A huge part of divorce healing is personal growth. Truthfully, it’s probably the biggest part. For each of us, that can look different but the continual goal is getting emotionally healthy. Coming from a dysfunctional and emotionally abusive background, I had to look back at that abuse to be able to move forward and find out what my “assertive rights” were.
Besides letting go of the past and embracing the future, I had to learn a few other things as well.
5 Emotionally Healthy Things I’ve Learned
1. I can’t make anyone happy but myself.
I know I’ve tried. Tried to please my mother, my family, my husband, and especially my kids while they were growing up. But I’ve learned that trying to make everyone happy makes me very unhappy (physically sick actually). Trying to please everyone, pleases no one.
Each and every one of us is responsible for our own happiness. If someone is unhappy then it’s not my job to try to make him or her happy. If I’m unhappy, I’m responsible to change that feeling about myself. And only God can give each of us pure joy, that’s not found on earth.
While married most of us found happiness trying to please our husband and children. But after divorce, turn your focus from the life you had with your husband to things like ministry, connecting your children (if they’re open to that), other personal interests, or the little things in life to find happiness again. These will make your life happy, and others can benefit from that as well.
2. I’m not perfect and never will be.
If you were around many years ago, I wrote an article about letting go of perfect. Although it was part of my divorce healing, after a blog audit a couple years ago, I decided to delete that post (and many others). Although I try to do everything I can, through God’s strength, sometimes I have to let go of things. I have to rest when I’m trying to do too much (when there’s still is a ton more I could do). I have to forgive myself for not getting things exactly right. And I have to accept that I will continue to make mistakes (especially typos) in the future as I continue to learn and grow (sanctification while walking in my purpose).
We all want to heal and thrive after divorce. But even when we get there… we won’t be perfect! We’ll still make mistakes, we’ll still experience the occasional divorce pain, and we still won’t like the fact that we’ll always be a “divorced woman” (even after/if we remarry).
3. I can rock the boat and things will be okay.
I don’t have to walk on eggshells to keep people in my life. I can have a conflict with someone that I love and if they’re willing and able, we can work things out. Healthy relationships grow through conflict. Unhealthy relationships seem to get worse, toxic people discard us, or we may need to separate from them to remain emotionally healthy.
The extent to which two people can bring up and resolve issues is a critical marker of the soundness of a relationship. – Dr. Henry Cloud
Also, I no longer live in fear to rock the boat with my ex. I say what I need to say with my assertive voice, and allow him to be angry if he needs to be. I’m not in control of anyone’s feelings but my own. And like I’ve said before because I’m prepared for court (I have my binders ready and I document everything), I’m not afraid to return to defend myself either. Sometimes this is just a part of the process of parenting after divorce.
4. Don’t compare your pain or healing to someone else.
I learned this early on when I was walking with my late friend’s mom. I would say “I’m not hurting as bad as you are…” And she’d stop and correct me… “we’re both hurting!“
I find myself saying this often after a woman will tell me, “I shouldn’t complain” or “It wasn’t as bad as…”
If I drown in 500 feet of water and you drown in 50 feet of water, does it matter since we both drown? – Jen Grice
We’re all drowning! We’re all going through a divorce. We’re all going to walk, embrace, and experience this journey differently. Some of us might find it easy to get distracted. But we are going to heal in our own time. There may be many similarities (that’s what I share on this blog) but we’re never going to be exactly the same. And that’s okay! We can still walk this road together.
I have walked with ladies who married a year after they divorced. I’ve walked with ladies who are divorced for the second or third time. I’ve walked with ladies who still years after their divorce are struggling to survive. We’re all divorcing and healing and growing… and that’s all that matters.
Never compare your journey with someone else’s. Your journey is your journey, not a competition. – Unknown
5. Stop apologizing for being you.
These are the things that divorcing and healing women say,
“I’m sorry for writing so much.”
“I’m sorry for venting to you.”
“I’m sorry for asking you.“
“I’m sorry for bothering you.“
I know I’ve said the very same things! But what someone else really hears is, “I’m sorry for being me. I’m sorry that I’m going through this. And I’m sorry for asking for your help. Everything is my fault!”
I don’t think any of us “want” to be going through this. That’s what I mean by “unwanted divorce.” We may need to be right where we are because of the choices of our husband (or ex-husband) but we definitely didn’t marry, just to divorce. That’s why I keep writing… because each and every day there are many more women, just like us, who are experiencing this unwanted divorce and unsure what to do next.
Furthermore, Sister, I know you’re not perfect. Remember I’m not either. And neither is divorce. It’s messy and hard. And I totally understand!
Instead of apologizing for being you and being where you are, try saying, “Thank you for understanding.” But don’t apologize for needing help. That takes courage and strength to ask… be proud of yourself for taking the steps to find your healing.
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Still feeling stuck? Like you’re not thriving after divorce?
Look for these things…
Are boundaries in place with all people in your life, especially unhealthy, dysfunctional people? Are you walking on eggshells with someone who you’re afraid to confront, that you need to confront about their choices or behavior? (Remember after divorce, your ex-husband should be in God’s hands to change, not yours.)
Dealing with toxic people can be especially hard if they’re in your work or home environment. Do you feel like you’re taking care of someone who can take care of him or herself but refuses to? Or constantly asks you to? Are you afraid to set up clear boundaries and stop enabling someone who’s using you?
Are you working on your personal growth after divorce? How are you becoming emotionally healthy? Any other things you’d like to share?
God bless your healing journey,