I was 47 when my divorce occurred. Not 50, but by the time the divorce process had resolved itself, I felt closer to 70. I learned very quickly that handling stress during my middle years was not as easy as it had been in my 20s or 30s. I just didn’t bounce back the way I used to.
I found myself spending a lot of time focused on where my life would lead me, what was next, and how I would find the emotional strength needed to “get on” with my life. For months, I had no plan and paid no attention to what needed to be done in order to rebuild and start living again on my own, and on my own terms.
That is the most crushing aspect of divorce after 50. Picking up and starting over after the loss of a lifetime's worth of plans, and thinking your life has been mapped out and all is in order. Change is uncomfortable when it touches every aspect of your life. And that is what divorce after 50 does: It touches every aspect of your life.
I remember sitting at my breakfast table one morning, staring out the window, feeling sorry for myself. Out of the blue, I realized the choice I was making to wallow in my predicament would play a role in the quality of my life that day and each day moving forward. And it wouldn’t be a positive role!
I knew I had to put conscious effort into moving forward and making the second half of my life something worth living. From that day forward I started making different choices in the way I viewed the divorce, the damage I thought my ex had done, and the opportunities open to me in the future. If you're walking a similar path, there are things you can do to not let divorce after 50 keep you from living your best life.
Let Go of Your Need to Blame
Divorce can be emotionally and financially devastating, especially for those over 50. Your ex may have left you for another person. They may have used adversarial attorneys during the divorce process to strip you financially. As hard as this is to understand, once the divorce process is over, what happened during the process is in the past.
Blaming your ex for something you can’t go back and change keeps you stuck in the past and stagnated in the present. If you have anger toward your ex, don’t feed it by focusing energy on the anger. Extinguish it and put it out by refusing to allow it to take up space in your head.
Don’t spend time accusing your ex of wrong-doing, engaging in conflict with your ex, and allowing the anger to hold you back from better things. Like I've said, the past can't be undone, but the future is yours for the making. Look straight ahead and start rebuilding your life.
Admit Your Own Mistakes
It takes two to make a marriage and two to break a marriage. One may be more responsible than the other for the demise of the marriage, but you played a role. It may have been a small role, but you do yourself a disservice by not taking responsibility for the role you played in the marital problems.
You can’t learn from the adversity of divorce if you don’t admit to flaws and failures of your own. You can’t move forward and make productive choices in life if you continue to hold on to behavior patterns that led to the demise of the marriage.
Take an in-depth, internal inventory and put effort into changing the negative behaviors you are responsible for. Only then will you become fully in control of the quality of life you will live post-divorce.
Control Only What You Have Control Over
A huge mistake many people make is attempting to control something they have no control over. You need to recognize the things that are beyond your control, and stop trying to control them. This calls for you to be realistic about what should and shouldn’t be in your control.
You can’t control who your ex spends time with. You can’t control their behavior toward you, but you can control your response to their behavior. You can’t control what your ex says about you, but you can control your response to what they say. You can’t control those who take sides in your divorce.
You can only control your own actions and behaviors, and those are the things that will determine the course your life will take in the future. What you are tasked with is moving your life forward, regardless of your circumstances.
Getting caught up in the blame game, denial of your own flaws, and attempting to control what is out of your control keeps you stuck. It takes a conscious effort to heal from a mid-life divorce. Changing the way you view your situation and making purposeful choices will help you move more quickly toward healing and a life that brings you peace of mind and happiness.