Yes, There Really Is Life After Divorce...

It's been almost two years, but it feels like yesterday. My Aunt Randi was taking me to buy wedding shoes -- her gift to me.
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It's been almost two years, but it feels like yesterday. My Aunt Randi was taking me to buy wedding shoes - her gift to me. So there we are having a wonderful time chatting away in the car when my cell phone rang. It was my dad. He wanted to know (sort of kidding) whether, if I got two sets of dishes from my bridal registry, he could have one. He was in the midst of his second divorce and his ex took everything. I'm thinking - my dad? A successful periodontist and he has no plates? How sad is that? I remembered the pain I'd felt as a child of divorce all over again, but this time it was different.

It occurred to me then that divorcees should have a gift registry just like people getting married. They lose half of everything they own. Everybody in their circle feels bad for them. They want to do something to help, but what? I'm thinking, why not help them rebuild?

As a young divorcee with two little boys, Randi had her own long struggle to rebuild her life while keeping her children intact. She and I continued to talk and share our ideas about helping divorcees and realized there was a need for a community beyond a gift registry. There was a need for a site full of articles and forums designed to enlighten and lighten up the day, to share practical tips, resources, and current expertise on a variety of relevant issues.

We know that few people want to publicize the fact that they are getting divorced. As common as it is, we still attach a bit of stigma to a "failed marriage." No one storms into a store and says, "I'm getting divorced and my ex took the furniture so I'm here to buy a new couch," or "My divorce was just finalized, help me find a new wardrobe." Or into a bank and says, "I'm in the middle of a divorce and I need my own checking and savings accounts." But why should anyone have to be ashamed or embarrassed by going through a divorce? Perhaps if society recognized divorce as an equally life-changing event as birth, marriage, and death, it would lessen the feelings of shame and embarrassment felt by so many.

If those going through divorce could instead focus on the positive, they could take back their lives in the same way Randi and I have. So here are five tips we developed to help them get started!

  1. Channel that positive energy: It's easy to get swept up in the emotional rollercoaster of divorce and the uncertainty it brings into your life. How will I support myself? What will this do to my children? I can't even imagine having to date again. Will I ever get through this? You WILL get through this, but you have to take it one day at a time. Stop asking questions you have no control over answering. Instead, start each day with a positive ritual, whether it's an early morning workout, a long walk in your neighborhood, or 30 minutes of journal writing. For me, it was schoolwork. I found my positive energy in studying, getting good grades and getting into a top university. Randi found the positive by spending quality time with her children. Find something that works for you and brings a dose of positive energy into your day.

  • Focus on the love you do have in your life: Your family and close friends are there for you and want to help. Sometimes they just don't know how. If it's a shoulder to cry on or a divorce party to celebrate your newfound independence, let them know. If you want a girls' night filled with wine, pints of ice cream, and lots of venting, invite them over. It could be as simple as opening a divorce registry so friends and family can help you replace some of what has been lost. You might have just lost one of the longest relationships you have ever had, but your family and close friends love you. When my home life fell apart, my friends became my family. They still are. Focus on the strength of these relationships to carry you through.
  • Call it by another name: Divorce is not a personal failure. Start thinking of your divorce as a new beginning, a rebirth, a renewal, a reinvention of yourself. Think about who you were before, who you want to be, and what you want out of life going forward. Then go after it! Walk away from the door that's closing and through the door that is opening. There is new life on the other side. Divorce represented a new life for both of us, a life where we were in control, could make our own decisions and reconnect with our friends and family in ways we never imagined could be possible.
  • Don't lose sight of you: Whatever you might lose during the divorce, don't lose yourself. If you have always been the kind of person who takes the high road, don't stop now. Take the time to think about who you were before the breakup of your marriage...before you became lost in the world of divorce papers, attorneys, child support, etc. What did you like about yourself? How would others describe you? Don't compromise who you are. Staying true to yourself will help you get through the divorce in one piece. If you have children, there is no better message to send than the importance of staying true to who you are in hard times.
  • Revamp, rejuvenate, and rebuild: Realize that it's OK to take the time to focus on you! For years, you have been taking care of someone else and acting as the glue that holds your family together. You deserve a break. Do something for yourself. Do everything for yourself! Think carefully about what it is that you have always wanted to do or improve in your life. What do you want to revamp? Rejuvenate? Rebuild? Start small by indulging in a spa treatment or cleaning out your closets. Then expand. Perhaps you've always wanted to start your own business, remodel the kitchen, lose twenty pounds, or take that trip to a foreign country. Now is the time! Make these three R's part of your daily, monthly, and yearly routines to ensure you regularly spend time celebrating yourself.
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