I DO…I DID…NOW WHAT? Take these five steps to reclaim your happiness after divorce:
Establish Boundaries and Close the Marriage Door. The relationship that you had with your child’s other parent no longer exists the same way. There is a person standing before you with whom you must build a whole new relationship. It is worse than building a relationship with someone new because you have history, probably some of it ugly or you may still be married. Not only are you trying to build a new type of relationship, but you are trying to forget the irritations that existed in the marital one as well. It’s time for tabula rasa; time to put aside the irritations of the past to move to a more pleasant relationship as coParents. At least as you are becoming accustomed to your new relationship conversations should be limited to your children. Your own irritations, needs, and expectations are yours to deal with and should be kept to yourself, as well as your boundaries around not entertaining theirs. The more quickly these roles are established, the more quickly you will both be able to meet your own needs independently and move on.
Prioritize What Has To Be Done. You are now a single parent, and whatever the coParenting time share arrangement around the kids, you probably do not have all that you once did. You could have less time with your children, money, or simply help around the house. If money is stressful you may need to work on a budget that will accommodate your new living arrangement. Less time with the children may mean that you put aside certain chores for times that they are not with you so that you can spend as much quality time with them as possible. Less help around the house can create feelings of being overwhelmed so invite friends over, or hire someone to come help keep up with the new balancing act. Most importantly remember that it is okay not to have everything. While some people will have it all most will realize that there as a single parent there are happy kids, a clean house and your sanity but you can only have two.
Grieving and Forgiveness is there when you are ready. Grieving is such an individual experience for people that it is okay to allow it if you feel it, but it is okay not to feel the need to grieve also. You may feel that you are okay with things, even when people question you, and perhaps you may always be. However, it may strike at the strangest, most inopportune time from a song, a scent, a sight that triggers a memory that makes you miss something you didn’t realize was important to you. In those moments allow the tears to come, take a break and be present to allow yourself the time to experience the sadness. Forgive old transgressions, because they do not matter anymore in the post divorce era. Anger held by a person does not hurt the person it is held against, rather the person holding it. Negative thoughts will keep you in a negative place, so forgiveness is needed for your happiness, not theirs. It is as important to forgive yourself those transgressions you think you have made. People do the best they can in the moment with the tools they have. Be gentle with yourself as well as others.
Self Care and Finding Yourself. What are the things that make you happiest and bring you to your happy place? Often there is much turmoil after a divorce and so much going on that people are distracted, conflicted, and not at peace. You are in recovery and you are the most important person that needs attending to at the moment. People often get so worried about their children that they do not take care of themselves. Worry only creates more worry. Slow down as things can wait, breathe and enjoy the moments without rushing to the next, relax and tune into what your own body needs. That may be exercise, better food, music, or just sleep. Indulge your own natural frequency because then you will be best equipped to do all else that needs to be done.
Create New Traditions and Memories. While it is good to grieve the past when you need to you also need to live in the present. What is something you have always wanted to do but never done? What is something you could do now that you would remember for the rest of your life? You may have always wanted to swim in the ocean, climb a mountain, and learn to surf or take a cruise. While one part of your life is over, a whole new one is beginning and there are opportunities for this life to be as wonderful as you allow it to be.