Lonely. Overwhelmed. Scared. These are emotions felt by nearly every divorcee, but there is one word that can help counteract all of those emotions – community. You don’t have to go through your divorce alone. While you are in the driver’s seat on your divorce journey, surrounding yourself with the right passengers can make the ride a little less bumpy. Hence the importance of community in divorce.
Breaking the Stigma
Before you decide who to include in your community, you first have to let go of the shame you may be feeling over your divorce. Even in the 21st century, with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, there still is a major stigma associated with it.
None of us enter into a marriage expecting it to end, but things happen and divorce isn’t something to be ashamed of. Staying in an unhealthy relationship is far worse than getting a divorce, but still, nearly 75 percent of all divorcees say they stayed in their marriage for as long as they could because of the negative stigma surrounding it.
That statistic would probably be a lot lower if divorcees thought they would get the support they needed during their divorce. Too many feel they will be forced to go through it alone.
The good news is, the stigma around divorce is changing. The emergence of new professions within the divorce industry, like divorce coaches, has shifted the idea that divorce is bad to the idea that, while divorce is certainly unfortunate, it’s not something to be ashamed of. You can even thrive after it!
Who to Include (and Not to Include) in Your Community
When you are going through a divorce, the number one thing you need is support. Surrounding yourself with people who bring you down or make you feel like you’re making the wrong decision won’t help you get to the other side and thrive. That type of negativity will keep you in a space of healing for far longer than you want to (or need to) be.
Sometimes, that means setting boundaries with the unsupportive people in your life. It doesn’t mean you have to eliminate them from your life completely (although you have every right to), but it does mean you have to put yourself first right now. If someone in your life constantly has negative things to say about your divorce, you can avoid talking to them about it. There’s no rule saying you have to share everything about your divorce, especially with people who just don’t get it.
The people in your community should be:
- Thoughtful with their responses
- Fun! (we can all use a little fun when we’re going through such a trying time)
- Knowledgeable about divorce (although it’s not a requirement). Someone who has been through a divorce or who works with people going through a divorce will be more likely to hold that necessary space for you right now.
Community and a Mindset Shift
It really is true that you are the sum of who you surround yourself with. The traits, habits, and mindsets of those we surround ourselves with will naturally rub off on us over time. That’s why it’s so important to surround ourselves with the right people- especially when going through a divorce.
If the people in your life feel negative about divorce, then you’re going to feel negative about divorce. Shifting that mindset starts with you, but it happens a lot faster if you have people in your life with a positive mindset.
How do you know if someone is going to help, not hinder, your positive mindset? We can start by going back to all the traits mentioned above- positive, non-judgemental, thoughtful, etc- but the most important indicator is how they make you feel.
Do you leave your conversations with them feeling inspired? Happier? Lighter? Do they push you towards your goal of healing and thriving after your divorce by holding you accountable in the right way (not pushy, but supportive)? If the answer is yes, then you definitely want them along as a passenger on your divorce journey.
Finding Your Community
When you’re going through a divorce, the last thing you may feel like doing is reaching out. Especially in the early stages, when all you’re doing is basically surviving, putting in the energy to have a conversation can seem like too much work. This is one of those times when you have to fight against that feeling. If you only focus on treading water, eventually you’re going to get tired and drown under the weight of your emotions.
So, who will help keep you afloat? You may already have the necessary people in your life. You’d be surprised how some acquaintances can turn into your very best friends by the end of your divorce. Social media, while it has its disadvantages, is also full of supportive people just waiting to share their knowledge with you. There are also professionals, like therapists and divorce coaches, who are specially trained to help get you through this trying time.
You don’t have to go through your divorce alone. You don’t have to be ashamed. The right community can make all the difference in your healing process. You really can not only survive your divorce journey but thrive.