I want to tell you something right up front. Listen carefully and remember it even if you don’t believe it now. Are you ready? I want you to know that an amazingly good life is not only possible after divorce, it’s promised. Along with hundreds of other RADiCAL Women, I am living proof of that good life after divorce. I want you to know … really know in your gut … that this experience of divorce can be a point of positive transformation for you. Transformation to a glorious new life … a life better than you think is possible from where you sit right now. A life with more gifts in it than you can even imagine.
But, I know the sense of agony and confusion and complete disbelief you’re feeling at this point in the process. I spent those agonizing days and sleepless nights of desperation, too. If you’re like most women early on, your head can’t quite get around the idea of your marriage coming to an end. You don’t know how to process that reality and what it means for your future.
As I said, I did not start out my life with the plan of being a divorced woman and never never did I have any inkling that I’d morph into a midlife divorce recovery specialist. In fact, if you had asked me at any point along the way, I would have bet the farm (if I had one) on me never being divorced. Divorce was never in my thinking. My parents were married from 1941 until my mom died in 2009, 68 years. I didn’t believe in divorce. And I loved being married to the man I married in 1967 when I was 21 years old.
Our life was not perfect. But it was a life that other people envied. People looked at our healthy, thriving family with great kids, fun, active, involved parents, and saw a good life. We had the life everyone wanted. In fact, we had a great life (I thought). We got through finding jobs and moving up and four first days of kindergarten and four college acceptances. We weathered financial lean years and, I at least, thought we were getting to the part where we could kick back a little and stay out all night if we wanted to without having to make sure the kids were taken care of. We were supposed to be getting to the point where work was not so demanding and we could spend more time enjoying each other and the life we had created together. I thought eventually the two of us would go to the Shady Lane Retirement Village together. I made promises before God and before our family and friends that I would love and honor and cherish him until one of us died.
By the way, that’s what prompted me to latch on to the title for my next book – suggested by a great editor, Jessica Kerrigan … She said the title of my new book of 101 ways to stop asking the questions after divorce and start creating the life you want should be : If he said, “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” Why Is He Still Alive? I love that title and so do most divorced woman who didn’t want divorce but got it anyway. … In fact, that’s a real question I kept asking myself over and over again. I kept thinking, “This cannot be happening. This isn’t how my life is supposed to be. I’m fifty years old. We’re supposed to dance together at all our kids’ weddings and take our grandkids skiing and sit out on the deck and listen to baseball games together when we get too old to drive. We promised to take care of each other “til death do us part.” Obviously that’s not going to happen.
You’ve probably had some of those same thoughts and you may be thinking something else in your inner heart. You might be thinking like I did…. “It would be easier if he HAD died.” It wouldn’t be so devastating to who I am as a woman and what most of my life has been about. This divorce made me suddenly think that I wasn’t good enough, or fun enough or sexy enough or thin enough or that I wasn’t enough, period. But I knew in my heart, even though I made tons of mistakes over the 33 years we were married … I knew that I had put my heart and soul, not to mention all the days and nights and weekends and holidays into my husband and my children and the good of our family. In fact, I loved doing that.
Now, just when things were slowing down a little, my wasband decided he wanted a different life. I can’t even describe how brokenhearted and devastated I was and how in the dark hours of the night, I thought I might not ever recover.
And then the rage and bitterness and thoughts of revenge set in … I spent too long ruminating over how I could make him get some little glimpse of the pain he had caused for so many, many people. I know, if you’re a normal flesh and blood woman with normal female emotions and especially if you’re anywhere around the era of menopausal mayhem, you have some of those same feelings too. I didn’t want to keep obsessing about things I couldn’t change, but I couldn’t seem to help myself and it was getting in the way of my recovery. I didn’t really know how to stop the downward spiral. I didn’t know if I could ever get back to even a moderately decent life again.
So, I’m pretty sure at this moment, deep down you doubt that words like amazing, fulfilling, glorious, adventurous, and fun could ever describe your life now that this has happened.
I know I’ve made where you are sound terrible … but it’s where most of us start … and where too many women stay for way too long. In fact, the words don’t even begin to describe the frightening depth of the agony and despair most of us feel especially at the beginning of this trip. You’re probably feeling some level of that despair or you wouldn’t be here.
