Divorce is like a giant zit on your nose. It’s red. It’s giant. It hurts. Everybody sees it. And nobody mentions it.
How awkward! How painful! Right?
Our culture is stuck in the days of The Oregon Trail. Remember that computer game? Where half the family would die because they got the measles or yellow fever? Ma certainly didn’t have the option of divorcing Pa back then.
Yes, divorce is commonplace nowadays. But, it’s still not a comfortable topic at the dinner table.
Do you notice that people don’t know what to say to you? So they just pretend like there is nothing to discuss? Like a giant zit on your nose.
Check out these 7 ways to heal from hurt and resentment after divorce:
- RECOGNIZE YOUR FEELINGS
Are you swimming in a mess of yucky emotions? You can’t even identify how you are feeling? Let’s review some common divorce feelings, and write down the feelings you identify with:
ANGER: Are you angry because he lied to you? Because he cheated on you? Because he hurt you? Because he was controlling? Because he messed with your mind? Because he ruined your financially? Because he didn’t love you till death do you part? When you tell your story, do you feel a surge of anger well up in you? We are going to do a little project now: draw 2 lines down the page, to make 3 columns. And title the 3 rows: “Name”, “Grudge”, “Intensity 1-10”. Take 2 minutes to complete your list.
SAD: You have lost a lot. Take a moment to identify what makes you sad. The loss of intimacy or loss of family identity. Were you a stay at home mom and now have an identify crisis? Did you put your career on the back burner in order to support your husband better? Are you feeling regret over that loss of opportunity in your career? Are you lonely? Are you frustrated that you don’t have a date to the wedding coming up next month?
WORRIED: Has anybody ever called you a worry wart? Are you stressed about how to pay the bills? How to separate the finances? How to co-parent? How to arrange custody? How to agree on the schedule? How to start a new life at your age? Only deal with the stressful things that you have control over. If you are stressed about losing your house and having to start over, this is something you probably don’t have control over. So stop letting it swirl around in your head. Set it “off limits” in your mind. Forbid yourself from dwelling on it. Eventually, you will develop a new “normal”.
It’s important to identify these feelings so you can better deal with them. Name the problem. And that is the first step to healing.
- ACCEPT REJECTION
Go back to the “grudge” list you made. Circle the names whom you HAVE to deal with. That you absolutely cannot cut out of your life. Go back again and circle any who scored 5 and below. Now, for a third time, go through the list and cross off any name that is not circled. The names remaining are the grudges I suggest you swallow your pride on. The way I implemented this was to literally block contact with the people I crossed off. I blocked them from my phone, email, facebook, etc. You may choose to not be quite that harsh. The point is: they are not worth investing in to salvage the relationship. Even if you have to see them throughout the year, it is still a relief psychologically to know that you have cut them off. They are no longer in your circle, and therefore you don’t have to waste your precious emotions on them anymore.
The truth is that not everybody is going to like you. I have heard Joel Osteen say that:
25% of people you meet: will like you and always be there
25% of people you meet: will like you but could be persuaded not to
25% of people you meet: won't like you, but could be persuaded to
25% of people you meet: will never like you
Once you can embrace this, you will only waste your effort on the 50-75% of people that like you or can be persuaded to like you.
Your ex held the prominent spot in your inner circle. And his rejection is extremely painful. But I encourage you to accept his rejection and move on.
- KNOW THAT YOU ARE LOVED
Have you ever heard of unconditional love? Do you believe in it? I do. I wish humans could have unconditional love. But we are not capable of it. But I believe God is. He loves us no matter what. Even if you believe the divorce is all your fault. He still loves you. No matter how much you have messed up, you are still loved. There is nothing wrong with you.
Your ex may not love you anymore, but the Creator of the Earth does. His love is more than enough for you. Focus on that unconditional love. Just the way you are, God LOVES you. Everything about you. He isn’t waiting for you to shape up, or quit a bad habit, or lose weigtht.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7(NIV)
- LET YOUR MARRIAGE GO
We all have pity parties. Have you ever thought of making it a formal pity party? How about making it a farewell celebration? Try marking the end of your divorce with a special event. Go out with your girlfriends. Have a glass of wine with your sister. Try a sage burning ceremony in the privacy of your bathroom. Do something to signify the release of your marriage. And when those feelings of hurt and resentment bubble up, you can look at those feelings in the eye and say, “I have already said good-bye to you. Remember, I had that farewell party? Get outta here and don’t come back.”
- STOP BLAMING YOURSELF
Did the divorce reveal a part of your personality that you don’t like? Do you feel like you failed? Are you obsessing over everything that is wrong?
If your best friend was going through a tough divorce, what would you say to her? Would you point out to her that she wasn’t a very good wife? That she could have done better? No, you wouldn’t blame her! Why are you blaming yourself, then?
Stop beating yourself up. Stop fixating on how you messed up. Let’s just move forward.
- EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE
Do you know how special you are? Do you know that every fingerprint is unique? So cool! Isn’t it? Do you think God messed up when He made you? NO! Divorce is a traumatic life change, and it has shaken your self-confidence. But, the truth is, that you are pretty darn cool.
