Life is good and life is full, but there are days when it is just hard to stay focused and days when it is hard to find appreciation for the richness that is my life. And that is what it looks like to be on this journey following my divorce. But with intention, strength, sometimes vulnerability and support, I am mostly doing well.
When my ex decided to leave our long-term marriage, it was first a shock, but then, upon reflection, perhaps not so shocking at all. The relationship had fallen into unhealthy patterns, and it was best for the two of us to part ways.
In order to recover, I needed to know what I was recovering from. I also needed to do lots of work, so I signed myself up for therapy and began a new look at old patterns. I strengthened bonds with friends and gave up some unhealthy friendships, too. Being intentional about using my free time became a priority as some of my free time was being taken up by logistics of divorce, i.e., separating out our stuff, talking to lawyers/mediators, and processing loss. I had less time and energy for all of the people in my circle and soon realized that I needed to clarify and prioritize friendships that were mutual and fulfilling and with give and take. I cultivated some friendships into closer bonds and then was able to give up those relationships that weren’t as healthy. There just wasn’t space for me to give attention to as many people when I had a full-time job and needed space to process my own emotions and crossroads. I needed to take care of my brain, body, and soul and focus on intentionally eating well and exercising when possible. I tried to give myself breaks when I ate the wrong thing or couldn’t get out of bed to do my morning workout. I nourished myself with good friends and lots of travel and activities.
Grief was overwhelming at first, but soon I was able to contain it. I needed to grieve the loss of marriage, family structure, and the death of the dream of our future together. I kept thinking, we built so much, how do I dismantle it? I soon learned that I could keep the good memories and knowledge and find places in my heart/head for the unpleasant ones. I processed grief by allowing space to cry and remember, by talking with friends and a good therapist, and by even talking with my ex.
While the grief was ebbing and flowing, I needed to sort through where I wanted to live, how I was going to spend my time, and what things large and small, from furniture to photos to knickknacks, that I wanted to keep. The sorting process took time and sometimes expertise. I used a realtor friend to explore living options and read a book about clearing space. I also asked my friends for help, which caused me to be vulnerable, as I was accustomed to being the helper.
I needed to physically change things externally as well as internally. I created a new look to my home and had a girlfriend party where I gave away stuff to them, they helped me pack and clear, and then we gave items to charity and the dump. I saved stuff in my crawl space that were mementos, figuring I could re-sort later. In the end, I reclaimed my house and made it my home.
The reclaiming didn’t stop there. I started to intentionally go to places “we” used to go but went with friends and made sure they helped me do some small ritual to shift the place for me so that I would feel renewed appreciation for places and make new memories.
I have learned to discern what to do next by training myself to answer the question honestly as to what do I want and need for me today? I try not to overdo it and forgive myself when I do. When I have tough moments, I am quiet, go for a walk, remind myself how fortunate I am to have a good life, job, friends, and family.
I am currently working on new dreams for the future, too. I like to travel and began planning and enjoying more trips. I am able to explore possibilities for where I want to live and what I would like to do one day if/when I retire. At first, I could not even see beyond today. And speaking of today, I try to live intentionally and presently most days, too.