By Stacey Freeman
Right after my husband and I separated a little more than five years ago, I began the arduous task of moving forward as a single parent of three without him. Married for 16 years and together for 24, I knew I had an uphill climb ahead of me since I never experienced life as an adult without him. Picking up the pieces was not easy, but I did it. Today, I enjoy a rich, full life. Here are a few things I did to get here, which you can, too.
1. Change your living space
As part of our divorce settlement, my ex and I agreed that I would continue living in the marital home until each of our three children finishes high school, or I choose to move sooner. Because I did not move to a different house and claim a new space for myself, I had to make changes in my current surroundings to reclaim it as my own. That involved cleaning out all of my husband’s personal items from the house, including his clothing and pictures that included the two of us. That was enough for me but if it is not for you, purchasing new bedding, painting, and repurposing a space that once belonged to your ex-spouse, such as a home office can go a long way toward giving you the clean slate you need to move forward.
2. Take care of your body
As you would add a fresh coat of paint to liven up a tired room, you can also make changes to your appearance. A divorce and the years leading up to it can be the source of a lot of stress, and the last thing we often feel like doing during those times is taking care of us. But sometimes tweaking how we look on the outside can be exactly the inspiration we need to get us feeling better on the inside. Depending on your budget and how much you are willing to try, you might want to consider updating your hairstyle, signing up for an exercise class, and making additions to your wardrobe (including new workout clothes). By doing both, you will look and feel better.
During my divorce, I began walking daily and working out, activities that today I attribute to saving my sanity, if not my life. Contemporaneously, I stayed on top of those “maintenance” appointments, which at first I found to be a chore but now view as my “me” time, which I deserve as well. If you do not think you have the time or money, remember, where there is a will, there is a way. Get creative if you must.
If you were a stay-at-home mom like I was, getting a job or starting a business is yet another way to build self-esteem while moving toward financial independence post-divorce. Do not feel discouraged if you have not worked outside the home in years, or about making a career change at midlife even if you have. I did both – I began working after years at home and made a career change. With hard work, creativity, and optimism, anything is possible. All you need to do is try. Guaranteed your efforts will be rewarded even if it is in ways you never imagined. Believe me when I tell you, the surprise is the best part.
A life change such as divorce is often the excuse we need to feel sorry for ourselves. A productive way to combat depression and feelings of low self-worth is to help those less fortunate than us, or someone who is in trouble, even if only temporarily. We all have gifts to give, despite feeling as though we have nothing left to offer. We do. You do not need to stray far from home, either. There are those in your community in need of something as simple as your companionship, a listening ear, and a warm smile. Doing for others is the greatest reward and a true expression of the love that continues to live in all of us. It is simply a matter of rediscovering that.
5. Take up a hobby
Have you always wanted to paint? Write a screenplay? Learn how to cook? Now is the time to try. Pursue those pastimes you may have been neglecting and give them a whirl. Though you may not become the next “Top Chef,” you will have fun in the process and learn what you like and do not. While you are at it, you may run into some interesting people along the way and make a friend or five, or meet your next romantic interest, which brings me to this.
Once you feel ready, consider dating again. Just because your marriage ended does not mean you will never find love again. Enjoy the process, whether you are using online dating to meet new people or traditional methods. Remember, dating is supposed to add to your life, not fill or detract from it. If that is what is happening, then you may not be ready. After soul-searching, I have come to view dating in this way. Though I would like nothing more than to find my next partner, after accomplishing the items on this list, I know I am capable of enjoying my life on my own for the time being.
7. Sell your ring
Sometimes material possessions are what keep us tied to our past. An engagement ring may be one of them. The unfortunate truth is moving on can also cost money. Consider auctioning your ring to help finance the changes you wish to make. Worthy offers precisely the secure online marketplace you need to turn your desires into reality by providing a platform where buyers can fetch the highest price for their diamonds from a pool of pre-screened buyers. By offering a free grading report from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Worthy can find its clients the best buyer within only seven days, meaning you can get started on building your new life today.
Stacey Freeman is a writer and blogger from the New York City area, a divorced single mom, lifestyle editor at Worthy.com, and the founder and managing director of Write On Track, LLC, a full-service consultancy dedicated to providing high-quality content to individuals and businesses. A respected voice for divorce issues affecting both women and men, Stacey has been published in The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, Town & Country, The Huffington Post, xoJane, Scary Mommy, The Stir, MariaShriver.com, The Good Men Project, and various well-known platforms worldwide. Stacey is frequently called upon for her expertise and insights on the divorce experience and has repeatedly been quoted in The Huffington Post’s divorce vertical. Stacey holds her B.A. in English, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University at Albany and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law. Email Stacey today at Stacey.Freeman@WriteOnTrackLLC.com or call 800-203-1946 for a free consultation and proposal. For more information, visit www.WriteOnTrackLLC.com.