“The best lessons are the ones we learned the hard way!”
Yup! My divorce sucked (that’s the best word for it). It was a really, really bad time in my life. If you have ever been through a divorce, or a really bad breakup, you can likely relate. It’s not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy. But, always an optimist, I can say that my divorce helped me grow. Hindsight is 20:20, right?
The period after a divorce, or after a big breakup, can be a time of tremendous personal growth. Some people say, “But I don’t want to grow … I want my relationship back,” but life happens, and many times the breakups and the heartbreaks we endure are handed to us unilaterally. It’s what we do with those lessons that really counts. It’s those lessons that help us to grow, and like it or not, growth is good.
Regardless of whether you wanted (or needed) any more opportunities for personal growth in your life, it pays to reflect on these experiences when they do happen to you (and they will!).
1. What did I learn as a result of that breakup? It’s really tragic when you go through some kind of breakup and fail to learn anything from it. There is always a lesson to be learned. It may be a lesson about what kind of person you dated/married. It may be a lesson about the kind of energy, focus, and priority you expected in the relationship, or the level of energy, focus, and priority you accepted in your relationship. It may be a lesson about what part of your authentic self you were willing to give up in exchange for that relationship.
2. What was my part in the failure of that relationship? If we go through any sort of failure and don’t turn the mirror around and look at what role we played in that failure, we lose out! It’s called personal accountability. It’s recognition that it takes two to tango. I have had people say to me, “I had absolutely no part of my breakup. He cheated on me. He left me.” Yes, I get that, but … don’t you think you can still look in the mirror and come up with some sort of accountability in the failure of that relationship? It may be as simple as “I picked the wrong guy,” and even that is an acceptance of your part of the failure, and taking that as a lesson learned may mean that you avoid picking the wrong guy again and again in the future. We’ve all seen people who date (and break up) with the same clone of a person over and over, right? Ask yourself, and answer yourself honestly, what could I have done differently or better in that relationship? And, will you take that lesson and apply it to your next relationship?
3. What did I rediscover about myself after the breakup? So often we give up a part of ourselves in our relationships … particularly in those relationships that ultimately fail. Don’t you think there may be a correlation between failure in a relationship and those relationships where we aren’t true to ourselves? Can you think of a relationship where you either intentionally or inadvertently gave up things that were important to you? Did you give up on people, or things, or activities that used to be meaningful to you? One way to successfully move forward after a breakup is to rediscover those passions that you may have repressed while in that relationship. It can be very rewarding and fulfilling to rediscover your hobbies, your interests, your talents. Did you stop hanging out with certain friends because your “other” didn’t like them? Did you stop engaging in a certain hobby because it took too much time away from your “other?” Did you give up on fulfilling your own dreams in order to help your “other” pursue his/her dreams? When you are true to yourself, you will naturally become more authentic and more confident. These lessons learned may enable you to not sacrifice yourself in future relationships.
“You cannot erase the past. You must let it go. You cannot change yesterday. You must accept the lessons learned. From lessons learned come better life.”
What about you? How did you grow after your breakup? What lessons did you learn? What did you rediscover about yourself?
Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Amazon.com. Learn more at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com.