Divorce can be one of the most difficult things you may ever face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 813,862 divorces and annulments within the United States in 2014, compared to 2,140,272 marriages in that same time, which made the 2014 U.S. divorce rate 3.2 per 1,000. While Time magazine notes that the number of U.S. divorces in 2015 dropped to a forty-year low, thousands of people across the United States are still divorcing every year. It is sad that many spouses turn to divorce because they are not able to overcome their differences. Often times, divorce can be unavoidable, but in other cases, spouses can work through their relationship difficulties and preventing divorce from occurring.

If a divorce does happen, there are ways to begin moving past it. It is usually not an easy task. Since you lived with someone for so long, you may have become quite accustomed to having this person in your life. You may be accustomed to the familiarity and are afraid of being lonely or afraid of the unknown. There are, however, choices you can make to change your entire life for the better. Here are some things you can do to use your newfound freedom to improve your life:

1.) Rediscover yourself. If you have just divorced after being married a long time, you have been in a serious relationship for a long time. It all started from the period when you began dating this person. Take the time you have to remember who you were as a person before you entered the relationship. You might be able to learn a lot more about yourself than you ever knew.

2.) Discover new parts of yourself. There are so many things you may wish to learn and explore. You could begin to figure out a whole lot more about yourself now that you have time to do so. Previously, you may have worried more about your spouse’s needs than your own. Now, you may have the time to focus on yourself and what you wish to accomplish.

3.) Allow yourself to be emotional. You might be sad, grieving, angry, confused, or dealing with other emotions and need emotional support. It could be incredibly difficult for you to truly understand what is happening right now. Once your divorce is finalized, it could be tough to accept life without your spouse. Giving yourself the chance to accept what has happened and being able to move forward may be tough challenges for you. Acknowledging and examining your emotions can allow you to recognize there is a future beyond your marriage.

4.) Think about dating someone different. There are many different people in the world. You might have always dated a certain type of person. Now, you might want to consider dating somebody you never would’ve chosen in the past. And who knows? It might lead to something you never expected. That person could be your next partner. You never know if you don’t try, right?

5.) Accept your current reality. Divorce can change your life significantly. You do not have a partner to share your life. But simply accepting things for the way they are could help you understand your life. You might discover valuable insights about just exactly who you are as a person.

6.) Plan ahead. This is your chance to do things you might have never had the time or opportunity to do in the past. It’s a new world for you and you can begin to make it your own. Worrying about the past is not productive because you have no way of controlling or changing it. The here and now is where you are. After you have accepted your current reality, you can begin to see all the opportunities that lie ahead. Taking the initiative to make this time about you is exactly what you need to do for yourself.

Life and divorce are certainly not easy. You might be worried about becoming another divorce statistic, but even more so, you might be grieving over your loss of hope. After all, you started your marriage hoping for the best possible outcome with your spouse.

While you might not be able to change things about your marriage, you can take steps to change your life. For example, if you want to get married again, you could start to date. This might not be easy and create a number of difficulties, yet you may meet that special someone. Maybe you will take the perspective that you were meant to go through a divorce in order to meet this person. Maybe this person has gone through the similar experiences.

Should you find someone, you might want to evaluate what went wrong in your first marriage. You do not want the same things to happen again. Your past can help you build a stronger future.

While divorce is tough, it is not a death sentence. Recognize what you have in your life right now. There are probably good things among the bad, right? It is likely that things are not as bad as they seem. There is hope, if you know how and where to find it.

About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.