I posted on Facebook the other day about a realization I’d made. I only knew a handful of couples in my peer group who had actually been divorced. But then those just ten years older than me seemed to be in the midst of a hysteria of divorce. It was gut-wrenching to realize that so many of the relationships around me now in my thirties may have run their course by the time I’m in my forties.
I was unbalanced just thinking of the implications of time and relationships, and I started to dig deeper and learn what comes next. What comes after that divorce that leads so many of my older friends into a healthier, happier place while some seem to be left behind, lost in their broken relationship.
It turns out there are several steps to achieving balance after a divorce, and healing begins in different phases for those who have been through a divorce. For most looking to heal quickly and get back to a healthy place in their life, achieving balance can be simply one small step after another.
Step 1 – Grieve Fully
It’s scary to look into the dark places in your heart, but this is a time that you not only should, but you need to experience the full gambit of grief. Give yourself permission to cry, wail, throw things, express fury, sulk in depression and simply ride the strong emotions that come with such a huge loss.
Step 2 – Remove Yourself from Your Former Mate
You can’t grieve properly or come to terms with your new situation if you’re brushing up against your former mate on a daily or even weekly basis. Create as much space and distance as possible between the two of you for up to six months. If you’re sharing children during this time, keep contact as limited as possible to avoid allowing your former mate to have additional influences during your healing time.
Step 3 – Accept Your Lost Future
Every marriage came with dreams and hopes for the future. Once you’ve accepted the loss of the marriage, you must also come to grips with the loss of the future you one had planned. Identify all of the various things you had hoped or planned to do with your spouse and privately mourn those dreams. This will be a time of tears, but also cleansing.
Step 4 – Surround Yourself with Compassion
Friends and family members have different ways of supporting those who are hurting, and often they are unsure of how to support you as you wrestle with grief. Don’t seek out those who want to “fix” your problems for you. Instead find friends, support groups or even a therapist or minister who will allow you to simply vent and express the feelings you’re experiencing with soothing compassion.
Step 5 – Examine the Failures
With the help of your compassionate listeners and perhaps a diary or journal, examine your relationship to determine what went wrong. Do this with some detachment – just as you would as you watched a show – so that you can see what mistakes were made and where signs were visible. Be open and honest – blaming others may be natural, but it won’t help. There are often shared elements of a failed relationship.
Step 6 – Figure Out What Started the Relationship
Often relationships that fail started out on unequal footing. If you are to move forward and hopefully into new, healthy relationships, you must determine what drew you to your former mate. It wasn’t just that you were “in love” in many cases. Often, we are drawn to others because they need us, we want to save someone, we are infatuated, or we are seeking security. Look for signs of why you picked who you picked. Examine elements of that choice to see if it is reflected in the ultimate breakup.
Step 7 – Forgive Your Partner
It can be challenging to offer forgiveness if you’re not ready to do so. Forgiving your partner can be something you work up to both in your mind and in your heart. Try to understand why your partner acted in the way that he or she did and reach out with your heart to forgive them for their actions.
Step 8 – Forgive Yourself
By the same element, you likely became a person you didn’t care for during the final stages of your marriage. Forgive yourself for your own moments of weakness, you hateful thoughts and remarks and your own perceived failures in your marriage. Understand that you did the best you could and that you must forgive before you can move on.
Step 9 – Build a New Network
Often with divorce come upheavals in social networks. You are growing and changing and your friends may be, too. Use these changes to build yourself a new network of friends and support. Make an effort to reconnect to others in book clubs, knitting circles, group sessions, religious organizations or even an online community. Finding others with similar experiences can help you find comfort in your new community as well.
Step 10 – Take Relationships Slowly
As you move forward, make a pledge to yourself to take all future relationships slowly. You’ll need to examine relationships and understand them as you move forward. This can be true for friendships and romantic relationships in the future as well. Understand yourself and your new friends to be sure that the relationship is healthy and fully supportive for both of you.
Step 11 – Stay Healthy
Throughout the entire process of healing and finding balance, it’s essential that you take care of yourself. You may have off days while you are grieving, but throughout be sure that you’re eating properly and finding ways to incorporate movement and exercise into your life. Rest frequently and don’t make additional stressful decisions if you can help it. Treat yourself as if you’re getting over a bad sickness and healing slowly.
Step 12 – Become a Person You Love
As you start to emerge from the darkness and find the support you need to move forward, start to recreate yourself to match your own desires and expectations. You don’t need to make yourself into someone others might like, but instead embrace your own unique traits and characteristics and use those to start building up your life in a new and positive direction.
Try new challenges or travel as your heart desires. Fill your newly balanced life with joy and adventures as you make new dreams for your future.
Uttoran Sen is a travel enthusiast who loves to explore the world and write them down on his travel blog. Follow him on twitter or become a .
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