Guest Post by Lynda Miles
Reaching the point in your divorce where you accept that your marriage is over is a huge milestone. It’s a turning point, a fork in the trail. You know the life you had as a married couple is over and you know a fresh start awaits. That can be exciting, intimidating, scary and sad and as much as you want to move on you might be wondering, “How do I start claiming the life and love I want after divorce.” You’re not alone. In this guest post, author Linda Miles shares her journey.
Transition After Divorce
What was life like for you soon after your divorce? I wonder if you were like me. I felt rather waif-like, not knowing what I wanted. Whether regarding relationships, life goals, or activities, I was trying on this and that—much like outfits in a department store. I did that for some time, learning all the while, and then finally set about actively deciding what I want in life. I can’t tell you how to do this for yourself, of course, but I can share with you what my experience has been. I hope you can translate it to your life, if you feel it would be helpful to you in some way. I also hope you’ll share your related experience and ideas in the comments.
Getting To Know Myself
Fortunately, I’d connected with myself and gotten to know myself, over the years, before, during, and after divorce. There was a time in my life that I didn’t know myself very well at all, and deciding what I’d wanted in life, as far as goals and lifestyle, would not have worked. Through unschooling my children and supporting their passions, I learned more about whom I am and what I like. Through divorce and letting go of what I was “supposed” to be doing in my life and what I was “supposed” to want, I learned even more about whom I am and what I like and don’t like. When the rigidity that the world had pressed me into faded away, I was left with myself. Each step has been rather scary at first, because it was unfamiliar. I’m so glad I have so many amazing, supportive friends and family, who have helped me acclimate to myself: the self that was freer of social conformity and definition.
Actively Choosing The Life I Want
I have just a little time on this planet; if I don’t actively choose and direct myself, how will I have a fulfilling and productive life? I began my process by picturing a life I would love. What would my beautiful and sensual life picture would be like? What kind of life would I wake up to every morning and just feel totally in love? What would it look like? What would it feel like? What would it smell like, even—what would it taste like? I want to love life and I want it to love me back. I want to feel totally alive in every way. What kind of life would allow me to feel that way? I and life should be one. How can life be something that I participate in fully, each and every day, without ever having enough hours in the day, because I’m having so much fun and I don’t ever want to sleep? Ah, this sounds amazing to me!
Well, What Do I Want?
After some reflecting, I realized that I want some really cool things! I discovered that I want to lead a vegan lifestyle, life-coach, teach, write, travel the world, and be a minimalist. Luckily, these aspects all sound pretty compatible with one another. I also realized that some of what I wanted, I already had. I have the vegan and writing aspects pretty well covered, as I’ve been vegan for 8 years, and I just released my first book, which has been very well-received. I recently discovered the life-coaching program that I believe in and want to use. I’m working on the each goal as I can. It all takes time though. These goals and lifestyle changes also require major mental and emotional work to be able to accomplish. This requires a full commitment to personal growth and healing, and letting go of the familiar; I have to be able to let go of some things to make room for other things. I also have to let go of some limiting and negative beliefs.
The Positive Changes
Some things I noticed after deciding what I want in life is that life seems so much simpler, happier, fulfilling, and productive. I also make decisions much more quickly, which is helpful toward getting things done. If an opportunity supports or does not get in the way of my life goals, it’s easy to say yes to it. For instance, if something like buying theater tickets comes up, that is an easy choice. I like to have some nurturing and fun time with people I enjoy. It’s a lovely and necessary part of life and I won’t sacrifice that for my long-term goals. If something like adopting a pet comes up, that is not going to work for me because that is a long-term commitment, which does not support my traveling goals. Having a pet is also not that important to me—at least not right now.
