How to Heal from the Pain of Divorce and Learn to Love Again
16 Feb 2016
2005 was the most painful year of my life. My daughter had just turned one when I found out that my husband—who I had been separated from for four months, with a faint hope of reconciliation—was about to have a baby by another woman. Words can’t express how devastated I was at his admission of an affair during our marriage. I felt like I had fallen into a black hole and wasn’t sure if I would ever get out. I likened the pain to having your insides gutted to the point where you could barely breathe. When I got married, divorce was never an option. And it was now to become my reality.
Eleven years later, I look back on that time in my life and am grateful for the many lessons it taught me about life and love. I’m finally at a place where my heart is open to love again, and thanking God I didn’t run into an “angry Black woman” which I’ve come to realize is really a “hurt Black woman who is just afraid of being hurt again.” How did I get through the pain? I had to look deep within and do the work.
Prayer and Mediation. I can’t say enough about this first step. As I was wading through my pain and going through my divorce, I listened desperately for God’s voice. Even with all the support of my family and friends, I know this was one situation only God could make right. I believe that, sometimes, God allows pain into our lives to bring us closer to Him and help us realize that He has everything we need, and is the provider of all that we want. In those moments of pain, I asked God to keep me from becoming bitter and instead make me better. He is faithful to His promises.
Keeping It Real. As Iyanla Vanzant says, “You can’t heal what you won’t reveal.” So many of us go through pain and refuse to admit it or dig deep enough to find the source. I couldn’t afford to mask my pain—I had a daughter to raise and she would be watching my every move. I took the time to ask God to reveal to me the source of my pain and why I had attracted into my life a man who couldn’t love me the way I deserved to be loved. The answers weren’t pretty, but they were powerful. In those revelations, painful as they were, I had to:
Take Accountability. It takes two to tango. Yes, my ex had cheated on me, but I had to take accountability for my own actions in my marriage. When I took a good look at myself, I realized that I hadn’t been the best wife, although I believe I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. But I would never get past the pain if I didn’t shoulder some of the blame for where things went wrong in my marriage. I had been so caught up in portraying a happy, trouble-free marriage, that I hadn’t bothered listening to the warning bells which signaled that our marriage was anything but.
Write it Out and/or Talk it Out. I have always found writing to be therapeutic. There are just some things you can’t say to anyone else, but once you write it down, you release it and gain much-needed clarity. I wrote a lot during this period and also sought out counseling. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often, someone else’s objective perspective can make you see your situation in a new light.
Forgive. This is probably the most important step. Nelson Mandela once said that holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Considering that the rate of divorce in second marriages is 67%, I believe that many of us enter new relationships without having truly forgiven our exes—or ourselves—so that we can move on healed, happy and whole into the healthy relationships God wants for us. Without this step, you’re bound to continue bringing extra baggage into future relationships. I’m happy to say that being able to forgive my ex- (and myself) and move on, has allowed us to re-develop a friendly relationship for the sake of our daughter and has brought me peace.
I’m so glad I took the time to do the work. My life has been better for it and my future relationships will benefit from it. And now, I’m no longer afraid to let the right kind of love back into my life.
What steps have you taken to heal from a divorce?
Learn more about how my marriage and divorce made me better instead of bitter in the life-changing book I co-authored with my sister, Whose Shoes Are You Wearing? 12 Steps to Uncovering the Woman You Really Want to Be