Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reclaiming Life, Restarting Goals

Reclaiming Life, Restarting Goals is the title I chose for this post, one in a series of posts about coping with the aspects of divorce. Originally I wanted to write these posts because this is mostly a blog about my finances but I also realize that largely this is a blog about life.

Reclaiming Life is something that is hard to imagine, but it is an absolutely necessary step if your divorce was tragic and had a profound impact on you. I'd imagine that this is true for most people, but it is worth noting that I am speaking only from my personal experience.

Reclaiming is from the verb to reclaim:
verb: reclaim; 3rd person present: reclaims; past tense: reclaimed; past participle: reclaimed; gerund or present participle: reclaiming
  1. 1.
    retrieve or recover (something previously lost, given, or paid); obtain the return of.

    "he returned three years later to reclaim his title as director of advertising"

    synonyms:get back, recoup, claim back, recover, regain, retrieve

    "traveling expenses can be reclaimed"
    • redeem (someone) from a state of vice; reform.

      "societies for reclaiming beggars and prostitutes"

      synonyms:save, rescue, redeem;

      "Henrietta had reclaimed him from a life of despair"
    • archaic
      tame or civilize (an animal or person).
  2. 2.
    bring (waste land or land formerly under water) under cultivation.

    "little money is available to reclaim and cultivate the desert"

And so, it is not just the first definition, but also the second definition that makes sense here. Life truly has to be recovered after divorce. Indeed I'd argue that without this step, you cannot proceed in any effective way, emotionally, spiritually, financially or physically. It is essential.

Recovering in this sense to me simply means that you are back to living. Living involves making choices, taking risks, having a good time, and being present in the current experiences and emotions of your existence. In short, being active rather than passive. Recovery in this sense isn't easy and there are a number of things available to you.
1. Friends, Family, existing support systems can help you recover your life. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have those things however, so for them, I'd focus on other options below.
2. Church/Synagogue/Temple etc where you can meet with fellow believers of your faith and perhaps deepen your connection with a higher power. For me, Church was where I feel I recovered the most. It slowed me down. It got me thinking about others besides myself which helped me really notice where I was. And most of all it gave me some structure and ability to get comfortable with who I am again.
3. Therapist and/or Support groups. These like anything can be complex and expensive or simple and cheap. Don't short change yourself on professional help, but at the same time be smart about your choices.

After recovery, you can begin the second aspect which is to bring your life to cultivation which is what the idea of goals really means. What do you want to accomplish with your life. I find that these are difficult in a way that I wouldn't have expected. It can be so consuming and difficult to recover from a trauma, that you forget to make plans for the future.

My advice about this second aspect of cultivation of goals, restating goals is:
  1. Start with restating them and writing it down.
  2. Do not worry about when/how these will get met or if at all. Just practice writing and having goals.
  3. Don't wait too long to start.
  4. Once you are comfortable with the idea of having goals, get serious and pick one or two small goals to set and work toward. This is a great way to start this habit.
In the end, the best way to restart your life is to have something to live for and to live towards. If you can manage it, start small with your goals and then build them up until they are bigger and take time and real, concrete steps to complete. Accomplishing a mix of small and larger goals is a great way to feel good about yourself and get some distance from the pain of divorce.

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