Imagine that one day someone tells you that you have to find a new place to live relying on only half your household income, while at the same time your assets are reduced by 50%. Be honest, no matter who you are that’s going to hurt. To make matters worse, in addition to the huge financial losses involved in a divorce, there are a multitude of feelings that a person must process at his/her own pace, including anger, shame, guilt, sorrow and fear. Fear is by far the worse– it’s the fear of the unknown that often spirals out of control and wreaks havoc as your mind wanders and starts to ponder: will I ever recover from this setback? will I be alone for the rest of my life? will I be okay?
You need to mourn the end of one life before you can fully engage in another. But as time goes on, you discover an inner strength and courage you probably never knew you had, and as friends and family shower you with kindness you realize that you are not alone in this world, and that pain and suffering is part of the human experience that connects us all to one another.
Having gone through my own divorce, as well as helping others with theirs on a professional level for over 17 years, here are 3 great life lessons most of us glean from the experience:
1. Learn to Live Alone– It is better to be alone than in poor company. Enjoy time at home, by yourself. If you find the silence unsettling, that means you have some work to do. You need to appreciate the peace and quiet around you, and let the stillness calm you. Once you find that inner peace, you will guard it at all cost, which means you won’t allow anyone to come in and disrupt your equilibrium. In other words, you develop the ability to establish great boundaries with others, and this is a key life skill.
2. Manage Your Own Finances– If you can’t rely on anyone else, you are forced to solve your own problems, including managing your own budget. If you have champagne taste on a beer budget, this may hurt a little at first, but learning to maximize your income, minimize your expenses, and control your own money is essential to survival and feeling secure.
3. Find Your Own Fun– You need to be able to entertain yourself– and I don’t just mean by binge watching Netflix at home. Get out to a concert, go to the theater, visit a museum, join a gym, take a class, borrow a book from the library, write in a journal, check out new restaurants, travel, and try some new activities. Engage in life!
There is no sugar-coating the fact that divorce sucks. But this humbling experience does teach you to be a better person, no doubt about it. Truly, that which doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. So go be strong, and live life to its fullest.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.