Divorce can be such a scary, stressful, uncertain time and when you have children, you can multiply that by ten.  It’s often difficult to move forward in your life when you’re going through a divorce or are recently divorced.  It’s very common to think more about the past and what’s happened up to this point, rather than where you are now and where you’re headed.  It is so easy to get stuck in the “what if’s” and all of the “he said/she said” stories, going over and over all of the disagreements, the wrong-doings, the regrets.  Or you might be hanging on to what you had at one time and wishing or hoping that somehow everything will be okay and you’ll get back together.

But when you re-live the past or wish for things you no longer have, you are incapable of moving forward.  You close off so many chances for joy, love, excitement and fun.  You can’t see all the wonderful opportunities and experiences that are before you, when you are in denial of who and where you are today.  Hoping and wishing that things were different or that this will all be over, will not make a difference.  In fact, you will only be more disappointed, because nothing will change, or it might even get worse.

Letting go of the past can be a big challenge, I think in part because of the way it’s described.  When you say “let go of the past” or “put the past behind you”, it implies that it has no value, that it’s going to be wiped away forever, the good and the bad.  But it’s not.  Just because something is over, doesn’t mean that all the great memories must be erased.  You will always have those memories.  The key is to recognize that they are memories, and not something to cling to and wish for and think about all the time.  By living in those memories, you hold yourself back in your current life, and you don’t allow yourself to make any more great memories.

A ceremony is a great way to honor and recognize something of importance in your life, and to mark an ending and a beginning.  Take all the photos, notes, gifts, etc that you have from the years you were married that represent good memories and create a special place for them.  Put them in a scrapbook, a special box, a photo album, whatever works for you.  If there are items you don’t think you should keep, but have a hard time getting rid of, take a picture of them and then let them go.  Now you can still look at them when you choose to, but you don’t have the clutter.  As you look at all of your mementos, be grateful for those experiences, those times of joy and fun.  Really give thanks.

Now write down all of the “negative” things that have come from the ending of your marriage.  All the things that you are sad or angry about.  When you’re done, read your list out loud.  Now have a little ceremony.  Give thanks again, this time for all that you’ve learned through this process, for all the ways that you’ve grown as a result.  Let these past hurts and frustrations know that you are ready to let them go because you want to move forward in your life.  Tell them they have no power over you any more.  Now burn the list (or tear it up into small pieces) and bury it in your yard.  This marks a turning point for you, from living in the past, to living your life.

Remember that every ending is also a beginning.