These are the words I desperately needed to hear ten years ago
Lately, I’ve had so many things swirling around in my head that I know are so very valuable to anyone who is experiencing the end of a significant relationship. So, I’ve decided to share the truths about divorce that I’ve experienced.
Sometimes, I like to go in-depth on particular topics, but other times, I feel an impulse to get those key messages out quickly to people who I know need to feel like they are not alone in their pain and confusion.
During a recent two-week trip through the States for a coaching retreat, I met so many people who shared some of their biggest post-divorce struggles with me. I’m grateful for each and every one of them and humbled that they trusted me with their stories.
This week, I’m inspired to share some of the most valuable truths about divorce that have come to me since my divorce ten years ago and through hundreds of hours of coaching others through their divorce journeys.
I literally visualised myself ten years ago, lost, confused, scared, hopeless and desperate for someone to tell me that I was going to make it through.
If I was sitting on the end of my bed with that person now, this is what I would say.
- Divorce is not a failure: Redefine failure and success for yourself and what you truly believe about life. Not what society tells us. There are many married people who are quietly miserable; is this success?
- Emotions are valid: Allow yourself to feel anger, sadness, and confusion without judgment. There may even be times that you don’t see the point in living. It’s ok to feel this way. You are a human being going through intense grief. Every emotion is valid and will eventually pass.
- Self-care is essential: Prioritize your well-being throughout the process. Nothing is more important than how you care for yourself during a divorce. It’s even more important than the kids because you can’t look after them properly if you’re not looking after yourself first.
- Support is crucial: Lean on friends, family, or a coach who can provide emotional support. The best support is paid for. I found that my family and friends had limited time or expertise to help me when I was truly on my knees and going through a particularly bad trigger.
- Every divorce is unique: You can’t compare your healing and recovery to anyone else. I remember seeing a woman at work who seemed completely over the moon to be out of her marriage. Meanwhile, I could barely get through the day. This made me feel like more of a failure.
- Don’t underestimate patience: Healing and rebuilding take time. It’s not something that can be rushed. It’s also not linear. You can go back and forth between feeling strong and feeling devastated again in the space of a few days or weeks.
- Communication is vital: Open and honest conversations with your ex-spouse and your kids (depending on their ages) will lead to better outcomes. Take this opportunity to become a better communicator. If it’s not something you’re good at, reach out to a coach to help.
- Focus on the future: What you want in your post-divorce life matters. You are the creator of what happens to you now. What do you want? What is your vision? Get intentional, and don’t leave things to chance.
- Children need reassurance: Your kids need to see that you are consistently there for them in every way. If your co-parent is on board with this, awesome! If they’re not, focus on you and what you can do. Be the best parent you can possibly be for your kids, and never let them doubt that they have one hundred percent of your love and support.
- Financial planning is essential: Establish a stable financial foundation for yourself. If this is not your area of expertise, get some professional help. If you can’t afford it right now, hit up Uncle Google and find out what you need to know. There is no end of financial advice online for divorced people. Be proactive!
- Meditation and mindfulness can help: When the emotional chaos starts to overtake you (and it will), use these practices to calm the mind and get grounded back in reality rather than the worst-case scenarios that are causing anxiety and depression.
- Your happiness is your responsibility: A new relationship is not going to make everything all better. It can help in some ways and add value in others, but it can’t take away the fact that you need to properly heal from the grief of your marriage ending.
- Forgiveness is liberating: No matter what has happened or what your ex has done to you, forgiveness is going to help you in the long run. This one can be the most challenging for some of us; a divorce coach can help you get there faster.
- Life can be amazing again: This chapter is a part of your story, not the whole book. Divorce is not the end; it is the beginning of something new. You may reject this idea at first, but as your life evolves, you will begin to see that your new story can be even more exciting than the one you thought you were going to have.
- Newfound freedom: Don’t take your freedom lightly. As great as relationships can be, they do limit much of our personal freedom. You only have yourself to think about for now. Use this precious time to figure out what lights you up, and then get out there and do it!
- Boundaries are crucial: Set clear boundaries to protect your emotional well-being. If your ex is shaking you to the core with every interaction, it’s time to set some new boundaries. If your new partner is manipulating you, again, boundaries! If you need help with this, talk to a coach.
- Learn from the experience: Find the positives. Yes, there are positives to divorce, no matter what society tells us. It’s the most fertile soil for growth that you will ever experience. Sometimes, our personal growth comes in ways we wouldn’t have chosen. Nobody said that growth was easy.
- Closure comes from within: Closure doesn’t come from your ex. It has to come from within you. You may think that you need the right words from your ex to make you feel like you can put a full stop to the pain. The reality is that no matter what they say or don’t say, you are the only one who can decide that it is time to let go and move on.
- Crazy resilience: Fewer things in life can test the limits of your endurance, as a divorce can. As you slowly but surely move towards healing and acceptance, you can apply your new courage and strength to every area of your life: work, new relationships, family. You have levelled up in ways you never thought were possible.
I hope that some of these truths about divorce are able to give you some comfort as you deal day-to-day with the reality of your own separation.
The first two years after a marriage ends are absolutely brutal. Anyone who has been through it can tell you that those two years are by far the hardest.
There are many things you can do to make it better for yourself, but often, it feels like you are stumbling through the dark without a torch, just trying to survive each day.
It doesn’t have to be that hard, though. If you want to talk to someone who can help you take control of the chaos and get on top of things again, reach out to a professional who can help you strategize on the next step you need to take to start feeling in control of your life again.
About Carol Madden
Hello, my name is Carol Madden and I am a certified divorce coach working with clients around the world from my online practice in New Zealand.
I aim to help individuals navigate the often overwhelming emotions and practical considerations of separating from a spouse. I understand the unique challenges that divorce can bring, having been through my own divorce ten years ago.
I believe that divorce can be an opportunity for growth and positive change, rather than just a painful ending. Through my coaching, I help clients gain clarity and confidence as they move forward in their lives.
As a writer, I am excited to share my perspectives on divorce with readers seeking solid support during their separations. Whether providing tips for managing the emotional rollercoaster or offering practical advice for effectively co-parenting, I want to help others through this challenging time.