By Jeannie O'Coner
Ready to Move On After Divorce? Find Divorce Advice at Modern Shift
A bad breakup can leave a girl feeling lost and directionless. How do you get your groove back when someone rips your heart out and leaves you, taking your self-esteem as well as half the contents of your checking account?
Even if you’re the one who did the leaving, love is a battlefield, and you still bear the scars. Here are my suggestions of how to process the hurt and let the healing begin:
1. Start Something New You’ve Always Wanted to Try
When I was married, most of my evenings and the majority of my time was devoted to my husband, who was unequivocally the boss of our relationship and demanded a great deal of energy and attention. I’m not gonna lie: we did spend a lot of pleasant evenings at fancy restaurants and traveled to exotic locales. I’m glad we did all that. But somewhere along the way he subsumed my entire identity and it became about his agenda and his preferences and what he wanted to do, all of the time.
I lost sight of my own goals and dreams. My friendships gradually dwindled and I stopped doing all the things I loved, other than those driven by him. Then he left, and there was a yawning void. The silver lining around the dark, treacherous walls of that void was this: now I had time to hang out with friends and do nothing, I started a book club, and I joined a singing group. This enriched my life more than I could have imagined, back when I was blinded by the fear of his leaving me. When he finally did, I created a new life for myself that in many ways was more fulfilling than being married to a man whose need was so great that it swallowed me whole, until it chewed me up and spit me out.
2. Acts of Service
When you’re shell-shocked by divorce, it can be hard to focus on anything but your own pain and the immediate crisis. But if you can do something—anything—for someone else, that kindness reconnects you with humanity and community, and helps the pain subside, empowering you to access more of your own strength.
When my husband left me, all I could do was wallow in my own pain, and I certainly wasn’t thinking about anyone else. But I resolved every day to do something at least mildly altruistic: bring up a package to the elderly woman who lived on the fourth floor of my walkup apartment building, let someone go in front of me in line who only had one item at the grocery store, smile and say hi to the homeless guy on my corner. The best one was taking my dog to the dog park instead of for a perfunctory march around the block. Witnessing his unbridled joy as he romped around with the other happy dogs was balm for my bruised heart.
3. Get Into Kick-Ass Shape
I was pale and flabby and weak, and hadn’t consumed anything except Sauvignon blanc and HaagenDasz for a few weeks when my husband left, and one day I realized I had enough,and bought a discounted personal training package at my gym. It was a game-changer on an epic level: within a few weeks, I had rock hard abs and my ass looked like I’d had a Brazilian butt-lift. Instead of feeling like an abandoned loser, I felt like a smokin’hot babe again.
To sustain my workouts, I started eating nothing but the vegetables and fish and beans the loathsome Gwyneth consumes exclusively and brags about. I did yoga on the days I didn’t work out, and this helped center me again. Get off your ass and work out! The endorphins alone are like a line of healthful, legal cocaine.
4. Sell All Your Ex’s Stuff on eBay
I didn’t know what to do with the rage I felt toward my husband, who secretly packed his things and absconded while I was at a soccer game with the kids, and coolly informed me of his intention to divorce me in a brief phone call. In his haste, he left a lot of stuff behind,including several pairs of expensive designer shoes, fancy sweaters, and a Swiss watch he treasured.
As his leaving had also left me swinging in the wind financially, I needed money. So I sold all of it on eBay, writing up scathing, funny descriptions of each item, from the Frye motorcycle boots (“my husband, who was not man enough to pull these off, left these–unworn and in perfect condition–behind when he snuck off like a coward in the night”) to the Ray Ban sunglasses (“my husband has a crush on Tom Cruise and thought he was the Maverick character from Top Gun. He couldn’t pull it off, but for $15, I bet you can!”) to the unopened contact lens solution two-pack he got at Sam’s Club and couldn’t fit in his suitcase. I accepted any offer cheerfully, and a couple months later I was about $2,000 richer and smugly satisfied at my petty, harmless revenge.
I had to move, because without his half of the rent, I couldn’t stay in our home. At first I was pissed, because I had to move to a tiny apartment that was all I could afford on my small freelance writer’s salary in expensive New York. I resented having to downgrade the lifestyle to which I had become accustomed.
But when I moved and was setting up my new home, I found it exhilarating that I could decorate the way I wanted to, using the bright orange throw pillows and all the beautiful artwork I had collected over the years but consigned to storage because he didn’t like it and found my taste too unsophisticated and preferred everything to be all designer matchy-perfect.
Strangely, everyone now loves my apartment and compliments me on its cheery, welcoming vibe. And, I don’t have a pang of maudlin nostalgia every time I come in the front door remembering the day my husband and I found our dream apartment or look up at the ceiling of our bedroom recalling the many nights I couldn’t sleep, curled away from him in tense silence, longing for peace. It truly is a clean slate, and I am writing happy new memories on it every day.
By Jeannie O'Coner
Find Life, Friends,and Community Afte Divorce At Modern Shift