Divorce is difficult at the ‘best’ of times. Even when a couple makes a combined decision to divorce, it can be extremely trying.
What happens if the decision is one sided? What happens to the party who can sometimes feel blind-sided by one person’s decision that they no longer want to be a part of this union?
Been there, done that. Only I wasn’t the one who made the decision to leave the relationship. It was my ex-husband’s decision. Okay, I helped him make the actual decision to leave (he didn’t have much choice), but the result was the same. Feelings of “what’s wrong with me?” are abundant.
So here are some things that will help you to get your self esteem back after a divorce:
1. Talk to someone.
The first step to resolving those feelings is to talk to someone. Bend a familiar ear…be it biased or unbiased. Whether it’s to a trusted friend, or to a counselor, getting it out verbally is a great start to regaining your sense of self.
2. Be Honest.
If you decide that you’re going to seek help from a counselor, make sure that you tell the entire truth about what you’re feeling. Be as honest as you possibly can. How can a counselor do his/her job properly, if you’re not completely honest?
Regardless of what you tell a counselor, he/she is not there to judge you, merely to listen and to offer some constructive unbiased advice if necessary. Not criticism, just advice.
3. Keep a Journal.
Writing down what’s going on in your head is also helpful, weather you choose to do that via paper journal, or online journal, both are helpful. I find that using an online journal is much easier, as I don’t write nearly as quickly as I type.
4. Get to know yourself again.
It’s typical to lose oneself during the course of a relationship. I know I did! So after my divorce, I took some time to get to know “Me” all over again. Do whatever it is that you love to do! If you enjoyed snowboarding before you were married, get back to it! If you enjoyed knitting, put aside some time to do that. Read some good books, enjoy spending time with new friends, go away for the weekend, go and be you!
5. Don’t let those negative feelings back in.
Once you’ve written down feelings that aren’t positive (“I hate him/her. I can’t believe that he/she did this to me.”) in a journal of some type, you’ll notice that if you go back and re-read those bad feelings (and we all do it at least once), you’re mentally and emotionally back in that place all over again. Re-reading the ugly details of my divorce for instance, used to put me in that mood all over again (I’ve since tossed that journal). So my advice with regard to writing down negative feelings, is to write them down, then discard them. Tear them up, burn them, whatever it takes, but don’t let those negative thoughts back in.
6. Meet some new people.
When couples divorce, there may be a feeling amongst some of the friends of that couple who feel as though there is a need to take sides. You may find that you will need to meet new people, and take a step back from that even for a short time. Get yourself some friends that you and your ex don’t have in common. My ex and I used to work in the same industry, and as a result, we shared a lot of the same business colleagues. So as soon as our relationship ended, I started my own business doing something that wasn’t related in any way, shape or form to what he does for a living. I feel like a zillion bucks.
7. Find new interests.
The next step to rebuilding your sense of self-esteem would be to find some new interests. Find something that makes you feel good/better about yourself. Kickboxing. Kickboxing is an amazing way to get rid of certain frustrations, AND introduces you to a new sport (I brought a picture of my ex to my kickboxing class, and taped it to the heavy bag.). If you enjoy being outdoors, you might consider joining a running club, a rowing club, or anything else that allows you to be outdoors while meeting new people.
8. Make peace with yourself.
Understand that what happened, for whatever reason that it happened, is done. Over. Let it go. Move on. Whatever kind of bitterness that may have existed when he/she left, is going to have to get lost or it will get in the way of your true progress. I know. I did it. Get past it. How do you ‘get past it’? By doing these nine steps.
9. Accept the fact that things happen.
No doubt about it. Bad things happen to good people, and vice versa. Stuff happens more often than it doesn’t. Nothing we can do about it. Can’t control it. Can’t keep it from happening. Accept it. You’ll feel better for it.