The Identity Shift After a Divorce

Divorce is all about change. Everything from your social circle to the amount of time spent with your children may look different. This vast amount of change in such a short period of time can cause a major identity shift. In some cases, it may even cause an identity crisis. Recognizing the identity shift after a divorce and knowing what to expect and how to cope with these changes can lead you to a happier healthier post-divorce life.

Who Am I?

You’re no longer a spouse. You’re no longer a daughter/son-in-law. You may no longer be a stay-at-home parent if you were during your marriage. There are probably a dozen roles you no longer fill, but what roles DO you fill now?

If you sit there and list all of the things you’re not, you may get stuck in a cycle of “what if’s” and “why did this happen to me”. Instead of going down that rabbit hole, start focusing on the newness and the incredible opportunity that you have now been presented with.

You can finally discover who YOU are. Not who you are as one half of a couple, but who you are as you stand so beautifully alone – strong and capable of anything that comes your way.

What Do I Want?

Before you can discover who you are, you need to figure out what you want. What do you want out of this next chapter in your life? How do you want your story to end? The answer to that last question is probably- happily! We all want our happily ever after. The good news is, this is your second chance at getting that.

If you want to change your career- go for it! Do you want to go out and make new friends – here’s your opportunity! If you’ve been thinking of taking up a new hobby – now is the time to do it! You no longer have to run things by your partner for their approval. The beauty of being single is that you can do whatever you want to do – no questions asked!

All it takes is a little bit of courage to take that first step towards your dreams. Start by making a list of the absolute non-negotiables in your life in terms of your:

  • Career
  • Friendships
  • Romantic relationships
  • Homelife
  • Physical and mental health
  • Finances
  • Hobbies and enjoyable activities

Once you identify those non-negotiables, write down all of the things that may be hindering your ability to make those non-negotiables a reality and get ready to purge them from your life! Those things that are holding you back need to go! When you’re molding your new identity, you need to stay focused on only the things that positively contribute to it. Now is the time to eliminate all of the things that have been holding you back from being your true self.

Where Am I Going to Find the Time?

One of the most common hurdles that divorcees encounter after their split is time. This is particularly true if you’re a single parent. You’re no longer sharing responsibilities with a partner, which can leave you feeling overwhelmed and wondering how you’re going to accomplish it all.

Finding the time to focus on your newfound identity first requires the desire to make those changes. The desire for a happy and fulfilled life must be stronger than your exhaustion or your frustration with feeling like you don’t have enough time. If you can find that passion within yourself, then you’ll figure out a way to make the time.

Once you eliminate all of the things that have been holding you back, you may already find that you have enough time to focus on creating this new, best version of yourself. If not, start delegating. Ask for help. Lean on your friends and family- and even your kids! This is an excellent opportunity to teach your children the importance of self-care, and that you’re going to need them to start chipping in a bit around the house so you can start focusing on that.

When Will I Finally Feel Settled?

Divorce brings about many unsettled feelings. You’ve gone from the security of a family unit to the life of a single person. It can all feel very overwhelming and those feelings are completely normal.

Don’t focus so much on the desire to want to feel settled, but instead focus on finding peace. Peace should be a top goal after a divorce, and it involves working on both internal and external factors. Removing anything from your life that interferes with that peace should be a top priority.

Remember that you have just undergone a major life change. Things aren’t going to feel “normal” for a while, and that’s okay. Instead of pushing against the change, embrace it. See every new opportunity as a chance to learn and grow. Even the hurt and disappointment that you may experience in the post-divorce dating scene can be turned into a positive if you look at it as an opportunity to figure out what you don’t want until what you do want finally comes along.

Why Do I Want This Identity Shift to Occur?

Even if you didn’t ask for the divorce, you probably knew somewhere deep down inside that the relationship wasn’t right for you. That gut feeling is one that no longer needs to be ignored. Now you can ask yourself, “why do I want this identity shift to occur?”.

Is it because you want to achieve those dreams that you’ve put on the back burner for so long? You want your kids to grow up in a home that’s free of toxic energy? You lost so much of your independence during your marriage and you want some of it back? Is it simply because you want to be happy?

There is no right or wrong answer to this. Be truthful with yourself about why you really want to make these changes in your life. Be prepared that things may change as you travel along this journey. What you want at the beginning of your divorce may not be the same as what you’ll want a year, two years, or even five years down the road.

That’s all okay. We aren’t meant to stay stagnant. We, as humans, are meant to grow and evolve and change. Divorce is one of the biggest changes of all. Take that giant shift and use it to your advantage. Create the life you’ve always wanted. You deserve it.

More Split.fyi Resources:

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Essential Resources

If you’re facing legal/custody battles, a mental health crisis, an urgent medical issue, serious emotional problems, including suicidal thoughts, please seek help from the appropriate professionals near you.

Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis line: 1-800-356-5395
Crisis text line: Text “help” to 741741
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

Split.fyi Resources
Split.fyi Marital Life Inventory
Divorce Lifecycle Document
Divorce Process Overview

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