Resilience After Divorce
I don't think I will ever forget that night. The night my husband came home, looked me in the eyes and said, "I never should have married you." He had given up on fighting for me and for our marriage. I drove home that night, having frantically called my parents and sister.
It was all so surreal. The grief and pain shook my body with sobs that felt other-worldly. My hands struck the steering wheel over and over and over again. By God's mercy I made it home that night, and after spending a sleepless night on the couch, I went back to where my husband slept in our house, in our bed.
When I curled up next to him, I asked, "You're really serious, aren't you? You are done."
He just nodded.
And so that was it. Without another word of discussion he packed and left.
There are no words to describe the heartache that accompanies your husband telling you that you don’t matter.
I don't have the magical formula that when applied to a hard thing, like getting divorced, will make it all go away. But what I do have are six different aspects of resilience that I believe can help you navigate this mess of LDS divorce.
What is resilience?
A quick internet search shows a whole slew of definitions for resilience, but for this post regarding LDS divorce and resilience, I will be relying on the George Mason University's Resilience Model (Source)
By their definition, resilience is "the capacity for successful adaptation in the face of stress, challenge, and adversity."
Life after divorce is an adaptation. You have to suddenly plan a day, a week, and a life with the prospect of never having a partner. Being resilient after an LDS divorce is not just moving forward, but moving forward with faith. Fortunately, we have a loving Savior who is always at our side and will be there in each component of our resilience model.
This aspect of being resilient is the ability to see the silver lining, or being grateful for what we have, despite the world around us falling apart. I am a major supporter of feeling your feelings. Anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and joy, are important to keep us functioning. At the center of staying resilient through LDS divorce is keeping a positive attitude. President Hinckley once said: “Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.” Look on the bright side of things, even if the bright side is a tiny sliver.
The friends and family that stood around me during my divorce have become treasures in my heart. I could NOT have evolved into the strong, resilient woman I am without them. However, I recognize that some people don’t have the benefit of a good social circle. To them I say, do your best to make one. Getting outside yourself and making friends is probably not the best advice you want to hear right now, but I promise it will help .
Meaning in Life
LDS divorce rips away hopes of a future with a family. One day you’re arranging furniture together and the next you are selling the furniture to pay off debts he left you with. To be resilient through divorce means to have a testimony that this trial will make sense, even if it does not make sense right now. It means exercising faith and remembering that God has a plan and you have meaning, despite your marital status. Just like the Primary song testifies, “My life is a gift, my life has a plan, my life has a purpose…”
Everyone copes differently. For some, endless spiritual study helps. For another, working out to stop thinking gives the comfort and peace needed. Resilience means knowing what you need to do to feel whole and doing it. I won’t recommend what you do, because you have to learn what works for you, but I will recommend finding a good therapist. Find a counselor or a trained professional to aid you in sorting through the emotional pile of mush we call grief.
Your mind cannot be whole if your body isn’t. A resilient person takes care of the temple God gave them. Getting enough sleep , eating healthily, and getting exercise sound like simple things, but when put together they form a powerful antidote to grief, anger, and loss. I have noticed my anxiety and depression is the worst when I am not taking care of my body.
I am going to put one more commentary on this physical being section. If your ex-husband dealt with a pornography addiction, you must learn to appreciate the body God gave you. Your ex-husband might have refused physical contact with you because he wasn’t attracted to you, but that’s on him. You are attractive beyond your body.
What resulted from that September night was lost sleep, weight gain, out of control spending habits, no self esteem, and an undeniable amount of resilience. I look back on the girl that tried to breathe as she signed the papers that told the court her husband didn't love her, and I'm proud of her.
Look at what she has done. She went on a solo trip, she made amazing friends, she rediscovered her love of theater and writing. She quit a job that wasn't giving her joy to find a career she loved. She became the confident daughter of God she was always meant to be.
I am proud of me.
I still have my weak moments. These last few days have been rough. But I cling tight to the faith I have and I know that those around me, my friends, family, and God, do love me and will be there for me.
So what does all of this have to do with resilience?
It is because of resilience that I was able to do everything I needed to.