Last night I spoke with several other women about divorce as a young mother. With the exception of blog posts I have written here, it was the most I had talked about divorce aloud in what seems like ages. Seeing my name flash across the screen identified as a “divorced at 22” was surreal. This was my life. This is my life. Later I reflected on some of the things that I said and also things that I wish I said. I thought of the things I would have wanted someone to say to me when I was going through a divorce and I thought about what things made the most difference.
Later I stumbled upon an article on The Huffington Post. It touched upon 5 of the worst mistakes people make during a divorce. As I scanned them I thought of some of the things that I did right. Because when you are going through a divorce it’s easy to think about all of the things you did wrong. People are quick to point them out for you and oftentimes we can be pretty hard on ourselves. Then there are some things I wish I did differently, primarily the freaking out part (#4). My biggest fear was that my child would pay for my poor choices but I quickly learned that I didn’t have time to sit and worry. I had a life to live and create for me and my child. Today I am sharing 7 of the best things you can do for yourself during a divorce. There are lots of great things you can do but these are the things that helped me.
7 of the Best Things You Can Do for Yourself During a Divorce 1 of 8
Click through for 7 of the best things you can do for yourself (and your children) during a divorce.
Remember your worth 2 of 8
Realizing my value saved me from making poor choices during the divorce process. It allowed me to stand my ground and do what I knew was right for me and my child. It allowed me to carry myself with dignity and respect, not succumbing to hurt or anger and it allowed me to move forward with my life carrying myself in a manner that had she been more aware, my daughter could be proud of.
Don’t isolate yourself 3 of 8
During my relationship and marriage I isolated myself from my family and my friends. When I was going through my divorce I wanted to do the same. I wanted to hide from the world. I didn't want to deal with people asking me what happened or saying that they told me so. I didn't want to share my story. I felt like I was walking around the world with a divorce stamp on my forehead. But slowly but surely I ventured out into the world. I hung out with people who loved me and my daughter and was reminded that I wasn't alone. We were not alone.
Do your homework 4 of 8
Navigating a divorce can be difficult no matter how old you are. I read and asked questions and made an effort to understand the process. If you aren't sure about something get help. While talking to people who have gone through the process can be helpful I wasn't going to allow a divorce to be the end of my story but rather a turning point. And in a sense it was. I closed one chapter in my life and continued onward.
Don’t freak out 5 of 8
Yes, two parents is the ideal situation. And the world does a pretty good job of letting you know that. In fact, they might even assume if a parent isn't in their child's life it's because you are withholding them. And while that might be true for some people that isn't the case across the board. If you are in a situation where your ex can't or won't be there don't beat yourself up. It's easy to wish that you didn't do things differently but if you didn't you wouldn't have the gift and honor of being a parent. There may be some challenges that come forth out of the lack of another parent but your child isn't doomed because they are being raised by a single parent.
Bite your tongue 6 of 8
Resist the urge to bash your ex. Regardless of how accurate it is or isn't they were instrumental in creating your child. Not only that but they are a part of your child which means having ill feelings towards them could impact the way your child sees his or herself.
Set goals 7 of 8
I became a mama on a mission. I identified goals for myself and started executing a plan to get there. I was determined to ensure that my baby had a chance. She deserved that and regardless of how people felt about my decision to end my marriage I deserved a chance too.
Make your child’s childhood a good one 8 of 8
While working on my graduate degree I remember working on a project. It was related to foster care. I read a campaign for an agency that noted the fact that children only had one childhood and something along the lines of making it a good one. Those words have stuck with me. I am sure there will be things that my daughter didn't like about growing up. She will remember things that I wish played out differently but I hope those things don't overshadow the fact that I did everything I could to ensure that she got the opportunity to be a little girl and experience being a child. Her job is not to worry about her parents or why one parent made the decision that they made. Her job is to be well vested in the art of being a kid. Our children are little for such a small amount of time. It is important that we let them be little.
I believe as I do some additional reflection there will be other things that come to mind but as of now these are the things that were on my heart. It is so easy to buy into the lies, it is easy to be laden with worry but don’t be so consumed with worry that you aren’t able to see the beauty that still abounds in your life. It’s there not only in the faces of your children but inside of you inside of that heart that refuses to give up and be defeated. A heart that may have been deeply hurt yet continues to beat for the sake of its’ babies, for the sake of itself. Divorce may be a part of your story but it isn’t your whole story. For 5 of the worst mistakes people make during a divorce visit The Huffington Post.
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