Starting over: How to put your life back together after divorce

When Liadan Hynes' marriage fell apart she had to work on adjusting to the new reality. In this column she explores the myriad ways a person can find their way back to themselves

I always feel September is the real time of year for a new year’s overhaul. January should be for hunkering down on one’s couch and getting through the dark months with the help of carbs and Netflix. Nobody should be trying to carve their a new self, or make resolutions in the grim aftermath of Christmas. The sugar come-down alone is enough to send you over the edge. Who needs that kind of pressure?

September, with its golden days of Indian summer; its general feeling of unspecified nostalgia; the easing off it brings (if you have kids) of having to constantly juggle extreme childcare plans; is the time for taking something new on, if resolutions or clear outs are your thing. They are not really mine, which is why I thought I would instead offer up a list of a slightly different kind for this “other” new year we’re experiencing this week.

5 ways to 'start again' after divorce


It is roughly two years since my marriage ended. So for anyone at a much earlier stage in that car crash of a life event, this is a list of resolutions for you to take on now, sent back from the future, so to speak.

A list of things which I can say definitively have helped me over the last couple of years, in holding things together; holding myself together, and then eventually putting things back, not together; for there is no going back, but picking up the pieces and creating a new life.

1. A confidant. You need one friend who knows the minutiae of the whole thing. In the midst, you don’t have the energy for more than that, and it's fine to keep other friends at a distance for now. People will understand if you go underground for a while.

But try for one who knows the ins and outs of your day-to-day. Who will check in on you, and whom you can ring whenever you need, and not have to extensively update. That will just put you off calling because it will feel exhausting when you are low, which is when you will need them most.

2. Routine. Find some sort of daily practise, some roughly stringed together list of habits that will help keep your stress levels at a vaguely manageable level.

Meditation, yoga, walking, outdoor swimming; whatever it is that works for you to bring a little bit of calm for a few minutes, that will almost imperceptibly then spread throughout your day.

Try not to abandon this too many days in a row. You will notice the difference.


3. Sleep. It can feel boring, or like life is going on everywhere else, but get as many early nights as you can. Sleep is the closest thing you have to a superpower right now.

4. Start a book club. Reading takes you out of the situation and helps with the loneliness when you first get used to living on your own. And you need new blood in your life, new friends. Ask a few existing friends and suggest each brings another person. Or just ask a load of women you vaguely know but want to know better.

5. Read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic on how to handle the fear. You don’t even need to read the whole thing, just find that piece about going on the car journey. There will be fear; your whole life has imploded. It doesn’t mean all that fear, simply by its existence, is real and warranted. And it will pass. But Gilbert writes better than most about how to co-exist as peacefully as possible with it.

Photo: Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

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