There are 4 things that can help you heal from a divorce. You may be laughing as you read that, feeling like you are not in need of reading this post. Why? Because you are feeling peace as you say goodbye to your old way of life. As you look toward your future, you might even be excited to be welcoming new routines, new people, and new beginnings. And yet … slow down. There are probably other parts of you that are not in sync with any kind of “moving on.” These other parts keep reviewing all that you could have done to save your marriage, or they may be focused on blame, how your Ex did you wrong and how you will never get over it.
It’s natural to not feel resolved or 100 percent reconciled in this new place you find yourself, divorced and now, a single woman. You’ve only signed a legal document, your divorce agreement – a pile of papers that bear no connection to your shifting, internal world of feelings. A lot of people watching you don’t understand this at all. They think now that you’ve signed your agreement, it means you are finished, complete, a whole new person. So, you’ll have to forgive these people and what they say, those who want the best for you but have never been divorced themselves.
For you to heal from your divorce, it’s going to take time and a commitment from you – to you. Your divorce recovery will be a process and you do have control over it.
In this article, we’ll explore 4 things to help you heal from your divorce. For more specific steps on recreating the life you deserve, we urge you to read “46 Steps to Ensure Your Divorce Recovery: A Definition and a Guide.”
4 Things to Help You Heal from Your Divorce
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
Divorce is an emotionally disruptive event for virtually everyone. It took a lot for you and your spouse to end your marriage, and the journey through it to even now, can be compounded by conflicting emotions, beliefs, and doubt. You may be feeling relieved that you are out of your marriage, and the next moment, you’re feeling guilty, or missing him, because Jeopardy just came on the TV and you always watched it together.
Whatever your feelings, knowing what to expect and acknowledging them are the first steps to healing. Eventually – with focus and time, you’ll learn to navigate these feelings and complexities and successfully regroup. For perspective, check out “How Long Does It take to Get Over a Divorce and 4 Signs You are On Your Way” and then appreciate the different types of emotions you could be going through as you begin your new life. These may include:
If your partner initiated the divorce, you could spend a lot of time in denial, leading to delays in accepting your new reality. Denial can sometimes explain why some people spend days or even months resisting any engagement with the legal process. They may refuse to respond to the initial divorce papers when they are filed, or they may refuse to consult with a lawyer because this situation “is going to go away” on its own. Denial is a natural response to unpleasant news that disrupts our reality. But remaining in denial, steadfastly denying your reality keeps you living in the past. You are not present and conscious of your now.
The feeling of anger may occur to either party in a divorce and can lead to blame, rage, guilt, and constant thinking about the events leading to your separation. Some people may try to suppress these feelings in the denial stage and unleash anger later on. Rather than pushing anger away, it’s important to accept that anger is a very natural feeling to have when it comes to the break up of your marriage. You will want to exercise patience with yourself and unleash anger in a healthy place where you will not be judged or held to blame for its results. A good place to release your anger and to understand its important message (what IT’s trying to tell you) is with your therapist, your divorce coach, or your trusted friend who will hold the space for you and not judge you. Remember, decisions made in a state of anger may have serious, long-term repercussions. Check out, “How to Get Through a Divorce and Heal: The Surprising X Factor of a Divorce Coach.”
If you were the initiator of the divorce, you may have had a rough time reconciling your feelings and getting clear on what you want. At some point, then or now, you may have felt guilty about the decision, and you wondered if it was the right move. You may have given your spouse mixed messages about the divorce as a result, leaving your spouse confused over your intentions, and probably hopeful that somehow, someway you both would work it out.
But more often we see the haggling and bartering coming from the spouse who is left. If that was you, you may have been in denial about the divorce and striving desperately to make amends, to negotiate a new deal if only you stay married. This too is a natural response to unwelcome circumstances. Our brain goes into survival mode, creatively generating new offers, new scenarios we might pursue (marital therapy? A temporary split? A vacation for just the two of you for some time alone?) instead of doing the unacceptable, divorce.
Accepting change is difficult – especially if it’s about your marriage. But it’s in the acceptance stage that you find peace and healing. Even though negative emotions may still rise up and overwhelm you, the feelings will be milder than before. At this point, you can deal with the happenings and embrace the fact that it’s over. You’ve come to accept that the old life is behind you, and it’s not coming back.
Of course, this does not happen overnight, or as you’re learning, once you sign the divorce document. You have to go through several stages of feelings before reaching acceptance. And it is through these various stages that you often struggle with the following kinds of questions.
- Why did this divorce happen to me?
- How will my kids ever get over this?
- How can my husband do this after all I’ve invested in this relationship and family?
- What could I have done better to salvage our shared life?
- Will I be compensated for monies I put into family projects, like our home or putting him through business school, or for the outstanding personal loan for wedding expenses I incurred?
- What happens to our joint property? Or to the money I inherited?
Some of these questions have been resolved, you are, after all divorced now, and a business transaction has occurred. But the questions that involve you as a woman and your children will likely not go away. It’s your job now, post divorce to understand how to best support your healing and as well, realize your children are on a recovery path too. Strive to focus on positive things like how you want your life to be moving forward and how you want your children to view you now as an independent woman. What must you model to them?
