Divorce at midlife is tough. For years, many women were left to feel that it was their fault and that they didn’t deserve a chance to start over.
As a divorce coach, I have seen a shift in this antiquated mentality. While hard feelings may linger, not all divorce after-effects are bad. Once the heartbreak subsides, divorce can actually liberate you.
Midlife divorce made you a survivor. And survivors can do anything.
Divorce is considered one of the most stressful events in your life. While most of us wouldn’t wish it on anyone, consider this: you have made it that nightmare, and you are a survivor.
Many of us don’t give ourselves enough credit for surviving the divorce trauma, but think of the incredible things you accomplished. You navigated the legal labyrinth and did not get lost. You held your head up high even during your most painful moments. Although you did not know it, you were performing crisis management, continuing to carry on with grace.
If that isn’t facing your fears and proving you can do anything, I don’t know what is. You demonstrated to yourself that nothing is insurmountable as you continue to move on with your life.
Midlife divorce has given you the gift to rediscover who you are.
Many of us tend to view divorce as a loss—loss of security, loss of the partner and life we thought we knew, and the loss of identity. But divorce can actually be a gift because it gives you a chance to really discover yourself.
As you part from that part of your life as a spouse, you have a chance for introspection that you never had when you in a couple. Being on your own will give you the chance to examine things you unlike ever before.
What were some of the things in the relationship that you did not like?
What were the things you did not like about yourself during the marriage?
Were there certain parts of your partner’s behavior that you will not tolerate in the future?
Now that you can look at the relationship from an outside perspective, you have the gift of understanding yourself better—knowing what things in a relationship cause you stress or anxiety, what makes you angry, and being able to identify what will be nonnegotiable in a future relationship. You have an awareness that will prevent the same unhealthy patterns and dynamics that occurred previously.
Midlife divorce has given you a second chance at life.
When we feel devastated, it is easy to forget that we are actually given a second chance. It can be difficult to regard divorce this way when we are heartbroken, but it’s essential to remember the opportunity it has given you.
Whether you wanted it or not, divorce allows you a do-over. It gives you a myriad of second chances that you never imagined possible: to be happy again, to be independent and answer only to yourself, to grow and challenge yourself, to understand yourself better, and to define life on your own terms.
It’s not to say that accomplishing these things had you stayed in the marriage would have been impossible, but life after divorce accelerates this opportunity, pulling you out of your comfort zone.
So, while many may think that their divorce after age 50 is a huge loss to be mourned, it is important to remember that it is actually the chance to liberate yourself. You are a survivor who can do anything. You now have this incredible gift of introspection that can serve as a guide if you let it. And you are given a second chance at life that many others long for but may never receive. Embrace your gifts of divorce freedom. The best years of your life are waiting.
Martha is a divorce coach who writes regularly over at Surviving Your Split. Another version of this piece was originally featured there.