Divorced Women Speak about Personal Growth | SoundVision.com

Divorced Women Speak about Personal Growth

It’s easy to talk about divorce as a statistic. It’s easy to assign numbers and apply broad labels. But people are not data and lived experiences hold far more depth and complexity than statistical reports can ever represent. 

While divorce can have a negative impact on families, it is not always the case. For some, divorce can bring relief and stability to those who are struggling. Sometimes letting go can be exactly the thing that is needed to help a person grow and improve in their lives.

Unfortunately, due to social and cultural stigmas, stories of personal growth after divorce in the Muslim community tend to be scarce. I interviewed three women on how divorce was a benefit and source of growth for them. These are the lessons they shared.

Feel Your Feelings But Try Not to Get Stuck in Them

Feeling a range of intense emotions during and after a divorce is normal. Depending on how the marriage was overall and the circumstances of the divorce, it’s common to feel confusion, sadness, anger, fear, loss of purpose, or even grief.

“I felt cheated. I felt used and discarded. I felt angry.” said April Covington, architect, mother, and nature enthusiast about her feelings after divorce. “But surprisingly, I didn't feel like I was any less than because I knew what I deserved.”

Nahela Morales, Co-Founder of Embrace, a support organization by converts for converts, expressed also feeling used after her divorce.

“It was clearly more about him, but I felt used. I was coming home one day and he was gone. He had recently gotten his green card and in my gut I knew something wasn’t right. I didn’t have much time to process because I was scheduled to travel for work, so I shook it off. But while traveling, I took time to cry it out in the bathroom and then went about my day. A lot of crying happened in the bathroom so that my son wouldn’t see me.”

However you feel after the divorce, the important thing is to work through your feelings so that you can begin to heal and move forward with your life. You can do this on your own, with a  trusted friend, with the help of a professional, or a combination of all three.

For Covington, self-reflection played a large role in her growth process. “I felt like I needed to take time to reflect on everything so that I could do it [marriage] again but not repeat the same mistakes,” she admits.

Trusting in Allah’s Qadr and His plan for your life can be a great source of comfort throughout the divorce process. 


“Allah doesn’t give us anything that we can’t handle,” said Morales. “I feel, I grieve, I’m human. But I don’t dwell on what isn’t there. I don’t allow it to consume me. It comes back to an attitude of gratitude.”  


“As difficult and emotionally turbulent as my own divorce was, it was a blessing in disguise,” said Sister Amatullah (name changed to protect privacy). “Allah does not burden a soul beyond what it can bear. That verse did not ever ring true in my mind as strongly as it does since my divorce.”

Leave Behind Negativity from Others

Once divorced, many individuals, especially women, can face shame, unfair judgments, and criticism from their family and community. Divorcees are often looked at as failures or untrustworthy for not being able to “make their marriages work.”

“When I became single and still had to work around men, I was sometimes seen as a threat by other women in the community,” remembered Morales. “I had to put my foot down like, ‘Look, I don’t want your husband. I’m just trying to get my work done.’ I had to learn to stand up for myself.”

Amatullah grew up with negative cultural norms that ingrained upon her the idea that divorce equaled failure.

“I had been internalizing this notion that divorce is failure, and that if I didn't succeed in making my marriage work, I would've been a failure,” reflected Amatullah. “That realization took me a long time to figure out. I had to learn how to own my truth and be adamant about it; not letting anyone try to silence it or tell myself, or others, that I was wrong.”

It takes courage, but standing up to negativity, or at least steering clear of it, can help to protect your energy and your sense of self.

“I had to really work on not caring what people think about me being a divorcee,” reflected Covington. “People will have opinions and they will look at you like there's something wrong with you. Sometimes they won't want to be around you. It used to bother me, but over time you grow and you learn. I got to a point where I really don't care. It's an ongoing process. They will always have an opinion but they don't know what went on behind closed doors and they will never know.”

Know Your Worth

Many women lose parts of who they are during marriage and divorce. Toxic and/or traumatic marriages especially can have devastating impacts on feelings of self-esteem and self-worth.

“I've always felt like I knew myself but I don't think I understood my value,” reflected Covington. “Throughout the marriage, being mistreated helped me to realize that I do have value. I’m a catch! I just didn’t understand what I was bringing to the table because the person I was with didn't want to acknowledge it.”

In order to grow, taking the time to get reacquainted with yourself, your value, and your needs is necessary. 

“Take time to understand yourself,” advises Covington. “Know who you are in the situation. What got you here, you already know it. Don't let anyone make you feel like your thoughts, feelings or situation aren't valid.”

The process of self-discovery can take time but can be a great effort toward helping you heal from your experience and move forward as a stronger person.

