What You Need to Know When You're Newly Separated or Divorced

A letter to you, on the day you decided to leave your marriage:

Congratulations. You just made a really, really hard decision. It’s something you probably agonized over for months, maybe even years. You likely shed thousands of tears. If you have children, you laid awake in bed at night agonizing over which would scar them most: a divorce, or a miserable marriage.

The day you leave is officially the first day of the rest of your life. My wise cousin told me, about a month into my separation, that my life hadn’t begun yet. Everything up until this point, she said, was about creating my daughter. Everything from this point forward is about creating my life. She was right. And I believe that’s true whether you’ve been married two years or twenty.

Today is the day you begin living for yourself. And, if you have them, your kids. Always put them first, and you’ll never make a wrong turn.

I’m not going to lie to you. This is going to be a hard road. At times, it will be incredibly liberating. Other times, it will be so miserable you will wonder if leaving was worth it. But you’ll know, even as you ask yourself that question, that it was. Absolutely, 100% worth it. You are brave. And, as they say, fortune favors the brave.

I have a lot of wishes for you. Things like confidence in yourself and your choices. The strength to not jump into another relationship until you learn how to be alone. Faith in yourself, your intuition, and a higher purpose. The ability to forgive and appreciate the gift that this experience is, no matter how awful it can be. And patience with the process, because it’s going to take awhile.

But you’re not ready to hear those things yet. This is your journey, and you won’t get to things like forgiveness until the very end.

So for now —pardon my language— fuck forgiveness. Be angry. After all, anger can be empowering, so long as it doesn’t go on for too long. Just don’t allow yourself to become a victim.

Learn how to make boundaries and stick to them – you’re not going to get over this unless you commit to yourself. You are no longer committed to your former partner. It is his or her responsibility to take care of him or herself. Take the space you need. Say what you want, and stick to it.

Call a therapist. If you don’t love that therapist, deep in your gut, call another one. And another one, until you find your therapeutic soul mate. No excuses. You can find yourself a sliding scale therapist. Commit to therapy for at least a year. Realistically, two, three, or even four years. Because even after you’re over this, you’re gonna love that therapist and you're gonna see your own potential.

Accept help from the people who love you, because you need help. I know it’s hard. You don’t have to accept help from everybody. But please, accept it from somebody.

Don’t rush the process. I know it is awful. It really is. But you can’t rush art, and that’s what this is. You are transforming yourself into something new and beautiful, and that takes time.

I have so much to say to you, but mostly, I just want to say this: Congratulations. You took the first step of a long journey, and I know you can finish it. Keep your head up. I’m on the other side now, and I can tell you this: it’s worth it.

So much love to you.

Sara