If you are newly divorced, then while people around you are gearing up for a great new year and setting goals and blah blah blah, you might be thinking: What’s next for me? What can I look forward to other than being that extra person at the dinner party who is seated next to the hostess’ brother because his wife just ran off with her spin instructor and hey, you guys will have something to talk about. He will look at you mid-bite of the kale caesar and say, “I just didn’t see it coming? Did you see it coming? I didn’t see it coming,” as he bites down on a crouton.
Nope. Don’t let this become your life. Just think, you have a whole new chapter to write now. Your life, your way. Here are a few tips that helped me to keep moving forward and find enjoyment while the hurt and sadness begin to fade:
1. Redo Your Bedroom.
Now, I know you’re thinking “What? The last thing I can do now is run out and spend money on the Hotel Collection!” That’s not what I’m saying. Go buy a can of paint— that bright yellow accent wall you’ve always wanted but husband said would make him feel emasculated? Do it. And get rid of all the bedding you used as a married couple. Get one new set of sheets that are yours, all yours. The married PJ’s, housecoats (whatever that is) even lingerie you used on the occasional date night—GONE. But keep the slippers cos’ they’re so comfy. Seize the night ladies!
2. Take Up Fencing.
Or, something new— a sport, a hobby, an instrument. Just make sure it gets you around other people. Sitting in your room playing the flute is not going to get you moving past divorce. I actually did take up fencing. That’s right. I got the helmet and the whole suit and an epee (the sword thing) and special shoes. It was great fun! I met another lady who had the same goal as I did, which turned out to be finding the best Bloody Mary in St. Pete. I did get pretty bruised up though. When I went for my gyno appointment she took one look at my chest and said, “Uhm, don’t panic but I think you may have leukemia.” I did the fencing thing for a while and loved it. No one knew anything about me other than I sucked at fencing. It was great.
3. Let Your Friends Go Out Without You.
You love your friends. Of course you do. But that doesn’t mean you need to accompany them on couples’ sushi night. I realize these are the people who held you up and supported you during the hard times. They’re great. And I love that they’re including you! But it’s okay to decline. I found going out with our couples friends made me feel like a child. “Oh don’t worry Amy, we’ve got yours.” As nice as it was to have my rainbow roll paid for, I felt like a 6 year old with my parents. And worse than that, I felt lonely. So, at least for awhile back off on couples nights. However, girl’s nights are a must.
4. Don’t Join Divorce Groups.
I know support is a must right now and it’s hard talking to your married friends because they just don’t get it. But, surrounding yourself with sad, divorced women will bring you down, and not only that, it makes you think about divorce even more! Find ONE group that you like, if you feel it helps but other than that, don’t define yourself as divorced. Define yourself as newly single, trying to find out who the hell you are. I went to one divorced group where every week this women kept telling us about how she would drive past her old house and see her husband and new gal pal in the hot tub that she had picked out the tile for. After two weeks I was like, “hmm….maybe I will take up watercolors instead.” This was years ago and I bet she’s still doing the drive by's.
5. Put Away The Family Photos.
For now, just for now. I found myself wandering around my house looking at family photos and remembering “Oh this is the time we went to the Atlantis and X ordered that fish that broke him out in hives....I remember this shirt he wore all the time until I accidentally burned it with the iron...who knew linen could disintegrate like that?” And maybe the pics with all of you and the kids are the hardest to see because you might think “How did we go from there to this?" It brings up a whole series of feelings that pulls you right back into the past, when what you you need is to be PRESENT and ready for today.
Rest assured the time will come when you can pull out those photos and feel only joy. You will be able to look back at those memories and think how lucky you were to have those times, and those children and the days together. The day will come when people ask you, “So how are you?” and your answer will not be, “Divorced.”
For now, keep moving forward with fun colored walls, new people doing new things and finding out who you are NOW and what you want out of life. So rather than wishing you a Happy New Year, I wish you a Happy New You.