Getting divorced (especially at age 30 and with a baby) is not what most people put on their vision boards. I definitely never thought I would face a new, young decade alone raising my son — it was pretty devastating. That being said, I have been able to reflect back on those dark times and hope what I have learned can help someone else facing divorce. Keep reading for the biggest lessons I learned…
I WAS SO MUCH STRONGER THAN I THOUGHT
It is very easy to doubt your self-worth and personal strength when faced with divorce. There is a feeling of hopelessness and despair that can creep into your everyday thoughts. It took me a few years to really start to heal. I got my inner strength from my faith, family, focusing on my son, yoga, and weekly counseling sessions.
I also devoured articles and books that focused on divorce, solo parenting and rebuilding after heartbreak. The more I read and reached out to others who had been in my shoes, the more confidence I felt that I too could get to the other side of divorce. Some days it actually took saying “you are strong, you can do this” to tackle the day, and as silly as that sounds, it worked for me.
IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK
You know how everywhere you turn on social media everyone’s out there “living their best life”?! Well let me tell you, it’s OK to not be living yours when you are getting divorced. I am not saying to go crawl under a rock (as tempting as it may be), but it is totally understandable to lean into close friends and family…and maybe not post daily happy selfies on Instagram (or do, it’s your healing journey). It will probably take a minute to get your groove back, and most understanding people won’t expect you to be the life of the party.
YOU FIND OUT WHO YOUR TRUE FRIENDS ARE
I had the most supportive friends surround me during difficult times. From calling to check in on me, arranging playdates for my son, and still being inclusive with their events, those gestures meant the world to me. To this day, I know who I can call on.
Do not be afraid to reach out to friends when you are feeling a little blue, but also don’t feel like you have to answer a lot of personal questions or even talk about your divorce. Life will go on around you (even if it feels like your world has stopped), so continue to be invested in your friends’ lives in the midst of what’s going on in yours.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
Divorce, much like life in general, takes away so much certainty and control of your life (and children’s) that it can make you feel helpless. I found that creating routines (both morning and night) created structure for my son and I. We knew that when we were together, these things would happen. Meal planning, cleaning schedules (you know things are hard when cleaning is extra enjoyable), planned day adventures, time with friends and workouts all helped make me feel safe in the structure.
I found the combination of an online calendar (for recurring events like co-parenting schedules) combined with a paper planner for daily tasks, errands, and meal planning helped me focus on the things I could control and to know what was coming.
GRATITUDE IS A HUGE FACTOR IN RESILIENCE
When I was really challenged in my divorce, it was easy to only focus on the negative aspects of my life (like DIVORCE). That being said, one of the best pieces of advice that I received (and really had to work at) was focusing on gratitude daily. It could be as small as acknowledging the nice weather to as large as being thankful for my son.
And I”ll be honest – at first, it was really hard to find the good. Some days I would just repeat what I had thought the day before, but slowly it started coming more naturally. Stepping back, I truly believe that practice helped get me out of the dark headspace that everything was falling apart, even when it kinda was. It also helped me see the good in the days and people around me.
I even had my son practice it with me at supper time to deal with the uncertainty, too. I still try and do it as often as I remember and it made a signficant difference in being able to face my life with resilience.
If you’ve also been through a divorce, is there anything not on this list that you learned? Anything you nodded along to?