Divorscovery: Redefining Yourself After Divorce
One of the most common questions we ask ourselves during the transition of divorce is also one of the most profound existential questions : “who am I?” At the beginning of life this question is hypothetical in nature, and over the course of the lifespan we collect information and evidence (consciously and unconsciously) to support that hypothesis. While asking the question “who am I” on a regular basis is highly beneficial for many reasons, most people go through life without contemplating or re-evaluating who they are within the context of their lives, and this is especially true in marriage.
More often than not, marital partners lose themselves throughout the course of their marriage. They stop growing individually, and merge into each other until each partner no longer knows where they begin and the other ends. As the “me” becomes “we” in a marriage, some sense of the self slips away. While there are the common and obvious losses of identity in marriage such as being single, many marital partners lose aspects of themselves without awareness. Often couples accommodate to their partner, giving up aspects of themselves to keep the status quo. One partner might become less social, or they might stop exercising daily because their partner doesn’t exercise at all. Slowly but surely, over time, each partner is only a mere semblance of what they once were.
Couples who marry young are at a particular disadvantage because the development of the self is in full swing from adolescence to one’s late twenties. While growth takes place across the lifespan, this period of life is pivotal in discovering who we are and what we desire. Getting married on the younger end of the age spectrum can stifle identity development paving the way for a full-blown identity (or mid-life) crisis later in life.
Fortunately, there are times in life where we are given the opportunity to re-define who we are and who we want to be. One of the most profound experiences of re-definition is divorce. Divorce is an amazing opportunity to reclaim the parts of yourself that were lost during your marriage, and to shed the identities that no longer serve you. You were single, then married, and now divorced. Each of these identities encompasses your own beliefs as well as society’s, but it is up to you to re-define them.
Re-defining yourself through and after divorce is not easy because the societal role models for people going through this life transition are extremely cliché and very uninspiring. There is the lonely cat woman, the destitute man who can’t even boil water, the bitter woman who has written off men forever, and the barrage of celebrities that make it seem like the answer after divorce is to hook up with a man half one’s age. It is rare to hear about people who embrace their situation as a life transition and an opportunity for personal growth, re-discovery and positive change.
Using the divorce transition as an opportunity for self-discovery will lead to a more positive attitude during this challenging time, and it will ensure that you move into your next relationship with complete authenticity.
Here are some questions to spark your renewed interest in yourself:
What do you like to do for fun?
What are some of your positive qualities?
Why do you feel people are drawn to you?
How would you describe yourself?
What is important to you?
What brings you joy and happiness?
What are your talents?
Your sense of identity during and after your divorce will shape and inform your experience of the world, and how you will move on with your life. While this process can feel daunting, it can also be fun and exciting. Give yourself permission to get to know yourself and to become your own best friend, and over time you will wonder why you waited so long.
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