Moving on after divorce can be hard without the right mindset. It’s important for you to get unstuck so you can move on to a more fulfilling life during and post-divorce. Forgiveness is about setting yourself free, not about the other person. You forgive and do not have to let the other person know that you did so, or even see him again. It is about cutting free any ties that bind you to certain situations or people and letting go of the past. You have read in the papers about parents who have forgiven their child’s murderer, and you probably wondered if they were saints or nuts. What these parents did was to let go of bitterness, anger and any other attachments, so that they could get over this tragedy and move on with their lives.
Here are tips on moving on after divorce.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “forgiveness” as: “to cease to feel resentment against one’s enemies.” Not forgiving is a way to stay attached to your ex and remain stuck in resentment and bitterness. Not forgiving is maintaining a tie to him and leaves you shut off to future relationships. Forgiveness severs the hurt and injustice that binds you both together. Forgiveness is just about letting go and not about getting revenge. Thoughts of revenge keep you connected to that person.
In her book, Open Your Mind to Prosperity, author Catherine Ponder recommends saying this positive affirmation to help you let go of toxic people or situations: “I now release and am released from everything and everybody that are no longer part of the Divine Plan for my life. Everything and everybody that are no longer part of the Divine Plan for my life now release me.” What is nice about this affirmation is that it is a two way street, because you are stating for your ex to cut ties with you as well. I wrote this on a colored index card with a vibrant felt pen and propped it up by my bathroom mirror, so I could say this several times a day. I still revisit this affirmation when angry thoughts about my ex pop up out of nowhere.
Affirmations are positive statements that you can make about what you want out of life in a myriad of situations. What you are doing is working with your subconscious mind and a Higher Power (whatever is in your belief system) to move you towards change. Any Catherine Ponder book is chock full of affirmations that I tweak to fit my individual situation. You can make specific ones, such as about your next court date having a positive outcome or that you get “xyz” with the property division. Some affirmations that worked for me are:
“Divine guidance is now showing me the way to…(insert your situation, such as an amicable divorce). Divine Guidance is working through me and all concerned to bring about the perfect outcome now.”
“All financial doors are open to me now and are manifesting abundance in expected and unexpected ways. God is bringing me wealth and opportunities and I give thanks for them.”
It is important to forgive yourself, so that you can heal and move on, and not remain mired in the past. You did the best that you could with the life skills and knowledge that you possessed at that time. Louise L. Hay has a great book, The Power is Within You, which teaches you how to forgive yourself and others and not repeat destructive patterns of your past. She recommends saying to yourself, “I’m doing the best that I can and even though I’m in a pickle now, I will get out of it somehow, so let’s find the best way to do it.”
Forgiveness is the first step to change. Understanding and love come after this, so that destructive patterns of the past can be altered or eliminated.
Justice, Not Revenge
A great life guide is the Law of Karma, which is the law of cause and effect, not punishment. It parallels biblical verses, such as “What you sow, so shall you reap,” “What goes around comes around,” and The Golden Rule. If your gossip and actions cause misery for others, do not be surprised when misery comes knocking on your door. Allow karma to do its thing, not you.
When someone has dealt you a cruel blow, do not plot revenge. You have heard of road rage, where people want to dish out revenge on the spot, sometimes with fatal results. It is karma that will come back to you and not add to your happiness. Think of the cliche, “It’s like water rolling off a duck’s back,” and let those insults roll off of you. It is not worth having a stroke or a heart attack to prove that you are right. Your body responds to thoughts and images as if they were real. Save your health and realize that they are the ones with problems. Use this affirmation: “Divine Justice is doing Its work in this situation now.”
You attract what you are, not what you want. If you want to be around positive, kind people, then be that yourself. If we do not change, then our problems stick with us. When people move across the country to get away from problems, in reality they are packing these woes with them. Life will keep repeating the same experiences or types of relationships until we master that lesson and move on. Here are some questions to ask yourself: Do you accept personal responsibility or is it always someone else’s fault? Are you focused on spiritual growth or selfish gain? Are you ruled by monetary goals and instant gratification? Do you learn from your personal history?
Helion Publishing produces wonderful credit card-size cards of information on many different subjects, such as karma, and even reflexology, that can act as daily reminders to support positive behavior.
Like Attracts Like
If you want to know what someone is really like, look at his friends. There is truth to the saying “Birds of a feather stick together.” Post-divorce, if you meet a guy, but he has friends who are disrespectful of women or animals, take a step back and think again. This bloke may be covering up what he is really like in order to get closer to you.
