Starting Over After Divorce: How to Move on and Get Back to You
You finally completed your divorce, you are in your new (or old) place, and it’s time to adjust to life on your own. Figuring out where to begin after having gone through so many changes may seem overwhelming at first. The good news is that starting over after divorce may take some time, but you can do it.
Processing the Experience
There is a quiet stillness that comes when you no longer have the case to focus on. It’s just you and time to think about everything that has happened. It may come as a surprise that when the ink is dry and your divorce is finally over, you may not feel instant relief. For some, this is when the emotions they were holding in to get through the case come out through grief. Ending a marriage can feel like a death, and in many ways, it is. You have lost a relationship and a future life with someone you loved. You may have also lost parts of yourself in the process.
In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. As people cope with loss, they are believed to go through these stages. Since the publication of Dr. Kubler-Ross’s book, the stages have been applied in several contexts, including divorce. As you work through your feelings about the divorce, you may need to grieve what has been lost and may experience some or all of them. Most recently, Dr. David Kessler added another stage to consider: Finding Meaning from the journey.
Even if you don't see the relationship as something you need to mourn, you are likely to have some emotions to work through after it's over. Whether it's anger, sadness, anxiety, or just needing to get things off your chest, you may need to take some time to process your feelings. This looks different for everyone. For some, talking with good friends works. For others, reaching out to a support group or therapist is better. Honoring where you are and what you have been through is important. To that end, attending to your emotional health is a vital step towards your creating your new life.
Establishing a New Routine
One of the best things about being in your new 2021 life is that it belongs to one person— You. That means you get to make decisions according to what works best for your schedule and preferences. Depending on how long you were married, you may have become accustomed to getting up at a particular time, going on a specific jogging route each day, or cooking meals according to your ex's tastes. Spend some time considering what you want to do and how you want to do it and plan accordingly. This is your life now, and it should be filled with experiences you enjoy.
Make Your Space Your Own
Whether it's a new home or your former one, being on your own after a divorce calls for remaking your environment. Rearrange your furniture, get new bedding, pick up a few new things here and there to help make your living space feel like it belongs to you. If you have kids and want to keep the family home as it was for their sake, focus on making your bedroom into a new environment. This is also a great time to focus on spring cleaning. If there are things that need to be boxed up and donated, clear them out and make room for new and good things in 2021. These acts can help you feel connected to your home and new life.
Get Moving, Get Nourished, and Get Rest
If you are not already exercising, now is the time to start. Many people are now using remote fitness apps and streaming services. There are home fitness equipment options, walking programs and much more. Whatever you choose, exercise is an excellent way to care for yourself. Devoting even just ten minutes a day to a fitness practice can improve your mood and overall health.
In addition to exercise, you must nourish your body. Without proper eating you will feel depleted and tired rather than energized. Now is an excellent time to consider what you are eating and why. That doesn’t mean being hard on yourself for indulging in the occasional treat or for having pizza with your kids. It just means being more aware of your patterns. When we are stressed, we tend to reach for comfort foods. Unfortunately, some of these foods can sometimes wreak havoc on our bodies and can damage long-term health. During the divorce and after, you may have taken on some unhealthy eating habits. It may be time to hit the nutrition reset button and regain your balance.
Rest and relaxation are also key components of establishing your post-divorce 2021 life. These are areas that often go overlooked and get under-prioritized. Divorce is stressful, and stress can interfere with sleep and overall health. If you have not had a good night's rest in a while, it’s probably time to work on this area of your life. Are you on your computer or phone or watching television before bed? Unplug an hour or two before bedtime and try reading a book to unwind. Additionally, you should be devoting time each day to doing something you consider relaxing and restful.
Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law is a trained Wisconsin attorney, Collaborative Attorney, and Mediator. She has extensive experience assisting clients before, during, and after Wisconsin divorce cases and can help you understand your options and find the right resources.
Contact us today to set up a consultation so we can take a "first look" at your situation.