Divorce is devastating. There is not an area of your life it does not affect, at least in the beginning. While there are still times I wonder why I had to endure such a heartbreaking experience, I am grateful for the opportunity it has given me to find a much greater love and live a far better life.
There's something empowering about hitting rock bottom, something that makes you want to fight. Here are some of the ways I was able to move forward and rise above the years of heartache:
Choose not to hate
I'm not saying you have to forgive your ex right away or that you should pretend you are not so hurt that you don't know how to exist some days. I'm saying that there will come a moment — for me it was during an alimony negotiation — where you have to choose to let go. If you hold on to your anger and focus on the hurt, it will consume you. Don't give a bad experience more power over you than it has already taken.
We all know this is easier said than done. Turn to the Lord for help letting go.
You are stronger than you think
Feeling unloved and betrayed by the person you thought would love you the most for the longest is truly unfathomable. Everything you imagined your future would be shatters, and even your view of the past changes. But you fight through it. It doesn't matter if today's struggle is getting out of bed or holding it together at work on the day you sign your divorce papers. You are bigger than this, which means you are strong enough to handle whatever comes next.
There is love and support all around
Once divorce is on the table, you can no longer hide your struggle. Having to share such a heartache with others may initially be embarrassing or make you feel uncomfortably vulnerable, but the love and support you find in doing so will sustain you.
For me, the four men I worked for during my divorce were instrumental in my survival during those months. One was there to talk whenever I needed it, another was like a big brother who would counsel me, the one I was the least close with became teary-eyed with me once and, when I eventually started to date again, the fourth one was protective and went out of his way to make sure the guys in my life were not jerks. It was a somewhat unlikely place for that level of support, but they were my saving grace.
You get to rebuild yourself
In relationships, especially bad ones, it is easy to lose yourself. By the time you reach divorce, you probably don't know what makes you happy anymore or how you feel about the little things.
The new, post-divorce me bought skinny jeans (hey, it was years ago), ate a lot of sandwiches (my ex hates bread), and tried to find music that I like, not just that my ex and I liked as a couple. I found that I really love Zumba. I also committed to working towards a career that would bring me to life, instead of just paying the bills.
Who knows what your little revelations or life-changing realizations will be. But that is part of the fun of getting to rebuild yourself after a divorce.
You don't need all the answers to find peace
There are a lot of unknowns when everything you thought your life was changes. Even if divorce is a relief, you probably won't know exactly how to move forward. You'll probably wonder:
Why did this have to happen? Did I do something wrong? Will I ever get married again? Am I even lovable?
I don't know those answers, and you won't either, at least for a while. But those answers are not necessary for you to find peace. Peace can come by pouring your heart out to the Lord in prayer for as long as it takes each day. It can come by spending time with those who love you and remind you that there is still good in your life. You probably have an idea of what you need to get through, so go do that.
God has better things in store for you
I married someone who had pretty much everything on my list of what I wanted my husband to be. While I wish someone would've told me that my list was awful, I learned that the Lord is bringing me to better things. The years following my divorce have been purifying. The struggle has been intense. But the Lord has been watching out for me, growing my heart. I have been able to love in a way I didn't know I should have been loving all along. I'm not yet to my "happily ever after" and you may not be either, but we have to believe that it is coming.
Amazing experiences can come from being alone
I would choose to be married — for the most part — over being single, but that hasn't kept me from having amazing experiences in my second singlehood. I have made some amazing, lifelong friends who have loved me wholly — something I craved after years of feeling unlovable — and helped me experience things I never would have been exposed to if I wasn't single.
I realized that I have stronger family relationships because I have been able to take trips to visit family members and interact with them in ways that might not have been possible if I was married. And I got a little extra one-on-one time with my grandma, which is now invaluable because she passed last year.
Being single is sometimes pretty dreadful — especially in your mid-thirties in a small-ish town — but that doesn't mean there aren't some serious perks you should take advantage of while you can.