2. Do Different Activities
After your divorce is finalized, push yourself to focus on other things and away from your breakup story. Trying new things and experiencing different activities is the starting point to breaking old patterns and rewiring your brain so you adapt to your new reality.
Workouts are necessary
It could be resuming a sport you used to love, learning a new one, joining a gym, or going out in the morning for a regular walk in the sunlight, but support your body in its desire to move and to help you move on. Life must and will go on without your partner, so shutting yourself up at home is not a solution. Remember, your Ex could be happy right now, moving on with their life, and thinking about what went wrong or what could have been avoided will make the situation worse for you.
The benefits of working out for your mental and physical health are enormous. Some may believe that exercise must be intense or long for it to have an impact. But on the contrary, going outside for a brisk walk or hike can awaken your body and inner thoughts to a whole new you. Go out there, breathe fresh (instead of recycled) air, sweat a little, and you’ll gain a sense of self-accomplishment as you commit in a fundamental way to your self-care.
As you rebuild your life, remind yourself, you are not alone. Other women have come before you. Gain insight and support by reading our popular article, “How to Overcome the 6 Hardest Things About Life After Divorce.”
Meditation can do wonders to help you heal from your divorce
Many people who have survived the crisis of divorce, talk about important self-discoveries they’ve made through the process. The power of meditation can be one of those discoveries or the means to making them. The most significant benefits of meditation include regaining your emotional and mental control. Take at least five minutes every day for a simple meditation exercise, close your eyes, shut down everything, and focus on your breathing; this will stop your mind from wandering, and ultimately, foster your healing as you slow down to connect with what’s important to you.
Explore old and new hobbies
What did you used to love to do but gave upp because your life became too busy? And, or, what have you always wanted to learn or do? Your life matters and it’s not only about your divorce story. Now is the time to pick back up the guitar, write your novel, or learn to fly a plane or crochet. If you’ve been itching to travel, it is also an amazing way to get away from your story and your baggage, meet new people, and interact with different cultures. A small change like a trip can make major shifts to your inner and outer well-being. Check out, “Traveling with Another Divorced Woman: 11 Things I had NOT Anticipated.”
Play some music
Listen to soft music that reaches the deepness of your soul. You can dance figuratively and play old songs that rekindle memories and good times. The power of music can turn a dull day into a vibrant one. Also, mundane activities like driving can be fun if you incorporate your favorite melodies.
3. Meet Other People
Divorce can be confusing and once you’ve passed the anger stage, strive to find new people who understand you. Of course, we don’t want you to lose touch with those who love and appreciate you. After all, your family and friends can fill your life with laughter and make you forget the pain you’ve been through. But meeting new people may involve trying new activities, creating new patterns, and pushing yourself to rewire your brain circuitry.
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For some women, this may mean dating, too. If you are ready to date, it’s your choice. If you are not, feel no pressure to do so. This stage you are in after divorce is yours to call. It is also for you to focus on yourself, to really come to understand who you are after the divorce dust has settled. Remind yourself that you really want to know yourself better before you get into any lasting relationship.
4. Seek Help
The divorce process may be long, and as you battle your feelings, you may feel depressed, numb or old. Darkness may engulf your life as you struggle to accept reality. And because of this, it’s important to seek support when things weigh too heavily.
The good thing is you don’t have to go through the pain alone. A support system is an excellent way to take things to a whole new level. Pour out everything and let your therapist know how you feel about the divorce. Luckily, they won’t judge or tiptoe around your feelings like a loved one would. Attend the meetings with an open mind and bring with you an agenda of what you want to accomplish.
Carry a journal and draft notes of things you think may be holding you back from moving on. If you’re uncomfortable with one-on-one sessions, you could consider online therapy.
There are multiple licensed therapists you can use for your recovery sessions. A divorce therapy session can aim to achieve the following:
- Help you cope with the different stages of grief you are experiencing and steps to take to lessen the pain.
- Help you set boundaries and realistic coparenting expectations.
- Teach you how to manage your emotions, especially in high-conflict interactions with your Ex, children or others.
- Help you develop a new life plan and a whole new you by escaping from an identity crisis that may occur due to the divorce.
Your therapist may recommend medication to help you relax, sleep and reduce anxiety. However, this depends on a case-to-case basis because some people may heal without medication.
If you have kids, you may want to seek counseling sessions for them, because they are going through a tough period as well and they deserve an objective, safe space for them to vent and share their challenges.
Conclusion on 4 Things to Help You Heal from Your Divorce
Your healing period may be long, confusing, and sometimes tedious, but strive to not fall into past patterns. For this reason, it’s best to establish a firm boundary between you and your former spouse unless it’s to discuss important issues such as coparenting or custody scheduling. Remove reminders of your spouse, such as photos or special things he may have given you. If possible, try to cleanse your house of his energy by changing the environment, redecorating, or moving somewhere else. When you are ready, purge yourself of the past that no longer serves you. Grieve what you are saying goodbye to, but, because you are deserving and your life is precious, make space for the new that is waiting for you.
SAS women are those amazing ladies you meet who are entirely committed to rebuilding their lives after divorce—on their own terms. If you are a discerning, newly divorced and independent woman, you are invited to experience SAS firsthand and schedule your FREE, 15-minute, private consultation.
We’ll help you understand what your next, black-and-white steps are for walking into your BRAVE unknown.
*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”