Life after Divorce

Kelly collapsed on the steps, right alongside life as she knew it.

Her husband had been having an affair, and he was leaving her. Loneliness and despair crept in on her until her dog tethered her to reality and gave her the strength to call her mom.

“I couldn’t even get the words out I was crying so hysterically,” said Kelly. “Normally it takes 40 minutes for her to get to my house, but that night she was there in 20.”

Having a failed marriage started to make Kelly feel like a failure in general. She started to think she was a terrible nurse, a bad friend, a loser in life. But with every day that passed, she got more perspective and realized that with every end comes a new beginning.

“There’s a sadness, a grieving, but in some way it’s almost liberating, like this is my new starting point,” said Kelly. Here are some ways she got through her divorce.

  • Find a healthy distraction.

Kelly had just started a nursing job when she was going through the divorce process, and she credits that with not only pulling her out of a deep depression but also with helping rebuild her confidence.

  • Work it out.

Divorce creates a whirl of emotions – everything from intense sadness to anger to apathy to elation. To stabilize emotionally, head to the gym or go do something outside. Kelly took quick runs or did some yoga to work through her emotional swells and felt an immediate improvement in her overall mood.

  • Surround yourself with support.

Kelly took a vacation with her family right after she told them she was getting divorced. She was worried they were going to be disappointed in her because no one else in her family had ever divorced, but by spending time with them she learned that they’d have been more disappointed than if she’d stayed.

“That helped me build up my confidence,” she said. “They made me feel like I can do better and I can move on.”

  • Decide to be happy.

When you’re staying in your pajamas and going through a box of tissues every day, deciding to be happy seems impossible. It’s absolutely counter to what you’re feeling. But it’s important to choose that path ultimately or you will be consumed by bitterness, and that could affect your future relationships (yes, if you want them, you will have future relationships).

“It’s funny because I wanted to be angry, but I didn’t want to be angry,” said Kelly. “It’s really an inner battle. Do I want to be angry with him, and if I am, what does that do for me? It was a conscious decision for me – don’t be angry, don’t be jaded, and don’t be that miserable person because that will just consume you.”

  • Live your own life.

Kelly said she struggles sometimes with seeing her friends living the life she expected to have. They’ll have babies or celebrate anniversaries, moving full speed ahead with their lives while hers has come to a screeching halt. Those feelings will creep in, but, as Kelly said, “You really have to tell yourself that this is your life and you can’t compare it to other people.”

Divorce comes with depression, sadness, loss, grief. But it also comes with possibility, excitement and opportunity. Just like all the other tough things in life, divorce can help you be a better person if you let it.

“I learned I was strong, that I can support myself, that I don’t need anyone to help me,” said Kelly. “I learned me – re-learned me – because I went back to figuring out what I like to do, what I enjoyed. It was like a rebirth for me.”