Am I Happier After Divorce? 9 Things I Learned

happier after divorce

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Am I happier after divorce? I’d say yes. I think most divorced people would say yes. Maybe not right after the divorce, and definitely not during divorce, but as time goes by, I think we all end up happier after divorce—whether we wanted the divorce or not.


So I’m happier after divorce. Fine. But you know what else I am? I’m empowered, I have more wisdom, I have more self-confidence, and I like myself a heck of a lot more.


Here are 9 things I learned as a result of getting divorced:


1. I learned I was a survivor.

Getting divorced is like playing dodgeball. Remember that game when you were a kid? People from the other side would throw balls at you and if you got hit, you were out so you had to dodge the balls. Divorce is like that and here are the balls: the lawyer bills that arrive in the mail, kids crying and acting out because of the change and because they miss Daddy, those moments when the sadness of the breakup is so overwhelming that you are hyperventilating because you are crying so hard, in-laws who are suddenly acting like strangers and acting distant and rude, when the ex comes to get the kids and won’t even say hi or look at you, getting a call from my attorney that my ex was trying to get sole custody, feeling lonely, isolated and alone, worrying about finances, not having a job, and more.


Those are the balls are trying to hit and kill you, and guess what? If you’re still standing after the divorce, you are a survivor.  It’s not easy dodging the balls, but all you have to do is keep going and know in the back of your mind that after you dodge those balls, more will come, and if you keep dodging them, you are going to be fine!



2. I learned that I needed support, both professionally and emotionally.


When I was getting divorced, no such thing as divorce coaches and mediation wasn’t what it is today. There were no CDRE’s (Certified Divorce Real Estate Experts) or CDLP’s (Certified Divorce Lending Professionals). You went to a lawyer and the litigation began, and then if you could mediate, that was great. Today it’s so much different.


My Divorce Solution


My advice is, gather your divorce team. A divorce coach is key. Therapy is very good. Mediation works. The more help you have, the easier your life will be during the divorce, the better outcome you will get in the divorce, and the less money you will spend on your attorney because these other people will be helping you make better decisions.


As far as friends are concerned, some friends were there for me, some were not. Some friends dumped me and some friends stepped up like you wouldn’t believe. I made a lot of new friends, and I got rid of a couple toxic friends. I would advise you to join a divorce support group, and join the Divorced Girl Smiling Facebook group. Don’t try to be tough and say “I can do this myself.”


3. I learned how to shift anger, feeling sorry for myself and victimhood into gratitude.


The first thing I want to say is that feeling angry and like a victim is normal, understandable and actually healthy. MUST ACKNOWLEDGE AND FEEL THOSE FEELINGS before you can start to move on. The problem is, some people stay in that phase for way too long. You know who I’m talking about-those people who are still shit talking their ex 5 years later and complaining that the reason they don’t have a job or money or happiness is because of their ex.


Try this: whenever you feel angry with your ex (and believe me, it’s been 18 years and I still have days when I want to yell and scream at mine) but try to take a deep breath, and think to yourself, “What do I have control over?” and then shift your plan to that, instead of stewing about what a dick your ex-husband is. For example, let’s say your ex said something really inappropriate to the kids—like “So and So (his new girlfriend) is a better mother than your mom.” I get it. That would piss someone off like crazy. But, after you have your time to be angry about it, maybe send your ex a text (wait at least a day) saying “I don’t appreciate what you said. It’s not healthy for our daughter to hear things like that.”


But here’s the key. If you engage, be prepared for your ex to spew insults back at you and to deny it. The key is, don’t answer the text. Just leave it be. Don’t even answer his first response. This way, you got it off your chest and you can forget about it. He’s the one who will be infuriated because he will know deep down he shouldn’t have said it, but will blame you.


Karen Covy - Live the life you truly want to live.


4. I learned the importance of Grace.

When I was first getting divorced, my ex started dating my neighbor, 3 houses down. The two of them went all over town parading themselves as the newest, blended, most well-adjusted family. I was so angry I couldn’t even breathe. I was angry at him, but I was angrier with her. She pretended to be my friend and then stopped talking to me and was really mean to me before I even found out! So, I had to wonder what I did wrong until I found out she was mad at me because SHE was dating my ex-husband!


I was so upset that I told everyone in the community how I felt. Whoever would listen, I vented to, and it was a huge mistake because I know I seemed unstable, even borderline psycho. They ended up breaking up 6 months later and you know what everyone will remember? Not that they dated, but how I acted.


If you act with grace through everything, it will set the tone for how everyone views you. Don’t you want to be seen as someone with grace and class? If so, tell your therapist, family and close friends about things, and don’t share it with everyone in your town.


5. I learned the benefits of being a single parent.

No one wants to be a single parent, right? I mean, we don’t set out to have kids and say “Wow, I can’t wait to get divorced and be a single parent.” But, once you are a single parent for awhile, it’s the best, most empowering feeling you can ever have.

