For many people who are ending a decades-long marriage, learning how to start over after divorce can feel impossible. It’s easy to wonder, “Well, what the heck do I do now?” Starting over after divorce can be especially difficult for women. You may have defined yourself as part of a unit and, when you are no longer part of that marriage, it can be difficult to remember who you are. It can be even harder to reinvent yourself as you move on with your life and define the next chapter.
But learning how to start over and learning who you are doesn’t have to be overwhelming or leave you in a panic. Divorce, for all its drama stress, actually provides you with a gift: the ability to reinvent yourself and define life on your own terms. It is a journey that can be fun and rewarding, as long as you remember the following strategies
You Are More Than Just Another Divorced Person
For years in your marriage, you probably defined yourself as a spouse, partner, and parent. The roles you played in the household most likely centered on caring for your family. But, that identity can start to feel in crisis as the children get older and more independent, and when you are no longer living with your spouse.
Many newly single folks start to think, “Well – who am I now?” because culturally, we were never really encouraged to think outside the loving partner, provider and caregiver box.
But remember that you are more than just a spouse and parent. When you start over after your divorce, you are given the incredible gift of redefining yourself, which means for the first time in ages you are allowed to ask yourself the following:
How do I see myself?
How do I want to see myself?
Am I a dreamer, thinker or doer?
What do I want to be?
So, start thinking of your self-identification beyond your divorce. After all, this is just one small slice of who you actually are and all the amazing things that you are actually doing.
Have a Plan
Divorce after a decades-long marriage can leave many newly-divorce people confused with how to plan. This new independence can jolt many people, especially if they had grown comfortable as part of a team.
Being married for decades probably meant that the plans you and your partner had were combined. Once the divorce happens, it can be very difficult to find your own voice, let alone your own way in life. But, your life doesn’t stop just because your marriage ended. It just means that you now have the freedom to do things on your own terms.
Ironically, this sort of freedom can seem overwhelming at first. The good news is that, with a plan, you can take control back. A great way for creating a reinvention plan for yourself is to answer the following questions:
Want do you want for myself?
What steps will I take to get what I want?
Who can help me along the way?
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify the steps to get what you want as you continue to reinvent yourself after divorce. You may worry about how will still be able to afford to do the things you love, now that their financial situations are changing. In most cases, once the dust settles, you will have more financial freedom than you think.
There are many excellent resources and professionals with expertise in helping divorced individuals at any age learn to manage their finances. These resources can help you not just to survive, but, ultimately, to thrive!
The key is recognizing that you deserve to be happy and that, with some planning, there is no reason you cannot achieve financial success by yourself.
Don’t View Your Divorce as a Failure
Many of us who were married for years—even decades—carry an emotional burden after throughout the entire divorce process. Unfortunately, this burden does not go away once the divorce papers are signed. Many divorcees wrongly think that, because their marriage ended, they failed at something. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you are divorced and want to strike out on your own and plan your own future, you need to start thinking of the end of your marriage not as some tragedy, but instead as the gift that it really is. When you view your divorce as an opportunity to live life on your own terms, you will start to thrive. This is your chance to be happy again. It is an opportunity to write a new chapter in your life. It is your path to building the best possible future for yourself.
Nobody can change the past. However, the past that includes a divorce is not a death sentence that will keep you from building and celebrating your future.
In fact, reinventing yourself beyond the label of “divorcee,” learning to plan for the things you now have the freedom to do and viewing your divorce as a learning experience are the keys to your future. They let you define life on your own terms. And, that’s what reinvention is all about.
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce coach, whose website “Surviving Your Split”helps readers get through divorce and post-divorce with less stress and drama. To learn more about moving on with your life and to receive your own Free Divorce Warrior Survival Kit, stop by survivingyoursplit.com or drop Martha a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her on Facebook.