Finding New Life After Divorce
Written by 50 Fun Things Alumna, Sharole T Hawkens
The dissolution of my thirty-two year marriage was the most painful, disorienting and challenging event of my life. I did not imagine the magnitude of loss I would suffer. I lost my life partner, my family, my home, many friends, my social life and my identity. Dark times followed the divorce. Anger boiled inside me toward my former husband and all the accumulated circumstances, actions and inactions that conspired to destroy us. But greater than this was the anger I heaped upon myself. I wore shame, embarrassment, feelings of failure and ineptitude like a suit of armor that isolated me from my own existence. At times I thought, this is what death must feel like. This is what it feels like to disappear.
Months passed. Struggles continued. Life felt like work. Breathing took energy. I spent my days beating myself down over what I had not accomplished, what I did not feel capable of doing and not knowing what step to take next. When I saw a Facebook post about “50 Fun Things” I realized I did not even know what fun was anymore. I could not remember the last time I could say I had fun. I decided that if I had to start over, rebuild my life from scratch, why not purposely add some fun?
Arriving at the “50 Fun Things” workshop, I sat quietly in my chair hoping I would not have to talk much. I did not feel like I had anything to offer. I was at a workshop about fun and I did not even know what it was. As the group began to interact, support bubbled up around me. I was not alone. Brainstorming began. Fun ideas were shared and I began to redefine what fun is to me. My list began to take shape with little, inexpensive things that I could do to make my days more bearable:
Watch the sunset from my balcony each day.
Play music while I get dressed in the morning.
Spend time in the woods, near water and nature.
Learn a few words of German; learn about my heritage.
Sew, write or paint. Create something beautiful.
Learn to cook one delicious, healthy meal.
Explore the Twin Cities.
Take a trip in my RV.
Join a yoga class.
Reach out, do things to meet people.
Find meaningful work, not just an income.
At home with my list in hand, I took action. I dug out an old CD player so I could listen to music, as I got ready for my day. Then something crazy happened. I started to dance by myself in the bathroom. A little red chair and table on my porch became my resting place to watch the sunset and dream of a new day. I set up a folding table, covered it in a pretty plastic cloth and craft supplies; I began to paint and draw and imagine. I found a beautiful wooded park where I could hike around a lake each morning until my nerves calmed enough to face another day. I signed up for a yoga class, took line-dancing lessons and started meeting new people. My greatest fun experience so far was the week I spent on the northern most shore of Minnesota overlooking Lake Superior in my RV. There I spent each evening admiring the sunset over the vast blue water and appreciating the gift of another day.
“50 Fun Things” challenges me to enjoy life in big and small ways. Purposefully finding joy in every day life, even during the most challenging times, became my own proclamation of faith that everything is going to be okay even if it does not look that way right now. Treating myself to a little fun in the midst of such great sadness and anger taught me to see myself as a human being worthy of compassion and kindness. Allowing myself to have fun even during very difficult times continues to bring hope and happiness into my life in beautiful and unexpected ways.
Sharole T Hawkens, formerly Jean Schmeisser, is the mother of two, a writer, shaman and ancestral healing practitioner. She enjoys collecting feathers and rocks, traveling, photography, qigong, hiking, holistic health and challenging cultural norms.