It's hard to get out of bed some days after divorce, let alone map out a future spent on your own. But at some point in the process, you start to realize that you're so much more than your relationship status and that life goes on -- and gets better -- after divorce.
Our readers and bloggers will tell you as much. Below, they offer 12 silver linings of divorce that surprised them most.
Your free time is entirely yours.
"These day, I'm able to do whatever I want at night. 'Greys Anatomy' marathon? Yes! Browse Pinterest for hours on end? Done! Not having to worry about ignoring or upsetting someone? Priceless." -Callie McCartney
You don't expect divorce to be a confidence booster -- but it can be.
"After my marriage ended, I doubted my ability to handle the divorce -- and definitely felt inadequate during and immediately after -- but once the dust settled, I was proud of myself for getting through it. Not only did I not fall apart, I was building a great life. I found myself on the other side and now know I can handle anything." -Rebecca Neville
If you have sole custody of the kids, you have full say in how they're raised.
"I always enjoyed spending time with my kids but getting to raise them on my own, I didn't know how much I would enjoy just being immersed in their lives. The rewards of being solely responsible for their well-being were enormous: The school conferences, concerts, sporting events, taking care of their worries, talking with them about first girlfriends, first boyfriends -- all of it -- gave me more joy than I ever thought possible." -Joseph Seldner
Those eggshells you used to walk on? They're no longer there.
"My decisions are the ones that actually get made. I'm watching my daughter grow into the kind of woman I still hope to be when I grow up. Eggshells are simply eggshells now and not a metaphor I have to walk on." -Jayne Schroeder
Bye bye, in-laws.
"Let me tell you: The slow realization that you don't have to sit there and listen to your mother-in-law anymore is magical." -Amy Matthis Marsh
Being an every-other-weekend parent has its perks.
"I get to be an off-the-clock parent every other weekend. I don’t get a lot of time to myself, but when those weekends come, I can live like a 20-year-old bachelor. The dishes pile up in the sink and I can stay out as late as I want (or just be lazy and veg out on the couch and watch shows and eat junk food). I might see my kids at their lacrosse or soccer games, but if a change in the schedule happens, it’s not my problem that weekend!" -Jennifer Iacovelli
You realize you were both good people who were simply bad for each other.
"It's great being able to laugh and be myself without feeling guilty. He is a good man but we didn't make each other happy and he didn't 'get' me. I can be myself again now." -Rebecca Kenne
This is an opportunity to become a much better parent.
"Prior to our separation, I came home daily to a house that was riddled with stress created by me and my ex-wife. The cloud of tension was palpable. The stress of a marriage that was failing made me short, bitter and incapable of appreciating my children the way they deserved. Now I revel in the little moments that happen all the time in fatherhood. I don't blow up at small things that kids just do and it's made me and my sons closer than ever even though we see each other less." -Doug Zeigler
Your goals are no longer on the back burner.
"I've learned to take care of myself. I've gone from couch potato to finishing a half Ironman!" -Kris Fava
Every side of the bed is your side.
"Now that I'm divorced I can lay across the whole damn mattress." -Kelly-Anne Foley
Your post-divorce relationship with your ex may end up being better than the marriage itself.
"I come from a very small family. Divorce left me feeling alone after suddenly losing the only family I ever had, including in-laws and aunts, uncles and cousins on my ex's side. When I became friends with my ex's new wife, I was slowly included in family functions again. Over the years, my family has become larger than I ever dreamed possible -- including my son's stepmom's family. Despite our 'ex' titles, we're completely connected as a family. All of us." -Shelley Wetton
You get to rediscover who you are as a person.
"I'm rediscovering and building upon the once strong and independent person I had lost along the way. I've learned to like myself again." -Renée Benson