Are you looking for peace after divorce? Of course you are! Who wouldn’t be? So why do some people achieve peace after divorce and some people stay stuck in a place of frustration, anger, bitterness; in a state of war, with others and with themselves? In my opinion, the different lies in one word:
Ask someone why he or she got divorced, and you might get one of these answers:
My husband left me.
My wife cheated.
My husband’s an asshole.
My wife’s a bitch.
We grew apart.
We were really unhappy.
We never loved each other.
How long do you have?
While I’m not judging anyone for what he or she wants to say or remember in their mind about why they got divorced, I think there are some divorced people who have an edge– they have something that helps them achieve peace after divorce and obtain strength to live a beautiful and authentic life of happiness.
What is self-awareness? The definition is: Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives and desires.
People who have self-awareness (and thus have peace after divorce) have a gift of being able to look within, realize that divorce is never black and white, and they are able to take some accountability for their contribution to their marriage not working out. I believe that having the ability to admit some fault is the difference in not only having peace after divorce, but moving on, AND having better romantic relationships in the future.
Divorce is a journey. A long one. It doesn’t just start the day you get separated and end the day your divorce is final. The journey can take years because it’s a journey of emotions and lessons and personal growth.
Divorce can feel brutally painful at times, it can feel hopeless, and at times, it can feel wonderfully empowering. I remember my divorce as feeling like a roller coaster of emotions, along with lots of mistakes and lots of times when I felt really good about myself–moments of sheer joy, inner strength and courage I never knew I had. It can feel empowering and you are almost grateful–not that you got divorced, but that you had the privilege of this journey, no matter how painful it is at times.
Part of the journey is self-reflection: looking back and remembering the truth of what the marriage was really like. Some people, to self-protect, only remember this blissful marriage that they thought was perfect until their spouse cheated and left them. They fail to recall little, subtle things that should have been red flags or signs that the marriage was troubled. Perhaps they turned a blind eye to things because they didn’t want to be divorced and/or it was too painful to see.
Others decide their ex is the devil and he or she was 100% to blame. This is easy to do if their spouse was the one who wanted the divorce and /or left for someone else.
I’m not saying that someone who had an affair and ended a marriage over it should be vindicated. Having an affair is a selfish, hurtful thing to do, in my opinion. But the cheatee probably isn’t perfect either. No one is perfect. And so if that person is willing to face up to that, I think they are better off when it comes to getting to a place of peace.
Of the tens of thousands of comments and questions I have received to Divorced Girl Smiling over the years, this reader’s might be one of the most inspiring:
Divorce sucks. I did a lot of the wrong things in my marriage and don’t blame her for leaving. I own it. I do wish however she stayed to see my transformation and give us another chance. I hate that we can’t be together as a family with the kids. I hate some other male figure will be in my kids lives. But I did it and own it. At least I am becoming a better person as a result #getcleanandsober
Whoever this guy is, I want to give him a huge hug and tell him how extremely amazing I think he is.
“I don’t blame her for leaving.”
“I own it.”
“I did it.”
“I am becoming a better person as a result.”
These are statements that people with self-awareness make. This guy is remorseful, but takes true accountability for his actions. Because of this, he has a better chance of finding inner peace after divorce and leading a happier, more fulfilling life, which includes better future romantic relationships.
His hash tag at the end: #getcleanandsober speaks volumes. I’m not sure if this guy realizes how special he is. Countless men and women with addiction issues don’t have the self-awareness needed to overcome the addiction, in my opinion, even after a divorce. This is a man who has guts and I respect him unbelievably.
Put in the context of divorce, self-awareness is having the courage to look in the mirror and say, “Hey, a lot of this (or all or some or a little bit of this) was my fault.”
That doesn’t mean beating yourself up, regretting things, and kicking yourself. That means seeing your mistakes, forgiving yourself, and using what happened to be a better person and a better partner in your next relationship.
Another time I heard someone take accountability for his divorce was a few years ago when I was sitting at a Bears game and I met this guy sitting behind me. I’ll never forget. He said,
“I didn’t treat my ex-wife like I should have. I loved her so much and I did some really stupid things that I truly regret now. I tried very hard to get her back but couldn’t and I have to live with that now.”
Isn’t that more refreshing and honest than someone who plays the victim and takes NO RESPONSIBILITY for anything that went wrong?? It’s maddening how some people just can’t see anything. It’s like they are blind.
The bottom line is, I think to find peace after divorce, acceptance and happiness in life —and to really move on, a person must have self-awareness. Without it, the future will never be as satisfying as it could be.
Self-awareness is the first step to making changes in your life to be the person you really want to be. No one is perfect, but I think we would all agree that each of us strives to continue to grow and evolve into a person we like more and more with each day.
No one can teach a person how to obtain self-awareness. It has to come from within. Faith, therapy, and listening to people who love you (and you know have your back) helps, but when it comes down to it, self-awareness is about opening your mind. It’s about remembering things as they really happened–not what is convenient, or what you wish would have happened. It’s not easy to do this, and it can be painful. But you will love yourself for having the courage to do it.
In closing, the journey of divorce never really ends, but rather it is melted into the journey of life. Those equipped with self-awareness will not only have a better journey, but will be able to live each day moving forward with grace, courage, strength, and the best one: authenticity.