Healing After Divorce: What Happens Next
Now that we are absolutely clear how crappy most women feel at the start of this trip, we’re going to talk about “What happens next!” We all know WHERE we are, and we know we don’t want to STAY where we are. We want to heal after divorce. I seriously thought that if I didn’t figure out some way to get better, I might actually die …. I mean physically die. And sometimes I thought that would be the easiest solution in light of how I was feeling. But we know that’s not a real solution to anything. And anyway, after a while I didn’t want to let my wasband have the pleasure of thinking his ridiculous, selfish behavior had that much of an affect on me. It did, but I didn’t want him to see how broken I was by the whole thing.
In the years since my divorce things have changed for me. Miracles have happened. I have learned amazing lessons about life and love and joy and peace and contentment along with things like mowing the lawn and paying the bills. Most of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned BECAUSE of my divorce … not in spite of it.
And now, I have this passion to share those lessons with you. I don’t want you to try to get through this on your own or with just a one-hour meeting with a counselor every week, even though that can be very, very helpful. You, like all of us, need a map in order to achieve healing after divorce. You need concrete practical help, tried and true techniques, and dependable tools. Plus I want you to have a whole army of strong, wise, good-hearted companions by your side every single step of the way. I don’t want you trying to go through this alone … with the community on this site you have women from all over the world who get how you’re feeling and want to help. That’s how this online divorce support group has been designed. You will have constant, continual help available 24/7, 365 days a year.
Ten years of listening and learning and helping RADiCAL Women have given me insights, and I’ve developed lots of resources that will help. These tools have brought a new sense of hope and healing to other women and they can do the same for you. They have helped countless women who thought healing after divorce wasn’t possible. I’ve helped them re-think their purpose for being on this planet earth and have led women to (full-out) joy, robust peace after divorce, and an openness to love that makes life the adventure it is supposed to be.
I am glad you’re here because this community can make a positive difference in your life, too. You can one-day say … like I do now … “the life lessons I’ve learned through my divorce have made the journey worth it.” And believe me those are pretty radical words after the pain and anguish we’ve all experienced. But it’s true for me. My life will never be the same. I am in awe of so many things I used to take for granted. (Even though I was always aware of my many, many blessings!) I see more every day the power of helping others. (A power that makes MY life infinitely better). I laugh harder. I cry without apology. I live as close to (full-out) as I can every day. You can too. If you stick with us and do the steps of this plan, You will start “getting” life in an isn’t-this-awesome-too-good-to-be-true kind of way.
But the catch is … you have gut up, face the pain and do the work. We can’t do it for you. But we will be there to hold your hand and cry with you and yell in fury with you and then jump with joy as you move forward.
So, here are two things I want you to know right now. You probably won’t believe them … but I’m going to tell them to you anyway.
- Your divorce will teach you some of the most life-changing, soul expanding, lessons you will ever learn.
- You will end up living every day with an exuberance and a serenity and a level of love you never thought you’d experience again.
I mean that. That miracle happened in my life and it has happened in the lives of other R.A.D.I.C.A.L. Women. It can happen in your life, too. And by-the-way, you don’t have to get married again to have those things. In fact, it’s better to learn the lessons before you even think about new romantic relationships.
You may be thinking, “What in the heck is she talking about?! Forget it. I’m not going to waste my time with a bunch of psycho-babble positive thinking mind-talk that doesn’t change the fact that my life partner is with some disgusting excuse for a woman, and that I’m becoming the Pillsbury Dough Girl with occasional hot flashes thrown in , and my children are actually doing what I’ve guided them to do all these years and that’s be independent and leave home. And to top it off, I have no idea how I’m going to pay the electric bill, and I can’t stop crying in the car every time a song comes on that reminds me of our life together.
All those upbeat, motivational words will not change the truth of what I’m facing … bone-shaking loneliness, unexpected rage and full-blown panic simmering just below the surface. All these “You can do it!” mental mantras and tricks won’t give me my self-confidence back or get me a job or keep me warm at night. I have to sell my house and start over with everything.. My social life is almost non-existent and I’m mad someone else is getting the sex I always enjoyed. My wasband thinks his life has definitely taken a turn for the better. He’s introducing his girlfiend to OUR friends, and most mornings I’m still staring at the ceiling tired and exhausted, when it’s time to get up.
I felt that same way … most of us did. Some of you still do.
But your life is not going to feel like this forever. You’re not going to have this big ball of lead where your heart used to be forever. You’re going to finally realize that you can take your life back and you can make it good again, and heal after divorce. And I want you to know that it can be not just sort of good …. It can be amazingly, fantastically good. Really.
