Divorce is one of the hardest and most painful life change we will ever experience. It can be so full of negativity, hurt, and hostility that finding anything positive in this agonizing, confusing mess can be super challenging or downright impossible. Entering the Thanksgiving season during or after divorce usually doesn’t help to put us into a grateful mindset. We might be alone the first time for the holidays, without our children, family, or friends, wondering how we will even survive this time of the year. Divorce depression always rises during the “happiest season”. It’s hard to find happiness in the midst of the pain, or anything to be thankful for when our life is falling apart.
I recently came upon a survey that asked divorced or divorcing people to name three things they are grateful for that happened specifically due to the end of the relationship, regardless of whether they made the decision to end it or their ex did. The answers blew my mind away. They were all amazing things. Life giving, growth producing, character refining, incredible blessings. Nobody seemed to have trouble coming up with three specific, separate things to be grateful for, and nobody said “not one” or “nothing” or even “I don’t have to spend the holidays with my in-laws” (which might be a totally legit thing to be grateful for).
So those hidden blessings do exist! They might come in a shitty package we don’t feel like unwrapping, but if we take the time and energy, turn inward a bit, digest everything that has happened and happening, process it with safe people, we will find surprising and even marvelous things. Following are some of the answers from the survey, which might help us uncover our own hidden gems to be thankful for this season.
“I found God”
“I’m much closer to God than ever before.”
“I found religious freedom and don’t have to give up my own preferences for my spouse.”
“I’m becoming my own person. I’m learning what I like and don’t like. What I want and don’t want.”
“I realized that I am a complete, whole person all by myself and don’t need anyone to complete me.”
“I’m building friendships like I used to do. ”
"I'm learning to finally love and respect myself."
“My life has more tranquility. My home is peaceful now.”
“I learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined.”
“I realized that I don’t need a lot of things to be happy.”
“I’m discovering all the options and possibilities for myself.”
“I’m grateful for my physical and emotional safety these days.”
“I had to learn a lot to take care of myself and my kids but I did and now I’m fully self-supporting. It’s an amazing feeling.”
“I have found my own voice and learned how to use it.”
“I’m thankful for the little extra time I have for myself.”
“I’m thankful for the peaceful, uninterrupted, meaningful time I can spend with my children.”
“I’m grateful for my freedom to be who I am and not who I have to be for someone else.”
“I’m grateful for being able to see finally how smart, strong, and courageous I am.”
This list is proof that even in the darkest hours, loneliest times, in the midst of pain, good things can be found if we look for them. Once we find them, we need to keep them in the forefront of our mind, treasuring them for what they are, rays of sunshine in the dark, and keep giving thanks for them, because what we focus on expands and in time multiplies.
At this Thanksgiving season, lets try to find three hidden blessings that came out of our divorce and start repeating them over and over, like a mantra. Even if the anger, pain, fear is still overwhelming and we can’t see much hope for our future, lets say these three things out loud, giving thanks for them to God, the Universe, Life, or Fate, whatever we believe in. Lets do it as much as possible, holding onto that sliver of warm, life-giving feeling of gratitude. The more we practice it, the easier we will return to it when the waves of negativity start to engulf us again. With time, the smallest seed of gratitude will grow into the biggest tree if tended regularly and before we know it, will attract many more blessings into our lives.
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