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Ritualize Your Divorce

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My divorce marked one of the most difficult and confusing times in my life. After the papers were signed and the break-up was officially final, I had no idea what to do next. I wanted to move forward but didn't know how; I just wanted to laugh, have fun and let go of the pain.

Then, one day it hit me -- throw a divorce party! This was long before divorce parties became a part of popular culture. My friends didn't understand the event when I sent out the invite, but they all came with an open mind and that was all I needed.

I had always loved tea parties, so that's the kind of party I threw. A tea party attended by all of the people in my life who had lent an ear, hand and tissue during my divorce. When I cut into my divorce cake -- which featured the phrase "Free At Last" in bright blue frosting -- I started to really feel like I was coming through to the other side.

I felt so invigorated at the end of the party that I wanted to continue the fun. About a week later, a friend told me about a Greek restaurant where you can throw plates. One dollar to smash something into a thousand pieces seemed like a great idea to me. (And let's be honest, it was probably better to throw someone else's plates rather than my own.) "I'll take 25 plates," I said to the waitress. One plate for each of the years I was married. After the last one shattered, I removed my protective goggles and felt a new sense of calm.

I began writing down these activities, eventually naming them "divorce rituals." These divorce rituals truly saved me. I started creating and doing more and more of them, feeling better as each was completed. During my first year post divorce, I tried to come up with a ritual to cover every painful moment. Time flew by quickly as I did the rituals and, in the end, I had a better understanding of myself. These rituals are compiled in my new book The Divorce Ritual: Get Up, Get Out and Get On With Your Life. Here are a few of my favorites:

Divorce Ritual #4 - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Or Wherever You May Live): Over the coming months, you will grow more and more as a person. You will make significant changes in your life. Your mind is probably filled with countless new ideas; Each idea is a seed, which should be planted and nourished as it grows to fruition. To mark this new beginning of your life, I suggest planting something special in your backyard that will bloom just like you.

Divorce Ritual #51 - The EX-Periment: Have you kept in touch with any of your exes from your past? It's understandable if you didn't have contact with any of them during your marriage. Most spouses want their significant others to dump water on their old flames once they decide to get serious. Even when it's innocent, it's generally not a good idea for married couples to maintain those types of connections. Now that you're divorced, the rules have changed. This divorce ritual is about going on a date with at least one ex-boyfriend who is also single.

Divorce Ritual #66 - Kids Rule the Day: Adults love days that revolve around them. Well, kids are no different. One day a month, let your child choose whatever they want to do, and then go along with it (as long as it's within reason). Maybe they want to go to a museum. Or, maybe they watch the movie "Night at the Museum." Whatever the activity, supervise, watch and most of all, enjoy!

Divorce Ritual #83 - Put the Garter Back On: This game is one of my favorites. Every bride remembers when her husband took the garter off at the wedding. At your divorce party, have one of your best friends put a garter back on you. You will feel an immediate sense of having come full circle.

Divorce Ritual #85 - Fly Fly Away: For this ritual, you will need balloons and some small pieces of paper. On each piece of paper, write what you disliked about your old life and what you want from your new one. Put the pieces of paper into the balloons, blow them up and let them go! This is a great way to release stress.

For more rituals and to read Lois Tarter's new book The Divorce Ritual click here.