Naomi was dating this very nice PhD-bound student from a loving family. She could just imagine them as in-laws and kept making excuses for some odd behaviors from her boyfriend. When Naomi pointed out discrepancies (lies), he always had a reason, and usually it was someone else’s fault. Then Naomi took a hard look at her boyfriend’s buddies. Some were out picking up girls while in committed relationships. She met his mentor professor, who was so into hardcore porn (before the Internet), that it slowly dawned on her what was transpiring, as her guy became more belittling and worse. It was difficult, but she broke up with him and learned to check out the people around potential boyfriends. Are they ethical or jerks? Is there an acquaintance that puts you off a bit? Maybe there is a darkness inside of him that attracts the same type of friends. Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby) stated, “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” This is an important concept for post-divorce dating.
Another post-divorce dating concern is this: Do you follow a pattern of being with the same type of guy? Is your soon-to-be-ex similar to former boyfriends? Deidre’s father was a sociopath and she married one as well. Deidre’s former fiance also had his issues and problems. Sociopaths can be quite charming, yet are manipulative. Her friends gently suggested that if she decided to date again, to be very careful and possibly see a counselor.
A woman I met during my divorce recommends that divorcees wed widowers who have been happily married. As a veteran of a contemptuous divorce, she remarried one of these men and said that they “don’t carry all of the baggage and bitterness” that many divorced men do the second time around. An added bonus is that she is not drawn into a battle with any exes. Juliette, a charming southern belle in her 60s, echoed this same sentiment. Juliette is blissfully wedded to a widower, who had been happily married the first time around.
With Toxic People, Just Say “Good-bye”
You are more vulnerable during divorce and when recently divorced, which may affect your judgment. You should always feel free to avoid or limit contact with people with whom you are uncomfortable. “Forensic Files” on TV is full of true stories about people who were too polite to say good-bye. If you feel awkward around someone, then do not let them into your house, as one sister-in-law did. The brother-in-law killed her, with her two young children present. She had previously told many people, including her parents, that she felt unsafe around this man. Another case was about a high school honor student who accepted a ride with a neighbor and never arrived home. Do not waste time or energy talking to these toxic people. It is not worth your safety to be polite.
Unfortunately, I fell into this same trap. I had a professional relationship with a couple who did not have any children and I felt especially sorry for the female. She and I had lunch, even though I did not really like her. Then she and her husband started buying small gifts for my sons and wanted to present them in person, at kid-friendly cafes. My kids were polite, but did not want contact with this couple. I was in a bad marriage, so was very vulnerable and not making the best decisions. When I finally figured out what this couple was really like, I broke off all contact, and my children were relieved. If your intuition tells you something is not right with very needy or friendly people, keep them away from your kids. I was too trusting of people during my divorce and recently afterward, so keep this issue in mind.
If you are hanging onto too many people, whom you only see out of habit, you may not have room for more meaningful relationships to enter your life. Limit your time with energy vampires who drain you, and spend it with positive people instead.
Accept your parents and move on with your life. Many of us seek in new relationships what we did not receive from our parents. In British Psychologies magazine, Nicole Prieur writes about this issue. She states that when we are small children, we base our preconceptions of the world from what we received and did not receive from our parents (such as attention, love, and having basic needs met). “What did my existence mean to my parents?” affects all areas of our adult life, particularly at family gatherings.
As part of getting unstuck, we go through the “anger stage.” We realize that our family is not perfect and they that will never be able to meet all of our needs. Nicole Prieur states that the next stage is “adolescence,” when we push hard to get our needs met. Some people never move on from this stage, going through life demanding that friends and partners give them what their parents could not. I have met plenty of elderly boys still stuck in this stage. The third stage is when we learn to “accept that what we did not get as children, we are never going to get from our parents,” so we should stop being angry with them. Nicole Prieur writes that we take on “family pressure” to be the good girl, or to be able to take over the family business. Part of becoming adults is to realize that we cannot satisfy our parents’ ambitions and must do what is best for us. We have to overcome any feelings of guilt in not becoming what our parents had in mind. By becoming free, truly being what we want to be, then we can appreciate what we did get and learn from our parents.
You can change your reactions and behavior, not someone else’s. Refuse to participate in old childhood patterns. If the same arguments erupt, remove yourself by taking a walk, or change your response. Try being nonchalant like, “Yeah, perhaps I do,” and change the subject. Act bored or laid back, so the family sees that they cannot get a rise out of you. Make a joke or bring humor to the situation. If things are truly awful, simply leave.
This article has been adapted from The Women’s Holistic Guide to Divorce ©2013 with permission from Sunstone Press.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, Neuro-Linguistic Programmer, and hypnotherapist dedicated to guiding women through divorce. Her personal and professional experiences have provided Wendi with insight into the benefits of collaborative divorce and mediation, as well as the effects of divorce on children. Her website is: www.womansguidetodivorce.net.