“I am still discovering myself and my own voice,” admits Amatullah. “I have had to start my life over in many ways, and the biggest was leaving that voice that convinced me for so long that I deserved that, but I didn't and no one else does either. You have to listen to yourself. Know, wholeheartedly, that you are worthy of the best. And to never, ever put up with something you wouldn't want anyone else you love to put up with.”

For Morales, holding tightly to her faith helped both her sense of self-love and self-determination grow after divorce.

“Divorce enabled me to see that I am capable as long as I have my faith,” said Morales. “If I have Allah then I have everything. Knowing that what has been written has been done so because there is a learning curve for me, a lesson to learn. I can ask myself, ‘What do I need to rectify? What do I need to work on? What do I need to learn?’ It’s all learning. It also taught me to know exactly what I want and need, and to not compromise my values or what is important to me.” 

Look Deep Inside

For many, going through divorce brings about an element of doubt and fear. You may second-guess your choices, your abilities, or even your chances for a happy future.

“For the first year afterwards I kept asking myself did I make the right choice? I would constantly have to reassess,” remembered Covington. “Self reflection helped me to put closure on it, to move forward, and begin the process of healing. Focusing on improving myself, my health, and my parenting became my next journey; remedying those things that had become damaged.”

Sometimes the process of looking within can bring up deeper rooted issues that played a role in your relationship and will need addressing as you move forward.

“I had to really, and am still learning, to understand why I kept repeating the same mistakes,” admits Covington. “It goes back generations: not being taught how to look for a proper spouse, not having guidance, not having support. It’s not just knowing what you want, but also what you don’t want.”

“I had to learn that I didn’t deserve the abuse that I received,” acknowledged Morales. “It’s an ongoing process to unlearn things like this because it ties into childhood trauma. It’s work that continues to be done with understanding, purpose, affirmations, and knowing Allah until the day we die.”

According to Morales, it’s imperative to process these deeper issues in order to move forward a healthier version of yourself, especially if you aim to begin a new relationship down the line.

“We have to assess where we are and work on that,” says Morales. “Look internally first, and figure out our own selves so we don’t carry resentment into other relationships. Yes, marriage is half the deen but, if you’re not ready or you haven’t healed, what are you really bringing to the table? Hate? Anger? Resentment? Baggage?”

Trust in Allah

Allah the Most High says in the Quran: 

“Say, ‘Nothing will ever befall us except what Allah has destined for us. He is our Protector.’ So in Allah let the believers put their trust.” 

(Surah Tawbah,  9:51)

For all three women, having faith in Allah’s plan and purpose for their lives was an immense source of comfort along their journey of growth from divorce.

“Once I gained a new perspective, I was able to see that Allah had liberated me from something I was shackled in,” said Morales. “My faith has always been my strength and I fall back on it. I would talk with my son and say this is what Allah has written for us, without animosity or hate.”

Covington advises any woman facing divorce or even the possibility of divorce to make time for Allah with lots of dua and istikhara prayer (prayer for seeking counsel).

“Talking to Allah is what got me through,” reflected Covington. “There was a time I was so stressed out, I was crying during my whole prayer, and when I finished my salah I was crying so hard I didn't even know what to say. So I just cried to Allah until I stopped. Then the next day, subhanAllah, Allah resolved each problem that I faced. I believe it was because of my duaa. Allah heard me. I was so focused on trying to make the marriage work that my connection with Allah became very fragile but all we do is ask. Focus on Allah. ”

For Amatullah, trusting in Allah also meant distinguishing between the teachings of the religion of Islam versus the varying cultures of Muslims.

“Our deen values women; in the Prophet’s final sermon, he said to take care of women,” said Amatullah. “There is a major discrepancy in our religion and many of our cultural circles. Be educated in your deen, and learn the truth - don't allow someone else to weaponize it.” 

Final Reflections

Ask yourself…

“Allah gives us all wisdom,” says Morales. “He gave us a blueprint, or a compass, and scripture that tells us how we are supposed to be treated. You’ve really got to ask yourself, ‘If I am Allah’s creation, then why am I allowing myself to be treated in a way that’s not pleasing to Allah?’

Set the bar before getting married…

“Don't be rushed…Have family involved from the very beginning or a close friend who can advise you. Do your due diligence…Try premarital counseling, something that sets the basis for both people,” urges Covington. “And don’t settle! Be picky. Don't bend on your deal breakers.”

Refer it back to Allah…

“Divorce is a major step that can't be taken lightly,” admits Amatullah. “Make duaa and make istikhara and be sure that leaving the marriage is better for you than staying in it.”

Know that divorce is not the end…


“Divorce is not the end of the world; it’s just a page in our books,” reflects Morales. “Don’t let anyone belittle you for it. They can’t belittle you because Allah doesn’t belittle you.”

Melissa Barreto is a homeschooling mother of five children and the Co-Founder of Wildflower Homeschool Collective, a homeschool organization based in Northern New Jersey. 

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