that you can live a life you love.
Oprah Winfrey says, “Right now, no matter where you are, you’re a single choice away from a new beginning.”
Imagine waking up and loving your life; feeling strong, healthy, and confident about your day-to-day choices; having a rock-solid plan for your financial future, and knowing you can handle anything that comes your way.
If you’re ready to take the first step in that direction, I’m ready to help you. Schedule your FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL. I’ll help you discover what you want (and don’t want) for your life, unveil what’s really keeping you from moving forward, and pinpoint the exact action steps you need to begin to transform your life now!