If you have to, suspend the logical-thinking part of your brain for the time it takes to read this article. Even though you don’t really know me from Eve, what I’m telling you is true. Maybe you’re desperate enough to try anything. I don’t care what it takes to convince you to Sign Up & Get Help. I see women every day whose lives are being transformed. These concepts aren’t just words. They work. They’re not magic, but they make a difference. And, since you’re here, you may as well throw yourself into it completely and see what happens. What do you have to lose? You have a bright new future to gain.
I know right off the bat, I can make three simple statements that if you really accept them, your life going forward will be revolutionized. (And I did not learn these lessons quickly or easily.) I was not only off the deep end with sadness and grief, it’s lucky I didn’t kill anybody once I got to the mad stage! Really. If you can get these three realities firmly in your head, you’ve taken three giant leaps in the right direction.
Are you ready? Here they are:
Number 1. The past is past.
Did you get that? Say it “The past is past.”
Number 2. This moment is the only time I can control.
Say it: This moment is the only time I can control.
And Number 3. My future is up to me.
Say it: My future is up to me!
Okay, I am going to repeat them one more time:
The past is past.
This moment is the only time you can control.
Your future is up to you.
Let’s talk about the past for just a minute. During divorce, we somehow imagine that if we just obsess about it enough or keep going over it enough, and reliving it enough, the past will change. I guess that’s what we think. Why else would we do that? We let the past dominate the present and then we can’t get the future we want because we drag the past into what we’re doing now. You absolutely cannot change one single thing that has happened before this instant. That time and what happened there can never be altered. No matter how much you wish you had made different choices or he had said different things or taken different actions, the past will never be different. All the screaming and crying and acting ridiculous will not change one single thing in the past. So give up your obsession with what happened any time before this moment. Stop trying to analyze it or figure it out or wish it was different. It is what it is … the past.
Your time is much better spent in the moment that you can control which is right now.
You have the choice of what to do right now. You can use this moment to move forward and for something good or you can use it in ways that can make you an eternal victim. You can make this moment (and the rest of your life for that matter) miserable because your wasband found a girlfiend, or you can accept the best of this moment and create new dreams for the future. Some women choose the path of turning into ugly green witches no one wants to be around by staying stuck in the past. 10 or 15 years after their divorce they are still bitter and jealous and unwilling to move forward because of “What he did.” What he (or they) or you or anyone else did in the past does not matter. What matters is what you are doing right now.
Believe me, I learned these lessons the hard way. And it would be a shame for me to go through the agony of doing all the wrong stuff that didn’t work and then not share what I learned with women it could help. We can all learn from each other and save both time and tears. I didn’t want to be stuck as a prisoner of the past. For one thing, I started realizing, “while I’m curled up in the fetal position with the covers over my head about something I cannot change, he and his girlfiend (by the way, if you’ve read the book you know a girlfiend is a girl who has an affair with a married man) are on a blanket somewhere with a bottle of wine and romantic music, reading poetry to each other and having a grand old time.” That thought started making me mad. I mean really, really mad and that anger helped propel me to get better … just out of spite.
Healing From Divorce: Focusing On The Present
Now back to the present. The only time you can control is this moment. Here’s my advice about this moment. Close your eyes, Take a deep breath and accept it. What better option is there? This moment is what you’ve got. Don’t judge it as good or bad. Just accept it. You are a midlife woman. You are at some point in the process of divorce. You may be hungry. You have to accept what is going on in this moment. Then the next step is to think about what you can be thankful for in this moment. Do you have two legs? Can you see? Do you have good food to eat? And plenty of water to drink whenever you want it? Do you have your intelligence and your personality? Be thankful for all the amazingly good stuff in this moment. You can’t name every good thing you have in this moment. Women all over the world would give anything to have the good things you are overlooking right now because you’re mad at someone about something you can’t change. Are you beginning to see how ridiculous that is? Just for one minute, think about every single good thing in your life in this moment. You can’t even begin to name them all.
After you realize that there are too many good things in this moment to count, think to yourself, “Is there anything I need to change to make my life better? What would make my life better? What can I do in this moment to move in the direction of my dreams?”
And by the way, many women give up their dreams after divorce. As pointed out by a Kansas City counselor, Karen Rowinsky, women during divorce are sometimes afraid to dream because they’re afraid it might be one more big disappointment in their lives. Don’t be afraid to dream. In fact make it a priority now.