Someone on the Divorced Girl Smiling Facebook Group quoted Eat, Pray, Love:

“The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes.”

The words, “Handled it” have special meaning to me because my beloved father used them often. If I would call him and complain about a problem (which I did often) his response would be “handle it.” He wasn’t saying that in a mean way, he was saying it to help me feel empowered and confident.

“Handling it: simply means take one day at a time and handle what needs to be handled right now. Your divorce is going to take time. It doesn’t happen overnight, and problems are going to come up on what seems like a daily or weekly basis–your ex pulls something in court, he already has a girlfriend who you didn’t know about, you found out from someone in your neighborhood that he cheated, you realize you haveto put your house on the market. These things are things that don’t have to happen right this second.

Just handle problems as best you can and prioritize what needs to be done. And in the meantime, just be the best best parent you can possibly be, and always make decisions with your kids’ best interest at heart. The dishwasher breaks? Call a repairman or get a new one. Your kid’s teacher calls and tells you he/she’s been acting out in class? Find your child a therapist. Your ex has a girlfriend? Sob and punch your pillow in private after your kids go to bed. That is handling it.

The big things are complicated. I have dealt with cancer and it’s really really scary. But, I handled it and now it’s good!

When you handle your problems, you will feel so great about yourself, so empowered, so confident and very proud of yourself. It’s calming to realize how capable and strong you are.

Try to remember that if you think other people–even married moms have it easy, you are wrong. Everyone has problems and everyone has to handle them.



6. I learned the importance of patience.


Divorce takes a long time. I don’t care if you litigate, mediate or have a collaborative divorce. Everything takes so much time. In today’s day and age, we all want to say into our phone “Siri, give me a divorce” and we expect that it will happen right then. Not the case. Be prepared for your divorce to take 12-24 months. If it is over quicker, that’s a bonus. But just “buckle your bootstraps and hold on,” (in the words of one of my divorced friends.) Having patience isn’t easy, especially when you want something so badly (your divorce to be over or your ex to break up with this woman you hate or whatever it might be.) But having patience will give you a sense of calmness and control.


7. I rediscovered a passion that was just for me.

I’m a writer. Always have been. I used to be a TV reporter and I also wrote for the Chicago Tribune. Writing is soothing for me. It makes me feel heard, validated, productive, inspired. So, when I was getting divorced, I turned to writing. I wrote my feelings on a daily basis. I ended up writing a novel that is still sitting in a drawer. I then wrote 3 more books in 4 years and started Divorced Girl Smiling.


Writing is my passion. What’s yours?  What did you used to enjoy doing that you gave up when you got married and had kids? What are you good at? What makes you happy? Try some things and see how you feel, and you might rediscover YOUR passion, something that is just for you that has nothing to do with the kids. Rediscovering yourself is one of those rare gifts you get in divorce because change has been forced upon you and you have to adapt. And sometimes adapting ends up being the best thing that’s happened to you in years. In other words, you will be happier after divorce.

8. I learned how to cope with fear.

  • Fear of change.
  • Fear of finances.
  • Fear of being alone forever.
  • Fear of dating.
  • Fear of your ex/their anger.
  • Fear of going back to work.


These are some of the fears people have when going through a divorce. Fear is normal and understandable, but guess what happens when you realize you’ve overcome a fear. First of all, it’s such a relief and it’s like one less thing to worry about. Next, you love yourself because you are proud of the fact that you got over it. This just happened to me this year: I used to have a fear of flying. I’ve been flying so much this year for work and fun, and I had some really really bumpy flights and after awhile, I just stopped being scared. I feel great! What a load off of my mind! The way to get over a fear is to just experience it. Once that happens and you see that everything turned out OK, you’re 90% there. The rest is breath and faith.

9. I learned how to listen.

Divorce puts a person in unchartered territory. In other words, we are clueless to so much of what is going on. That is the reason listening is so important. When gathering your divorce team (#2 of my 9 things) have consultations with each and LISTEN to them. I’m not saying you have to believe or agree with everything, but just listen and then draw your own conclusions, form your own opinion, listen to your gut.


Hirsch Serman, Financial Divorce Coaching


In regards to friends and family and everyone else who tries to give you divorce advice, listen to the right people. For example, listen to the happily married couple, not your friend whose husband cheated, who has been divorced for 10 years and is still not over it. You can still be friends with her, but effective listening means listening to people who you know give good advice, those who you know care about you, and those who make you feel great about yourself-not the toxic ones who enjoy putting you down. You know who I mean!


Most importantly, listen to yourself. Listen to your gut. Divorce is the time to dig deep to find your inner strength, your self-love, and to treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Listen to her. She loves you.

Coming soon: 9 MORE Things I learned in my divorce!

Like this article? Check out, “8 Great Things Divorce Does for a Woman”

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    Divorced Girl Smiling welcome video
    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

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