5 steps to a more gentle life after divorce

Never in a millions years did I think I would get divorced. Yet there I was, facing the end of over two decades with a man I trusted – a man who betrayed my trust. The last year of my marriage took its toll on me. I became severely depressed, suffered anxiety attacks, and I couldn’t sleep. I was a mess.

Shortly after my divorce was final though, I made a pledge. I decided to create a peaceful life for myself. No more lies. No more deceptions. No more drama. I craved a gentle life, and I can honestly say I’ve gotten it. Here’s what I did.

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Photo by Caleb Frith

1. I cut him out of my life. To get back my peace of mind, I needed to shut out all the lies, deceptions, and manipulations. And my circumstances were ideal. Our only child was almost 18, so there were no child custody/child support issues. And I asked for a lump sum over alimony, so I wouldn’t have to deal with him on a monthly basis.

At times I have wondered if keeping him out of my life was best for my son. After all, wouldn’t a mom and a dad who got along post-divorce be best for him? Maybe, if the marriage had ended on mutual terms. No, if the divorce involved betrayal with a year’s worth of lies and deception trailing behind it. I could never trust him again. A post-divorce relationship with him would only be a facade. And kids can read right through facades.

By having him out of my life, I’ve been able to show my son what a healthy, content mom looks like, and that’s no facade.

2. I dropped friends and family members. People were brutal and caused me a tremendous amount of pain as I was going through my divorce. I had people in my life, including my pastor at the time, who made me feel like my husband’s affair was my fault. That’s like telling a rape victim, “If you just hadn’t been wearing that tank top,” or telling a domestic abuse victim, “If you’d just made his supper the way he wanted.”

I needed these people, with all of their negativity, out of my life.

3. I surrounded myself with loving, supportive friends. One of the best decisions I ever made after my divorce was to join a Divorce Care program at a local church. The women in the group have become some of my best friends.We’ve gotten each other through the worst of times and can now laugh to tell about it. We’ve gotten so close, in fact, that we meet every Tuesday night for Mexican and margaritas, take beach trips together, and have our own DIVA Christmas party every year.

I have other dear friends, too, who walked with me through difficult times – women who cried and prayed with me. I would not be here today without their love.

4. I bought my own place, a home I call my “house of peace.” We were supposed to inherit his dad’s home on 100-plus acres of plush woods with a creek running through it. We were supposed to grow old there, host family holidays there, someday play with our grandchildren there. Sadly, those plans no longer exist.

Part of my healing journey has included buying my own home. It’s small and quaint. And drama-free.

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Painting by Patti Ballard, PBSArtStudio

I have filled my charming cottage with things that make me happy. Flowers hang in white metal baskets in my bedroom. A whimsical painting of a girl flying away in a hot air balloon adorns my fireplace mantel. A dining room table chalk -painted bright red with Queen Anne legs sits in my breakfast nook. Candles in scents like coconut ginger fill my cottage with sweet fragrances and warm light. It’s my little haven this side of heaven.

5. I embraced new experiences. I started …

  • making and selling my own jewelry.
  • taking piano lessons.
  • volunteering  in my community.
  • painting. (I’m not a good painter at all, but find it relaxing.)
  • hosting women’s Bible studies.

Oh, and I got a dragonfly tattoo – a symbol of transformation and emotional maturity.

All of these new experiences have contributed to my healing. And have helped me fulfill my pledge – to live a gentle life.

What about you? What have you done that has helped you heal from the end of a marriage or relationship?

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