Divorce Recovery: Moving on And Letting Go

Submitted by: Shelley Stile

The clients who come to me for help in letting go and moving on after their divorce discover that acceptance, a mandatory step in divorce recovery, comes in two stages. First we work to be in acceptance of the end of our marriage and then we move on to accept what our life is now, in the present. This second step in the acceptance process seems to be the more difficult hurdle to overcome but it can be overcome successfully.

Accept the Fact that the Marriage is Over

Acceptance of the undeniable fact that our marriage is over must be fully integrated into our psyche for us to be able to create a new life. We need to look back over our marriage and see exactly where we have confused what actually happened with our own personal interpretation. All too often our interpretations of the events of our marriage are simply not true, not factual. Our deep hurts have a tendency to cloud our thinking and limit our perspective.

Be Honest with Yourself

Separating the facts from our biased interpretations will allow us to stop blaming our ex as well as ease our resentments. We also learn how to see that any marriage, no matter what may have occurred, is a product of two people, a mutual creation. Even if one of the partners was unfaithful or deceptive, we must begin to see our part in the collapse of our marriage because only when we can stop blaming and take responsibility for our part, do we take back our power and our ability to move forward. If we are honest with ourselves, we know where we could have done things differently.

Accept Your New Life

Now comes the even more challenging step in acceptance: acceptance of our new life. Once the fact that we are divorced sinks in, reality rears its so-called ugly head. We start to really understand what our life is now that we do not have a partner. All too often, we react with fear, anger and resentment.

Resentment of the Day-to-Day Responsibilities for the Children

There are many common issues that arise amongst my clients. The number one item seems to be the day-to-day responsibilities for the children. Why am I the one who has to handle everything and he gets to play with them every other weekend? I have to do it all: school, homework, discipline, doctors, dentists, conferences, carpooling, groceries, cooking, cleaning, you name it! Then Dad shows up once a week and every other weekend and it seems like its all fun and games. This is unfair.

The List goes on and on and on…

No more regular outings on Saturday nights. There is no one to share household maintenance. Your finances now are solely under your control and for many of us that seems daunting. No more extended family. The holidays loom before us and we are lost. Mutual friends fall by the wayside. Need I go on?

Finding your Hidden Reserve of Strength

This is where the real challenges arise and this is where we learn about our hidden reserves of strength and how much we have learned and grown from the entire experience. There is no doubt that it is hard and seemingly unfair. But guess what? That is the true nature of life. Life is not always a bowl of cherries, quite the opposite. Life is chaotic and there is constant change, oftentimes not to our liking. Life is not always fair. Life just is and we simply cannot control what life throws our way; we can only control how we choose to handle it. This is a fact of life that we must accept in the depths of our very being.

Make Choices

What to do? There are real choices in front of you. You can continue to fight against reality, a reality that you cannot change. You can resist what is for what you think should be and suffer immeasurably. You can remain rooted in your past, a past that no longer exists, and within that past you will continue to be in pain, blame and resentment. Just envision banging your head against a brick wall because that is exactly what you will be doing.

Either You Resist What is or You Accept this New Landscape

You can surrender to the flow of your life’s direction instead of swimming against the current. You can let go of all the things that keep you stuck and chained to your past. You can choose acceptance and with that choice, new possibilities will begin to open for you. You can choose to look for what might be right and what might be opportunities in this new world.

Focus on What is Important

Take for instance the overwhelming responsibilities you now have. Perhaps you are one of the women out there who work and have kids. As an aside, I know that in most cases, you had the bulk of the responsibility during your marriage so things are not that much different. But that being said, start to prioritize. The house is no longer going to be sparkling clean. The kids may have to learn to do their own laundry. There won`t  be home cooked meals every night and guess what? Everyone will still survive and thrive. What is really important? The love and closeness of this new family unit.

The Opportunities Abound although it Might Be Hard to See Them

I know that when I divorced my kids took on more responsibility around the house and they not only rose to the occasion but they are the better for it. I marvel at how they adjusted and simply went on with their lives. Mind you, my ex and I made a pact to get along and do whatever we had to for the kids benefit.

Our meals together were chances to bond. I learned to not sweat all the small stuff: I let go of my to do list and learned what was really important, which turned out to be one of the greatest gifts of my divorce. Our vacations together were wonderful and I have phenomenal relationships with my kids. I found a new career. I discovered who my true friends are and have made many new ones. I discovered reservoirs of strength that I did not know existed.

Either Go with the Flow or Drown in Self-Pity

Of course, it isn’t a bed of roses but neither is life in general, no matter whether you are married or divorced. I could go on about all the things within this new life that I am still wrestling with but hey, I wrestled with life when I was married! Life changes and you either go with the flow or drown in self-pity. It remains a matter of choice. It may take years, tons of effort and struggle but anything worthwhile in life takes time and effort.

Your Perspective will Change your Reality

You must drop unrealistic expectations that life should be a certain way and go with the way that life is. You must learn to change your perspective, embrace what is and choose to look at what the possibilities and opportunities are in this new world of yours. Remember that your perspective will not only change the way you think but it will actually change your reality.

shelley stilesShelley Stile is an ACC certified Divorce Recovery Life Coach and author who guides her clients to let go the pain of their divorce and move on to create new and vibrant lives after divorce. Shelley has been through her own divorce so she knows first-hand about the journey of divorce recovery. Receive her free, powerful e-book, The 10 Secrets to Coping with Divorce’, and her monthly ‘Take Back Your Life After Divorce’ Newsletter by going to: http://www.freedivorcesupport.com.


  1. 1


    “You can resist what is for what you think should be and suffer immeasurably.”

    This was a huge stumbling block for me. I spent way to long focusing on what life “should” be instead of working on building a life with what I had.

    It is an issue that is common for women whose husbands cheat or leave them behind for a better life. It is hard to let go of the life you’ve built because your spouse no longer wants to live it with you.

    None of us “should” have to do anything we don’t want to. But when life deals us that hand we need to be able to move into acceptance and recovery.

  2. 2

    Carrie says

    Accepting that I was no longer going to be married was my big first step. I had never seen my future that way. In fact it wasn’t until my father told me “Carrie, you have done everything you could do to keep you marriage together. There is nothing more you need to or can do.” that I finally came to a point where I started looking in a different direction for my life. I have come to learn that I can go with flow and don’t necessarily need to have a plan right now. I take care of the things I have control over and the rest will just have to take care of itself.

  3. 3

    Me & My Evil Twin says

    Hmmm. I definitely get stuck in the resentment towards having to take full responsbility for the kids while the ex goes off to play. On some days I feel accepting and think ‘this just IS so be grateful.’ But sometimes beneath it I feel anger moving. I know I can’t force my ex to be a part of my kids’ lives or take responsibility for anything. But the situation is so unfair – to both me and the children.

    Acceptance is a lot easier said…than done.

  4. 4

    weez says

    I have been divorced for about 4 months 7/2012. I am so miserable even though my ex did admit his wrong in all this. It’s so hard to move on because I have such strong feelings for him. We text each other every day. I know I will never go back to him but my thoughts are about him everyday and night. He continues to tell me that he loves me and that he regrets everything he has done to cause our marriage to end. I hate where I live, I miss my house, I hate not having a companion. When will this pain go away? I have gained so much weight because I’m so depressed. My doctor told me to seek therapy but I’m afraid to reveal my feelings face to face knowing I’ll just cry uncontrollablely. I know I need help.


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