Ask any newly separated man or woman if he or she thinks finding happiness after divorce is possible, and the answer you get will involve a grim outlook.
"Who knows?" they will might say with their head down, their eyes possibly filling with tears. "I haven't thought that far ahead. I'm just thinking about how to survive RIGHT NOW. I hope so."
I think finding happiness after divorce is not a possibility, but rather a high PROBABILITY, and I can say that because of the dozens of divorced men and women I have seen go from sad, weary, scared, frustrated, furious and depressed to happy, self-confident, strong and madly in love! Seriously.
I want to give an example, which happens to be my inspiration for this post. About a year ago, a ran into a friend of mine at the gym, and she told me she and her husband of 10 years were separating. They have two young kids. From what she said, my impression was that it was her husband's decision. She teared up, and I felt sick about it because I just love this girl. It actually inspired me to write the Huffington Post blog, "What to Expect When You're Expecting A Divorce."
So, time goes on, and I continue to see her at the gym, always sad, always looking weary and defeated. It was a look that would make me want to cry. Yet, she kept going to the gym. In other words, she kept living her life.
We would talk every now and again, and she would tell me the usual divorce nightmare stories: she was worried about finances, she was scared she was going to be alone forever, she was worried about how her kids were going to handle this, she knew her husband was dating other women and was happy, etc. etc.
A few months ago, I happened to run into her soon-to-be ex, and I said hello. The first words out of his mouth were, "Yeah, everything's great! I've lost 22 pounds!" he said, patting with pride what he thought was his six-pack. "I feel great!" Never asked how I was, how my kids were, and never said anything like, "Divorce is hard, I hope my kids will be okay," etc. etc.
So, a few days ago, I ran into my friend. I hadn't seen her in awhile, and I noticed she looked absolutely beautiful. And THIN! I told her so, and she smiled. "Thank you so much," she said humbly. "I've lost 18 pounds."
I asked how things were and she told me her kids were doing well, and that she changed jobs and loved her new position.
I then said to her, "You met someone, didn't you?"
She turned bright red and said, "Oh my God! Yes! I did!!"
She met a man on a dating website who has two children and they are very happy. She said she's not sure what's going to happen, but right now, she's just enjoying feeling loved and happy.
I hugged her and when I walked away, I felt like I could fly. Inspired beyond, but not surprised, as I see a story like my friend's a lot.
But let me clarify, that it isn't luck when it comes to finding happiness after divorce. The men and women I meet with a story like this are those who make good, selfless choices. Those who focus on their children, their career, and who do positive things to heal from their divorce. Instead of drinking, they workout, instead of playing the victim, they focus on fixing the problems they can control, and instead of wallowing in in sorrow and self-pity, they get off their butts and accept their new role. They get strong. They go out and make things happen to grab the life they want.
From all of those choices comes self-confidence, self-love and yes, eventually LOVE.
This girl reminds me of Cinderella, but the difference is, she was her own fairy Godmother. Happiness after divorce is PROBABLE for you, too!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!