An acrimonious divorce can leave you feeling shaken, shattered, and unsure about the future. It’s hard to imagine picking up the pieces and building a new life for yourself.
It’s normal to feel those things at first, or even for the first few months or a year. Divorce is a big life transition, and if yours was a nasty one with bad feelings on both sides, it’s natural to feel lost.
However, now is also the perfect time to reinvent yourself. We’re not talking about trying to become someone you’re not, but rather figuring out how to be more of who you really are. If you’re recovering from a split and wondering how to reinvent yourself after a nasty divorce, try out these practical steps.
Let Yourself Mourn
Divorce is hard. Trying to pick yourself up as if nothing much happened will only hurt you in the long term. Instead, be gentle with yourself and let yourself mourn. You’re not only mourning your marriage and your ex. You’re also mourning who you were within your marriage, and the future you’d hoped to have together.
Let the mourning process unfold naturally. It’s normal to feel rage, bitterness, sadness, fear, and denial. Try journaling your feelings – it sounds a little cheesy, but it really does help. Talk to trusted friends, or consider seeing a therapist if things are getting on top of you.
Give yourself the time and space you need to grieve, so you can move on when you’re ready.
Rediscover Who You Were
Did you give up on some of your interests and passions when you were married? Maybe you used to love running or painting but simply couldn’t find the time back then. Perhaps you used to have a different style but found yourself subtly changing to suit your partner.
Now is the time to dust off those old interests or likes and revisit them. Some of them won’t be a fit for you anymore, and that’s ok. But revisiting cherished places, past times or styles can help remind you of who you are deep down.
Let Yourself Try New Things
As a balance to revisiting the old why not make some time to try out the new? If there’s a class you’ve always wanted to take or a place you’ve always wanted to go, now is the time to do it.
Be brave and try out things you’d never have thought of, or that you thought your partner wouldn’t like you doing. Learning new skills and doing new activities will help you expand your horizons, and stop you from dwelling on the past.
Embrace New Roles
Every couple slips into roles in their marriage. If your partner was a fantastic cook and always had dinner on the table, or had a head for math and took charge of your finances, it can be quite a jolt to find yourself suddenly in charge.
Instead of fearing taking charge of your partner’s responsibilities, embrace them. Take some classes if you want to, or look for resources online. Let taking on new roles stretch you and show you just what you’re capable of.
Spend Time With Yourself
After a nasty divorce, you need some time to get to know yourself anew. If you can, book a vacation or a weekend trip to get a change of scenery and some uninterrupted you time. If that’s not doable, make some time for yourself with a spa visit, meditation class, a long walk or even a candlelit bubble bath.
Spend some time in your own company so you can get to know yourself all over again. Look for and appreciate your own positive qualities, and forgive yourself for things you wish you had done differently. Get to know your needs and aims in life so you can reinvent yourself in the way that best serves you.
Meet New People
Meeting new people is a wonderful way to expand your horizons after a divorce. If you and your ex had quite a lot of friends in common, you might find yourself out on a limb socially. This can feel isolating – but don’t let it stop you having an interesting social life. Try new things, go to new places, and talk to new people.
When you’re ready to date again, try dating people who are a little different to your usual type. Expand your idea of what is possible for you and see where it takes you, in both relationships and friendships.
Set Some Goals
It’s normal to feel cast adrift after a divorce. Setting goals for yourself helps you move forward, and is also a good way to identify what you’d like to achieve for your life now.
Your goals can be anything you want them to be, from financial security to learning a new language to learning to cook that one dish you’ve always wanted to make. Choose something that feels good and is achievable for you, and go for it.
There’s no doubt that divorce changes you. Instead of pushing back, embrace those changes and use this time to reinvent yourself, so you can get closer to the best possible version of yourself.
About the author: Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support, and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy, happy marriages. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google+ and Pinterest.