One of the most difficult periods of time you can experience is trying to rebuild your life after having gone through a divorce.
Imagine Wylie Coyote falling off a desert cliff, plummeting down thousands of feet, landing flat on his back and creating a huge crater in the ground. It should have killed him, but it didn’t. Surviving divorce feels much the same; the pain should have killed you, but it didn’t.
And now, you’ve got to go on and live.
Hobbling out of the crevasse, Wylie Coyote gains his ground again and starts off on a new plan to catch the Roadrunner. People often believe that starting anew after divorce should be this easy, but unfortunately, Acme doesn’t make a start-your-life-over kit that we can refer to.
Everyone expects you to move on from your divorce, but no one really clues you in on how to do that.
I remember driving home from work several years after my divorce dreading the thought of walking into a cold, dark apartment with no one to greet me, no one to hug me and ask how my day was. There was no one to cook for, and I often didn’t eat dinner.
These were heavy times and although I had already received a decree of nullity on my former marriage and was free to date, there was no one special in my life. I was terribly lonely and depressed.
These periods of waiting can be dangerous or fruitful – it all depends on how you use the time. Personally, I did fall into the trap of staying home most weekends and holidays by myself, throwing a pity party.
That’s not to say there shouldn’t be time to be by yourself and nurse your wounds. That is an important part of healing, but it should be an appropriate amount of time, not a way of life.
Eventually, you need to get back to the rebuilding part, but the question remains: How do you do that?
For some people, it’s not too difficult to get out of the house and make friends. The gift of being able to attract others and have strong social relationships is a gift, indeed, but not one that everyone has. For those who don’t have a lot to draw upon I would like to offer you a suggestion that helped me through that difficult part of my life, but more importantly, changed me and the way I do things to this day.
I had woken up one Saturday morning and was suddenly sick and tired of being sick and tired. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to do something worthwhile, constructive, and for me.
After some reflection, I had a little epiphany…
I realized I often told people that I would love to do certain things but didn’t have time to do them, like seeing a movie, reading a book, taking a night class, etc. – many things I just excused away under the guise of “not having time.” So in an effort to not be a total hypocrite, I started making a list of these things I always said I never had time for.
Now this list was not glamorous but it was honest. It looked something like this:
I liked this strategy and began making it a habit. Every weekend, I had a list to complete. By this time, I was the most organized person in Connecticut and had to keep coming up with ideas to keep myself busy, so my lists began to look something like this:
God was my sole companion every step of the way. Doing these activities helped me regain my grounding and sense of self-worth. I learned how to enjoy my own company which I later realized would play a key role in choosing a new spouse. I didn’t want a new relationship to become a crutch.
None of this was easy at first – in fact, rather uncomfortable. I had dinner at a restaurant by myself, went to the movies by myself, and I became a Big Sister for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Connecticut. I knew God wanted me to live, and so living took high priority. In time, I met many new friends and had great social experiences simply by pushing myself out the door and with God as my guide, forging a new road.
There is much more you can do, such as make sure you have a solid prayer life to sustain you and strengthen you. I have a friend who even made praying to St. Anthony for a spouse part of her daily prayer routine and guess what? Within a year she was married (and his name is Tony!).
So fear not, good friends, as you forge your own new path after divorce. CatholicMatch is a great place to begin meeting people, but even if things are slow, don’t wait. Step out in faith with God as your guide and you will succeed.