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Life does go on after a divorce, no matter how you feel when you are in the middle of one. Here are tiny steps to take to reclaiming life after divorce.
Every day was a heartbreaking struggle during my divorce. After years of a marriage, learning how to reinvent myself, start over, establish my independence again, and figure out I was going to do as I picked the piece up was an overwhelming task that I could not bear.
This struggle is a dark place to be. And I probably would have been there longer if I had not realized that any tiny spark of joy—no matter how small—can be the lifeline we all need. Oftentimes, we may forget to see all the wonderful things that await us.
Learning to find joy in our lives, especially when we are in the middle of a relationship’s demise, attempting a recovery, or learning how to be by ourselves again is an incredible gift that we can give. It may not even be a treat, but a necessity for our own self-preservation and healing. And it can be easier than ever when we remember to answer the following.
What is mine and mine alone that nobody can take from me?
Answering this question establishes the solid foundation for celebrating what is good in your life. These answers are simpler than you think. Some of my answers, especially during the hardest times of my divorce, included:
-Coming home to a clean house—everything just how I left it.
-The feeling that although I am no longer married, at least I am not in a toxic, unhealthy relationship anymore.
Those simple things are ones we usually take for granted, but when we are mindful to the love and beauty that actually surrounds us, just waiting to be acknowledged, we will see dozens of things to be happy about that are right in front of us.
What are the things in life we have overlooked but are worth celebrating?
We have this unfair expectation that only huge milestones in our lives are worth celebrating. But what about the day-in/day-out struggles that we endure, especially as we grow older?
We don’t give ourselves enough credit for the things we have accomplished, especially as we learn to move on after divorce or any other dark period. Every day that we take control of our life, every day that we learn a little more about managing money and re-entering the work force, every day that we get a little bit stronger and take care of ourselves and put ourselves first and realize that we are worthy of getting our confidence back and reclaiming our life is something we should celebrate.
So, what things will we start to celebrate? I’ve listed a few of my own!
-I choose to celebrate that I am no longer in a relationship that was unhealthy for me.
-I will celebrate that I am a survivor. I got through this, and now I know I can get through anything.
If we are still having trouble with trying to identify things that bring us joy, don’t worry! Finding joy in life is the most important step to learning how to heal and move on. It is also the easiest but most critical component of taking care of ourselves as you move towards reclaiming life after divorce.
When the world still seems like a disaster, or when we are angry over something that happened today, or we saw something or heard something that triggered us into feeling resentful of grief-stricken, we must do this one thing.
Write down 5 things to be grateful for, every day.
These things do not have to be extravagant. In fact, the simplest of things are usually the best, because they remind us that we are still alive and that we will be okay. Need some inspiration? Take a look at last night’s entry into my own notebook.
-The crinkle of the snow underneath my feet
-The smell of fabric softener on clean sheets
-Hot Epsom salt bath before bed
-My friends, who always may me laugh
-Delicious dessert after dinner
I prefer doing this exercise as I am getting ready for bed. After I finish the night rituals but still have a few minutes before I know that I am going to zonk out is when I write these things. It doesn’t really matter when you do it exactly, but I find that doing it at the end of the day is the best way to get closure on any nonsense that has gotten in my space, as well as celebrating any good things that have come my way, too.
I keep a medium-sized notebook with a pen on my nightstand, next to my alarm clock. That way, I will see it every night. Get a beautiful or as simple of a notebook as you want—some people get super-fancy and call them Gratitude Journals. I just call it a Lifeline to Joy.
A simple habit can change our outlook.
This is not a just-one-and-done thing, however. We must make this a habit in order for it to work. Some studies show that it takes 21 days of practice to make something a habit, but we will start to notice the change in outlook in in 3 days of writing down.
We may also see patterns of things for which are grateful—things that appear in the notebook regularly. It’s not a coincidence. It’s a sign that these are the things in life that bring you joy, and these are the things to celebrate. These are the things that, when we are angry or lonely, have the power to center us again and remind us that we have control of our life, that we are strong, and that regardless of where we have been, we will get our life and happiness back.
Published here earlier.
Image source: flickr, for representational purposes only.
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Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce coach whose website, Surviving Your Split, helps women navigate their
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