There’s a lot that they don’t tell you about divorce. They don’t tell you that it can be isolating, or cause you to feel insignificant or unimportant. The heartbreak and pain part is widely discussed, but it’s the lesser-known side effects that rocked me to the core. While going through my divorce, I felt like I had failed big-time, and that I might not ever recover. I felt like that for a long time.
Forgiveness was a huge part of it for me, but not forgiveness for my ex-husband. It was finding forgiveness in myself. Until I forgave myself and allowed myself grace, the healing couldn’t begin.
For me, that healing started when I began to slowly work through the pain. I journaled. I went to therapy. I self-reflected, and I allowed myself to just be. I didn’t have to move forward faster than I needed to—I gave myself time.
I wasn’t looking for a solution or an elixir or an easy fix-it. What I was looking for was Danyelle 2.0, a life where I am not defined by my role as half of a marriage. I was okay with being by myself and rediscovering who I was now and what the future would look like for me alone. I was more than satisfied, too. I had my kids, my business, friends, and family. I had my travels and opportunities to wake up in different places and locales. Once I went through the process of healing, I was good. I didn’t need anyone to fill that hole.
And then, love happened. When I least expected it.
Just when I thought I would never feel love again, the opportunity to pour love into someone else presented itself. Would I be ready (and willing) to take that step?
What we think we don’t want or need sometimes comes to us whether we are looking for it or not. For me, it came in the form of a friendship with someone who I had known casually online for years. We started seeing one another in different cities, not as possible lovers, but as friends. Those meetings became more frequent and more consistent. Then somehow, we fell into a groove.
He became my new normal. We became our new normal and over the span of a year, we went from being friends, to dating, to being an actual couple. I never predicted that I would find myself in a serious relationship, especially after a failed marriage and a previous failed relationship after that. My mind wasn’t open but my heart was. I thank God for that.
I know now that we both came to the realization that we were meant to try this around the same time. I tried to avoid the obvious because I didn’t want to find myself once again hurt or rejected. Thankfully, we came to the same conclusion together and our journey began in a beautiful way.
I could tell you to take it slow and that if you have kids under 18 still in your home, to take your time introducing someone to them, but you already know that. I want to share with you a few gems to help you date someone seriously after a divorce that aren’t you run-of-the-mill advice that you may find when browsing the internet for love after divorce.
Allow me to share with you some of the things that I learned along the way during this journey:
I feel that in order to truly love and honor someone, you have to first love and honor yourself. If you have gone through a divorce, do the work first in learning to love yourself—again. Bask in getting to know yourself and appreciate your wonderful qualities. Allow yourself to appreciate being alone and able to go it by yourself. Don’t think that you have to fill the void of being with someone.
In loving yourself, know what you want in a mate and do not settle for anything less.
Put the past away
It will be hard to move on, but you’ll do yourself a disservice by continuing to repeat the mistakes of your past relationship failure. Learn from those mistakes and do your best not to bring them into a new relationship. And if you find yourself doing that (which I have found myself doing from time to time), put those issues back in the past where they belong. Those old issues and patterns cannot come with you.
Talking through things will always help you move forward. It takes a lot of courage and heart to verbally put your thoughts and feelings out there, especially after a divorce. It’ll feel awkward sometimes and downright hard. But nothing good comes easy, and communicating will help to make your new bond stronger.
Share your world
It is going to be hard letting someone into your new world, but you won’t be able to get to anything serious if you aren’t able to be open. Share your world, your thoughts, your fears. Let it come our naturally and gradually. Ask for patience and be able to give it back in return. If your new partner cares about you, they will understand this process, and will be willing to give it to you.
Since my divorce, I’ve never really put anyone out there “on my feed”. Being in this space now and being with someone who loves me as much as he does, makes me feel comfortable putting our relationship out to the masses. I am enjoying getting to know him even more each day and building something with someone that I see a complete future with.
I feel thankful that I allowed myself to fully open my heart, even though it had been broken before. The trust that I put back into my heart after not trusting it for so long—I am grateful for that the most. It led to a new season, a new perspective on love, and a new opportunity to get it right this time.
Divorce is never fun, but there is a life after. I am living proof.
What does life after divorce look like for you?