Between financial challenges, a new relationship status and a changing family dynamic, it's easy to feel like we're living someone else's life when divorcing.  At some point the surreal nature of the changes we experience hit us hard. 

No friends of mine

Despite being completely over some of the worst habits of our past, we begin to let them seep back into our lives like an angry friend calling to check-in on our well-being.

We believe these friends, our bad habits, are definitely available to make our rotten day better, at first.  They are absolutely there for us when we can't take another bad call from our attorney.  And they are always available when the right people and things we really need are not.

Oh!  But what crafty deals we make with these bad habits.  We'll just have one glass of wine, bum one cigarette or eat one pint of super chocolate chunk, double brownie ice cream.  As time goes on, our innocent indulgence may turn into a bottle of wine, pack of cigs and a frickin gallon of ice cream, all - to - gether

It happens, what can we say, a new single life and divorce aren't easy.

It doesn't matter if we haven't fallen for these bad habits in years, once we get a taste it's suddenly harder to quit than before.  Rest assured this is something that's very common for divorcees.  But so is depression, financial hardship and poor odds for a successful second or third marriage.  Common doesn't make it right for you!  

These old friends often reemerge during the third and fourth stages of the Stages of Divorce.  These specific stages are most specific to our roller-coaster emotions and risky behaviors and can occur during any part of the divorce process.  This means we may pick up some former bad habits at the beginning of our divorce and/or years after.  

We have our reasons

Stress, anxiety, depression and lifestyle changes can cause us to crave bad habits in order to replace what's missing in our life.  We may recognize the sudden change in finances, extra household chores and new single lifestyle, but fail to really understand how these changes affect our emotions, mood and decisions.  Then how these affect our health, relationships and ambition.

Many of us find ourselves looking for something or someone to put our old, comfortable lifestyle back in place.   We may not consciously realize it, but our actions and choices can often be linked to this need.  Sadly, for many, this former lifestyle wasn't working either.

Subconsciously, we may miss our spouse or our bad relationship.  The relationship likely had a consuming effect on our everyday life.  But, once removed, a void exists, and we simultaneously wish to replace it with a new vice or life drama that's ready and willing to take control of us. 

It makes sense to replace our feelings of loss with more bad relationships, habits or behaviors.  We may be drawn to hard-to-solve problems, damaged people and their issues.   It's the reason we grab a cola and cheese curls rather than carrots and broccoli when we start to feel down or depressed.   It's why we may feel that despite our best efforts, "trouble" seems to find us (unable to recognize how).

In fact, negative thoughts and behaviors are several times more likely to consume our attention.  Tabloids make millions reporting scandals and bad behavior of the rich and famous!   We buy, search and track negative stuff constantly online.   

Consider smoking cessation in America.  Finally, we noticed the side of our packs of cigarettes and agreed breathing smoke into our lungs is dangerous and unhealthy.  So what did we do after [Ref: CDC-2020] percentages of smokers in the U.S. declined from 43% in 1964 to 14% in 2018?    We put a serious dent in the industry that damaged American's lungs for centuries and then added a new 2.5 billion dollar e-cigarette industry and legalized marijuana.  Like, what?!  

We naturally seek replacements but we must tap into the same courage we used to divorce to avoid vices that cause harm.  We need to remember the reason we choose to take the hard road to divorce.  Most of us did so to provide ourselves and our family a chance at a happier, healthier future.   We can't take one wrong thing out and put an equally wrong thing back into our life.

It totally s*cks to fall for some stupid vice after being so courageous!  

Below we have listed a few easy ways to determine if your innocent indulgence is actually a bad habit worth quitting.

1. Signs of addiction

Is your new habit something that you gave up before due to problems that negatively affected your relationships, job, finances or health?  Seriously!  Think about this question like your life depends on it.  Without good health and well-being, good relationships, enough money and personal happiness, what do you have besides a vice or habits that destroy them?

If the answer is yes, then quit your life destroying habit(s) immediately.  Take charge of each problem and find a solution that helps you quit.  Ask close friends and family members for emotional support.  Contact your health insurance provider for a list of treatment centers, if necessary.  Locate support groups, therapists and counselors in your area for additional emotional support.  Don't blame others or look for excuses, not because other's aren't responsible and you don't have excuses.  Because blaming them and looking for excuses are roots from the past when what you really need are seeds for the future. 

There may be numerous reasons for your addiction, but reasons aren't always excuses.   You are the only one who has the control to make the changes in your life to completely eradicate these bad choices and make good ones. 

DMK Been There, Done That Advice

Consider your addiction as part of one person and your strength and conviction for betterment of another.  Your addict has numerous excuses and reasons not to allow your strongest self  to make life changing decisions that would empower you to overcome your addictions and weaknesses, ultimately destroying your addict.  

Addiction isn't easy, but only you can empower your strength to overtake your weakness.

2. Makes you feel terrible

Does your bad habit cause poor health, depression or feelings of being defeated?

Why waste a single day doing something that causes you to feel worse?  Usually you choose these habits because you are suffering in some way.  In the case of divorce it is usually due to stress, loss and life changes.  Perhaps some of us choose to go back to these old habits to punish ourselves or those who love us. 

It seems ironic that we choose habits that cause a lot of the same bad emotions and feelings associated with the reasons why we choose them in the first place.  It's common when a familiar thing is removed from our life that we would choose an old habit from the past to provide us comfort.  It's hard to admit to ourselves that it wasn't such a bright idea.  In many ways, we know our habit doesn't help.  But, it provides a source of comfort and familiarity.  Once we realize that it isn't helping, it makes us feel even worse because it's a part of ourselves that is controlled by our weakness.  Regardless why we welcome them back into our life, we are eventually reminded why we quit them before and want to quit them again.

3. Everyone tells you to quit

Do your family and friends tell you to stop doing something that is worrisome to them or unhealthy for you?

Sometimes it is difficult in a time of grief and disappointment, as in a divorce, to see how damaging something or someone can be for us.  Our friends and family members are our "check engine" light.  Don't ignore it.  If the people you love the most are sounding an alarm about a bad habit, it's likely for a good reason.  

Don't dismiss concerns from those you trust because it's a habit that formerly annoyed your spouse.  Sometimes we choose to do something that we know would defy our former relationship, out of anger and frustration for that person. 

Don't let negative feelings drive your negative choices and behaviors.  The love you have for your family, friends and yourself should be tremendous and must outweigh the attraction to your negative decisions.  That love should also be more important than any disdain for your ex or those who have caused you pain.  If you really want to annoy those people, be successful at being your new, happier, healthier self.  Do it your way without hate for them or the non-help of old bad habits.