I had never in my worst nightmare thought at 53 years old, I would be googling “how to get your confidence back after divorce” or “regaining confidence after divorce.” I didn’t even believe in divorce! Plus we had a good marriage, great kids, grandkids on the way and good things all over the place.
In fact, I had always been a confident, fun, fairly independent woman who felt good about myself and where I fit in the world.
That was before finding out about the other woman, enduring my ex’s three year affair and then our separation and divorce. My self confidence after divorce took a huge nosedive!
After discovering the affair and realizing he would not stop seeing her, I felt old and frumpy. I wondered if I was any fun at all! And during separation and divorce, my normal sexy self confidence had disappeared, too! My ex-husband having a girlfriend (younger, “very spiritual,” blonde hair, skinny legs and all), made my self esteem go into hiding after divorce.
During and after divorce, in my mind, I went from lover to loser. From fun to fearful. From being okay with my healthy, normal midlife body to worried about my wrinkles, my neck and the gray showing up in my hair. After divorce, self esteem was gone. Soon, my sadness and worry and uncertainty about myself made me less confident than ever.
After I got sick of myself and how I was feeling, I wrote in my journal “I’m done with all of this ridiculous sobbing!” I decided I had to pull myself together and start my process of rebuilding self esteem after divorce.
You Can’t Change The Past
As women especially, when something goes wrong in any relationship, we always ask ourselves, “What did I do wrong?” “What could I have done differently?” “Why didn’t I realize he wasn’t happy?” “How could he do this? Or we ask, “Why didn’t he tell me he wasn’t happy?” “Why did he think he had to sneak around and lie to my face?” “Why didn’t he have the guts to just tell me what was going on with him?”
None of those questions have any good enough answers. The only question we have to ask is “What can I do today to get closer to the life I desire and deserve?” We have to realize we can’t do one thing about anything that has happened before this moment. We can learn from it, but we can’t change anything. So we need to stop obsessing about all the mistakes we think we made or all the questions about his character, and start looking for concrete ways to rebuild our self confidence after divorce instead of just crying about how awful we feel.
Focus On What You Can Change
If we can’t change anything that has happened before this moment and we can’t control anything anyone else is doing or saying, we have to get control of ourselves and our own thoughts and actions. So the key to building confidence after divorce is to accept where you are at the moment and ask, “What can I do right now to get closer to the life I want and deserve?”
Focus On Your Positive Traits
For a while, during all of this divorce mess, I had a hard time identifying my positive traits. What I thought were my good points didn’t seem to be good enough for my husband. They weren’t good enough to keep him loving me. That was a blow to my self esteem.
Try To Minimize Negative Self Talk
During separation or divorce, especially when infidelity is involved, we tend to try to “fix” ourselves. We think, “If I would lose weight, If I were more fun, if I were sexier, maybe he would love me again.” But even at that very first RADiCAL get together at my house, I realized, “These women aren’t losers! They are good, fun, fit, attractive, bright women!”
I thought — maybe this isn’t all about me! We all can make improvements in ourselves. We can strive every day to be better people, but the more we think and talk about how fat we are, or not very smart, or not very organized or whatever it is our ex has told us, the more those misconceptions get stuck in our head. Stop talking about yourself like that!
The best thing we can do to start building confidence after divorce, is focusing on our best self! Be kind to yourself. Do good things for yourself! Put yourself at the top of your TO DO list!
Focus On You Who Want To Be (Reinvent Yourself)
During my early years of recovery, I read everything I could get my hands on about getting myself (and my confidence) back after divorce. One article had the title: “Stop Working On Yourself!” It was about embracing and appreciating ourselves and who we are deep inside. I get that. We are okay just the way we are, but as I tried to figure out how to rediscover confidence after divorce, I decided I was going to start with getting myself physically stronger. I walked. I rode my bike. I worked out at the gym. I did planks.
