I’ve become a fan of the website MindBodyGreen ever since my wife let me know about it. The website – which also sends out regular content through an online newsletter – features articles about achieving better physical, mental, and emotional health.
I recently ran across an article on the site from author Debbie Hampton titled, “I Left a Marriage After 18 Years. Here’s What I Learned.” Hampton went through quite a tumultuous time in her marriage and afterward – she characterizes the end of marriage as “Divorce Court ugly,” attempted suicide, saw therapists, and took antidepressants, before finally coming to a realization that helped set the tone for the rest of her life.
As she notes, “I've come to understand that I was causing my own suffering by torturing myself with expectations of what I thought my life should be. Now, I realize that there are no ‘shoulds.’ There is only what is.”
Her list of 18 things she’s learned from her life after divorce provides a glimpse at what she personally had to overcome, but also how healthy her perspective is now.
Her first item, “I've learned that you can be in so much pain, so lost, and so broken that you can't eat or sleep,” shows the anguish that divorce can produce, and her second item, “I've learned that you can be in so much pain, so lost, and so broken that you eat a whole coconut cream pie and all you want to do is sleep,” shows that a sense of humor can exist and emerge even when you’re navigating all that anguish.
There are other points among the 18 that impart wisdom for coping with the pain of divorce, such as the simple and frank observation, “I've learned that goodbyes are just as much a part of life as hellos and that you better get used to both,” and a particularly helpful piece of advice, “I've learned that visualizations and positive affirmations can make you stronger, even if you don't really believe what you're saying at first.”
And the final point is particularly reassuring for anyone having a hard time going through divorce: “I've learned that you are much stronger, way smarter, and far more resilient than you ever thought.”
The time during and immediately after a divorce can be one of the most challenging chapters in a person’s life. I’ve found, in my experience, that divorce in Texas can be particularly challenging for women, especially if they don’t work outside the home – alimony is more the exception than the rule, child support isn’t typically enough to support a household, and men are still more likely to be in a better cash flow position than women once a divorce is finalized.
But I also know that women can be incredibly strong, drawing on emotional reserves that they might not know they have. There’s certainly a danger in trying to do too much too fast in a divorce, and I advise each of my clients to see a therapist and to make sure they’re taking care of themselves physically and emotionally. Divorce is difficult, but time, therapy, and positive thinking do wonders to help people recover.