by Kristen Hilty
Part of your identity is tied to the word “spouse” “husband” or “wife”. Now that you’re separated or divorced, who are you? Not “what do you do?”, “Are you married?”, but who are YOU, really? How will you answer that in social situations? At work? To a total stranger? You may not be ready to talk about who you are because you don’t know where you fit anymore. Congratulations…You’re human!!!
It’s A Full-blown Identity Crisis – And It’s Perfectly Normal
Who am I in this new life, besides alone and single? How do I describe my life when it’s always been “we”? How do I talk about my break-up? What do I say about him/her? Am I “ok” as my new self, alone?
Exhaustion plays a big role, too: Our brain functions best on familiarity and routine – those elusive elements that are so vacant in your life right now. Without normal habits, brain fatigue sets in. Eventually physical fatigue will follow, which is also normal. Change, in general, whether good or bad will always be followed by exhaustion.
Give Your Brain Time To Recalibrate
Starting over again after divorce strips you of familiar patterns (similar to a global pandemic): The house is empty. Daily routines fall apart. Friends and alliances split. You’re probably finding out which people are friends vs. acquaintances. Lifestyles change. You’re on an emotional roller-coaster with ups and downs that can last minutes, hours, or days.
All of this insecurity and uncertainty is completely normal and it won’t last forever. For a while, your brain needs to be scrambled to shape new habits so get comfortable with being uncomfortable. In fact, just embrace being uncomfortable because it takes time to get to the new you. You still have the same strengths that you had before the breakup. You have an opportunity to work on the things that you want to change. You are not powerless in this situation. Who you are is up to you.
Who Are You After Divorce?
Here are some steps that can help you better understand yourself – as an individual – to help you figure out “Who Am I, Now?”
1. Accept and Address
Moving forward, hard as it may be, you will need to accept your new situation and learn to embrace it. Get a journal and be completely honest with yourself and what your write. It may seem unnatural at first, especially if you’re new to journaling, but it is an incredibly powerful tool. Reaching out to friends you can trust, a therapist/coach or a divorce empowerment group, can also help. If you’re like me and roll your eyes at the thought of journaling, just write a couple bullets now and then.
2. Adjust Your Self-Talk
Your brain believes what you tell it to believe. We all live the stories we tell ourselves. We have to sit with what we feel in order to heal for a period of time. After a while, telling yourself that story is like punching yourself in the face over and over. If we can’t change the past, we can at least start telling ourselves a new story that is about the future. Try writing that old story down, then write a new story to replace it with that is only about the future and only positive.
Good things happen every day. Someone always has it better, but someone always has a worse situation. Take stock and acknowledge the positive things in your life. Find something in your day that you can be grateful for. Shine a light on any “bright spot” that comes your way. The other day I got an amazing parking spot at Trader Joe’s and said to myself, “Thank you, Universe, I really needed that today and it’s about time you gave me some good karma!”
4. Make Your Space Your Own
Get rid of old stuff – A great first stop is your closet. Sell or donate anything that you don’t wear, don’t like, or doesn’t reflect your personality. As with anything, small changes can go a long way: Fresh paint, a piece of new furniture, a new outfit.
5. Try Something New and Different
Yoga, cooking, kayaking, knitting – doesn’t matter what, but now is the perfect time to try something new. Work on your bucket list or try something you’ve always been curious about. Don’t get discouraged if you try something you stink at or didn’t really like…at least you have something you can cross off your list. This can also help you meet new people.
Who do you want to be? Visualize the person you dream of becoming. Think of a few adjectives that describe the new you and carry them with you.
Be gentle with yourself. Be patient. If you feel any of the things mentioned, congratulate yourself for being human! The new you is on it’s way!
We’re not therapists, counselors, or life coaches… But at Better Divorce Solutions, we can absolutely empathize with the emotional process you’re going through, and help you deal with the business side of it.