Whether it is cordial or tumultuous, a divorce is a physically, mentally and emotionally draining process. You have invested time, resources and feelings into the relationship, likely over years, and to see it fall apart before your eyes can be gut-wrenching.
Some assume that once they are through with the legal process, they can finally have relief from the stress of it all. But often, the aftermath of divorce brings feelings of emptiness, confusion and despair. Without deliberate action to get out of this stagnant state, your life could be in a stalemate for months or years.
Here are five things you can do to reinvent yourself after divorce and give you are fresh start in life.
1. Change Your Surname
You may have taken your spouse’s surname or chosen a hyphenated surname when you got married. After the divorce, perhaps hearing people call you by that name reminds you of the broken relationship and brings back memories you would want to put behind you. In that case, you should consider reclaiming your maiden surname.
The Deed Poll can help, and is the easiest legal way to change your name. There are two types of deeds – unenrolled deeds for minors and enrolled deeds for adults. You will need the latter. Thereafter, your new name can be entered in public records. The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl can guide you in this process, as well as the many other legal aspects of divorce.
When people exchange wedding vows, they anticipate a happily-ever-after. Nobody gets into marriage looking forward to a messy divorce. Any way you look at it, it is a loss and there will be grief. You may regret something you did or didn’t do, or wonder if there was anything that could have saved the relationship.
Instead of losing yourself in the “what-ifs,” you should make room for grief. Process the pain by mourning the loss. Release pent-up feelings of disappointment in healthy and productive ways. It is an important step to healing. Don’t be afraid to reach out for professional counseling if you need help navigating this process.
3. Reconnect With Who You Were
If you were married for a long time, it is likely you may have, over time, giving up some of the things you used to love to do. This usually happens when you are trying to fit into your partner’s life, to minimize conflict, or because of new responsibilities in the family unit.
Maybe you loved going out with friends, but your partner was a homebody. Perhaps you were a fan of the theater, but your spouse had a deep disdain for it. Think about what you loved to do when you were single, but lost in the years of being married. Getting back to your old interests is vital to reinventing yourself.
4. Discover a New Self
A silver lining of divorce is that you are now free to try things without worrying about appeasing a partner. It could be as simple as a new hairstyle or trying a new sport. The shift may also be as elaborate as going back to college or moving to a new city.
Of course, divorce does not imply you can throw caution to the wind and live as you please. Chances are there are still a lot of things that determine what you can do and where you can go. These include your kids, your career and your budget.
Still, there are always activities within reach that will not disrupt your core obligations. You may not be able to make all the changes you want to, but you can still make a change. As long as the changes you choose are constructive and healthy, they are key to opening a new page.
5. Dare To Walk Alone
Being alone is not synonymous with being isolated or shutting the door to the outside world. On the contrary, it means not rushing into a new relationship. In decades past, society frowned upon singles and there was pressure to couple up as soon as possible, so as not to be the odd one out.
It’s a markedly different social environment today. The world is more accepting of singles. Sitting alone in a restaurant no longer raises eyebrows. Take advantage of your new status and exploit new opportunities for social connections. This is a time to form new friendships and join groups that are aligned with your interests.
You Can Start Small
No two divorces are the same. Some couples were married for decades and others for only weeks. Some couples have children together, and others don’t – or have an empty nest. The divorce may have been one partner’s idea or it could have been a mutual agreement between the two people.
However, you got to your divorce is not as important as charting a new way forward. Figure out who you are, what you want and where you want to go. You will not have it all figured out on day one, but it is important that you start making these changes to reinvent yourself and enter this new phase of life with positivity and hope.