3 Important Life Lessons I Learned From My Divorce

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Life Lessons For Coping With Divorce & Moving On From Heartbreak
Self, Heartbreak

If you're getting a divorce or going through a difficult life transition, there are some important life lessons you can take with you that make the heartbreak easier.

Learning how to move on after divorce is a big step, whether you've just made the decision to get a divorce or you're struggling in other areas.

Relationships are often fragile and breakups can be devastating, and you need to rely on your own resources to bring you through.

RELATED: What To Do If You Feel Stuck In An Unhappy Marriage With Kids

The good news is that often times, life lessons can even come from other sources, and learning from other people's decisions can help empower you to make your own.

Believing you'll be OK and that there is something better awaiting you helps to get you through, along with leaning on your life lessons.

For those who know me or have been following my journey, you know that I have been through a lot of transitions in my life, including divorce — twice. As I look back on those times, I realize the life lessons learned from divorce have served me well.

They came in handy as I faced the loss of my parents (I considered my mom my best friend and I was definitely Pop’s little girl), the loss of a dear friend (whom I thought of as my oldest brother) and two of my three real brothers within a few months of each other.

I relied on my lessons again when I was unexpectedly laid off from a long-time career, forcing me to dig deep and re-evaluate. They came in handy when I chose to reinvent myself for the next chapter in my life, too.

I thought if I wrote about the lessons from my divorce, they would serve as a reminder when I face my next major transition.

They may also help you in your personal journey through a divorce or some other life transition, too.

It is clear to me now that many of these lessons from divorce are common sense.

As I was going through my own personal traumas, though, none of these lessons were in my consciousness — some were not even in the realm of possibility at the time.

Here are 3 lessons you can learn from divorce to help you through any major issue in life:

1. You are not designed to suffer major life-events alone

The last thing I wanted when I was going through a divorce was the company of friends and family. I certainly didn't want to reach out for professional help. I actually kept the news of my separation from husband number one from my family for six months.

All I could do was cry and feel really bad about myself. I didn’t want to share my grief and despair with anyone. If I kept to myself maybe I could deny what was happening. I didn’t want to talk about it because I would have to face the reality of my situation.

So I buried myself in my career every day, pretending to be fine, then came straight home to the emptiness of the apartment and my lonely, broken heart.

The same questions repeated in my head: What did I do wrong? How could I have saved my marriage? What is wrong with me? How will I ever be able to trust anyone again?

I finally realized I was getting nowhere trying to answer those questions on my own. Have you ever felt tired of being tired? That’s how it was for me. I also was tired of lying to myself and those who cared about me. It was at that point I had to open up to receive help.

That was hard and it took me to the brink of depression but, I finally reached out. First to a mentor who helped me figure out how to break the news to my family. Next, I shared the news with my family (most of whom were very supportive). My friends became my safety net.

Finally, I found a professional coach/therapist who helped me realize there was nothing wrong with me and that I was not alone — that lots of people have gone through a divorce and survived, even thrived.

I felt an enormous weight lifted from my heart as I got the support I needed. As I began to sort through my feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness, I found more people to talk with who knew what I was experiencing and who assured me it would not last forever.

I began to believe I was not alone. This life lesson learned from divorce is the most profound and useful lesson of them all.

2. There's no shame in divorce

Being divorced once was bad enough to admit. The last thing I wanted was to tell people I was divorced twice. Consequently, I stayed in an abusive second marriage for five years longer than was best for me.

It was difficult enough to come to terms with the infidelity of my first husband. Facing the truth that I was an abused woman by my second husband was impossible at first.

To start, I endured verbal and emotional abuse. I knew it was wrong and it hurt to the core but I just did not have enough self-esteem to believe that I could make it without him.

There are a lot of things that went on in that relationship that make no sense to me now. In fact, I can’t even really explain what I saw in him.

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At first, I blamed myself. Finally, I realized it was all him. I don't know where I found the courage to call the police when he confronted me with a knife. That was my turning point.

There was no going back. I recognized that I was living in a toxic relationship, totally devoid of respect and common decency. For my own well-being, I had to make a change.

Whether you spend too long in a bad situation or it has just started — if it is not going to get any better and you know this in your heart — get out.

It took a long time for me to learn this life lesson from divorce. My friends wondered how I was able to stay under those conditions for so long. I learned the hard way that there's no shame in divorce.

The shame is in not having enough self-respect and self-worth that you continue to live a life that you don't deserve.

You deserve the best this life has to offer. And it's time that you start to believe that.

3. You have to recognize there are things not in your control

I’m not proud of this but, I spent years trying to change things in my life that were not in my power to change. And what’s worse, I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

I tried so hard to change things to get a different reaction or outcome and nothing changed. He didn’t have any more respect for me no matter what I did.

It didn’t matter how nice I was to him, or how far out of my way I went to do something I thought he would appreciate, or how much money I spent trying. Ultimately, the final outcome was always the same.

In an effort to save the second marriage, we agreed to go to counseling. Sometimes together, which was a disaster — he either lied or said what he thought the therapist wanted to hear.

The therapy really helped me when I went alone, though. It was in one of those sessions that my therapist said to me, “What makes you think you can turn an apple into an orange?”

That hit home — hard. I realized I was trying to make him and our life together into something that it could never become. It was a waste of my time and energy spent on a fruitless mission. And I was losing myself in the process.

Today I like to remember a prayer my grandmother taught me when I was a little girl. I wish I'd remembered this while I was so busy trying to change things so my second marriage would not end in divorce.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

May you live your life from this moment forward in serenity, courage, and wisdom.

If you're struggling with a decision to divorce or have already made that decision, or there is another major life transition that is weighing heavily on you, remember that you don’t have to go through this difficult journey alone — reach out for the support you need.

Don't feel shame because you deserve better. No matter what your story is, you deserve to be happy. Only you can make the choice to live that way.

If you're working yourself to the bone trying to change things that aren't in your power, let it go. Find your own serenity, courage, and wisdom and decide to live your life on your terms and by your own core values, not someone else’s.

When life events knock you off your foundation, what lessons have you learned that can support you now? If you’re not sure what they are, ask for help so you can unlock your inner wisdom.

RELATED: If You Want To Get Over The Heartbreak Of Divorce, You Need To Learn How To Find Yourself

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María Tomás-Keegan is a certified career and life coach for women, and the founder of Transition & Thrive with María. If you’re ready to explore how change can impact you and how to move through it with more dignity and grace, get her free ebook From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition now.

This article was originally published at Transition and Thrive With Maria. Reprinted with permission from the author.