Divorce gets a bad rap. While the process of ending a marriage can definitely shake up your life in all aspects—from the financial to the emotional—there are many unexpected good lessons that divorce in later-life have in store for us.

There is a whole new side to you that you never knew existed

Ending a marriage can be traumatizing. For years we defined ourselves as spouses, partners, and always as part of a unit.

Then the divorce happened—we felt like our life and world to disappear in a matter of seconds. Everything was in jeopardy and we felt like we lost a part of ourselves that would never return.

Yet, through the navigation of divorce, something started to happen. In a search for solace, we made the wise decision to do things to bring us comfort and joy. In an effort to not feel alone, we may have joined a book club or support group. Maybe we started to spend more time with friends and family. Perhaps we pursued interests and hobbies that we felt we never could in our marriage. We may have returned to work.

At first these things seemed scary because we were not used to them. But gradually, as we started to enjoy these new pursuits, we may have discovered that they were opening a door to a whole new world for us—one where we could start defining ourselves as businesswomen, fierce gardeners, amazing friend, world traveler—new, richer self-identities that in an earlier life we never thought possible.

Being alone can be amazing

One of the reasons many of us chose to stay in an unhappy and unhealthy was that we did not want to be alone. We told ourselves that being with a partner, even if the love and respect we deserved was no longer there, was better than being with no partner at all.

However, as the divorce progressed, we may have noticed something happening. The house that we came home to was peaceful for once. Everything was where we had left it, without anybody to clean up after and resentment to grow. We were able to read a good book on the couch and not have to worry about the TV blaring a sports game we never cared about. We discovered that we liked coming and going as we pleased, without our partners to worry about. The ability to set our own schedule and run our homes and lives without worry about our spouse to worry about was liberating.

The ability to sit by ourselves, go places and explore the things that we wanted to do may have started to replace that fear of being alone and panic of having nobody there—the things we remember feeling when we first started to agonize about life without a partner that was no longer healthy for us.

You are stronger than you can even imagine

We do not give themselves the credit they deserve. We may have panicked during the divorce process. We may have spent sleepless nights thinking, "I built my life around this marriage and I have done everything for this partner. What on earth am I supposed to do without him? Where will I go?"

But a funny thing happens during the split. We figure things out. We don't run to our partners, telling them "I have no idea what to do! Please come back to me!" Instead, we start researching our options. We start consulting divorce professionals who help us navigate the murky waters of divorce. When we started to panic about the financial aspect of things, we learned how to budget, how to save, how to cut back, and how to make things work for our lives, regardless of income.

Slowly but surely, day by day, before we even knew it—we were taking care of ourselves, making the best decisions for ourselves and for our future, and figuring out how to get our happiness back and reclaim our own lives.

Isn't it funny how a major life change—something we didn't think we could ever survive, let alone prosper through—can mold us into the heroines we never knew we could be? Learning these unexpected lessons about ourselves—discovering our new identities, embracing our time alone, and realizing our own strength—are not only unexpected lessons from divorce, but also some of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.

Author's Bio: 

Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce and recovery coach whose website "Surviving Your Split" helps women over 50 readers navigate their divorce with less stress and drama so they can move on with their lives.

For your free Divorce Goddess Recovery kit, stop by http://survivingyoursplit.com/ or say hello at martha@survivingyoursplit.com or https://www.facebook.com/survivingyoursplit.