5 Ways Divorce Helped Me Reinvent Myself — Into A MUCH Better Person

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Love, Heartbreak

Trust your intuition in times of transition.

According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, divorce is second to "death of a spouse" on the list of 43 life events that might cause illness.

It makes sense. In the wake of my divorce, I struggled to take back my self-image, my creativity and passion for my own life. I needed to find the key to reinventing a life that I didn't plan, but have now come to love

Here are 5 ways divorce helped me reinvent myself.

1. I listened to the voice of my own intuition.

When he first left, the silence was so profound. I couldn't hear anything but the sound of my own grief. Even though a huge part of me wanted to give up, go back to bed, and pull the covers over my head, a much stronger voice refused to be still and wanted to pursue a new life, even though I had no idea what that life would be.

2. I found my own career path.

I always wanted to be a mom, and in most of my marriage that was my job and source of joy. But I did dream of doing other things. I'd written on and off for years, eventually writing a whole novel that got rejected by several agents and publishers.

Whenever the subject of writing came up in a group, I'd hear nothing but negativity. I was told over and over that I'd never make a living doing that. I was grateful for my husband's support and that I had his income to fall back on, but in the wake of my divorce, that was gone.

And yet, something inside me refused to give up on that dream. With the help of my kids, and a few friends, I found my courage and kicked caution to the curb. Flash forward to today and I just released my sixth novel.

3. I started to take things one step at a time.

After the divorce was final, I had a tough time moving on not knowing what was to come. I'd have panic attacks and became overwhelmed by making decisions for the future. So, I just stopped thinking about that.

I learned to not think past what had to be done on a particular day or the next hour. I took things one step at a time. I was ruthless with myself and after a while, being present and on-task became a habit. Whenever I begin to feel isolated and overwhelmed, I remind myself that I only have to take the next most logical step.

4. I became an investor in my own future.

I've always been pretty good at managing money, and until the divorce I believed I was financially secure. But I wasn't. The retirement and savings were gone along with the husband. It was scary.

Being of a certain age, it wasn't as if I had years ahead of me to replace such a sum working an 8 to 5 job, assuming I could find someone to hire me. But as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

I started watching programs on investing in the stock market. I read books. I learned everything I could about investing, and once I felt confident in my understanding of how stocks and mutual funds work, I opened an account and began trading. Me! All by myself. And guess what? I made money. A good return.

It was amazing to me. I couldn't have imagined doing such a thing while I was married. Now I imagine, and act on, all sorts of dreams and ideas that occur to me.

5. I figured out that there's no end to what I can accomplish.

There was a dream I once shared with my ex-husband. It was to build a house in the country one day, where we could raise chickens and vegetables and sit on the front porch listening to the wind blow. I thought that dream was gone with him when he left. What I've learned since is that I can actually implement any plan, live in any way, and soar to any height.

When that became clear to me, I began dreaming again of land in the country and the adorable cottage I'd build. And I built it. I've not looked back since. The biggest gift of reinvention that I've found on this unchosen but richly rewarding journey is that to dream is to be engaged with life, to set events into motion, and it's inevitable then that one adventure will lead to another.

Barbara Taylor Sissel is the bestselling author of Crooked Little Lies (Lake Union Publishing, August 1, 2015). Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and BarbaraTaylorSissel.com.


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