Let me be frank here, I never expected to join the “Divorced Women Club” but it’s a thing, and here I am. (Logo designs coming soon…kidding.) Learning how to be a single mom, not a crazy ex-wife, and a decent human being is trying. I feel like I should be getting a part-time paycheck for the work my mind is putting into this. If you haven’t been here, it is hard. The crappy thing is that there is no right way to do it because everyone’s situation is so different.
I will not lie and say I am holding it all together and doing it all right. However, I am gracefully learning from my mistakes, apologizing even when I don’t feel like it, and growing daily as I figure this all out. With that being said, I have figured out a few things in this recently divorced life.
If you have children, always, always, always put them first.
They didn’t choose this; they are just innocent bystanders. Be gentle with them, explain things to them in a way they will understand, but make sure it is the truth. Kids are so much smarter than what we give them credit for, and you may think you are protecting them by telling them a little white lie, but you aren’t. What you will be doing if you lie is teaching them that it is okay to lie. Keep the communication open, but in a way that they will understand at their age. (For a full article on this topic written by a licensed psychologist, click here.)
Be kind to yourself. This is hard!
I think even more so for women who internalize everything and then blame themselves. It’s not your fault alone. It takes two people to make a marriage work, and if both partners aren’t putting in the effort, then divorce can happen. It doesn’t all land on your shoulders. Give yourself grace, and learn to love yourself. If there is something you don’t like about yourself, then find a way to start working on it and fix it. Growth is huge here, and it will happen, but not overnight. I love this quote by Alexander Den Heijer, “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Work on the things you can control to find your happiness; don’t focus on the things you can’t.
I know this sounds silly, but people will prey on your weaknesses. It’s sad that this is something I even have to focus on. The hard truth is that during a divorce you will see who really cares, who never did, or who may try and use you. It adds to the hurt, but it also helps you find your true tribe of people who genuinely care about and love you. Surround yourself with those people. These precious ones will help you on your journey to finding you. They will show you how to love yourself again, and they will pull you out of your darkest of darks.
When to apologize, when to forgive.
The hardest part for me so far is learning how to say I am sorry when I am wrong. Divorce causes hurt which makes us as humans want to lash out, defend ourselves, and even hurt those who have hurt us. Instead of making little digs at your ex to try and emotionally wound him, learn when it is best to say nothing at all. Y’all, this is close to impossible for me, but I have quickly learned that the words I use to cut him, cut me just as deep. Doing so only cause more issues, especially when you have children together because he will always be part of your life to some degree.
I wish there was an easy equation to healing and getting through divorce. Unfortunately, there isn’t, but if you learn to walk through every phase, feel every feeling, and give yourself unconditional grace, you will slowly find what works best for you. When you make a mistake (and I say “when” because you will), learn from it but don’t let it define you. Say I am sorry and forgive yourself.
You got this sister!
-Local Member of the Divorced Women Club
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You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: If You Can’t Avoid Divorce, Can You Do It Honorably? With Attorney Leesha Newkirk Crouch – 059!