Hi friends! If you are like me, you either went through a divorce or are going through a divorce...
In a nutshell, I was married to a United States Marine; I lived that military wife life, and although I didn’t love the structural circumstances all the time, I did love my husband, and life. So when my husband decided to leave, it was a low blow that took a toll on me. With that said, I learned a few essentials that are both important and personal throughout the process, and I just had to share.
1. You are of value.
I made this the number one nitty-gritty because it is so important. Divorce is one of those things that causes wounds in one, or both involved. When my husband said he was leaving me, he didn’t simply say, “because I don’t feel like being married anymore,” he continued by saying he hated me and that he couldn’t wait to indulge sexually with other people…I couldn’t understand why this person who I had whole-heartedly loved and followed all over the country (because he is a military man—and they PCS a lot), would be saying such harsh things to me...Why wasn’t I good enough?
The truth? Me thinking I wasn’t good enough was an internal lie that had to be stopped. The inner anger and issues that he hadn’t dealt with from a lifetime's worth of at home abuses from his childhood, and then the trauma he hadn’t addressed from the stressors of serving in the military had built up within him. His projection of hatred onto me, in fact, had nothing to do with me. His desire to find satisfaction in interactions with strangers had nothing to do with me. They were simply a projection of the undealt pains living within his unconsciousness.
National Certified Counselor Andrea Mathews says it like this: “The problem is that when people project their 'stuff' onto us, they tend to act as if their projection has something to do with who we really are.” However, in reality, it has nothing to do with who WE are, but simply an articulated “release from the prison in the unconscious” of the person projecting (Mathews, 2013).
Once I fully grasped this concept, I was able to begin my journey of renewed self-acceptance. That I am worthy of love. I am worth getting to know. I am worth hiking with, sexing and netflixing with, cooking pancakes on a Saturday with, and so on…and, guess what?! SO ARE YOU.
Here is your task, friends: take these three quotes, print them off, and stick them on the mirror. Read them out loud to yourself every morning and accept your worth and accept your awesome!
“I, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve love and affection.” —Buddha
“I find self-worth within myself, not through others.” - Anonymous
“My crown has been bought and paid for. I will put it on my head and wear it.” - Dr. Maya Angelou
2. You are in charge of your own happiness.
Another struggle I had throughout my divorce was the fact that my husband had placed the responsibility of his happiness within my hands. He told me, “you make me unhappy.”
The truth? He was on his third year, and final stretch, of recruiting duty when he decided to leave. If you know anything about this type of work, then you understand it is incredibly demanding. So first of all, I made sure to ask him, “How can I play such a huge role in your happiness when I never see you?!”
This was a valid question. He left at 6:30 AM and didn’t return home until 9 PM. In our house, this was six days a week. Then on Sundays, he sat around getting drunk and playing video games. There was zero interaction between us as he actively disengaged the second he arrived home...The first two years he complained incessantly about how unhappy he was within his job; unfortunately, within the third year, it seemed he blurred his unhappiness with work and grouped me right in there with it. He associated his circumstantial unhappiness to every area of his life.
Again, after talking this through with a few key players (both professional and relational) within my life, it was absolutely clear to me that we are each solely responsible for our own happiness. I may not like how someone acts within a particular situation; however, how I choose to respond is up to me and me alone! You may choose to say something mean to me, and it may hurt my feelings – but that doesn’t change the fact that I choose to put a smile on my face every day regardless of your disapproval. Make sense?
Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D. says it like this: “A person who has taken personal responsibility recognizes an all-important truth about happiness: your happiness depends much more on your attitude than it does on objective, external circumstances” (Raghunathan, 2011).
So, keep smiling sunshine! You may not be able to control the attitude or circumstances of your spouse and divorce – but YOU CAN control YOUR attitude throughout the process.
3. Set a personal goal.
One thing that I really helped me through the process of my divorce was goal setting. I set both small tangible goals as well as long-term goals—all of which I have either completed or am still in the process of completing. Obviously take time to meditate on what you would like to focus on as you want your goals to be an added joyful distraction to your life, not an additional stressor.
For example, I became a certified fitness instructor, I began my master’s degree, I started my own online personal training business, and more. I am an entrepreneurial, active, innovative individual, so these projects have provided me with fresh perspective, the opportunity to meet some incredible people, and the level of distraction needed to stay busy while the legalistic side of my divorce was slow moving.
Gianna Rose from livestrong.com says it like this: “Goals play a significant role in success, and they provide a means to measure progress along the way. Goals increase self-esteem, productivity and commitment.” Goals can also help reduce stress (Rose, 2015).
So, dear reader, please know that I can TOTALLY relate to the desire to stay in bed and watch “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce” on Netflix all day (… because I did this a couple times for sure), but I encourage you to take a day or two to write out some dreams that you have had for a while that you may have had to put on hold because of marriage and family life. Focus on turning those dreams into goals. What little steps can you take each day to work towards accomplishing these goals of yours?
I believe in you! So keep waking up, dressing up, and showing up! Know your worth, take charge of your attitude, and start workin’ it like the BOSS you are.