The Not-So-Positive Changes
Some of the choices I’ve needed to make in order to support my goals have been very difficult. They can feel rather like sacrifices sometimes. An example of this is how I’ve decided not to advance in my day job, so that I can focus more fully on my and my children’s goals. I need to be able to direct my mental and emotional energy toward each step of our goals. I don’t know that I feel 100 percent sure about my decisions, but I do feel fairly certain that I made the right choices for me. I have a very strong inner-voice that says “no,” even when I’ve tried to hear “yes.” Oh, some decisions are so very difficult, when I hear beliefs of “should” in my mind, but I am so relieved after making them. Sometimes I feel a bit selfish, but I know that my own negative beliefs are forming that judgment. I don’t have to believe it. I think a little selfishness is called for in life. On the other hand, I do go through my decision-making processes very thoughtfully and carefully, and I share very honestly and compassionately the reasons why I am unable to fulfill someone’s request or say yes to certain decisions.
Hey, Not So Fast! What About A Fulfilling Relationship?!
Oh yeah… you might have noticed that having a fulfilling intimate relationship never made it to my list of life goals, or my picture of a life I’d love. This is because, firstly, I didn’t know if I wanted one. I didn’t want a romantic relationship if the dynamic often felt unpleasant in a significant way. I’ve just always disliked some of the dynamic between me and a partner. Within the relationships I’ve been involved, it sometimes seemed as though both of us were trying to fit some structure of some kind, or some implicit expectation, which did not support 100 percent authenticity. Although I enjoyed these relationships in other ways, I didn’t like the intermittent lack of authenticity. It’s never felt right to me.
Hhhhmmnn… So, What Else Is There?
Well, over the winter, I spent some time reflecting on what it was I want within an intimate relationship, and whether or not I thought it were possible. I struggled with this quite a bit because I was worried that what I wanted might not be possible. I would be sad if my heart’s desire went unfulfilled. I did, however, decide, in no uncertain terms, that I would be alone if I couldn’t have what I wanted. I would no longer engage within a dynamic which did not include 100 percent authenticity. No way.
After reading and discovering that many other people (Gay and Katie Hendricks, for instance) have imagined and experienced the type of relationship I want, experiencing more of it in my own life, and imagining how many very unique people there are in the world, I found that I do believe what I want is possible. These are the types of things I want within a relationship:
- 100 percent authenticity, even if it makes us uncomfortable- it’s most important for each person to be ourselves! Otherwise, whom do I love? The actual, real person in front of me or a fictional version of that person, who exists only in my mind!? I want to love someone, a real person, the whole person, as he exists in the present moment.
- Each of us takes 100 percent responsibility for our stuff– no blaming each other. We can share feelings, support, hear each other and even make requests, of course; and there needs to be a healthy boundary and a true valuing and bearing of personal responsibility.
- Both of us value and support each other’s creative processes. I want us to support each other’s goals, discovery process, and unfolding.
- Both of us highly value personal growth. The more we grow, the more rich and fulfilling our lives will be. It’s important.
In The Meantime…
So now that I have this figured out, I realized I do want to have a fulfilling intimate relationship, and I won’t experience having another less than authentic relationship. I also realized that I have to have these things with myself before I can have them with anyone else. I have to be 100 percent authentic with myself and everyone in my life. I have to take responsibility for my own issues, feelings, etc. and ask for support, if I need it. I need to value my and other’s creativity and I need to highly value my and other’s personal growth. So, if I am this way and someone shows up to potentially engage with me deeply, then we can discuss these values and see if he shares them. Right now, I am doing these things with myself, my family and friends and it feels great, even if sometimes it is very difficult to be honest. Identifying life goals and defining what I want within an intimate relationship has been amazing because it clarifies what I want and it focuses my time and energy. Being so honest also allows me to take good care of myself, which alleviates anxiety and keeps the responsibility of caring for myself on me, where it belongs. That has to be good, right?
Lynda Miles has studied psychology for many years. Her research, personal observations, real-life application and corresponding positive life-changes have fueled her desire to write about relationship and social issues. She feels passionate about the healing effects that positive changes in communication can have in a people’s lives. You can contact her or find out more about her book, A Loving Divorce: A Perspective of Compassion for All Relationships, on her Facebook page here.
If you’re struggling to get to know yourself and looking for ideas, you might find my 14 Ways To Get To Know Yourself helpful. Download your free copy today!