Life doesn’t offer many guarantees, but one thing we can say, with certainty, is that we won’t exit this world the same person who entered it! Over a lifetime, an individual makes massive transformations in every conceivable way. We physically grow, develop, and age. We learn, adapt, and respond to our environment. We form relationships, cultivate interests, and become our own unique person.
No surprise, then, that we also change throughout marriage, and emerge as a different person by the time we may eventually divorce. If we are married even ten years, a decade in a person’s life should result in an individual who has experienced change. She certainly looks different after ten years, and thinks and feels new things after ten years of living.
I was barely 18 the first time I married. I was the youngest adult version of myself when I made that very serious commitment. I thought I already knew what life was all about; but, soon learned that there was so much I had yet to discover about myself and the world! During my seven years of marriage, we lived in three states, I worked and attended college, gained new skills and life experiences, met many people, tried new things, and became acquainted with myself as a woman.
When my husband and I divorced, I had nearly a decade of life under my belt from the time we were together. I matured, became wiser, and was definitely no longer the girl who became his bride. Divorce or not, I could never expect to be the same person from my wedding day to divorce court.
Divorce or not, I could never expect to be the same person from my wedding day to divorce court.
One of the most startling things many women discover when they divorce is that they no longer know who they are, let alone what they want out of life! We try to imagine what life was like before marriage and imagine that we will need to revert back to that life. Often, because change is so subtle and gradual over time, we don’t even consciously recognize the differences in ourselves that have occurred over the length of a marriage.
A glaring reminder of change is the fact that who we have become is no longer compatible with who our spouse has become. In marriage, we tend to either grow together or grow apart!
So, at the threshold of divorce, how do we come to terms with who we are now, all the new changes to our identity, and take the right steps toward our future?
No question about it, in divorce, change is the name of the game. Often, we change our last name, address, and many changes occur to our lifestyle. It may be easier to expect, even welcome the changes, rather than maintain a death grip over everything that was.
Do you feel compelled to retain your married name because of your children or because your career identity is attached to that moniker? Would you, instead, see changing your last name during the divorce as a way of being reborn with your own identity? There is no right or wrong answer. Simply consider the impact of your name, either way, in the workplace, conducting business for your children, and emotionally.
It’s normal to feel disoriented and unsure about everything during and after a divorce. It’s as though the puzzle pieces that make up everything about our life have been tossed in the air, and we’re now faced with finding them and putting them back together! Not every piece will continue to fit in our life. Some will make us sad to part with, while others will be cast to the side with relief.
Take your time to become reacquainted with the pieces that still belong in your life. You are not the same person you were when you married, and your individual identity is different than the one you created with your former partner.
When we date potential romantic partners, it’s essentially to get to know all about them so that we can determine how good of a fit they are for us. We also date to have fun and new experiences. So, if you’re feeling somewhat lost and unsure, start by revisiting hobbies and interests you have always enjoyed and ones you used to like prior to marriage. Why not make a sort of bucket list, as well, of things you have always wanted to do, then begin working your way through the list?
Take your time to become reacquainted with the pieces that still belong in your life.
It’s okay if you don’t immediately feel secure or content with the direction your life is headed. Like anything else important, it can take a while to find your sources of joy and inspiration and your own voice to sing with!
She is some of who you’ve always been enhanced with life lessons earned along the way. The good and the bad have combined to create strength and depth that simply wasn’t possible years ago or before your divorce experience. Embrace who you are, enjoy getting to know more about her and the journey ahead to many more amazing experiences!
Your relationship status and last name are only fragments of all that there is about you that make up your identity. Your identity also consists of what you love, what you do, and the mark you leave on other people and the world. The answer to the question “who am I?” will always be somewhat of a delicious mystery because as long as we have life to live, new pieces of our puzzle will continue to be revealed and celebrated!
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