Yesterday was the five-year anniversary of the date my divorce was final. 11-10-09. When I wrote about the inevitable changes life brings (divorce, life after divorce) in yesterday’s post, I hadn’t realized the milestone – which I take as a sign of growth.
So what’s it like for a breadwinner mom five years after divorce? Has it been a struggle, or is there good news to share? A bit of both, but more good news than not.
I did a “then and now” look at my life a few days ago. In today’s post I’d like to share some of the key turning points and tools that helped me create a life I love today.
- Deciding to divorce and following through. Although I believe it’s possible to be happy regardless of external circumstances, my decision to divorce was the pivotal action for me (read about that here). That decision changed the direction of my life and propelled me on a path to becoming comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life and grateful for each day.
- Finding support. About a year before my marriage officially ended, a series of events made it clear that things were really bad. There was nothing I could do to change the situation. I sought help from a friend, a therapist, and a program recommended by both. Being willing to consider new alternatives and try something different was the start of change in me. My participation in that spiritual program provided ongoing support through each step toward divorce and continues to support me in life afterwards. I now look for support when and where I need it, including finding a coach to help me in business and working with several trainers and physical therapists to strengthen and heal my body.
- Strengthening my spiritual foundation. When married life was miserable I thought God had abandoned me. And perhaps the God of my childhood had. But cultivating spiritual practices such as meditation and exploring alternative views of spirituality has greatly enhanced my life. Although I can’t define Spirit, I can say with certainty today that I have a connection to something beyond my ego mind, and I trust that I am connected to the Divine that illuminates all things. This key should have come first in the list since it was my developing spiritual connection that gave me the courage to divorce.
- Setting a limit with my former husband. He travels extensively for work, and in the beginning he stayed with us on his visits (see a little about that here), but after one such visit old behaviors surfaced, and that practice needed to stop. Not only did I have to tell him he would need to find another place to stay, but I also had to follow through when one of our kids got involved on the day he was set to arrive in town. It was at this moment that I made a choice for my own well-being: Despite my fears and no matter the consequences, I needed to honor myself. My developing spiritual foundation gave me the strength to keep to my limit. Though the short-term costs were high, the long-term payoff was an increase in my self-respect.
- Practicing self-compassion. I’ve written several blog posts on this topic, including one of my favorite pieces of advice (here) and a review of a great book on self-compassion. Learning to be kind to myself and treating myself as I would one of my children has allowed me to try new things, make amends when needed, and let go of burdens I’ve carried most of my life.
- Fixing up the marital home. I kept our marital home after divorce with the idea that I would sell it once the two older kids graduated from high school. Though I decided not to sell at that time (due to poor market conditions), I did the prep work anyway. I learned that I could listen to the experts (e.g., financial advisors, real estate agents, contractors) and still make a decision that was best for me. I also gained confidence in dealing with contractors and workers (something my former husband had handled in the past). And in the process, I made my home a place that I enjoyed and wanted to spend time in. For some tips on making your home your own, read my recent article on divorcedmoms.com.
- Coping with money shortages and facing financial fears. This is another topic I could write pages on (and have as you can see by looking at all the posts in this category). In fact, my new free gift describes some of the experiences I’ve had and the tools that helped me cope. You can download your copy here.
The bottom line for me five years after: a life I love more days than not, and a calm acceptance and peace I never thought possible. My blog site has the tagline “Create a Life You Love After Divorce” for a reason. Your divorce offers you the chance at a life you love, too. May you find it.