When we feel healthy and fit, that is a huge boon to our self confidence after divorce. We carry ourselves differently. We look better and feel better and that makes us be better. It’s a big circle of after divorce self esteem building. Just do it!!
When we are trying to figure out how to regain confidence after divorce, another good place to explore is meditation. Centering ourselves with meditation and/or prayer and paying attention to our breathing and our body and our connection with our Higher Power, helps us think more clearly. We can have a feeling of peace in the middle of the storm any time we want!
Reach Out For Help
Especially during midlife when our self confidence is shaky anyway, figuring out how to get our self confidence back after divorce is a huge challenge. When our hormones are making us weird, and the number on our scale keeps inching up, and our body’s temperature gauge is out of whack, that’s when our husband makes it crystal clear that our “Best By” date has expired! It’s not funny! It’s devastating and we’re also more emotional, so we can’t stop crying.
That’s when it’s time to reach out for help.
Talk To A Therapist
I saw several therapists during the separation and then the divorce. We went to one wonderful therapist together, and finally she said she could not keep seeing my then husband because he was not telling the truth about the affair, and so naturally he wasn’t taking responsibility for the affair; and as long as that was the case, there was nothing she could do to help him. I saw her myself for more than a year. She was so helpful in my emotional journey forward.
If you don’t have access to a therapist, talk to a pastor at your church or a trusted friend. Just don’t try to keep this emotion bottled up inside.
Talk To Like-Minded People
I had been reading everything I could get my hands on about Christian Divorce, Infidelity, Saving Your Marriage, and dozens (yes, dozens!) of other books to try to find some real help. But it wasn’t until I started my first RADiCAL group that I actually started getting better. All of the women in our first group were somewhere on the separation or already divorced road.
Even that very first night, when I thought we might all sit around the table and start crying, I felt so much relief that all of them understood how my heart was feeling. They understood the sleepless nights, the agonizing days and all of what I was experiencing. That was the real start of getting a little of my self confidence back. These women around the table were feeling just like I was, and they weren’t losers! They were good, strong, bright, fun women and their husbands had left the marriage just like mine had.
That’s one reason our MasterPlan program includes a membership in our MDRcommunity. It’s a safe, secure, private place where no one even knows our real name nor any contact information. Women from all over the world are encouraging and helping each other, not only build after divorce self esteem, but also create a life they love moving forward! Really!
One good thing about volunteering to get a little pre-divorce self esteem back is that when we volunteer, we forget about ourselves for awhile, and we are with a bunch of other good people who want to help others. Another big thing was that I wasn’t set off to the side with a big D on my forehead that shouted to the world…“Divorced woman! Loser! Low Self-Esteem! Can’t keep her marriage together! Must not be very good in bed or a shrew at home!” That’s how I felt after divorce when my self confidence was in the toilet! The people helping pack backpacks for low-income kids didn’t care about my personal life. They just wanted me to keep the line moving to get the work done!
Dating And Self Confidence
Especially after a contentious divorce or a divorce because of infidelity, we need to spend the time necessary to grieve the loss of our marriage and do the healing work before we have the confidence to get back into the dating world.
Our self esteem after divorce must be restored before we start dating again. If we don’t figure out how to regain confidence after divorce, we often start dating for the wrong reasons … to feel reassured about our desirability or to feel worthy again. That makes us vulnerable. We are so desperate for validation, we settle and aren’t as discerning as we should be. For more information about dating post divorce read our Dating After Divorce article.
Am I Confident Enough To Start Dating?
A while back I read an article in an AARP publication by Sallie Foley. It was titled “Will He Run If I Make A Pass?” The author makes the point in the article that “signaling interest is a team sport, and to play you must feel secure about your attractiveness. Young women know this; note how the most striking girls stand straight and walk with confidence. As women age, they begin to slump, sending the message, don’t look at me, I’m not attractive enough. But men are turned on by vibrance, not just lingerie-model bodies.”
Remember self-confidence is the most appealing personality trait for both men and women! So getting self confident after divorce is job #1 for all of us who are on that road.