I still remember the day I met my ex-husband’s new girlfriend for the first time.
I arrived at his house on a Sunday morning to pick up the kids, and she stood up from the couch where she was lounging (clearly after spending the night there), her arm was draped casually around my youngest son’s shoulder. She walked straight up to me with a sweet, demure smile, shiny, bouncy hair, and a youthful glow and said, “Hi, I’m Diana. It’s nice to meet you.”
In that moment, all of the time that had elapsed since our separation 14 months earlier seemed to disappear. I became overwhelmed with a tremble inside of my skin, a reddening of my face, and a clenching in my gut—the emotional response to meeting this younger version of me who I knew could someday become my children’s stepmom.
Even though my ex and I had mutually agreed to divorce, the realization that the man who had promised me a life together with our three children—and to love me “till death do us part”—really and truly was not coming back was incredibly painful. Instead, he was moving on, in love with another woman and was welcoming her into my children’s lives.
I felt like I was dying inside.
It turns out that all of the wild flings, wine nights with girlfriends, and hours sobbing my heart out in therapy that first year after my divorce hadn’t really done the trick. They were wonderful distractions though, and served me somewhat well in the rebound phase.
What I did learn through my own process was that until I truly committed to receive the lessons from this difficult time, I would never be over my ex.
My deepest fear of being unlovable was suddenly exposed. I was thrust into dark times that required my full surrender, radical honesty, and an unshakeable trust in a process that I wasn’t sure was going to lead me out of the hell that I felt taking over from inside of me.
Much like the butterfly, the caterpillar needs to wrap itself into a dark cocoon and turn into a sticky substance and literally dissolve before it rebuilds and emerges as the butterfly.
I knew I had only two choices: to run away to a foreign land and pretend that this wasn’t happening, or to dive into the process that would become the best investment I have ever made.
On I went into the sticky goo and committed to an unshakeable yoga, meditation, and self-love practice.
Just like it’s inevitable for the caterpillar to eventually become the butterfly, I’ve found that healing from traumatic transitions (like divorce) is also inevitable—although it’s a process that takes time.
I also learned that there are strategies that can support us along the way to stay focused on building an amazing future rather than trying to change the past.
Here are a few things that helped me move through my own divorce:
1. Identify and let go of the old thoughts and beliefs that the divorce brings up in us.
Let’s face it: Even if the divorce was by choice, and even more so if it was thrust upon us, there is pain involved in endings.
Guilt, anger, fear, and self-doubt are all normal emotions.
But instead of getting lost in the darkness (or avoiding it all together), this time can be used to engage with mindfulness practices to unearth the old core beliefs that are causing the negative emotions and start to change them.
Some of the most common core beliefs are “I am unworthy of happiness,” “My needs don’t matter,” “I am a bad person” and of course, the old favorite, “I am unloveable.”
The most important question to ask becomes “Am I willing to let go of these old beliefs?” If the answer is “yes” and the desire and commitment are strong, these old subconscious beliefs—often formed in childhood—will no longer hold power over the outcome of our lives once we acknowledge them and bring them into the light of awareness.
2. Get clear about what it is we desire in the next phase of life.
Once the old negative beliefs have been brought to light, we can begin to accept and acknowledge that we truly deserve a life that is authentic, joyful, and connected.
What we focus on expands, so instead of focusing on what we don’t want to happen (our fears about the future), we spend time getting clear and focusing on what we do want to happen in post-divorce life.
Envision what is possible for the physical realm: positive shifts in our body image and health, increased energy, improved diet, or a more nourishing home environment.
What kind of hobbies would be fun to delve into?
What kind of job or career would bring a sense of excitement and fulfillment?
What kind of relationships will be received into this new phase (with children, friends, new partners, and, most importantly, yourself)?
What would it be like to be surrounded by a loving community, serving others through purposeful life work?
As we take time each day to reflect on what is desired, we help craft our new reality. Remember, it all starts with out thoughts, so instead of focusing on what we don’t want, we can choose to focus on what we do want.
3. Use the new beliefs and vision to be a guide to move forward into the next phase.
When we can bring to the light of awareness and let go of old thought and belief patterns that keep us stuck in the pain of the past, as well as take time to truly get clear about what it is that we want and deserve in our new lives, we are able to take the next step from a place of clarity.
We should always act with the end result in mind. If we desire a new loving partnership, we need to first take steps to become the best version of ourselves as possible.
We can take time to read books and blogs about dating after divorce, and learn about what a healthy relationship looks like. We can develop new family traditions and model to our children how to be happy, authentic, honest, and strong as single parents.
We can get confident in the physical and mental realms by starting a clean eating plan, working out, meditating, or maybe even experimenting with a new look.
We can choose to put ourselves back out there in the dating world.
Doing at least one action each day will help move us forward into the new vision, even if it feels scary. We must act as if we are fully whole and deserving of an amazing new life and, slowly but surely, the new life based on our new practices of self-awareness and self-love will become a reality, as the old version slowly fades into a distant memory.
Over time, as we focus on and take small steps each day to move toward a life of our own that is authentic, fulfilling, and joyful, it becomes easier to feel like we are “over” the pain of loss, and finally move on to the next phase of our amazing lives.
Author: Kathryn Mitchem
Editor: Callie Rushton
Supervising Editor: Danielle Beutell
Supervising Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Source: Elephant Journal