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Tips to Deal Successfully with Separation and Divorce
Women who are going through a separation and pending a divorce go through a whole barrage of emotions. It can seem as though they are on an emotional roller coaster, with constant ups and downs, twist and turns. All of a sudden, and sometimes quite unexpectedly, women find their lives turned upside down, and feel it is spiraling out of control, and that there is nothing they can do to stop it.
I have personal experience with a “surprise” divorce, and I know the complete and utter helplessness that a woman can feel. I understand the despair, the fear, the anger, the sadness, the denial, and the lack of will you can feel. And I understand that sometimes finding the strength to carry on from day to day is near impossible.
My separation was over a year ago, and my divorce was finalized this past May. I am proud to say that I have overcome all of the emotions that are associated with separation and divorce, and I have found myself and happiness again. It was a tough journey, but I did it. And I’m going to share with you some tips that I learned along the way. I know it seems like it is the end of the world, but if I can handle a divorce and come out a better person, I know you can too.
I understand that it feels like a part of you has died. This is a completely natural feeling, and (almost) everyone who walks through divorce experiences it. Why? Well, let me be honest with you- a part of you has died. You are suffering through the death of a relationship, and as such, you are going to experience the five stages of grief. People seem to think that these stages only apply to the physical death of someone you love. However, these five stages apply to many different types of situations, and divorce is one of them.The five stages of grief are:
· Denial- “This is not happening to me” or “This is just a bad dream”
· Anger- “This can NOT be happening to me” or “It’s not fair!”
· Bargaining- “I’ll do (something) different if we can work this out” or “Can we still be friends?”
· Depression- “I have no reason to get out of bed” or “My life has no meaning”
· Acceptance- “I’m going to be just fine” or “It’s not what I wanted, but it is what it is”
I bet these stages sound awful familiar to you don’t they? It is not uncommon to jump from stage one to stage two, and then find yourself right back to stage one again. You can flip flop from one stage to another day by day, or even hour by hour. It’s going to happen, which leads me to my first tip…
Accept Your Emotions
Do not let anyone tell you that how you feel or what you think is wrong, especially yourself. There are going to be those well meaning idiots that think you need a healthy dose of “tough love”, and they will tell you that you are wrong, or that you need to just suck it up and get over it. Don’t listen to them. Everyone grieves differently, and each in their own time. You have a right to feel the way you do. Accept your emotions, and even go a step further and embrace them. Your emotions are a part of who you are, and you do not need to feel guilty for feeling sad or angry. Remember, how you feel is normal, and eventually it will pass. When you feel like crying, then cry. If you are mad, break some of those extra dishes. It will only make you feel better.
Find Your Motivation
Finding that one thing that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning can be really hard when everything in your life feels so out of control. But, you need to find that thing, because you are going to need all the motivation you can get. And the quicker you can find it the better.
For me, my motivation was my kids, who were six and seven when their father and I separated. They were very upset to see me in tears, and they were scared and didn’t really understand what was going on. My kids and I have always been extremely close, and my son has undergone three open heart surgeries, and he is only alive because he fought to be. For me, the motivation to get up, off my butt, was the desire to give them the best life I could, because they deserved no less than that.
If you have kids, get focused on them. Think about a year from now and picture the things you want them to have- a bedroom of their own again, a stable home, a new play set? You can’t give them any of that unless you get up and get busy.
It doesn’t matter how big or how small your motivation is. All that matters is that it motivates you. Whatever you can think of that gives you that drive to press on, find it, and cling to it with all you have.
(Sometimes, the best motivation is spite. I know that sounds terrible, but hey, I am not here to sugar coat things for you. If you have a soon to be ex-spouse that thinks you can’t make it without them, let that “I’ll show you” attitude carry you through if you have to. Because you know what? You absolutely CAN make it without them, and do a d*mn good job of it too!)
