7 Secrets To Loving Yourself Through A Divorce
By Jennifer Barrows
February is the month of all things couples. My inbox is flooded with offers for two; couples massages, romantic dinners and even a special offer from a bodybuilding website offering their “swollmate’s sale; supplements for her, him and you.”
For years, I never noticed how the world is made for people in twos. That’s probably because I was one half of a couple. Then, last year, everything changed and two weeks before Valentine’s Day, my other half moved out. I spent that first Valentine’s Day alone feeling lost, lonely and angry.
This year, I feel different. While I see the world around me celebrating couple’s culture, I don’t feel bitter or sad at all. Quite the opposite! I am glad for all the people who are together and happy. Being with another person is a lot of work and I have to give props to the people doing it successfully. Today, I am talking to all of you out there who are having doubts about your relationships. I am talking to all of you who are recently single and feeling sad and bitter. Believe me when I say, you can be happy again.
As it turns out, my divorce was the best thing that has happened to me. Maybe that sounds strange to you, but here’s why.
They say that hindsight is 20/20. A year after my separation, I can honestly sit here and say that it was the best decision I ever made. I won’t get into the details of what happened or whose fault it was, because I have gone over those things in my head probably thousands of times in the last year. Those things are quickly becoming irrelevant.
I can pinpoint things in my life that have improved directly as a result of my divorce, which are far more important and include:
Self-Confidence. My confidence is through the roof. Before my divorce, I questioned everything. I asked my husband for his opinion on every thought or idea I had. I didn’t make a move without his approval and most times I had to fight for his approval. Now I get an idea and run with it. Sure, I hit brick walls. Sure, some of my ideas have been awful. But I make the important decisions for my life and that empowerment is worth the fumbles.
Self-Worth. I don’t base my worth on how much attention I receive. I used to think I was only good enough if my (ex)husband thought so. I would ask how I looked, how he thought my clothes fit, if he thought my writing was good enough… Now, I write what is on my mind, dress the way I feel best (which is sometimes flannel PJ bottoms and a T-shirt) and I value my own opinions.
This newfound self-worth and confidence didn’t come overnight. I had to learn how to love myself again.
Here are my favorite tips on loving yourself through your divorce (because you’re worth it!).
1. Repair your relationship with yourself. One of the most important things in a relationship is honesty. It is important to be honest with yourself. This might mean giving yourself a little dose of tough love. Spend some time thinking and journaling about your marriage. Why did things go wrong? Sometimes the reason is obvious; someone cheated or lied…etc. Other times, it is not so obvious and you need to do a lot of digging. Sometimes you just “grew apart.” That is a perfectly valid reason to move on, but understand your role in why you grew apart. Don’t blame yourself or beat yourself up, but truly examine it. If you can’t be honest with yourself about why things ended the way they did, you will put up a brick wall against healing and you will stay stuck in the blame game.
2. Forgive. Forgive. And forgive some more. Okay, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to be angry. Anger is a natural emotion that comes when you have been hurt, slighted, or have had your values challenged in some way. There is actually nothing wrong with anger. In fact, if harnessed correctly, anger can be a great motivator to make your life better. What holds back your healing is when you can’t forgive. After you have examined the reasons for your break up, forgive the person you are angry with. If you are angry with your ex, forgive him/her. If you are angry with yourself, forgive yourself. One of the best ways to forgive is to practice a version of the Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation. In this meditation, you send love from your heart to yourself, to people you respect, to people you feel neutral about, and to people you feel angry with. You can adapt the meditation to send out forgiveness as well. Once you forgive, your heart will open and healing can begin.
3. Do something awesome for yourself. Buy yourself flowers, or go to a yoga class. Get a massage. This is the perfect time to practice self-care. Treat yourself the way you have always wanted to be treated. When you show yourself kindness, you will feel worthy of love. Your worth won’t have to come from other people’s approval of you. Celebrate who you are and all the things that are wonderful about you.
4. Take care of your body. It is more important than ever to eat food that fuels you. When you feel down, it is so easy to dive into that bag of chocolate chips you have in your cabinet. (I know, I went through a few bags in the last year.) This is a great time to detox and cleanse your body. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices can help you in the detoxing process. If you don’t want to do a full on detox, try having a glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice every morning. It will help hydrate you and cleanse your organs.
5. Move that body. Did you know that exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good? It boosts the serotonin levels in your brain and is just about as potent as any anti-depressant on the market. Now is the perfect time to do whatever you can to help yourself feel better. Wouldn’t you want to do that naturally instead of with a pill? Plus, exercise can be fun and a great way to meet new people.
6. Get Spiritual. This doesn’t always mean religious, although it does for some. Spirituality is the feeling you get from being a part of something bigger than yourself. This could be as simple as reading inspirational literature, or walking in nature contemplating your purpose. The idea is that you are able to feel part of something, get out of your head and out of the little details of everyday life. Do things that fill your cup.
7. Live your purpose. Sometimes, finding yourself after divorce includes an overhaul of your entire life. Why not start exploring what your purpose on this earth is and figure out what kind of work you can do to fulfill that purpose? This could mean a career change, or it could mean finding some volunteer opportunities outside of your career. Again, this will help you get out of your head and help you heal.
Remember, you don’t have to be part of a couple to be truly satisfied with your life. When you heal, you will find that whether you are with someone or not, your true love is you.
Jennifer Barrows is an Empowered Single Mom, Writer and Certified Health Coach, practicing north of Boston. She received her health coaching certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in December of 2013. Her coaching practice focuses on helping guide women through life transitions, using food and lifestyle upgrades to improve their moods and outlook.
She has written for local newspapers and just published a book, Still Together: A Single Mom’s Guide To Healing After Divorce.
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