There are times when it feels like you are nothing more than your divorce. It’s an understandable perception – it’s always on your mind, even in the deepest recesses that you’re not aware of. And, there is the fact that the tentacles of divorce manage to touch every area of your life. Your physical and emotional health, your friends and family, your finances, and planning for your future, all are colored by the fact that you are getting divorced – or already are. It’s a big change. But it doesn’t have to define you.
I think it’s valuable to remember this – you are not your divorce. You are the sum of your life experience, which has shaped you into the person you are today. You have developed a set a values during that life experience, even if you are not aware of it. This is a good time to put them down on paper – name them, give voice to your values. Yes, even if you do it with energy that relates to your divorce. For example, “I value honesty” (and he/she obviously did not). ‘I value financial security’… and so forth.
Knowing what is important to you can become a sort of moral compass in a time of crisis, like divorce. It’s very easy to be pulled in one direction or another without some sort of guiding principals in life. Especially when your foundation has been rocked.
I know a divorced woman who was a dedicated wife and mother, although very unhappy. Like Nora, in “A Doll’s House”, she reached a point of no return in terms of her discontentment, and simply left the marriage. She truly felt that it was a matter of life and death. Having few friends, no career, little work experience, and two children under the age of 10, she rented an apartment and found full time work.‘Carrie’ really didn’t know what was important to her, except for her children. For the next few years, she enjoyed the social life which she missed during her marriage, and even had several important relationships with men.
But without clarity or reflection about who she wanted to become, or what she valued in life, Carrie’s children became the focal point of her life. As the children grew up, which they all do, moving into their own lives, she found herself living what she described as a “meaningless” life. She had some make up work to do, and eventually did figure out what mattered to her. Carrie now runs a food co-op for homeless people, and says she feels a growing sense of ‘purpose’ returning to her life.
I would not begrudge anyone from having a light, carefree moment or two after divorce. It’s been a stressful time, full of change and adjustment. It’s good to listen to the wanderlust need, or the need for quiet and calm. Take some time out. But keep an eye and ear to yourself, and notice what your inner voice is saying.
It’s hard for many of us to look into our own hearts and souls and listen. Many of us have been conditioned to notice what matters to others, and to make their dreams our missions to fulfil. This is the time when you must learn how to listen to yourself. What really matters to you, the kind of person you are, who you want to become, and what kind of life you see for yourself – these things together form to become your guiding light after a divorce.
You are so much more than your divorce.