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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

Four Things You DON’T Need to Move On After Divorce

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We often get in our own way after divorce, desperately wanting a way out from the pain while at the same time telling ourselves stories that only serve to hold us in the flames. I convinced myself myself that I needed everything from a jail sentence for him to an apology for me, all while ignoring the power that I held within myself.

 

In Order to Move On, You DON’T Need –

 

Justice

Justice looks differently for all of us. It may center on a certain ruling from the court or a visit from karma, putting your ex in a position similar to the one you’ve faced. Regardless of the specifics, a desire for justice is really a need for fairness. We’ve been knocked down and we want the fulcrum to shift the other way.

Chasing fairness is a form of chasing the dragon; no matter what you score, it will never be enough to meet the need. No consequence will undo the pain you feel and no repercussions will satisfy. And here’s the brutal truth – if they escape without a scratch, it does not prevent you from moving forward. But if you fixate on waiting for them to pay, you’re tethering your future happiness to their circumstances.

Instead of wishing them ill, shift your focus to being the best you. After all, there is no better revenge than living well. And if your ex happens to notice how awesome you’ve become and regrets their decision? Even better:)

 

An Apology

Those of us that have been cheated on or abandoned without so much as an insincere “sorry” casually tossed out over a departing shoulder have a tendency to give apologies almost a mythical standing. They become the holy grail of divorce, convincing us that once secured, we will find everlasting life.

I used to feel this way. And then I talked to a woman who got an apology. Several, in fact. And they were insightful and sincere, as her ex took full responsibility for hurting her and expressed true remorse for his actions. And you know what? She was still stuck. She got what she thought she needed and then when it didn’t work to relieve the pain, she became even more distraught.

It gave me pause. And then it made me angry. At myself. Why was I still allowing him to have this much power over me? I made up my mind in that moment to learn how to accept the apology I never received. 

 

Understanding

One of the most powerful realizations I had when healing from divorce – I’ll never be able to understand what my ex did because it is not something I could ever do. That single thought released months of anguished questioning and searching for answers that remained elusive.

Divorce is not a class in university. There is no final exam where you have to correctly identify the motivations behind your ex’s actions before you’re allowed to move on with your life. It’s okay to say, “I have no idea” and close the book on that chapter.

 

Closure

There’s no finish line. No “done” stamp. No graduation ceremony. We have this image of there being a defined end to the pain once we collect all of the missing pieces. As though divorce is some sort of video game quest where the end credits roll once you have located the last of the items.

Spoiler alert – it isn’t.

Closure isn’t a destination. It’s more of a choice. A choice that has to be made every day when you decide where you’re going to put your energy. Whatever you nurture, grows.

Here’s What You ACTUALLY Need to Move On –

 

Belief in Yourself

If you believe you can’t, you’re right. It all starts with your belief that you can be happy again. That there is more meaningful life ahead and, this is the most important part, that you have what you need to make that happen. You are not responsible for what happened to you, but where you go from here is up to you.

 

Time

You can’t force healing. It will take time for you to stand up again, much less take those first steps as am independent person. Give yourself the time and space needed. Divorce is a major loss of the past that is now in question, the present that has become unfamiliar and the future which is now erased. Be patient with yourself.

 

Processing

Time isn’t enough on its own. If you avoid your emotions, you are simply delaying the healing. In order to move on, you have to first move through. Face your pain. Become familiar with your feelings. Work through any unhealthy responses and beliefs you’ve developed and put in the effort to learn how to do better. To have a better life, you have to first understand and accept yourself.

 

Determination

One of the reasons that we tell ourselves that we need these things from others is because the work to heal after divorce is so. damn. hard. It feels impossible and so we assume that we must be missing some critical piece to make it happen. And that’s where the determination comes in. You have to want it. And you have to be willing to work for it. And if you are, nothing can stop you.

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4 thoughts on “Four Things You DON’T Need to Move On After Divorce

  1. Very insightful. Thank you, Lisa, for the continued words of wisdom. I know I’ve expected more sincere, remorseful apologies from my unfaithful wife, but to no avail. Also the sense of justice/fairness game is an area that never will truly be vanquished in my soul if I can’t find a way to let it go. I like how you compare it to chasing a dragon.

    Right now I am just working on being the best me I can be and finding ways to work through the vast levels of emotions and pain. After four years, it seems like a never-ending process, but I know I need to keep fighting and rewiring my brain and heart into a new and better me.

    1. It really is rewiring, isn’t it? It’s like we have to find all of the shorts and frayed wires and ineffective insulation and replace it all.

  2. Beautifully written, thank you for sharing.

    Not getting justice is a hard one – sometimes it feels like if he doesn’t suffer, he got away with it. But at the end of the day? He suffers simply by BEING HIM – a miserable adultering abandoner. There is no worse punishment.

    An apology? I can live without – it would be empty anyway.

    Understanding? If I understood this, really understood it, I would not be the person I am. If this made sense to me, it would mean some not-so-great things about it.

    Closure…true…we don’t get closure. This will always leave a scar. And that is okay. There may never be time where you can put your divorce in a box and feel nothing about it.

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