“Have a nice life.” That is the last thing I remember a relative saying to me at my grandmother’s funeral. Apparently, she believed that I would go to hell since I had an invisible scarlet letter “D” tattooed on my body. No, I didn’t commit adultery; it was even worse, I was soon to be a divorcee. This was one of my first introductions to the misconceptions of being divorced. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t believe that I was going to hell, but that experience was a sneak peek into a world of judgment I was previously unaware of.

Although the stigma of divorce has come a long way since my great grandmother went through her own decades ago, it still feels like an outward branding when you first step foot in your new reality. None of my friends or close family members had been through a divorce, so I felt trapped in the middle of the ocean with no life jacket. The feelings of shame and failure are real, even if you were the one to instigate the separation. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t met anyone who commits to a marriage thinking, “let’s see if this works.” Most people enter into their happily ever after as a promise, filled with hope.

No one could see my scarlet letter, but I felt it. It didn’t help that I had moved during my divorce. Most conversations began with, “What brought you to town?”

Inside my head: Oh no, how do I answer this without sounding incredibly desperate, lonely, sad, and awkward? I don’t want to make him or her feel uncomfortable with my answer…

What I actually said evolved over the next five years. At first, it took everything for me to hold it together and give a concise answer. I tended to ramble, sharing details that no one really cared about. Eventually, I became more comfortable with my new authentic story and worked to express my new truth. Here is a warning; as you start down this path and have to answer anything that brings up your divorce, people will often look at you blankly. Unless they have gone through this experience, they are often uncomfortable, anxious, and generally don’t know what to say. I give you permission to ignore their discomfort and work on learning how to express your new truth. Be patient, it takes time. 

Yes, the stigma of divorce is evolving, but it still exists. Learning the misconceptions and facing some of the negative self-talk you may face during this process will help you move forward. I want you to have someone to turn to and a resource. I don’t want you to feel like you don’t have a life jacket. My intention is to have you transform and rebuild the life of your dreams. 

Depending on your situation, you may identify with one or many of these misconceptions. You may allude to them in your journaling, conversations, or in your head. 

No matter what happened in your divorce, rebuilding your image and self-worth will be the ONLY way to remove any of these misconceptions and move forward. To do this takes practice and time; there is no quick solution. So how do you start?

There are many different approaches, but I will share a few exercises that helped me. Mix and match methods, and don’t be afraid to try something that speaks to you. As you may have guessed from past blog posts, my truth comes out in writing, so journaling is usually my answer. Yours may be conversations. Here are a few things to try.

Did any of these misconceptions relate to you? If so, we would love to hear how you overcame them.