How to Thrive After Divorce
The first time I went to Thailand I was running away from a marriage that had gone horribly wrong. The second time I was running from my divorce. This time I was just there. Healthy. Whole. Curled up in a lounge chair by the pool reading my guilty pleasure, a trashy romance novel. Five years ago, I honestly wasn’t sure I was ever going to feel normal again. I didn’t know if it was possible for a day to go by when I didn’t think of “him.” I was consumed by guilt and if only. I wanted my life back so badly that there were days I thought I would scream with the unfairness of it all. I wanted to move on, but I didn’t know how.
My answer was to travel. I escaped into the backpacking world of Southeast Asia for seven months. I drank too much, slept with way to many boys with accents (it’s a weakness) and danced away many a night on the beach. I saw incredible sunrises over ancient ruins in Cambodia. I spent ten days at a silent retreat in Thailand searching for answers. I scootered through rice paddies in Vietnam, marveling at the beauty of our world. In the end I returned home still not fully healed, but closer then when I started. Over the next few years I read every self-help book I could find, saw a therapist, traveled more, journaled, meditated. It seemed like for every step forward I would take two more back.
I didn’t know it would be so hard. I was determined to learn from my divorce. To make it a positive experience and to become a better, stronger, more independent person. I had good days and bad, but I always focused on my goal. This last week as I looked up from my novel and breathed in the salty ocean air I had one of those moments when my body relaxed, and I was infused with a sense of genuine peace. I looked around and thought, “All is right in my world. I am alright. Actually, I am more than alright. I am amazing.” I couldn’t give you an exact date that it all came together. I don’t have an anniversary circled in red marked: “The day Julie was finally over her divorce.” It was a process. It took hard work and determination.
There were days of crying and screaming at the universe. Days when I wanted to give up and curl into a little ball in bed and never get up. Days when I was so angry at myself for not just being able to get over it and move on. Now, looking back at the journey, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am so proud of who I have become. When I was married I was one dimensional. I hadn’t lived life. I relied on my husband and the safety net of my marriage. Now, I’ve been all over the world. 68 countries to be exact. I have sat down with strangers all over the world. Hiked up snow covered volcanos. Trekked to Machu Picchu. Sailed around Italy for six weeks working as a nanny. Taught English in Taiwan. Been hit by a bull on the side of a volcano in Ecuador. Danced until sunrise at the Full Moon Party in Thailand. Written a book. Started my own business. Ziplined across a canyon in Bolivia. Packed up my car and drove over 1,700 miles from San Francisco to Austin by myself to start a new life.
I have become the amazing strong independent woman that I so desperately wanted to be. I don’t know where you are in your divorce journey, but I write this to encourage you. In the middle of it all I would have never believed that I would come out the other side. I want to say to you: Hold on. Keep taking those baby steps forward. It is a process—and often a really hard one, but it is so worth the reward. You will thrive. You will become the woman you were meant to be. I know. Someday (hopefully soon) you will have that moment when you look up and say, “I’m alright. Actually, I am more than alright. I am amazing.”
If you are struggling to move forward from your divorce just stop and take a moment to be grateful. I know it is hard, but think of five good things that have come from your breakup and then go do something really good for yourself. You will feel better. I promise. Baby steps. And I know you might not be feeling it right now, so I will say it for you. You are alright. You are more than alright. You are amazing.