A divorce can leave you feeling lost and alone, and very unsure of yourself. After any long relationship ends, you can be left feeling unsure of who you are and how to be yourself outside of your marriage.
It’s important to be gentle with yourself during a divorce, and take time out for yourself. Try to take time to reconnect with yourself and find some ways to find you again.
Return To An Old Hobby
Do you have an old pastime that was put aside during your marriage? Perhaps you loved running, but swapped those long weekend runs with afternoons on the sofa with your spouse. Were you once passionate about cooking, but too often found yourself ordering in for an at home date night?
Try taking up an old hobby for a quick way to feel like your old self again. Don’t feel guilty about taking this time to yourself and instead relax in a familiar activity that you haven’t done in a well. Whether it’s spending the afternoon cooking a meal you love that your ex-spouse never enjoyed, or going for a long run on a Saturday afternoon without anybody asking when you’ll be back, this time is a valuable healing tool.
Take Up A New Hobby
Always wanted to try something new and not had the time? Why not take up a new hobby now?
Clutter up the whole house with equipment for a new activity, or take hours over a project with no guilt. You could take up jewellery making or teach yourself to knit. Try out a yoga class or turn the spare bedroom into a dark room for that photography project you’ve been thinking about.
Learning a new skill will also help to occupy you mind and give you something else to think about in the early, emotionally difficult days of a separation.
Go Back To School
Returning to education in some form is a popular option for many people after a divorce. This choice has the advantage of distracting you during bad days, and giving you some focus. What kind of education you choose is up to you, depending on what you want to achieve.
Combine education with taking up a new hobby by joining an evening class to learn a new language, and take a trip to a country you’ve never visited, but always wanted to, to practice your new language skills. Return to an old hobby by taking up a relevant evening class to develop a new skill area. For example, if you want to go back to cooking, find a cooking class in a cuisine you’re unfamiliar with. You can enjoy something familiar along with a new challenge, to keep your mind occupied and help retrieve your sense of self.
If you’re looking to make a change professionally, education is a great way to do that. If you weren’t the main breadwinner, or are just worried about your finances after the expense of divorce proceedings and now living on a single income, you may be seeking a promotion or a new career entirely. A new qualification can be a great way to help you achieve that goal. Many schools and colleges over evening classes for adults to help them achieve different qualifications, whether that’s a high school diploma or something more advanced. See what your local college offers.
You can of course also complete some more studies online. There are many online colleges offering courses that can be completed in your own time. This is great if you need something to fit around your current job, but still want to learn something new and give yourself some more financial security. You could earn business qualifications, or look into getting your associate degree online fast.
Having a new string to your bow could not only help you gain more peace of mind financially but could also help you feel more confident during a difficult time. A new qualification and a new skill could make you feel better, and the study has the added bonus of helping to keep you busy.
Reconnect With Friends
Friendships can sometimes take a backseat during a marriage, and reconnecting with old friends can be very rewarding after a separation.
Spending time with people who knew you before your marriage can help you to remember how to be you outside of your relationship. See people who were friends of just you, not just you and your spouse, to help you reconnect to yourself.
Spending time with people you love, and who love you, can be very healing. Talking about how you feel is a very important part of any difficult time, and who better to talk to than your friends? Have a friend on standby who you can talk to when you’re struggling.
It’s also important to have friends on call for when you don’t want to talk too. Sometimes what you need is a distraction to prevent you from worry or wallowing. Now’s the time to call your funnest friends and find something to do. Drinks with friends, dinner with your sister, or an exercise class with your colleague who always invites you along can be a great activity when you need to think about anything other than the divorce.
Take Some Quiet Time
It can be tempting to fill your calendar with activities to keep your mind of your divorce, but an endless succession of classes, nights out and trips will leave you feeling burned out. Tiredness is the last thing you need on top of the emotional distress.
Try and find some balance and pair your new activities with some quiet time just for you. You’ll need time to process your feelings, and to do that, you’ll need some head space. How you find that space is up to you. Spend some evenings at home with an old favourite movie, reruns of a beloved TV show or a good book. Spend a Sunday afternoon taking a walk alone, or in a bubble bath listening to a podcast.
Learning to be alone with your thoughts, even if they’re upsetting, is an important part of the process. Recharge your batteries with the occasional rest.
Learn To Let Go
Holding onto pain and resentment after a divorce is stressful and won’t help you. Try not to cast your ex as the villain, especially if you still have to deal with each other. Whether you’re co-parenting or having to have contact while you divide up assets, playing the blame game will make it all much harder on you both, and any children. Anger ends up hurting you in the long-term, so try to let it go.
It can be tempting to wonder what went wrong, but over analysing your marriage won’t fix it. Try to remember why you chose a divorce in the first place to stop you from over examining the what-might-have-beens and what-ifs. Imagining what might have happened if you could turn back time is fruitless and will only lead to more hurt for you.
On the other hand, it’s also important to let go of feeling bad for grieving. A divorce is of course an upsetting, emotionally challenging time. Pushing down your feelings is unhealthy and won’t help you. Even if you know that the relationship ending is for the best, it’s natural to feel grief. This is ok. Remember you’re human and allowed to feel sad. Just be careful of the difference between healthy expressing of feelings and wallowing in misery. If the best thing for you is a good cry, let the tears go and have a cry. It’s ok to grieve your marriage and the future you imagined for yourself and your ex-spouse.
Seek Help If You Need It
There’s no shame in seeking professional help if you’re struggling. After a divorce, all sorts of things can trigger unexpected emotions, whether it’s the first time doing things alone or unexpectedly bumping into your ex-spouse.
For many people experiencing a divorce, seeing a counsellor or therapist can be hugely helpful. A therapist can help you understand and process your feelings at different stages of your divorce, and can also help you to find your way back to yourself when you feel lost.
A good therapist can also help you to build a functional relationship, post-divorce, with your ex. This is essential if you have children, but can also make your life a whole lot easier and more pleasant if you’re having to see your ex to arrange things like collecting belongings or selling a shared home.
Seek Out Your Own Space
If you’re living alone for the first time in a few years, take advantage of having your own space. Decorate in a way you love that you know your ex wouldn’t like. Play your favourite music loudly, cook smelly food or build elaborate nests of blankets on the sofa. Be selfish with your space and remember why being alone can be fun and satisfying.
* This is a contributed post and may contain affiliate links