I cannot describe how heartbreaking I feel when I read comments on Divorced Girl Smiling like this one, that unveil the brutal pain of divorce:
How do you shake the “never want to wake up” feeling? I’m so miserable. Every single day is pain and I just want to give up.
Before I offer my advice for those feeling the brutal pain of divorce and why you should never give up on being happy again and having a bright future, I want to address something.
If you are in such bad pain that you feel like you might be in danger of harming yourself, PLEASE PLEASE reach out for help, or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not second guess yourself. You will know in your gut if you need help and if you do, PLEASE get it. You need to trust me on this one. Life IS worth living.
Now onto the advice.
This is a true statement: Every single person who has ever gone through a divorce or a bad breakup has felt the brutal pain of divorce. They have felt like nothing is ever going to change, like they can’t imagine ever being happy again, like the pain is constantly there and it never goes away, like there is nothing that can make their life better, and like their future is hopeless, gray and dismal. Being happy again seems impossible.
NOTHING IS FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH
And, let me make something clear. You do have the right to feel sorry for yourself, to acknowledge your pain, to grieve the end of your marriage, to grieve the person you lost. It’s healthy and normal to feel those feelings. In other words, if someone says, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself, so and so has cancer and she probably won’t be alive in 5 years,” that doesn’t make your problem minimal. You have every right to think your divorce is devastating.
But after you own your feelings, there comes a time to focus less on the loss and more on the things you have. In other words, gratitude needs to come into play. It’s not always easy to see good things when you are so low, but trust me, they are all around you. Goodness and beauty are everywhere, every minute, even during what seem like the darkest days.
I remember one time, I was crying about my divorce and my dad just said, “hey, how’s your coffee?” and I took a sip and realized it was delicious. I realized that before he said that, I wasn’t even able to taste it because I was so preoccupied with my divorce. And then I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. I’m sitting here having coffee with my dad. My sweet, kind, wise, idol who just beat lung cancer.” Hello!! Again, not that that made my divorce totally OK, but it made me see that life isn’t over, and that I had so much to live for—so many people to live for, especially my kids, and so many other wonderful aspects of my life. (and if you are thinking, ‘I don’t have any wonderful aspects, just wait. The journey of life will bring you to them if you are patient and if you make the effort to work on yourself.) The key is maintaining faith.
Here are 7 reasons you should never give up on happiness after divorce:
1. You have physical health.
Do you feel like punching me right now? Please don’t. I had to start out with this, because it is the most basic and true fact. Anything is possible if you have physical health. If you don’t, that’s where real challenges begin. Maybe you have some chronic issues, maybe you had an illness, but if you are relatively healthy and able to function normally in life, you have opportunities beyond your wildest dreams! You can do what you want when you have independence and freedom. Anything you want! (Yes, even those who are financially challenged.)
2. Look around at all the beauty.
It’s is currently -19 degrees in Chicago. Two feet of snow is on the ground. Attempting to walk my dog is a whole other blog post. But, I have to say, it’s absolutely beautiful outside. Beauty is everywhere if you open your eyes. From outside scenery to an adorable dog to beautiful, vibrant children, to friends, to a random baby laughing in a coffee shop or to a young couple kissing, beauty is everywhere if you are willing to put your pain on hold for a few moments every hour and just look around.
3. You have love.
Write down the names of 3 people who you love and who love you and care about you right now. Put the piece of paper in your pocket and keep looking at it. Things with your spouse are over, but he/she didn’t have a monopoly on your love.
4. You have wisdom.
Let’s say you just found out your husband cheated on you and left you for the other woman. While devastating, unfair, and extremely painful, aren’t you glad you finally know? No one wants to go through a divorce, but it does make you wiser, as does any negative life experience. And when you have wisdom, you make much better decisions that lead to better outcomes in the future.
5. You have a purpose and passion.
Yes. You do. So find it. Now. What are you good at? What do you love doing? What makes you happy that isn’t a person? What were you born to do? If you aren’t really sure, try a few things and see what feels natural and right to you. It’s there inside of you. You just have to find out what it is and do it. And guess what? Doing it will give you more self-worth and happiness in such a different way than a relationship. It’s empowering to like yourself and your work!
6. You have value.
You matter. You matter so much. Just because your spouse didn’t want to be married to you anymore, what does that mean? NOTHING to you at this point. Others need you, want you, enjoy you, and depend on you. You make a difference in this world. Do not forget that. No person should make us doubt this. Ever.
7. You have the potential for romantic love if you ever want it again.
If you just threw up, I’m sorry. Maybe the pain of divorce keeps you far from ready to think about another asshole (or bitch) given that your heart is shattered. But in a few months from now, or a year or even more, the picture could look a lot different. When I truly didn’t care if I ever found love again, I met the love of my life. I was 49 years old. I am pinching myself because I never knew I could be this happy in a relationship. I’m not alone. I have heard this from countless divorced men and women. If you want it, it can happen to you, too.
Here’s the thing. On those days when the pain of divorce just gets to be too much and you’re lying there and struggling for a reason to get out of bed, remember that if you don’t get out of bed, nothing will change. But if you do get out of bed, something good might happen today. Something positive will for sure happen, even if it’s something as simple as a delicious cup of coffee and a really pretty sunrise.
God loves you, your family and friends love you, but do you love you? Please love you. You deserve to love yourself and treat yourself with kindness and compassion. You will get through this painful time and life will get better. It takes three things: faith, patience and self-love.
Like this article? Check out “A Question that Left Me Heartbroken”