How To Get What You Deserve After Your Divorce

by Martha Bodyfelt
Originally Published: 
A young divorced woman with dark hair looking towards the sky on a sunny day
Oscar Wong/Getty

If you’re divorced and still feel guilty or ashamed about asking for what you want, you may be struggling with common myths that are making you feel like you’re not worthy. These four divorce myths keep you from getting what you want — but they don’t have to.

Divorce Myth #1: Asking for what you want is selfish.

I don’t know about you, but a lot of the messages I received growing up was that women should strive to be saintly and selfless mothers and wives. Divorce wasn’t even an option. I think growing up Catholic also meant that that infamous Catholic Guilt permeated everything I did.

We were taught from an early age that if you wanted something for yourself, you were selfish.

That toxicity definitely carried through when I was married as well. Whether it was my own sense of guilt, or I was just feeding off all the societal narratives that told me I need to have the house clean and dinner on the table and always be ready and willing to have sex with my then-husband, I remember feeling like if I ever said, “Why don’t you make dinner?” or something like that, I’d come off as high-maintenance–a harpy, a nag, in other words–a selfish bitch.

Did you ever feel like that in your marriage?

Do you still feel like that, even if you’re divorced?

You may struggle after divorce with feeling selfish if you don’t want to watch your grandkids this weekend.

Or you may feel guilty about requesting paid time off at work.

But here’s what you must know.

Asking for what you want is not selfish. It’s healthy and absolutely critical to your divorce recovery and future well-being.

Even if society and your family never considered what you want.

Even if you were led to believe in your marriage that what you wanted didn’t matter.

Even if you’ve been conditioned to think that you should put everybody’s needs ahead of your own.

Asking for what you want is not selfish. It is not indulgent.

It’s just plain empowering and necessary if you want to get out of the divorce rut that’s going to keep you from moving on.

Divorce Myth #2: Asking for what you want is narcissistic.

Advocating for yourself after divorce is not narcissistic.

You may have had someone convince you that it was wrong to ask for what you want. That person may have been your ex. Or a parent. Or someone else you loved.

But just because they made you believe it was wrong to ask for what doesn’t mean that it was.

Unapologetically asking for what you want after divorce is an act of courage, not narcissism. It’s giving yourself permission to value yourself in a world that may not value you. Asking for what you want is the ultimate “F*ck You” to those who would otherwise try to silence you. And you deserve to tell them to f*ck off unapologetically. Without feeling guilty.

Divorce Myth #3: It’s just too hard.

Asking for what you want—and not apologizing for it or justifying it to anyone–definitely takes work. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And now that you’re divorced, the world is yours to take back.

Think of a time you did something that you were scared of or anxious about. Whether it was taking a full course load back in college (can I even remember my college days?!), someone getting to work on time after dropping your kids off at daycare when they were babies and you were a younger mother, or hell–navigating your divorce and dealing with the emotions and finances of that shit show—no matter how hard it was, you prevailed.

Because you believed in yourself and knew you could do better.

Asking for what you want and advocating for yourself after divorce is the same thing. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take practice. And you’re going to have to do it again and again. But that doesn’t make it “too hard.” That makes it something you owe to yourself to do. Especially after divorce.

Divorce Myth #4: You don’t deserve it.

If you’re anything like me, you probably carry this weight that you should be grateful for the things you have. You may have heard it from your family. At church. Or even at work. Those toxic myths sound like:

“You should just be grateful for what you have.”

“That’s asking a bit much, isn’t it?”

“Why can’t you be happy with what you have?”

And we have a tendency to believe that, which is the reason we feel bad asking for help. Or asking for more in our lives.

This myth is what keeps us from investing in ourselves. Or treating ourselves. Or taking care of ourselves at the expense of our mental health.

You 100% deserve to ask for what you want. It is your right. And it’s your responsibility.

Messages about your unworthiness came most likely from toxic patriarchal values that were designed to keep divorced women like you feeling ashamed and unworthy.

It doesn’t matter if your parents–especially if you came from a big family with limited resources–told you to “just be happy with what you have.” They were wrong.

It doesn’t matter if society’s message of “just be grateful” even if you know you aren’t happy and know you deserve more is swirling around in your head.

This is your time, and you deserve to confidently ask for what you want.

Even if you’re divorced.

And especially if you’re feeling guilty after divorce or shame after divorce.

It is time to ask for what you want. Because that’s what you deserve.

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