How To Start Rediscovering Yourself and Healing After Divorce 

When ranking life stressors, the impact of divorce is cited as the second leading cause of stress, ranking only behind the death of a spouse. If your marriage has recently ended, you know the depths of this stress all too well.

Divorce can affect all areas of functioning. It can make you question yourself, your future, and the relationships you share with others. The recovery process may, at times, feel grueling and even downright bleak.

But healing after divorce is possible. You can rediscover yourself and find a greater purpose within life. Let’s get into the steps you need to take.

Understand There Is a Grief Process

There is no way to sugarcoat it- divorce entails a tremendous sense of loss. Even if you wanted or initiated the divorce, you will still feel this effect.

You may be grieving your spouse directly. But you might also mourn the loss of a future together or the dreams you two shared. You may need to revisit the definition of family you two had, the home you created, and the rituals you maintained.

With that in mind, grief takes time to process. Conflicting emotions are common. You may feel intensely angry one day. The next, you might feel sad or defeated. You might also dwell on how things could have gone differently.

These emotions are valid, and they are a normal part of recovery. Try to avoid suppressing or judging them. You spent a great deal of time investing in your marriage, and it is painful for things to dissolve.

With grieving, try to stay with your feelings. Numbing or suppressing them may work temporarily, but those patterns often create more problems to deal with later.

Furthermore, trying to “move on quickly” by dating or sleeping with someone else won’t adequately fill the void. You need to acknowledge the necessity of sitting with discomfort without acting impulsively.

Practice Self-Compassion

After the divorce, you might find yourself ruminating on how you could have been a better spouse. Or, you may feel silly for not recognizing marital problems sooner.

Unfortunately, holding onto these negative thoughts often triggers more guilt and shame. Subsequently, they can stunt your healing process, as they keep you rooted in the past.

At the core, self-compassion includes self-kindness. Think about how you might treat a beloved friend in your situation. Would you encourage them to harp on what they did wrong? Or, would you try to support a sense of internal love and forgiveness?

Self-compassion also includes recognizing the essence of common humanity. Common humanity refers to acknowledging that we all experience distress in this lifetime. Thus, there is a universal nature to suffering. While that doesn’t mean that people will inherently understand your feelings, it’s essential to recognize that you aren’t alone in your struggles.

Maintain Appropriate Boundaries With Your Ex

In some cases, you can quickly cut all ties with your ex after the divorce. With this approach, people generally avoid any contact with one another.

However, this hard boundary won’t work in all situations. For example, if you two have children, you will need to navigate co-parenting together.

That said, healthy and clear boundaries are paramount for your well-being. If you have shared commitments or obligations, aim to find a middle ground with one another. Do not place other people in the middle of your conflict.

Some exes can remain friends with one another. However, friendship shouldn’t be your most important goal when healing after divorce. You don’t want to be leaning on each other for moral support or companionship. Doing so often only muddles the lines and creates a complicated dynamic.

Lean On Your Friends

Even if you worry about burdening others, try to avoid the desire to isolate yourself during this time. Your loved ones want to support you, but you must be receptive to their efforts.

Unfortunately, divorce can complicate friendships. Mutual friends often feel pressured to “pick a side,” and some of them may inevitably side with your ex. This doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. However, it’s probably best to let go of trying to convince them to think otherwise.

You can consider reaching out to old friends or making efforts to connect with new people. Of course, friendships require work, but the effort is worth the investment.

While it’s reasonable to want to vent to others, try to limit interactions that solely focus on bashing your ex. Although releasing anger has some benefits, dwelling on the same things over and over again may reinforce feeling stuck in the past.

Commit to Rediscovering Yourself

Even in the healthiest marriages, we all make compromises and sacrifices for our partners. This is an inherent part of being in a dynamic with someone else.

But now that you’re starting a new phase in life, it’s time to reflect on those compromises and sacrifices you made. What dreams have you placed on hold? What things did you want to try but never did?

Consider writing down some of the passions you had before your marriage. Do you have any desire to engage in them again? If so, what would be the first step towards reintroducing that interest back into your life?

Then, think about some of the places you’ve wanted to go or experiences you’ve wanted to try. For whatever reason, you didn’t pursue those desires. But maybe you now have the chance. What will you do with that opportunity?

Allow Yourself to Let Go

Healing takes time, but it’s easy to get stuck in a toxic reel of regret, animosity, and resentment. These emotions are, of course, legitimate. But harping on them- without trying to find solutions for change- will only make you feel worse.

Your ex may have done awful things to you during your marriage. The entire situation might seem completely unfair. And, indeed, the divorce may have significantly altered your whole life.

But holding onto that anger often only fuels more anger. Likewise, it keeps you feeling trapped in a state of hopelessness.

It can be helpful to start thinking about accepting your ex and your divorce. Accepting doesn’t mean liking or condoning what happened. It doesn’t even imply forgiving the other person.

Instead, acceptance refers to acknowledging precisely what happened. It also means you understand that you cannot change it. However, with time, acceptance can offer pathways towards calmness and letting go. In some cases, it may even lead to forgiveness, although that’s an optional decision.

Remember that letting go isn’t a gift for your ex. Instead, it’s a gift you give yourself- in doing so, you choose to embrace living in the present rather than harping on the pain from the past.

Avoid Comparing Pain or Healing

It may be tempting to stalk your ex’s Facebook to see how well they’re doing after the divorce. But avoid this urge. There is no benefit in dissecting how each of you heals.

Furthermore, perceptions are different than reality. For example, if you catch wind that your ex is dating someone new, it doesn’t inherently mean they’ve moved on and never loved you. However, it’s easy to jump to that conclusion and feel bad about yourself (and angry towards them).

Try to avoid fishing for information from mutual friends or family. No matter what they say, what good will having that insight do for you? If anything, it just creates a narrative that fuels painful emotions.

There is no competition or timeline for healing. You will each have your own unique process. Recognizing that can help you focus on your goals and well-being- rather than checking on what your ex is doing.

Healing After Divorce With Therapy

It’s essential that you take care of yourself after divorce. However, you can do “everything right” and still experience extraordinary pain.

That’s where therapy can help. If you feel stuck, directionless, or hopeless, you might want to consider seeking professional support.

Healing after divorce, at times, takes a village. Therapy offers a safe place to explore your emotions and discover new ways for coping with them. I am here for you during this transition. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

Got Questions?
Send a Message!

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.