Those of us who have gone through a divorce understand all too well the pain and grief we experience. We have lost our spouse, who 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.
We watch as our Kids walk out the door to Spend Sunday Night with our Ex
For those of us living far away from our extended families, it is even more difficult. My ex’s family lives within minutes of him so he still has the comfort of having his family close by for support. Not so for those of us whose families are a plane ride away. The simple joy of a Sunday night family dinner with our brothers, sisters and parents eludes us. We watch as our kids walk out the door to spend Sunday night with our ex and their grandparents and a vacuum opens up within us.
Holidays once Joyous Now Evoke Sadness
The holidays are another example of what was once a source of joyous anticipation that is now an event that evokes sadness. Flying home to spend Thanksgiving without our children is lonely. I know other divorced people who say that part never gets easier. Sitting at that big table with our extended family but not our own beautiful children always causes my eyes to well with tears. I wonder if I will ever get used to it.
Things once taken for granted are Constantly Popping up
I am relatively new to this major life transition. Things that I took for granted are constantly popping up as yet another challenge and reminder of my new status. For example, just recently I was invited to my former brother-in-law’s children’s Bar Mitzvah but I was not invited to the family dinner the night before or the Sunday brunch afterwards. I was reminded that I was no longer a member of the family.
Getting the Official Divorce is just One Step in the Process
For me, divorce is not so much about losing my spouse as it is about losing the life I led for nearly twenty years. I can accept the fact that my marriage is over. I understand what went wrong or to be more precise, what didn’t work. I am re-building a life for myself, both as a single parent and a single, working woman. Nonetheless, the road to recovery is far from over.
Then the real work begins:
What has been revealed to me is the fact that the road to a new life must involve new friends who have more in common with my new life. Mind you, I have the most wonderful and supportive friends who have helped me through this crisis. They will be in my life forever but they cannot fill many of the holes that must be filled. I see that this new life will mandate that I find other people who understand my experience because they too have gone through it.
It’s all About Creating a New and Hopefully Better Life
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.
We must Create New Dreams
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.
Things will get Easier as they Become more Habitual
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.
Positive Change and Growth
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.
We Must Depend on Ourselves
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.
Accept Reality for What it is and Not for What we Think it Should Be
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.
Believe that Life will once again be Filled with Happiness and Joy
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.
Powerful Change is Possible
You can live a life that truly works and you can achieve peak performance in all areas of your life. You can not only survive life’s unexpected changes and transitions but also thrive. Powerful change is possible. You are fully capable of creating a life that you choose.