After marrying my high school sweetheart at 22 and divorcing at 24 my friends and family thought I’d lost my mind. I wasn’t able to make them feel much better when I couldn’t explain exactly why our marriage ended. I just knew something wasn’t right.
In a world where Facebook relationships can feel like our defining characteristics, it can be hard to step up and say your relationship isn’t working anymore. I lived in fear of stepping away from my relationship, especially since I couldn’t explain why I felt the way I did, but now that I’m well out on the other side, I’m happy I did. And I Iearned a lot along the way.
I can definitely say I’m happy I got divorced today, but a year ago I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. Here are some things I learned along the way that led me to a happier place.
What I Learned during My Divorce
It’s Okay to Not Be Able to Explain Why You Want to Leave
If you want to leave your relationship but you can’t exactly verbalize why, that’s totally valid. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. You might need to leave that relationship to figure out why. All that matters is that you know you are not at your best in that relationship. You know you have more to give this world. Once you leave the relationship and start building a new life for yourself the mystery will probably subside.
Don’t Let People Make You Feel like a Coward for Leaving
Many more people will wish they were as brave as you.
Even if the reason your relationship didn’t work out isn’t clear cut, if you truly feel it was the right choice for you to leave then you don’t need to worry about what everyone else thinks. When my parents first found out my husband and I were separating they made me feel extremely guilty about leaving a nice guy. My family’s comments made me feel like I would never be able to catch a “good one” again. The thing is, that was the exact logic that kept me in that relationship longer than I should have been in the first place. I had just as many people tell me they were proud of me for being brave when I left, and even more who told me they wished they could follow their heart like I did.
Go to Therapy, Keep a Journal, and Take Care of Yourself
Try to work through any unresolved pain you’re carrying. I found a mix of therapy, meditation, yoga, writing, and travel helped me. Therapy is important whenever you’re going through a major life change and it is especially important during a divorce. Seeing a therapist and sorting through your thoughts will also keep you from being that divorcee who only talks about her divorce. I wasn’t a believer in therapy when I first started going but I learned so much about psychology from talking to a therapist. Now I can step back from a situation and understand why I’m reacting in a positive or negative way.
Keep the Comments about Your Ex Clean and Honest
There’s no reason to start a smear campaign about your ex, especially if the relationship ended amicably. It’s easy to want to put all of the blame on your ex, but in most cases it takes two to break up a relationship. You know that you aren’t perfect so don’t talk trash. And definitely keep your relationship woes off of social media.
Give Yourself the Opportunity to Be Lost for Awhile
It’s okay to fall apart a little bit, just make sure you’re careful and cautious. Keep a good buddy around to keep you grounded (and out of the junk food for a reasonable amount of time). Don’t beat yourself up for feeling sad. Feel the heaviness that is the end of a big part of your life, but don’t forget to look forward to the future.
Throw Yourself into a Passion
Revisit an old passion or begin a new hobby. Give yourself the time to do that one thing you never felt like you could do when you were in a relationship. Chances are you’ll have a lot of emotions to pour into a creative project.
Whatever happens, remember that this is just a temporary part of your life. You are not defined by a divorce. You learn something from every relationship, so take the time to learn your lessons from this experience. You’ll be better prepared the next time around.