When I was newly separated, a few people sent me cards, which I appreciated, and a couple people actually got me gifts! I remember laughing while opening up a little lipstick pouch given to me by a girlfriend, and thinking, ‘She’s giving me a lipstick case as a small hint that if I want to meet someone, I better start wearing lipstick more!’
But aside from material gifts you might receive as a newly separated person going through a divorce,I think there are some unexpected gifts you will get. Let me explain by starting off with a typical divorce scenario. A couple has been unhappy for a long time. One or both might have tried to save the relationship by suggesting counseling, and maybe the couple goes and just doesn’t find it effective.
So, they sort of just co-exist for awhile (sometimes years) not really knowing how to get out of the marriage or too afraid to get out. One person might start cheating. There is very little communication, a walking-on-eggshells type of environment, no affection, and of course, no sex.
Maybe one of the people tries to bring romance and sex back into the relationship, but is always turned away, either because his or her spouse is having an affair, or there is just too much resentment present, which has turned into putting up a wall and not caring. The person who tries to bring back the sex and romance is left with low self-esteem, sadness and hopelessness caused by the rejection.
Then comes the divorce.Now the person who was rejected is feeling unattractive and unworthy of love.
Then something happens. One day (or night) the newly separated person meets someone who shows an interest in them. Suddenly it dawns on him or her that they aren’t undesirable, but in fact attractive, and that they still have a chance for romance and sex, and even love.
I cannot even count the number of divorced men and women I have talked to who said they experienced this when they were newly separated, myself included.
When I was newly separated, (it had been several months since my ex had moved out) I was at a party with a girlfriend, and her husband’s coworker came up to me and started talking to me.
We talked all night, and I mean it when I say that it never even occurred to me that he was hitting on me. My self-esteem was so low, that him wanting to date me never even crossed my mind. He started kissing me in my car that night and I swear, I was in disbelief. We ended up dating for a few months and it was such a fun and exciting time for me. We remain good friends to this day.
But that is only ONE of the unexpected gifts of divorce that the newly separated get.
The realization that you are still wanted and desired, and that you deserve love is only one of the unexpected gifts that newly separated people get. Even if the relationship doesn’t work out long term, it doesn’t matter. It brings you back to life.
Other unexpected gifts…
1. Empowerment: People who are newly separated start to become educated. What I mean by educated is, they start learning about the divorce process, life after divorce, how to be a single parent, and as they are learning they become empowered. And, they end up feeling GREAT about it. I’m telling you, it’s a wonderful feeling of hopefulness.
2. Self-esteem: With empowerment comes greater self-esteem and self-love. It’s like you forgot how much you liked yourself because you were in this toxic situation for so long.
3. Inner-strength and courage. Speaking from experience, there is nothing scarier than being a newly separated single mom.But what happens is, you start handling things and then you start to realize that you’re doing fine. Then you start to realize you’re doing more than fine. Then you start to realize you’re kicking ass! It’s such a wonderful realization. You feel strong and happy and so so so proud of yourself! You now know you went from rock bottom to surviving, and you know things are just going to get better and better. But again, it takes time.
4. New friends: These are people you meet along the way that start with your team of divorce professionals and extend to other divorced people you start to meet who become lifelong friends.
5. Alone time: Instead of dreading being alone, you now start to like it and take advantage of the time you spend alone. It’s a gift you were afraid of, and now you welcome it.
6. Your new professional life: Maybe divorce has led you to having to go back to work, and maybe you were dreading it and then, once you get used to working you can’t believe you were afraid to do this! It’s the best thing that could have happened to you!
7. Hopefulness: Despite the fear and anxiety of being newly separated, you carry a tiny piece of hopefulness throughout the journey; a piece that keeps getting bigger and bigger as the weeks and months go by, until it is a very large piece! Think about it. When you were married, you had nothing to look forward to except more of the same! Now, as fearful as you are, you have the rest of your life! And it can be crafted to what you want it to be!
Here’s the thing. The unexpected gifts seem very sad to me–sad because you realize that at some point you let your ex-spouse make you feel incredibly bad about yourself. Like why would anyone ever show an interest in you, or why would you be able to do anything by yourself?
But at the same time, the unexpected gifts are inspiring because they show that when you get divorced, you don’t die. You live, and in most cases you live better! Sometimes you end up so much happier than you ever could have imagined, even if you never wanted your divorce.
If you are wondering, “Where are my unexpected gifts?” sometimes it takes awhile so be patient. Control what you can and stop trying to control what you can’t. Some of your unexpected gifts are sitting right in front of you. Find it in your heart to grab one of them. Maybe the self-love one. Remember that the best gift you can give yourself is your own love.