What are your signature strengths? Are you bold? Are you good with kids? Are you analytical? Do you love to socialize? Your signature strengths come so naturally to you that you may not even recognize them as strengths.
Capitalize on these strengths, and find creative ways to deal with your weaknesses.
- START YOUR SUCCESS JOURNEY
You are going to be more successful after divorce than you were before. Work on these three areas to build the life you have always dreamed of:
- Emotional: Smile. Be confident. This is going to feel strange at first. Especially coming out of divorce, because your face has been trained into a frown. But you can retrain it.
- Physical: Are you exhausted? Do you feel like you have you let yourself go? Divorce is so stressful that it happens to us all. But don’t stay in that spot. Start small. Go to bed an hour earlier than normal. Don’t watch TV before you go to bed. Are you eating fast-food every day? Try going to the grocery store for lunch instead. You’re more likely to get something more healthy that way. Try going outside for 10 minutes. Smelling the fresh air and hearing the birds chirp and seeing the sunshine. Set goals and take them seriously. You’re going to feel so good and look so good that they won’t even recognize you. If you think you can’t make this sort of change, believe me. You can. I have seen women do this. It is so cool to watch happen. You can do it too.
- Career: Are you stuck in a rut at work? Divorce is a second chance. You get a redo! Take advantage of it. Start working harder at work. Or look for another company if you are not happy where you are at. Even if it is a pay cut, you may be able to catch back up and even earn a lot more if you get into the field that is right for you. Don’t settle for the same old-same old.
- Financial: Divorce can wreak havoc on your finances. Not only is your money divided in half, but attorneys and the IRS take a big slice of the pie. I have heard countless times about how someone’s credit has been ruined by divorce. Many of the typical financial pitfalls of divorce can be prevented. Check out my website for more information.
Don’t be run over by divorce. Be REVOLUTIONIZED by divorce.
Start on these 7 steps to heal from hurt and resentment from divorce, and you will rock it!
Making new friends
I don’t include making friends as one of the seven steps to healing from hurt and resentment after a divorce. I don’t think you should depend on friends to help you heal. Rather, that needs to be done on your own. I repeat, do not rely on your family or friends to lift you higher. Spartan up, baby. Nobody can do that job but you.
However, friendships can be a beautiful element of your new life.
Your support system may change after divorce. For me, I lost most of my friends because of my divorce. And making friends after getting divorced ain’t easy.
Challenges of making friends after divorce
It is harder to make friends at this stage in life. All the friends are taken. They have been friends since Kindergarten. They go on vacation together, their kids are in sports together, and they have a million stories that share about their lifelong friendship. I try not to get annoyed at this reality, but jealousy creeps up on me.
Second, making the time to develop new friendships is harder. I work all day, and I take care of my kids at night. I can’t attend the social hours that people my age go to. There are plenty of networking events, charity events, church events, and work get-togethers, but I can’t go because I have my kids. I ask the women my age, how can you go to that event? Don’t you have to watch your kids? Oh, my husband takes care of them when I go out. Divorced people don’t have that luxury.
Third, I am the third wheel. At this stage in life, people are married. They want other couples to hang out with. I’m one partner short of that prerequisite. It messes up seating at the table. You have one person extra or short for a card game. I feel awkward spending time with married couples. I don’t know who to talk to or look at. I would prefer to talk with the wife, but if we talk about girl stuff because then he will feel awkward. And I don’t want to be rude by ignoring him. If only I was married, then my super cool husband could talk shop with the other husband and her and I can talk about girl stuff. I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb.
However, these challenges won’t stop us. No. Divorce won’t get the best of us. Our ex won’t get the best of us. We will rise from the ashes like the Phoenix.
Divorce is the golden excuse for cutting ties with negative friends
Divorce pushes you to make new friends, either because you lost friends or realized you their friendship is not good for you. If your friend speaks negatively and feeds you gossip, that may be a friend you don’t want to have anymore.
Divorce is the best excuse to do rash things, like cutting ties with people. You can get a tattoo, change careers, change your name, buy a convertible, or adopt a pet rabbit. Whatever “crazy” thing you desire, you can do. When people ask you, why did you do that?, you have a perfect excuse: I got divorced. I had to make some hard decisions and changes for what’s best for me and my family.
Personally, I think divorce is an even better excuse than a midlife crisis. Maybe you wouldn’t have the courage to cut ties with an unhealthy friendship prior to your divorce. Now that you are divorced, you can’t afford not to. You need to make 100% healthy choices that are in the best interest of you (and your children).
My experience with friendships post-divorce
I’m happy to report that I have made new friends since being divorced. I lost my best friend in the divorce process, as well as most of my acquaintances. On top of the heartbreak of my divorce, losing my friends was almost too much to bear. At that low point, we need to be strong.
At first, I was mad at the world. I vowed to never have a friend again because they are all a bunch of traitors. Clearly, I was jaded.
After I got over my mad-at-the-world stage, I was open to making new friends. Now, I have many amazing friends. I am careful about who I choose as friends, as well. Don’t be friends for reasons of convenience, or as a status symbol. Develop friendships with people you admire, that make you laugh, or you can have adventures with.
Get out there and make new friends. (choose wisely)