“I’ve learned that when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock somewhere else.” ~Andy Rooney

There is a hard truth in these words, one that is difficult for many to take to heart. Yet, unless you let go of destructive, obsessive emotions, there is no forward movement in life. You will stagnate— even drown— in a pool of discontent and unhappiness.

How do you move on after a divorce? When the anger and hurt is still fresh, still painful, what can you do to rid your body and mind of these negative feelings?

First, realize and accept the fact you may be clinging to something that no longer exists.

After divorce, the past has a way of remaining at the forefront of your mind, keeping you prisoner to what was, rather than looking at what could be. Your mind may have become a broken record, playing the same lyrics over and over, trying to find answers to questions that may no longer be important. It’s natural to long for understanding, but sometimes, comprehension isn’t going to change what has happened.

Rather than spending huge amounts of energy rehashing your past life and choices, why not put that energy into building a new life? Accept what has happened and move on to the next chapter. Though it may not seem possible now, it may hold greater things for you.

Second, forgiveness is a concept most of us understand, but may be the hardest to achieve. Without forgiveness, how can divorced parents possibly build a stable, loving foundation for their children, and realistically develop a cordial relationship to support each other as co-parents?

One way to move toward forgiveness is by thinking of your ex not as your spouse, but as a partner-parent you need to raise your children. Differentiate between these roles and begin to build a new connection between the two of you. Not only are you giving your children permission to love you both equally, you are giving them a support network they can rely on.

Finally, be honest with yourself. Are you mourning the loss of your marriage for what it was? Or are you clinging to the thought of what you wished your marriage had been? We live in a happily ever after society. We want the storybook romance, the magnificent wedding, and the unforgettable honeymoon. It’s our nature to want it all as we build a life together, perhaps even the cliché house with the white picket fence, two kids, and a dog and cat to complete the picture.

The reality is two of every four marriages now end in divorce. Instead of wasting time dwelling on the negative, remember your life story isn’t over. Adjust the way you think and you will be better and stronger for it. You can’t magically rewind and change what has happened, but you do have the ability to create a new, even better future for yourself and your children.

It takes strength and courage to let go, to move on to a different life without the person you once thought you would grow old with. Give yourself time and permission to grieve the loss, but don’t immerse yourself so totally you lose sight of the fact that you are going to be okay. Divorce alone won’t destroy you, but negativity just might.