All relationships require some kind of sacrifice. While you were married, you probably had to give up some of your dreams or activities you enjoyed doing. Add work and kids into the mix, and you can see how easy it is to feel like we lost some parts of our identity.
Believe it or not, there was a time that you enjoyed your life while you were single. So as painful as it is to break up with someone, there is something exciting about the opportunity to get to know yourself again. Let this not only be a time for grieving, but a time to reconnect with yourself.
Here’s how you start: take a pen and a piece of paper, and write down some of the things you enjoyed doing before you got married. This can be as extravagant as girls’ trips to Napa, or as simple as eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner without feeling judged.
If you’re feeling stuck, consider how you’ve been taking care of yourself. Are you buying fresh fruits and vegetables, or has it been a lot of fast food and take out? Are you going to the gym, doing yoga, taking time to relax? When was the last time you got your nails done? These things you do to take care of yourself aren’t selfish. Think about it: what is it costing you not to do these things?
Even if your life is pretty chaotic right now, it’s still important to carve out time to take care of yourself. I know that for many of you, your life still revolves heavily around your kids. Sooner or later, though, our children will leave us and start lives of their own. Let’s start resurrecting our hobbies now so that we don’t feel completely empty when our kids are gone.
I wrote on my list, for example, that I used to love riding my bike and going camping. After my divorce, I began to rediscover my passion for being outside. Because of this, I picked up backpacking.
Although backpacking seemed overwhelming at first, it was a beautiful surprise when I fell in love with being deep in the woods and challenging my body. Though backpacking, I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunsets and stunning landscapes I’ve ever seen in my life. That wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t willing to re-discover my hobbies.
When writing your list, include things you’d like to try that you haven’t yet (bonus points if it’s something that really scares you). Is it backpacking (good for you!), learning a new language, writing a book? Is it making time to reconnect with a friend you lost touch with? Is it taking yourself on a solo vacation?
A word on solo vacations – I highly recommend doing things by yourself. This doesn’t have to be a huge international trip, although it definitely can be if you have the means. You can plan a weekend at the beach by yourself, you can go to a movie by yourself, or you can take yourself out to dinner. Learn to love your own company. I promise this will make you feel more confident, capable, and empowered.
Divorce is a death, and you will likely go through a grieving process. You are allowed and encouraged to find things you enjoy that make the process less heavy.
Here is your homework: take a look at your list and choose one thing you can commit to doing this week. This might mean making a dinner reservation for yourself, going to get your nails done, pulling your bike out of the garage, or calling a friend you’ve put on the backburner. See what it feels like to take care of yourself in a positive way.
Although you might feel down, taking action toward something, anything will help you feel more confident and help you start falling in love with your life again.