Moving on seems so much easier when you can say with confidence that your ex is an asshole. But what happens when he’s not, and you still have to say goodbye? Reinventing yourself after divorce when you’re still in love with your ex can make you doubt yourself and your future.
No matter how long it has been since your relationship ended, when you think about what’s next your mind can’t help but wonder what it would’ve looked like (dare I say, should have looked like) if your partner had stayed in the picture. Your Limited Mind (your thoughts attached to the physical world) laments the loss of what you perceive to have been a fantastic partner. Your Expansive Mind (your highest wisdom) knows it is time to move on. This tug of war between the two parts of you is exactly what’s got you stuck.
Reinventing yourself after divorce when you’re still in love with your ex, however, is absolutely critical to your overall wellbeing. Develop these seven thought habits to create your path forward faster and healthier.
one Give credit where credit is due
The fact that you haven’t fashioned a monster out of your spouse means you’re not a monster either. Give yourself a pat on the back for being the kind of person who can keep your eye on the good in someone even while you’re in pain.
A whole host of emotions crop up during the grieving process. Most of them are unsavory. No matter what comes up for you, however, you have the truth of your ability to love, in all conditions, as an underpinning for who you are. Remember this is one of your strengths moving forward and you’ll be able to capitalize on it in a myriad of contexts.
It’s much easier to build on what works well (your compassion and insight) than try to fix what doesn’t (hard feelings or frustration).
two Not but…AND
When you lose a wonderful someone you give up more than your day to day life with them, you sacrifice your envisioned future together. Most of the triggers for your pain come from a, now impossible, imagined “someday.”
Reinventing yourself after divorce when you’re still in love with your ex is a hard process to begin if your heart yearns to include your past lover. If an ex-shaped hole arrives in your vision of what’s to come gently remind yourself using the word “and” that you’re moving forward without them.
“Yeah, butting” on your progress negates your growth. Instead of, “I know I’m moving forward but I wish I he were here with me,” use “I know I’m moving forward and I wish he were still here with me.” Create space for BOTH realities (the sucky and the not-so-sucky) so your consciousness can catch up to the fact that you are (even without them) moving forward. Before you know it, the “I’m moving forward” will move from a wispy thought to a powerful feeling. The ghost of your ex will appear as fond memories rather than a longing for his presence.
three Focus on today’s dynamic
Yesterday you met each other’s needs. Today you don’t. Yesterday the future required your partnership. Today it doesn’t.
Priorities shift, personal needs emerge, purpose begs for attention and the consequences of answering these inner imperatives (or not) invariably changes people. Evolution is as necessary as it is inevitable.
The fact that you’re divorced means that one of three things happened:
~ Your partner grew over time and you didn’t
~ You grew over time and your partner didn’t
~ You both grew over time in different directions
Sit in that reality for while. When one or both of you grows your ability to meet each other’s needs changes. Is it really hard to let the new, differently focused person go when you realize that you no longer serve each other’s highest good?
Focus on today; it’s the only real space and time you have anyway.
four Own your shit (and your shinola)
Now is the perfect time to take an inventory on both areas of improvement as well as your badassery. (Hint: emphasize your badassery)
Take a look at what changed in you over time:
~ Were you once excited about life and now it feels like a drudge? Find your spark.
~ Were you once quiet and reserved and now you enjoy socializing? Get out and socialize more.
Remember to take stock of what has continued to improve as well:
~ Have you become more patient over time? Congrats! That one’s a bitch!
~ Do you feel like you empathize more after going through some shit? That goes in your toolbox too.
Let me remind you of this oh-so-important factoid: you are an incredible person, 100% on your own. That has always been true and it remains true as you look forward.
Look at what you’re doing right now…this very second. You’re reading this article. That means that you already ARE moving forward on your own. You already ARE reinventing yourself. Even if you did enter this phase of your life under protest, kicking and screaming, you already ARE in the throes of your new journey!!
Own your shit and embrace your shinola because you are 100% enough.
five Be patient (like I said, this one’s a bitch)
With a renewed focus on you and your future the new patterns take time to cement within you. Give them due course and allow yourself some backslides too. Let “Progress, not perfection” be your new mantra.
You’re leveling up in life. While you’ve garnered the skills you need to do better and be better they’re going to take some practice. There’re no guarantees where the future is concerned. Stay present to what you have now. After all, “now” is all you ever really have anyway.
six Get to the root of anger
Anger is not only the second stage of grief, she is a deceitful conniving manipulator!! Did you know she’s not even really “Anger” most of the time? She’s unaddressed frustration, fear, confusion, loneliness and a whole host of hurtful emotions. Anything that hasn’t had it’s fair share of your conscious focus and intent to heal will eventually come out as anger.
The thing is…one day you’re all, “I’m still in love with my ex.” After taking some steps into your empowerment, however, you start to see that your former life partner didn’t always act like he was on your team, or seemed to have ulterior motives, or (on some days) must’ve been a goddamn alien from another planet because who was that selfish asshat walking around in the body of the one you love most?!
Anger allows you to put some distance between you and your pain so you can move toward acceptance. Although it’s useful, don’t let it redefine your entire experience. Find that unresolved feeling and deal with anger at the root. You’ll help yourself through this rough patch AND prevent future anger from rearing it’s ugly head.
seven Clean house
Literally and figuratively clean house. The plethora of benefits from being in a clean home are enough to get us scrubbing, polishing and donating. The effects of a clean home when in the process of reinventing yourself after divorce, however, are really a metaphor for your fresh start.
When you want something new in your life, you’ve got to make space for it.
~ Does the new you enjoy tea instead of coffee? Donate the coffee maker and buy a tea subscription.
~ What if Queen You is ready to write that book, screenplay or blog? She need some space that isn’t filled with memories of all her old roadblocks!
~ Doesn’t Future Entrepreneur of the year deserve a new office where the muscle memory to make lunch for the fam doesn’t take over? Hell yes, she does!!
Make a promise to yourself, right now, that you will cherish, relish, and nourish another person in your life that you love…YOU. Declutter your actual house. Dust out your emotional house. Overhaul your social house. Detox your body’s house, too, while you’re at it. Like a sculptor passionately carving away the irrelevant bits of clay you are a genius hard at work creating yourself as the masterpiece you really are.
Reinventing yourself after divorce when you’re still in love with your ex is not an exercise in futility. It is absolutely achievable. You will come out the other side of this mess with a better understanding of yourself and you’ll feel more empowered than ever to navigate change in your life (even when you wish you didn’t have to).
If there’s still more bitter in “bittersweet” than there is sweet Download The Squeeze right now to help you manage any anxiety that crops up. It’s my favorite go-to practice when I start spinning and my first recommendation for people who can’t shut their brains off at night. Lemme know what you think!
Triffany is a certified professional life coach who helps strong women tame their inner hot mess. Start with the book F.A.I.L.* to Win: 4 Simple Principles to Get You Out of Your Own Way and follow up with a class. Everything you touch will get easier as you go.