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The breakdown of a relationship can be very painful, divorce more so. But the aftereffects of divorce can also be liberating.
For many people, divorce can be the worst nightmare. The heartbreak, stress, and panic can leave you waking up in a cold sweat (if you can sleep at all), unable to concentrate at work, and feeling like every day is a bad dream.
That’s quite a lot for anyone to handle. Fortunately, in my time as a divorce coach, I have seen a shift in this old-fashioned notion of divorce ruining your life forever. While hard feelings may linger, remember that not all the divorce after-effects are bad. Once the heartbreak subsides, divorce can actually liberate you. Let’s examine how.
It is commonly said that when it comes to the most stressful events in somebody’s life, divorce is ranked with the death of a loved one. While most of us wouldn’t wish these events on anyone, consider this: because you have made it through one of life’s most stressful events, you are a survivor.
Many of us don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve for having gone through the trauma that is divorce, but think of all the incredible things you accomplished during that time. You navigated the crazy legal labyrinth and did not get lost. You held your head up high even during your most painful, heart-breaking moments.
During your most stressful times, although you did not know it, you were performing crisis management, because you no doubt continued to live and work and carry on with grace despite the fact you were going through a mess.
If that isn’t facing your fears and proving you can do anything, I don’t know what is. You demonstrated to yourself that nothing is insurmountable for you as you continue to move on with your life.
Many of us tend to view divorce as a loss — loss of security, loss of the partner and life we thought we knew, and the loss how we even identify ourselves. But divorce can actually be a gift because it gives you a chance to really get to know yourself.
As you part from that part of your life that identified you as being the other person’s spouse, you have a chance for a kind of introspection that you never had when you were a part of a couple. Being on your own will give you the chance to deep-dive and examine things you may not have even thought of before.
Now that you have the ability to look at the relationship from an outside perspective, you have the gift of better understanding yourself—knowing what things in a relationship cause you stress or anxiety, what makes you angry, and being able to clearly identify non-negotiables so that if you choose to have a future relationship, you can have an awareness that will hopefully prevent the same unhealthy patterns and dynamics that occurred previously.
When we feel devastated, wondering if we’ll ever be able to move on after divorce, it is easy to forget that we are actually being given a second chance. It can be difficult to regard divorce as a second chance when we are heart-broken and think the life we knew has been taken away from you, but it’s essential to remember the opportunity it has given you.
Whether you had wanted it or not, divorce allows you a ‘make-over’ with your life. It gives you myriad second chances that you had never imagined possible: to be happy again, to be independent and answer only to yourself, to grow and challenge yourself unlike you ever have, to travel, to understand yourself better, and to define life on your own terms.
It’s not to say that accomplishing these things had you stayed in the marriage would have been impossible, but life after divorce accelerates this opportunity, pulling you out of your comfort zone.
So, while many may think that divorce is a huge loss to be mourned, it is important to remember that it is actually the chance to liberate yourself. You are a survivor who can do anything. You now have this incredible gift of introspection that can serve as a guide if you let it. And you are given a second chance at life that many others long for but may never receive. Embrace your gifts of divorce freedom. The best years of your life are waiting.
Published earlier here.
Image source: freedom concept by Shutterstock.
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce coach whose website, Surviving Your Split, helps women navigate their
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