Going through the divorce phase is a gut-wrenching experience! For once, you may feel helpless, hopeless, worthless and that the world has come to an end. No, doubt life is a mess after divorce. But, it’s possible for you to love your life again.
It’s a tricky, devious, exhausting struggle, this whole getting-over-a-relationship thing. And if you have been married, you know there is a lot more at stake than just a romantic hit-and-run. Marriage means you were vested in something bigger than just “two people in love.” So, if your life is a mess after divorce, it’s no wonder.
Think about what it’s like to pack up and move from a house you have lived in for 10, 20, 30 years. Now imagine the task as an effort to downsize.
Everything that was once neatly in its place (on cleaning day, anyway) is now…well…everywhere. Essentials, non-essentials, mementos, family heirlooms, favorites-for-no-good-reason. It’s all unearthed, waiting for a decision to be made on its destiny.
Your home is a mess. Your life is a mess. After divorce, this metaphor comes to life in every area of your existence. You don’t feel as if you are “just moving” (or that they are just moving) — you feel as if you have been foreclosed on.
You have to move out of and move into. You have to divide, negotiate, relinquish.
You have to explain to the children and plan for their ability to heal and thrive in a new existence. Suddenly you’re not just parenting anymore, you’re co-parenting. And even that is an education and life-altering adjustment in itself.
You have to grieve, even if you are so angry that grief seems counter-intuitive. And you have to save face when you can’t even see your face because it is so swollen from crying.
Related: The Silent Killer Of Relationships
The financial consequences of divorce can turn your life inside-out. Depending on your assets, the division may not be as simple as “you take A and I’ll take B.” Tax liabilities, insurance policies, retirement funds, debts, income disparity – the avalanche can wipe you off your feet.
Yes, life is a mess after divorce. And sometimes those going through the stages need to hear those words so they don’t feel crazy or isolated from “the norm.”
If you are in the aftermath of a marriage, it’s important to embrace the naturalness of the chaos. To know that it’s OK that your life is a mess after divorce. Think of it as knowing your surroundings so you can navigate through to a new order in your life.
So what are you to do if your life is a mess after divorce?
How do you get beyond believing “I have no life after divorce” to knowing you can create one?
As unfair and impossible as the expectation feels, it’s up to you to decide that you are going to be OK. That doesn’t mean you have the slightest clue how that’s going to happen or what it’s going to look like. It simply means that you are open and determined.
The first determination after “I am going to get through this” needs to be “I am going to learn and grow from this.” And that involves a lot more than daily affirmations taped around your home.
It means doing what you probably dread doing (and may not have thought you needed to). It means going inside and owning your reality. Quieting the urge to blame. Examining what worked and what didn’t. Facing the truth of how you contributed – by action and inaction – to the erosion of your marriage.
Ironically, it means doing the very thing that, if both spouses had done it all along, would have kept the marriage intact.
But the marriage isn’t intact. And it’s not going to be. You, however, are going to be. Remember, that’s your first determination. The steps that get you there simply honor that promise to yourself (and to your children if you are a parent).