Five life changing lessons we learn only after divorce.
Every cloud has a silver lining, right? Even the big dark cloud of divorce. Because rock bottom teaches us lessons that mountain tops never will. The way we learn to deal with divorce teaches us powerful life lessons that will change the way you view and live your life.
I know divorce hurts. Nobody marries and sets divorce as a life goal. But after this life-shaking event, you are going to come away with pearls of wisdom that will genuinely transform how you look at yourself and the world.
In no particular order, here are the life lessons you learn dealing with divorce.
1. Stuff doesn’t matter.
One of my biggest fears was losing the things that I’d work so hard to accumulate over the years, the house, the cars and the designer furniture. The stuff I thought I needed to demonstrate my self-worth and how well I was doing in life. But do you know what I found? I found that when these things were gone, when I suddenly had less, a weight was lifted. I felt a lightness.
All the stuff that we accumulate really doesn’t matter. We surround ourselves with stuff that never gets used. Divorce and downsizing made me realise that we are not our stuff. We are much more than that, and we don’t need so many things in our lives.
2. Work-life balance is a real thing
Although I knew many people, I quickly realised that I hardly had anyone when I first separated. For the previous 15 years, I’d slowly let all of my real friendships slide to once a year catch-ups as I’d focused on work and getting ahead. Now when I really needed someone, I realised I’d made a grave error. My life was out of balance. I’d made my career the most important part of my life when people are the most important part of life.
Friends will support and get you through hard times. An employer will not. I began to put things right and focus on cultivating relationships. The results were both shocking and life-affirming. You quickly come to realise who you can count on. Who are real friends, and they often come from the most surprising places. My life is so much better now that I’ve changed my priorities and spend more time nurturing friendships.
3. You can overcome much more than you think.
The black clouds and doom can feel relentless, but you can handle more than you ever imagined. As Winston Churchill said, “the only way to get through hell is to keep going.” Divorce feels a lot like hell, and your only option is to keep pushing through. You will feel scared and lonely; you will doubt yourself. It will feel like it will never end. But it will.
One night you’ll go to sleep, wake up, and things won’t be as bleak. Trust me. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll decide its time and get your divorce filed. You’ll let the experts deal with your divorce while you move on and set yourself on course for a new life.
4. You have to protect yourself from negativity
Divorce gives you clarity in your life. You realise what things, situations and people are good for you and what are not. You find out which relationships and activities are worth your limited time and what is damaging to already raw emotions. I began to cut from my life, or at least reduced exposure time. Negative people, mainstream media and social media all got the chop.
They say that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So I began to surround myself with positive and inspiring people. I filled my mind with good books and learned new skills rather than waste my day on clickbait. Suddenly I found that my stress levels plunge, and I had a happy outlook on life.
5. I am not my divorce; divorce does not define me!
In the beginning, all you seem to think about is your divorce. What does it mean? What will people think? I’ve really !@$%&* up this time. But then one day you realise that you are not your divorce. Your relationship worked for a time, and then it didn’t. That’s not failure, a personal indication of your qualities as a human; that’s just life. Life doesn’t always follow a straight line. In fact, life NEVER follows a straight line. It throws curve balls at us, and that’s ok.
It is at this point when divorce begins to feel empowering, and you learn to love again. This is when life starts to get really exciting as you go on a voyage of self-discovery to work out what you want and who you want in your life. Enjoy the ride!