Meet Yourself at the Altar: Finding New Rituals After Divorce

Rituals give our lives a certain rhythm, a pleasant repetition of familiarity. They help us anchor ourselves so we feel braver and more curious about how we’re going to become better people.

Starting over means you get to create new rituals to fill your time and space. And these rituals don’t have to be high-maintenance activities. They should be basic ways of existing that bring you joy.

My rituals during the first year of my divorce were simple everyday things. I bought fresh flowers at the farmer’s market every week, propping them up inside a giant plastic to-go cup I used for smoothies because I had somehow moved to DC without any vases. I felt good every time I saw them.

Another regular weekend ritual was making homemade chicken stock in my crockpot. Having stock on hand meant I could create delicious soups with random vegetables I remembered I had while rummaging through my refrigerator, and this led to another ritual — a newfound passion for making up recipes. Rather than following cookbooks religiously, suddenly I wanted to take a look at what I had in my pantry and my vegetable crisper and just whip something up. This act of making due with what I had on hand was not just about cooking, but about all aspects of living on my own again.

I also walked everywhere, all over the city. I gave up my car when I moved to DC, and purposefully rented an apartment about 25 minutes from where I worked. This meant that everyday I had a reason to put one foot in front of the other, literally as well as figuratively. Those mediative strolls through DC brought me so much peace. I worked out problems in my head, I powered myself up with great music, I took the time to miss my family and friends but also reflect on the new people I was meeting, the men I was dating.

But probably my favorite ritual of all, the one that made my heart grow a little stronger each time, was visiting the Phillips Collection, one of the best private art collections and museums in DC. Going to the Phillips Collection on Sundays in the early evening when the crowds died down and walking through the quiet, art-filled space by myself … that was my version of church.

How are you celebrating life after divorce and taking the time for yourself to do something you love, over and over again? What rituals keep you going? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and if you like this post, thanks so much for recommending it, so others can check it out, too.