3 Hard Lessons I Learned From Being On The Loneliest Side Of Divorce — Twice

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When I was a sophomore in high school, I was battling acne and schoolwork like it was my job. I had no idea that I'd be facing one of the hardest years of my life until the day my mom and dad told me they were going to get a divorce. I'd suspected it would happen eventually, but it still came as a shock as I sulked back up the stairs to my room, ears ringing with the consoling words all parents know to say in this situation:

It's not your fault.

It'll be better this way.

We'll be happier.

Of course, those words mean nothing to a 16-year-old girl whose life just fell apart. Divorce meant two Christmases, two birthdays, two houses. Two lives. I couldn't even understand how different my life would be at that moment; I only knew that I couldn't easily hold on to both my mom and dad while they lived miles away from each other. We were now a broken family, and I could feel my heart breaking, too.

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Skip to my college graduation. It was the first time since the divorce that my parents were together — and happy! But I noticed that my sister seemed upset. Her husband hadn’t been able to attend the ceremony, or a lot of other events lately.

A few months later, she was living back at home with my mom and me filing for a divorce. I felt the world fall apart and our family shrinks again. All I could do was just sit with her while she cried. When the divorce papers were finally signed, we had to pick up the pieces that her ex-husband left behind. She lost her house, her best friend, and the hope that marriage was worth it. And I thought I lost my sister.

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Although divorce is a difficult situation all around, I learned some of the most valuable life lessons because of it.

While everyone has their own experiences and struggles with divorce, I hope that these lessons I learned from my experiences can help you reunite with your broken family.

1. Don’t be afraid to act broken.

Divorce isn’t only a plot for weird sitcoms. If your loved one has undergone a divorce, however recently, it’s OK to be sad, distressed, or overwhelmed.

Those feelings are not reserved for any one person, and you should feel comfortable enough to share these feelings with your loved ones. Having an open discussion with a close friend or relative who is not directly impacted by the divorce can be a great way for you to release some of those emotions and learn to cope with them.

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2. Find your new “normal” — and fast.

Finding a new routine can make a huge difference in your emotional state and that of your loved one who’s divorced. If your parents have separated, make a schedule that works for you to see them regularly and offer it to your parents. If your friend has gotten a divorce, then consider inviting them to events and outings that they may not have attended when they were married.

The most important thing is to not let life stop because of a divorce. Continue reading, watch movies and hang out with friends on the weekends. If you still find yourself struggling to adapt to a new normal because of your loved one’s divorce, then consider getting professional help from a licensed therapist or psychiatrist. They may be able to recommend alternative ways to adjust to your new lifestyle, such as meditation methods or taking medications.

3. Keep listening.

As someone close to the divorcee, you should always lend a listening ear. Remember that everyone reacts differently to divorce and may not be as willing to talk about their divorce openly, though.

Divorce is likely the most painful and challenging experience your loved ones will face in their lifetimes, so be respectful. Don’t assume you know what’s best for them. Instead, listen to their complaints and worries with an open mind, allowing them to come to terms with the divorce themselves. Be a friend, and you might start feeling better about the divorce as well.  

Meaghan Summers is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, and relationship topics.