From Divorce to Your Dream Life
Seven tips on how to make divorce a portal to your best life yet
In the process of assembling the anthology Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On (Seal Press, June 2009), I soaked up a lot of wisdom about how to turn “divorce recovery” into divorce rebirth. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
1. Make a Love List
Start every day by writing down a list of things you love. Add to it anytime. Julie Hammonds pasted hers on her pantry door, and kept crayons nearby so that she could add to it each morning with the color that seemed most fitting. She was making decisions about what she loved, and how she wanted to express that love – all before breakfast. Not a bad way to start off the day. If that sounds too overwhelming, start small. Teresa Coates felt her notebook’s empty page was too daunting, so she wrote her goals on Post-it notes.
2. Learn Something New
Some women in my book got full-fledged degrees. I went on a 2-day yoga retreat. Melanie Jones started running, and became an endurance athlete. It’s the absolute perfect time to feed yourself with delicious new experiences, given that your status quo life experience has just been categorically flushed. Fill that vacuum consciously, with good things. Do something that connects you to the self you were before the relationship and the self you will be after it.
3. Break the Rules
Do something that you have wanted to do for a while, but haven’t done because you knew your ex would disapprove. Get a new haircut or color, a tattoo, go sing some karaoke, make and savor the dish you love but your ex didn’t. Resubscribe to a magazine you love. Redecorate your home in the undiluted style and colors that make you happiest. Celebrate your freedom to be 110 percent your own uncompromised self.
4. Find your Breakup Buddy
Yoda, Mr. Miyagi … sages come in handy. Yours will probably not be wizened and taciturn, like the aforementioned two, but he or she will be a friend who has gone through what you have gone through, and come out the other side with grace and aplomb. This person will have a raft of good advice for your tottering self. You also might want to make a point of hanging out with some other people who are in the very same boat as you. You can commiserate, and take turns giving each other pep talks, which will lift your spirits.
5. Travel Somewhere
Elisabeth Kinsey went to Germany and, on the spur of the moment, bought a clarinet, an instrument she hadn’t played in years. Teresa Coates’ husband ran off with a teenager, leaving her with their small children. Her recovery plan included taking her children to Viet Nam, for an earthy, inexpensive, self-sufficient immersion in another world. You don’t have to cross any oceans, though – getting out of Dodge might just be a day trip or an overnighter two hours down the road. Life is a journey, and yours just took an unexpected turn. Celebrate it by reminding yourself what this great big world has to offer.
6. Notice What’s Good
Samantha Ducloux Waltz noticed how much her children were thriving outside of her toxic marriage. Amy Hudock reconnected to her capacity for playful, steamy sensuality. Kate McDade decided to register for her divorcement. On the list: “Therapy, silk blouses, condoms, college … ” And she bought herself a divorcement ring on QVC. Kristin Tennant hung on to her faith in God, but joined a groovier, more accepting church. Make the positive your home base, so that you can always come back to it after you get derailed by a wave of sadness, or someone’s weird comment.
Remember the daydreams you had about a better life, while you were stuck in your marriage? Pounce on them now. Don’t let them go by the wayside; don’t get lost in your grief. Now is the time to manifest all of the things you once thought were beyond your grasp.
Candace Walsh is the editor of Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On (Seal Press, June 2009). She is also the features editor at Mothering magazine.