By Susan Aquila Mburu
And the two shall become one. That is a phrase we are all accustomed to hearing at weddings and if you attend church you must have come across the Bible verse. Marriage is a beautiful thing and ideally, every marriage should last until death. But why do we then have rising cases of divorce all over the world? That is a question for another day.
Divorce is devastating not just to the couple who find that they have no option but to call it quits, but to children as well; if there are children involved. Thank goodness that today we have counseling and support groups that can help ease the pain and stress that comes with divorce. A good support system from family and friends is also key and most of all to heal after a divorce, you’ll need time. Time to heal from the pain and bitterness. Time to forget all the horrible things that might have happened. Time to rediscover who you are, what you like, what you’re about.
Most of us tend to lose ourselves in marriage. When I got married, my priorities changed. For starters, I was pregnant so I was trying to fit into the role of a new mother and a new wife. It’s very easy to lose yourself in marriage. As women especially, we tend to focus so much on taking care of everybody else. You start cooking what everybody else likes, wearing what he likes seeing you in or what society deems fit, you keep your home as expected and before you know it, you cannot recognize the person in the mirror.
So how do you find yourself again after divorce? How do you make that shift from being someone’s wife to being single?
1. Take time out
The process of a divorce is physically, emotionally and psychologically draining. By the time you are done whether it was dramatic and heated or not, you will be exhausted. Most people make the mistake of diving into more work, filling up their calendar with activities and being constantly on the move. This behavior is a kind of avoidance. Keeping yourself constantly preoccupied could be a sign that you’re too afraid to face the new life ahead of you. The partying and engagements are just a way to distract you from the reality of being single again and if you have children the reality of co-parenting or single parenting.
It is scary to step into the unknown but if you’re going to succeed, you must step into it consciously and deliberately. But first, give your body, mind, and spirit a chance to rest and recover from the stress of the divorce. Divorce just like any loss comes with grief. Allow yourself to feel and deal with the emotions in a healthy way. Join a support group if that’s an option, talk to a counselor or therapist and deal with it all.
Your body will need rest as well. Take time off work. Sleep, go to the spa, take a trip to your favorite getaway, rediscover the things that you loved before and reconnect with that part of you.
If you’re a spiritual person this is the time to nurture your soul. Meditate, read spiritual books, get involved in your religious community and surround yourself with positive energy that will leave you feeling alive and strong again.
2. Do a makeover
I know this might sound silly but I promise it works. When my marriage ended, I would look into the mirror and see all the flaws my ex-had been pointing out in me. After years of trying to look good and to please someone else, it was time to please me. It was time to do the things that made me look in the mirror and see a beautiful, confident woman looking back.
So I started by chopping off my locks and put on a hairstyle I’d been dying to have for years. That alone turned me into a new person. Everyone around me from family, friends to colleagues regularly commented on my new sexy look and great attitude.
So don’t be shy. Do that make over. Could be changing your hairstyle, to revamping your wardrobe, shedding off some pounds or trading those huge rimmed glasses for contact lenses. Whatever will make you feel and look good, do it and don’t be shy or apologetic about it.
3. Connect with who you used to be
Growth comes with change and as we get older we change. But there are some ingrained characteristics in us that remain constant. Look at who you used to be before marriage and the children. What made you excited? What were the activities that you enjoyed engaging in but gave up along the way? Going back to these things will help you reconnect with your old self and rediscover who you really are. What you’re about, what drives you, what you’re most passionate about.
This is important because, after the divorce, you will need to engage in healthy activities that give you joy and help you grow. If you don’t know what you’re about or lost yourself along the way, you might end up engaging in all kinds of wrong activities that will only cause you grief.
4. Explore new interests
Going back to the things that brought you joy is great but we can’t build our new lives on the past entirely. The world is changing and so are you and it has so much more for you to explore and discover. Be open to exploring new interests. If you’ve never gone camping, try it. Attend that cooking class, or dance class and be open to learning new things. You’ll be surprised that some of what you thought was boring or unattainable are really fun and good for you.
Since my divorce, I’ve been trying out all kinds of new stuff. Visiting new places, trying out different food, to camping. I don’t want life to pass me by and you shouldn’t either. You might find that your next chapter will be made richer by your new experiences.
5. Stay true to who you are
After a divorce, it’s not uncommon for someone to feel that who they are contributed in some way to the end of their marriage and so you might consciously or subconsciously try to change yourself. When my marriage ended I thought that the fact that I hadn’t been spiritually rooted, in some way caused my marriage to end. So I dived into to all kinds of church activities but I was struggling because I’m not that person. I’m spiritual but I express my faith differently and trying to fit into a prescribed notion of what I thought I should be was only making me more depressed and frustrated. So I decided to stay true to myself and it worked. Slowly I started finding joy again. I found peace in my life and the new life I was now living as a single mother and single lady.
It’s good to improve oneself, but don’t change because you blame your divorce on who you are. We are all unique and special and there is someone right for everyone.
6. Own your happiness
Your happiness is your responsibility. Don’t look to people or things to make you happy. Work on getting happy from within. From the relationships, you have built, to the activities you engage in, from what you eat and drink etc. Work on taking care of your emotions and psychological well-being and that will reflect in what you do and how you do it. So what? Was your divorce rough on you? Don’t sulk and get depressed about it. Give your body, mind, and soul a chance to heal and recover and bounce back into the world. Choose to be happy and even though it might be difficult at the beginning, with time, you’ll find that it’s easy to rise back from those dark days and enjoy life and all the good things it has to offer.
Susan Mburu gets satisfaction from inspiring women, equipping them with skills needed to face every day life challenges, and familiarizing them with tools necessary to do that. Writing is therapeutic for her and inspiration comes from her experiences, from reading other people’s work and listening.