Life After Divorce Can Be A Trying Time

How Do I Survive Life After Divorce

Photo credit to Sixty and Me

How do I survive?  If that’s the question that you are asking — I’m here to help — with compassion, love, and wisdom.   Because I’ve been there.  Probably not with the same circumstances that you’ve encountered.  Maybe you have had a job loss, a disintegrating marriage, a family issue — there are many things that trip us up in the path of life.  I’ve been in the depths, though, and know some things that can help.

The norm is that people do rebound from challenging difficulties (even though that might not feel like you at this moment).  You tool.  This is the good news.  And the even better news is that you can be rebound higher than where you were before.  A big bounce upward.  But first, there are a series of decisions in front of you that will test your resiliency, courage, and strength.

broken heartMy friend told me a story that I will share with you.  It’s a poignant story that seems to show up in many of our lives.  She was happy and on the plane with her husband going down to Mexico to have a fun time celebrating their 25th Anniversary.  When she entered the hotel room there were even rose petals scattered all over the bed and a romantic bottle of wine for them to share, she said it was a beautiful room and location on the seaside of Mexico. 

That night they got into a boat that was taking them to a fun restaurant perched high on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  The boat traveled the distance and they scurried off and climbed a steep hill to the top.  She felt queasy for some reason that she didn’t understand, but all was so beautiful at the moment that she thought to put it out of her mind and carry on triumphantly. 

At the top of the cliff, situated right at the water’s edge, was a place to stop and appreciate the magnificence of the scene.  Here they were enjoying the best of life for this 25th anniversary.  The sun was descending and the ocean was rich with color as the waves crashed on the rocks below.

I Want A Divorce, Powerful And Scary Words 

She turned to him, looking out over the crest of the sea, and he said, ‘I want a divorce”.  Her uneasiness was confirmed.  She had suspected an affair.  She had thought that maybe coming to Mexico was about restoring their relationship, after all, they had four kids to be concerned about and raise happily. 

Here was the moment of decision. A moment that so many of us face as we go through the quest of being ourselves and the painful Divorcemoments that are often part of this journey.  She looked out over the ocean and thought, “I can fly from here off this cliff and go skyward for my life, or I can tumble right off this cliff and crash on the rocks below.  Which was it going to be?’  I’ve had those moments — which was it going to be?

That is the first decision, in a series of decisions that are part of the rebound.  Am I going to fly, or am I going to fall?  In this case, my friend Suzanne decided that she was going to grow wings and begin her lift off in rapid speed.

I’ve seen that decision point in my life, and I’ve been a little slow at the ‘lift’ off sometimes.  Sometimes it took some months for reality to settle in my head.  I needed clarity about where I was going.  A person that I only met briefly one time helped me greatly.  He said to me, “don’t worry, Joan, you are just stepping off one stage to step onto another one’. That was true.  Life had other things in store for me.  And I could delay or speed up rebound.

Bonnie St. John, who wrote a book called “Live Your Joy” is a one-legged black woman who won three medals in the Olympics.  She got second in the race of her life when the race course was heavy with ice and many of the skiers were falling on their runs.  Bonnie says that she stood at the top gate ready to burst out, and knew that the 75 miles per hour speed would be hard to hold on the ice-laden slope.  She burst of out of the gate like a champion.

She was almost to the end, moments from the finish line, and she fell smack on her butt.  She says that she was mortified in front of the large crowd.  Others had fallen too.  She got up and finished the race and won the silver medal.

Here’s the heart of the story, though.  The woman who won the race also fell down.  Her remedy was that she got up quickly.  And it was getting up quicker that won the race for her!

Dust Yourself Off, Be The Better Getter Upper

With a twinkle in her eye, Bonnie says the lesson is:  “Get up to finish.  Be the better getter upper!” 

Life gets dicey, and then it’s time to make the best of it, it’s the better option.

So, what do you do to pick yourself up?  To see that you are powerful beyond measure?  To sprout your angel wings and nurture the spirit that is alive within you?

We are not our circumstances or our resources.  In other words, there is a vast ocean of you that others may not have seen yet.  Those who judged you, or blamed or made you wrong, or harmed you in some way — they haven’t seen the full you.  There is still much more of you, and much more of your story of life to be told.  Hold this dear to your heart. 

Now is when you get your optimism, strength, courage….and joy muscles out of the box.  It may take some time to grieve the future that you thought that you were going to have.  Sister, moan and then get on because now is the planning for the new future that holds endless possibility.

I like this, the quote ’Dwell in Possibility,’ attributed to Emily Dickinson.

Life after divorce and Emily DickinsonFrom some distance, looking back on life, some of the things that I thought would be the worst things to happen to me, turned out to be some of the best.  That is not the way that I saw them in the moment that they happened, but I’m glad that I didn’t fret too long because better things were on the way.  I thought getting divorced was the end of my life, it turned out that it was the beginning.  I thought not being in the Rotary Club was a big deal, I didn’t realize that I was being called to use my unique skills and talents and desire to serve, in a different way.  And in the journey of my life, this has happened often enough to get the ‘gist’ — that there is more to come

I have been able to push through knowing that there is more in me that I have to express, experience, understand and bring to life.  There is more love, more creativity, more fun, more money, more depth of relationship, more and more.  Getting tripped up has gotten me ‘on track”, even when it didn’t look like it at first.

So, if the normal thing is to respond/rebound, and that’s typical from adversity, and you’re getting going — what are some things you can do?

Here’s one I love!  Bonnie St. John says to put together your Joy Kit.  What’s a Joy Kit, you wonder?  It’s a box or file on your computer, or however, you see it, that connects you to your joy, joyful things in your life.  It’s where you go to quickly to bring you back to balance. 

It might include:

  • Photos of people you love:  parents, kids, good friends, happy times, places that you’ve been, that remind you of being loved.  I’ve gone to a place in Mexico that is very spiritual to me and pictures of it connect me right to Mother Earth.  I breathe differently.  I feel the energy of that ‘happy spot’ for me, the incredible beauty and strong spiritual essence. 
  • Photos of animals that you love:  My cat Gizmo loved me dearly, and Jassey, my dog reminds me that she loves me; as soon as I see their photos.
  • Your ‘Gratitude List”:   A list of all the things that you are grateful for; including the small things like a warm shower or the smell of lavender; and the big things like the ocean or a good memory.
  • Your favorite passages and quotes:  ‘Dwell in Possibility’ was one for me.  ‘A woman is like a tea bag, you don’t know her strength until you put her in hot water” (Eleanor Roosevelt) is another.  And I like this one, “Everything happens for a reason…sometimes good things fall apart so better things can come together.” (Marilyn Monroe.)  It’s good to know that I am in the company of other women who have met their challenges.
  • Your List of What Brings You Joy:  a walk on the Beach, laughing with your best friend, feeling all comfy in your PJs and watching a favorite movie, going to a dance class.  What’s yours?  Infuse joy to survive, it’s critical to doing something hard.
  • A Playlist of your favorite songs.
  • Letters Letter/Cards/Momentos:  Things that trigger your memory of being appreciated, cared for and alive.

I’m rooting for you, and know that there is an immense strength, courage, and wisdom inside of you, that you’re on the perfect journey, and that much will be revealed.  And remember, infuse joy to survive, it’s critical to do the hard things.  Blessings.

‘What progress, you ask, have I made?  I have begun to be a friend to myself.’  — Hecato

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