Okay, let’s get back to doing things in the present to move in the direction of our dreams. Make it challenging. Pretend you are driving in your car to the lawyer’s office. You may soon be sitting across the table from the man you loved for most of your life and who is now trying to keep you from getting what you deserve in support. What can make the moment better? Can you pray for personal peace in this moment? Or get yourself centered using some other tool like meditation? Can you be thankful for a few good things right now? Can you calmly gather your thoughts and put your shoulders back and your chin up and get confident and realize that your life can be good regardless of what happens in that room. Can you stop and get some flowers to take home after the meeting? Can you get a cup of coffee to enjoy on the way?Can you visualize something in this moment that will make you smile or even laugh?
One RADiCAL woman said every time she had to meet with her wasband, who was a very loud and overpowering man, she visualized him as a blustery little mouse with a tiny little penis and a tiny little sword and a stupid hat on his head with a big red plume on it. Would that help you relax you a little?
Or here’s another scenario: you can use this moment to work yourself into such a frenzy that by the time you get to the office you’re practically incoherent with anger or about to dissolve into tears before you even see his face. It’s your choice. You have control of the moment.
Get in the habit of intentional living in the moment. Don’t be lead around by the nose of reactions and immediate responses that don’t help. Specifically make good choices in the moment.
When you remember that this moment is all you can control, and when you realize you have a choice about what to do with this moment and you choose something good, life changes. When you get in the habit of accepting the good things in this moment, then calmly thinking what is the best thing I can be doing in this moment … you start living with more gratitude and intention. You aren’t thrown around by every erratic emotion or non-thinking reaction. You aren’t pulled back into the Poor Me swamp. Or the Wicked Him wilderness. Even if he is a Wicked Him, he doesn’t control your moments now or in your future. You do.
Remember, too that doing the right thing in the moment always pays off. And you can always choose to do the right thing. No matter what anyone else is doing. Doing the right thing helps you live your best life now and it eventually creates the future you deserve to have. That is one of the unwritten laws of the universe. It’s a law that is immutable and unchangeable. We always reap what we sow. And goodness always wins. Write that down. It may not seem like it in your divorce or in your life right now. But it is always true.
But, as I said, some women seem to find some consolation in being miserable (why in the world would you choose that option?) Does it make him look bad? Does it bring you sympathy? Do you become the long-suffering martyr. What fun are any of those things? I wanted a fantastic, full, adventure of a life … not some whimpy, whiney, why me? Sorry and sad existence. You should not settle for anything less that an amazingly good life either.
Our resources can help you choose to make your moments and your life and your future, not just wonderful, but truly amazing … beyond your wildest dreams. I know I use that term “wildest dreams” a lot. I love the mental image of my wildest dreams because it throws open fantastic possibilities for me. The term wildest dreams came from something St. Paul said to a little group of people who were struggling with hurt and pain and discouragement more than 2000 years ago. By the way, wherever you are on the God issue, this is a good time to give that some thought. Regardless of how you personally envision God, this advice is from a guy who was smart and powerful and whose life was just humming along. His name was Saul of Tarsus. Saul’s spiritual awakening came with a bright illumination that blinded him (like our divorce has blinded us temporarily). His response was immediate and life changing. He gave up his destructive past and started living in the holy now. (As a result, he got his own radical name, Paul, just like all the radical women do!) and his life was never the same.
For me, he’s a model of how change is possible no matter what happened in the past, and his words bring hope and courage. Here’s what he said to people who were being harassed and persecuted and who were afraid and unsteady about their future. Paul told them – and he was speaking by experience by the way … “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” I don’t know about you, but that gives me hope.
And in my life those “wildest dreams” are already becoming reality every day. Your wildest dreams will come true not because of anything happening on the outside. They don’t depend on how much money you have or where you live or what your wasband is or isn’t doing or if you ever get married again. The fulfillment of your own wildest dreams is something that happens deep within you … and nothing going on around you can destroy them ever again. That’s a pretty radical reality.
Healing After Divorce Takes Time
This journey isn’t going to be done tomorrow. In fact, it will take more time than you want. There are times you’ll get discouraged and think “This isn’t working.” You might forget to make the right choice in the heat of the battle. You might fall back to bad behavior now and then. But you will get better. Soon this radical way of living becomes a way of life. And then really cool stuff starts happening. From the very beginning, you start seeing glimpses of the light in the distance and it becomes brighter and brighter as you go along. And pretty soon you are living in an aura of illumination that never goes away … no matter what happens.
If you decide to join us, we will guide your through those steps of healing and rebuilding. Along with all the other RADiCAL women, I will be beside you every step of the way giving you encouragement every day and you will find work to do and interviews to listen to with experts in different fields of recovery. And you can connect with other RADiCAL Women 24/7 in the community.
Throughout this next period you will start