September 25, 2018

Realities of Divorce

Initially, separation and the divorce from your spouse is an incredibly wrenching and shocking experience. This early period of huge change and loss is extremely difficult but, speaking as a survivor of divorce, I can tell you firsthand that we do survive it and more often than not, go on to an even better life that is based on our personal values and passions.

Those of us who have gone through a divorce understand all too well the pain and grief we experience. We have lost our spouse, what we thought was our life partner, a loss similar to the death of a loved one. What is worse though, is losing all the many aspects of a life lived together as a couple and family. The fact is that many of our married friends cannot really understand that loss, which only serves to make us feel more isolated.

It is the loss of a total way of life… of extended family members, of holidays spent together and a social life with other married couples to name just a few of the losses associated with divorce. Recently, a divorced friend remarked that her married friends didn’t know what to do with her. Where we used to spend our Saturday nights with other married couples or Sundays on family outings with a treasure trove of kids, now there is little physical contact or more often, none at all.

Where did those family dinners together with friends go? We’re still here. Why don’t we see our married friends socially outside of a party? I know that we are all busy with our own little worlds but I sense that these former close friends simply don’t ‘get’ the loneliness and sense of loss we are experiencing. We divorced people understand that things are no longer the same; we know that better than anyone.

I need people who I can have dinner with when my married buddies are out with each other. I need people who want to take in an exhibit at a museum when my ex has the kids on a weekend. I want to find another person with this same, new family unit who wants to go on vacation together. As you can see, divorce is really starting all over again. It’s all about creating a new and hopefully better life.

For those of us who are well into middle age, it can be extremely frightening. What we thought were going to be our golden years, the culmination of all the planning and dreaming we did as a couple, is not to be. We must find a new path to follow. We must create new dreams.

I am aware that time heals many wounds and things will get easier as they become more habitual. I also know that a new perspective on life that reflects that life is now filled with new opportunities and possibilities is mandatory. I am well into creating a new career and following interests and personal dreams that I have become reacquainted with over the last year or so. That does feel good.

My work allows me to give back to the world which brings me fulfillment and joy. I am pursuing activities that will bring me into contact with new people. I am doing things that I always loved but had neglected for too long. All that leads to more positive change and growth.

It also helps to lessen the pain of adjustment. It helps relieve the pain of the losses that I have experienced and continue to experience. But that pain is still there, sometimes shocking and more often numbing. I know the pain will lessen as time goes by. I have learned that if I am to be happy in this new life, I cannot depend on anyone other than myself.

What I have learned on a very deep level is we can only control ourselves and little else. Things happen. They always will. It is how we choose to handle what happens in our lives that makes all the difference in the world. We must accept reality for what it is and not for what we think it should be. It is only in that acceptance that we are able to move forward. The bumps in life’s road will always be there. That’s life.

Creating a new life isn’t necessarily easy but I know now that not only is it possible, but also filled with new horizons which is kind of exciting. It’s a matter of believing that life will once again be filled with happiness and joy.

Shelley Stile is a professional Life Coach specializing in divorce recovery for women. Contact her for more information.