Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.
~ William Cowper
One of the toughest aspects of divorce is having to give up parts of the life you’ve worked so hard to put together. Most often, this means less money, fewer assets, less time with the kids, and less time for yourself. The contrast between pre-divorce, mid-divorce, and post-divorce lifestyles can be challenging to adjust to, particularly when the changes are still fresh. It can be tempting to stay focused on everything you’ve lost and to feel anger, resentment, betrayal, or hurt that your spouse has “taken” these things from you. Almost no one walks away from a divorce saying that he or she enjoyed the experience. Also, most people feel that at least one major aspect of the division of assets or the child custody schedule was not fair. Although these feelings can be a normal part of the grief process, if the upset over your losses goes on for too long, it can prevent you from focusing on what you need to do in order to move on in your new life.
Because each divorce is so distinct in its details, no one can say exactly how long you should grieve your losses, but most people know when they have crossed the line of looking too long in the rear view mirror. There is an inner knowledge that their sights should be set on what’s ahead.
Each time you have to do something, it reminds you of what you are missing or had to give up. There is no question that life after divorce is harder in many ways. Yet asking for help and making the best of your situation are the key tools that will help you get through the entire process better.
Life will get easier in time if for no other reason than because you will have become accustomed to your new reality, and you will make the best of what you do have.
I make the best of what I have today.
This article has been edited and excerpted from Stronger Day By Day with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc., copyright © 2010, Susan Pease Gadoua is the author of Contemplating Divorce, A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go (August 2008), and Stronger Day by Day: Reflections for Healing and Rebuilding After Divorce (July 2010). Susan is a licensed therapist based in the San Francisco Bay Area with an expertise in marriage and divorce.
Other articles by Susan Pease Gadoua