4 Steps Toward Healing After Divorce:
After my divorce, I wanted something different for my children than what I had witnessed in other divorcees around me. I didn’t want them to feel any bitterness or anger between me and their father. I felt that would put a burden on them that they wouldn’t have had we not divorced, and I wanted them to live as whole a life as possible. The choices that I made at that time for my children brought about a rapid healing for me, which was an outcome I hadn’t planned on nor been looking for. I wanted to keep the peace that I had felt in making the decision to divorce, and that had helped me stand by that decision, after the papers had been signed – for the sake of my children. I found my answer in how to do so in how I lived my life going forward.
I signed up on two Christian dating websites the day my divorce papers were signed. I was lonely, I was home alone with two children all day, I was in a lot of emotional pain, and I was bored. I talked to a lot of men online and eventually through text and phone calls. Inevitably one of the first questions is, “Why are you divorced?” It only took 6 weeks from my papers being signed until the man I was talking to over the phone was my now husband, and my answer of how to keep that peace for the sake of my children came largely through talking with him. Our first phone call went on for hours, and at one point I said to him,
“Let’s not talk about our sad stories. Let’s focus on our happy stories.” And that was it. That was my decision, through it I found complete wholeness from my divorce. Focusing on my happy story meant:
- Don’t look back: Don’t ever let yourself think “what if”. There is no “what if”, it’s over. You’ve made your decision, you’ve moved on. For the sake of moving forward, and for the sake of your children (if you have them), don’t let your mind wander into what “might” have happened in your previous marriage “if”. Live in your reality. Accept what is, so that you can embrace what good comes your way, and not take the chance of it passing by you while your head is turned looking back.
- Focus on your future: You may know exactly what you’re going to be doing tomorrow, and you may have been a homemaker who’s now a divorcee and have no idea. No matter what situation you’re in, find hope in something you can achieve on your own – be it a job, a talent, a fitness goal, or all of it. As much as you can, center your thoughts and conversations around that: the good you are doing today and are working to achieve, as opposed to the bad that happened yesterday.
- Don’t talk negatively about your former spouse: There is a time and place to talk about what happened, if you need therapy, to religious leaders – to a future spouse, but there’s a point where it becomes gossip, or damaging self-pity. Don’t go there. I found to keep the peace my children needed for me to truly feel like I could move on, I needed to not live in the drudgery that bitterness brings. And talking negatively about my former spouse brought bitterness. Focusing at all on why my life had this hiccup in it, this non-story book ending, this divorce, only brought about anger, judgement, negativity, etc. Instead I tried, and do, find the things I respect in him.
- Forgive: Forgiveness for yourself, or your spouse, or both, is a lot easier when you’ve let go of the anger. Letting go of the anger is a lot easier when you’re focused on moving forward, and are not talking about or living in the past. When you’re doing all of those things, in the still moments, you’ll find your heart still aches, there’s still pain, there’s still loss – and you still wonder why (why did this happen to me, why is this my life, etc.?). Forgive. Not just with words, but with your whole heart. Get on your knees and ask that whatever anger, hate, or bitterness you feel toward this person or their actions be replaced, and ask that you can learn to love them. Once you can learn to love them, or at least see them as a person who has made mistakes and deserves a chance to change, you will know you have forgiven them and you will begin to feel whole. As your pain is replaced with that love that only can be given through a loving Father in Heaven who takes your pain through His Son, you will begin to heal.
And this is not a one time heals all process. You will find yourself on your knees again and again. You may have to stop yourself from talking negatively a dozen times before it becomes natural to talk positive. You may look back many more times before you lock your eyes forward, but keep taking those steps and someday you’ll look back and you’ll realize that somehow through a series of never stopping – you’re whole again and that experience is just one you have learned from, and that has allowed you to embrace the new joys that have come your way.