We’re embarking on the hardest time of the year for those who are going through a marriage separation or have recently been through a divorce. Everywhere we turn we’re reminded that our family used to be a unit of love and support, yet now we’re alone or just feel that way.
Our first Thanksgiving dinner was with friends at a local Mexican restaurant. Turkey and all the fixings weren’t on the menu. Unconventionally, I had fajitas and my son had fish and chips (french fries – not even a little bit authentic 😉 ). Our friends paid for our dinner knowing I was struggling just to keep up with my phone bill, car insurance, and my rent was due on December 1st.
Giving thanks is hard during this time, especially when you have a lot on your mind and so much has been lost. I don’t doubt you totally understand what that feels like right now.
I’ve been there too.
Focus your mind.
During this time, it will be easy to think about what should have been. What you’d be doing if this or that hadn’t happened. If it weren’t for the divorce, where you’d be and who you’d be with. You might even want to entertain the ideas of “I wonder where he is? Who he’s with?” but I promise you those thoughts won’t make any of this easier for you. In fact, it makes it worse.
I spent many holidays separated from my (now ex-) husband. That’s because his affairs often took center stage over our lives. It was like he wanted me to always be thinking or obsessing over him. Hardly seems healthy, does it? That’s because it’s not!
But that all changed the day my divorce was final. After that, my focus was me, my life, and my children. I didn’t have to think about him unless I wanted to. And I didn’t! I don’t! My world doesn’t revolve around him… so neither should my thoughts. Neither should my words.
My “biggest struggle” was no longer “him” but how to heal after divorce and reclaim my life again. Even this blog is not about him. It has nothing to do with him! This is about me (and you, divorcing or divorced woman) learning to survive and then thrive after divorce. I write to proclaim redemption so you know it’s available for you too.
I think it was in a Celebrate Recovery meeting that I learned, part of codependency is obsessing over someone so much that we neglect our own self. That we don’t talk about our own healing because we’re so worried about his (or hers) – what they’re doing or how they need to change. During this time you must train your brain to focus on you and your life forward. Because honestly, you’re the only person you have control over.
[You might also enjoy (we talk about codependency + moving forward in healing): Explaining Hidden Abuse | Interview with Shannon Thomas]
Finding things to be thankful for.
In hard times we often forget to give thanks for what we have. It’s very easy to look at our current circumstances and believe that they’ll never change. But they will! Every single divorced woman alive has made it through this time and so will you.
When we stop focusing on him, or even our circumstances, it becomes easier to stay focused on the good in our life. When we expect good things to come out of these bad circumstances, that is hope. When we decide that we’re just as important as anyone else, deserving of healing, we start to heal. And when we create emotional boundaries, to protect ourselves from those who want us to obsess over them or to continue to try to hurt us, we start to live in freedom and peace.
Write it out.
In my Christian Women Surviving Divorce support group (for active email subscribers), I’ve encouraged members to write out what they’re thankful for every Thursday in a thread. I think when we force ourselves to look for things we’re thankful for, we’ll find them.
This is also why I’ve used a journal to process through my entire separation and divorce. There were very hard days when I couldn’t find a single thing to be thankful for. Most days I would force myself to think beyond the injustice I saw going on. But now looking back, not only do I see where my life is so much better, but I see all that I have to be thankful for.
God provided when I didn’t know how we’d make it. God protected when I felt very unprotected. And God instructed, guided, and kept His promises. He has promised to do the same for you. That right there is something to be thankful for. Write it out even if it hasn’t happened yet.
This won’t be easy but I promise it will be worth it! Life biggest transitions never are, easy. But taking little healing steps each day will lead to a thriving life again… someday.
[You May Also Enjoy: Surviving the Holidays During and After Divorce]
Be thankful for even the smallest things. What do you have to be thankful for right now?
May God bless your healing journey,