The one thing most women don’t realise about divorce
When people talk about divorce, it’s usually in terms of stress, expense and emotional turmoil. And that’s not surprising. Divorce is second only to the death of a spouse or child on the Social Readjustment Rating Scale. It’s a big deal. And it can be full of heavy decisions, fraught negotiation and logistical difficulties. It’s seen as a necessary evil when marriages have ‘gone bad’. The one thing most women don’t realise about divorce is that you can feel differently about it. You can do it differently.
But what if I were to tell you that divorce can also be the way back to the true you? That it isn’t merely hurdle to be overcome to get your life on track, but it’s actually the key to planning and getting the life you want?
What if I said navigating divorce could actually be… fun? That it can leave you feeling empowered, confident and feeling your best rather than flattened, bruised and needing to pick up the pieces?
I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s possible for divorce to be life-changing in a hugely positive way. And I’m not simply talking about the freedom you’ll feel when released from a marriage that no longer makes you happy (though as you’ll see from the women who’s been there in my Ladies Who Leave group, that’s a fantastic high!). I’m talking about going through the divorce itself.
Think back to the woman you were before your marriage. Someone who knew what she wanted, how to play, how to relax. Think back to a time when life felt fun and seemed so much easier, so much lighter somehow.
I’ll let you into a secret. That woman is still there. Yes, you may have had a child or two since then, taken on a mortgage or have a more stressful job. You might feel like the only space in your head is filled with what tonight’s dinner will be. But believe me, that woman is still there. She’s even stronger, wilder, more determined and playful than she was a few years ago, because like a good wine or cheese she’s matured beautifully with age!
And that woman knows that every step you take towards your divorce is a step that releases her from her sleep.
Divorce is an invitation back to yourself
When you’ve been unhappy, or simply in ‘survive’ rather than ‘alive’ mode for a while, it becomes normal. You start to feel like that’s what life is – if you can get you and your loved ones safely through each day, job done.
And yes, when you’re in crisis mode, it’s important not to place heavy expectations on yourself. When you’re up against it, surviving each day is a major victory and I don’t want to take that away from anyone.
But divorce shakes life up. It forces you to examine everything – you need to for the legal process and financial settlements for a start. And in that shake-up, you have an opportunity to see how life can be different.
This isn’t about money, though I’m not underplaying the importance of understanding the financials. It’s about something far more fundamental – it’s about what you stand for in life. The person you are and want to be. It’s about your values.
Divorce encourages you to go back to basics. To think about what it is that’s most important to you in life and to see where you can start bringing those elements back in, now, from today.
Let’s say ‘friendship’ is a strong value for you, but over the years friendships have dwindled as your marriage has dominated. You don’t need lots of money or your decree absolute to start rekindling friendships now. Simple actions like reaching out to a friend, inviting someone round for coffee or going out for a drink can mean you start feeling more like the real you right now.
Reconnecting with your values
So how do you get back to the person you once were, or, more accurately, the whole person you are now, not just the stressed-out, greyscale version?
Think back to times in your life when you felt most alive. These might be work-related, family-related, holiday-related… Make a list – think of as many things as you can.
Now think about what it was about these times that lit you up. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it was about staying at the luxury beach resort when you were on holiday! Plenty of millionaires live in dreamy beachfront penthouses and are miserable! No, the nugget that made you feel alive at those moments was something inside you. It might be things like:
- A sense of achievement from doing something you love
- Contentment from being with loved ones
- Satisfaction from helping others
- Relaxation from feeling free of burdens
- Connection with new people
- Love of being in a beautiful space
Your list will be personal to you. Give yourself the luxury of twenty minutes, a piece of paper and a cup of tea/glass of prosecco and enjoy writing down the essence of those lovely memories.
Then choose your top three. Now it’s time to think about how you might start to bring more of those elements into your life. The wonderful thing about values is they are FREE! Even if you love beautiful things, it doesn’t require a huge budget to create a little area of special items within your home, or plant some flowers and herbs in a pot or window box. So take each of your examples in turn and brainstorm all the ways you can make them come alive right now. Then do something, today, to make one of them happen.
The power of not going it alone
I’m not claiming it’s easy to feel like you’re taking back control when you’ve got so much going on. Divorce can be a lonely and complicated process. It’s great to reach out to friends and family, but as I’ve discussed in a previous blog, they might not always have the best guidance for you, however loving and well-intentioned they are.
That’s why I offer Clarity Over Coffee (though I’m not prescriptive – plenty of clients come to their sessions with a glass of wine in hand!) weekly sessions to walk this journey with you, and help you connect back to that vibrant, playful woman you know you are. We meet virtually for 30 minutes every week to talk about whatever you need, and you also get Voxer messaging (a bit like WhatsApp) for in-between so you can access me whenever you need to.
Ladies use these sessions in all sorts of ways. They are a great, practical tool for making sense of the divorce process and ensuring you’re making decisions that are right for you. But, as I’m a coach not simply a divorce specialist, they are also a way to help you get back to yourself. Over time working with clients I see the colour come back into their lives as they realise:
Yes, I can do this!
I know what I want from life!
Yes, I am able to live life on my terms, starting now, whatever else is happening!
Divorce – the journey of a lifetime
When you’re on a journey like this, you don’t go unequipped. You wouldn’t go on a mountain hike without the right gear – there are no prizes for being frost-bitten and miserable. The same is true of your divorce. Just like scaling Mount Everest, it can be the journey of a lifetime. Tough, yes, uncomfortable at times, certainly. And you’ll need support around you.
But it also has the potential to be one of the most exhilarating, rewarding experiences you’ll ever have, knowing you’ll come out of it stronger and feeling more alive than ever before.
If you’re excited about the adventure and curious about how Clarity Over Coffee can help you, just message me for a no-obligation 15-minute chat.
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is author of the Amazon best selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a practising family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com