So, you decided to get married. You found the one your heart loves and you said “till death do us part” in the company of family and friends and God as your witness. Yet death didn’t part you, though at times it feels like a part of you has died…
Divorce. So many have unfortunately dealt with the pain and suffering of divorce. Statistics show that about 28% of Catholics have been through divorce. Amongst Catholics alone, that’s about 11 million people. Divorce rates overall are on the rise fairly quickly. If you are going through it, I’m here to tell you that there is healing after it.
The Storm of Divorce
I’m not going to tell you, “Don’t worry, everything will be OK and fall into place again.” This healing journey depends on you, if you acknowledge your need for it and take the steps to begin. How do I know this? Because I went through it. It’s been almost 7 years since my separation/divorce/annulment and this is the first time I speak of it with more than a roomful of people. It was honestly one of the most painful and emotional experiences of my life, but I’ve encountered so many people that have gone through the same thing and I’ve learned the importance of sharing testimonies.
The moments leading up to divorce are full of a range of emotions: anger, guilt, worry, confusion, doubt and so on. All of them remain almost becoming a part of you after it’s all done. It’s like going through a bad storm and coming out in a bit of a daze; suddenly you’re not the same person anymore. Insecurities consume you and all those negative emotions try and take a hold of the person you were before you went through the painful process of separation and divorce. How could it be that what I thought was forever is over? How could I go from spending all my days with someone to suddenly being alone?
The Beginning of Healing: You are not alone
How do you move forward from this? Step one: Forget the blame game. Focusing your energy on all the ways this is your ex partner's fault is useless. It does nothing to help you move forward into forgiving and healing. Focus instead on you, and I don’t mean spend all your energy dwelling on what you did wrong either. What could you do differently now? What wounds are present now? In what areas do you need healing now? And work towards that. Go to counseling, talk to people who’ve gone through what you are going through, and seek help and support. Those steps were so crucial for my personal healing because it’s easy to feel so alone when you are going through something like this. When you realize that you are not, it becomes so much easier to step into healing.
After counseling and spiritual direction my ex-husband and I got together for dinner and just talked about our lives. I had the opportunity to talk about forgiveness. I’m not saying that this is an outcome for everyone. You won’t really know the healthy steps to take unless you are already in a healing process and in a good place to make a decision such as that. For myself, after a few years of healing, that decision worked out well and was a good moment of closure and continued healing for me. The fact that he knew that I did not hate him or hold a grudge, and that he was able to say to me what was in his heart, was important to me.
Seek to Deepen Your Relationship with God
But above all those things I just mentioned, what I found most important was turning to God. I found that deepening my relationship with God not only helped me deal with all the negativities of divorce but also filled me with all the affirmation I needed.
After divorce, insecurities are high and you have to be careful with seeking affirmation in areas that are not really going to aid in your healing, in areas where you might find temporary affirmation but nothing concrete and certain that will begin to truly strengthen you from within. Receiving affirmation and healing from God, allowing Him to remind you of who you are and who you are created to be, is so important regardless of whether you need the reminder because you are feeling hurt and broken. So, before entering into a new relationship (friendship or romantic) make sure your relationship with Him is as solid as can be.
Be honest with God. I’ve told people that after evaluating my relationship with God and realizing that indeed I needed to come even closer to Him, I wasn’t afraid to tell him how angry I was that my marriage had failed. I wasn’t afraid to tell Him that it was hard for me to even pray like I used to. All my hope was gone and I had to acknowledge that I was broken. Honesty is part of a healthy relationship, so don’t pretend all is well right away, because it’s not and that’s ok.
Take the Risk of Loving Again
Is it important to note all the red flags that you failed to notice when you were married? Absolutely. You don’t want to fall into the same pattern. However, be careful not to allow those notes to turn you into a cynic, always looking for a red flag and protecting your heart to the point where your walls not only keep possible bad out, but also keep out genuine love that is trying to enter your heart. God doesn’t want that for you. It’s very difficult to continue the healing process unless you take the risk of loving again and allow yourself to be loved. This all really goes back to allowing God to affirm you first. Once you are secure in who you are in Him, it is so much easier to let go and trust again.
Let go of guilt. Work hard towards that and don’t allow anyone to make you feel guilty for your failed marriage. You didn’t enter into it with a divorce plan so why feel guilty if you did all you could to save it? We all make mistakes in life, but God is a loving, forgiving God and He knows your heart. That is what truly matters.
Move forward in Trust
Work on strengthening yourself and getting back to the person you were created to be through prayer, spiritual direction and counseling. It’s worth working on your own healing rather than remaining in self-pity, anger, bitterness, resentment and so on.
Lastly, after all is said and done, you’re divorced. Maybe you’re starting the annulment process or have just finished. Your marriage ended and now it’s time to start anew. It really is a brand new chapter. My last word of advice is: DO NOT try and “fix” your life. Try your best to eliminate the mentality that you will be happy again when your life is where it “should be.” This is a hard one as it’s so easy to think about how your life would have been had you still been married. Maybe you thought by now you would have had several children, or owned a home or a business, or celebrate a 10 year anniversary, and now you find that you are at the start of something totally new, unexpected and unplanned. It will be OK…if you just let that go.
The past has passed, the future is unknown, but today is here. Choose every day to forget who was at fault, to move towards forgiving your ex-spouse and yourself, to deepen your relationship with God, to be honest about where you are, to allow God to affirm you and fill you, to be open to new relationships, to trust again, to let go of guilt and most importantly to love and allow love to enter in. It wasn’t love that failed you.
‘God is Love’ (1 John 4:8) and ‘Love never fails’ (1 Corinthians 13:8).
Alverlis is a full time Worship Leader and Songwriter born and raised in New York City. She picked up a guitar after she had a personal encounter with the Lord in her teenage years and began to teach herself however she could. She soon discovered the joy songwriting gave her and she has not stopped making music ever since. Alverlis is passionate about music and songwriting as she feels that it is her way of sharing her experiences and love of the Lord with everyone. She often calls her music, pieces of her journey through song. Alverlis ministers at various youth events, concerts, retreats and liturgical services throughout the country. She is also passionate about cooking and baking and enjoys preparing dishes for her loved ones as well as enjoying as much chocolate that she can without feeling too guilty! Recently, she has entered the vocation of motherhood with her baby boy AJ. Both her and her husband Antonio are so grateful for the beautiful gift God has given them to raise and lead their little boy to Jesus.