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starting over after divorceI divorced 10 years ago after a 19 year marriage to a military officer. My life changed dramatically, and even though there were plenty of rough spots, it has all been for the good. If you’ve survived the apocalypse of divorce after a long term marriage or relationship, and are ready to move on with your life, here are some steps that helped me move forward.

Rediscover. Initially, I had no idea what I wanted in life. Every future plan I had was based on my marriage. I had one of those “Aha” moments when I realized I was like so many women on daytime talk shows who had lost themselves. It was a long process to sort out and discard activities and future plans that weren’t really about me. Discovering what I wanted took the form of rekindling activities I enjoyed in the past. I had let go of the dream of living at the beach because my ex shunned the sun and ocean. After a few years of transitioning, I now live by the beach and can watch pods of dolphins from my balcony. Dream reclaimed!

Reassess. While it was initially overwhelming, I started reassessing my plans a few months at a time, then 1 year at a time, and now I can look forward easily. The trajectory my life has taken to get me where I am now, happy in a relationship, living by the beach, and financially secure, is something I could never have imagined 10 years ago. Planning and taking careful inventory of what mattered to me helped me get past my past and on to my future.

Reinvest. I gave away much of who I was to my marriage and to the role of a military officer’s wife. After I divorced, I realized I didn’t know myself as an individual. Spending money as I wanted to doing some minor rehab on my first apartment, and an overhaul on my appearance gave me the first chance to pick and choose what I liked, and to express my unique sense of style. It didn’t seem like much at the time, but allowing myself to explore my own likes and dislikes was transformative.

Reinvigorate. As I came into a new sense of who I was, my energy expanded as did my social circle. I dated a few men right after my divorce, and quickly realized it was too early to develop emotional attachments when I was still reeling from my divorce. So I paused and learned to go out with groups of my newly discovered single friends. Adjusting to social life as a single person, I learned to have fun again. Later, I was able to date and enjoy it. It took a lot of trial and some very humorous errors, but I eventually had some great relationships. Now, at age 55, I have a relationship with a wonderful man. I have learned to surf and stand up paddle in the ocean. I’ve traveled more than ever in my life, attending yoga retreats, surfing trips, and trips to explore new places.

The upside to the end of my marriage was an opportunity to start over, and it has truly given me a new life.

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