Express Your Emotions
Remember I said to embrace your emotions? Do just that. I can’t express enough how important it is for you to get these emotions off your chest. You can do this in a number of ways:
•Talk to someone- Nope, not your best girlfriend or your mom, or anyone else that is just going to agree with you and tell you what you want to hear. Find an unbiased party that you can vent to, that won’t judge you when you say you want to set your ex’s car on fire. I realize not everyone can afford some hot-shot therapist, but you don’t really need one either. You can find a cheap (sometimes free) person to vent to at one of the local churches. Pastors can make a great counselor, as they have seen so many different life situations. They won’t judge you, and can make you quite comfortable.
•Journal- If you can’t find someone that you are comfortable with, then grab a notebook and start keeping a journal. A piece of paper can’t judge you, or tell the cops of your devious plans should you have any (and we all do- just don’t carry them out!). You can write about all your sadness, your anger, your frustration, your fears, your hopes, and getting them off of your chest will do wonders for you.
•Write a letter to your Ex- One of the things that makes it even harder on you is that you didn’t just lose a spouse. You’ve lost your best friend too. Your spouse was the one person that you could tell everything, and you became very used to doing just that. And with the end of your marriage, you’ve lost your best friend too. A good technique to try is to sit down and write a letter to your ex. Tell them everything, all the jumble of emotions you have experienced, tell them how you hate them, love them, want to smack them, want to kiss them (and sometimes in that order!), and when you have bared it all, ball the paper up, and toss it in the trash. You don’t actually have to mail it off to them; just writing it all down will accomplish your desire to express yourself.
Surround Yourself With Friends
Alright, let’s face it, you aren’t a super hero. You cannot walk through this all by yourself. You are going to need a good network of friends and family that support you. Gather your closet friends around you, and use their strength and support when you are feeling down. You do not have to feel guilty about this, it is not a sign of weakness, and you don’t have to be ashamed. The people that love you the most, and want to see you make it through this, will completely understand if you go from laughing to breaking things to crying to laughing again. They will not have you committed to the crazy farm, and you may even have that one good friend that will draw pictures of your ex on the dishes before you break them! ‘
Find Some Happiness Every Day
It is important that you find some small measure of happiness each day. It doesn’t matter what it is- as long as it doesn’t include your ex! My happiness came from playing baseball and soccer with my kids. Seeing the big, gap-toothed smile on my son’s face every time he managed to hit the baseball, or the little two step dance of joy my daughter did when she scored a goal, was enough of a reason for me to smile. And you need to smile. You need to find something that brings your heart some joy when you are going through what feels like hell.
Then, when you are alone at night, and feeling your most depressed, think about those things that made you smile that day, and put those memories on repeat in your head. This will get your brain off the fact that you are sleeping alone, and put you in a better mood so that you can actually get some sleep at night.
Live for the Moment
I know this is incredibly hard to do when your life is changing so much. It is important for you to plan for your new future, and create new goals. On top of that, there is sorting out what is now your past, and putting your life together. But, you needn’t weigh yourself down with all of this either. Learn to live for the moment. Take it day by day, or if you are just beginning your journey through this, take it hour by hour. Don’t bog yourself down with what ifs, and how am I’s. If someone calls you and ask you to come over, don’t be afraid to jump in your car and go. If you want to go somewhere- go. If you feel like cooking at midnight- cook. If you want to take a second hot bath after you just got out of the tub- by all means, get back in! If you want to take a nap at ten in the morning- start snoring. Live for what you want at that moment.
There is a Latin saying “Carpe Diem” that means seize the day. Adopt this as your new life’s motto. You are a free woman. There is no more husband to answer to. No more husband to work your personal schedule around. Do what makes you happy, and do the things you want to do when you want to do them.
The truth is, while you are living for all those moments, time is passing. And it is in that passing time, that you are healing, you are adjusting, and you are getting over the situation you are in.
There is Light at the End of the Tunnel
I always thought this was a stupid saying, until I walked through divorce. When you are going through a separation and divorce, apply this to your life. It really will help. I know that right now it seems as though everything is completely hopeless, that you will never be happy again, that nothing will ever be right again, but it really is just a matter of time. When you are feeling your most down, repeat that saying to yourself over and over again. Tell yourself that one day, you WILL be fine. You CAN get through this. You WILL be happy again. You CAN make it. It is the truth. It may not seem like it now, but one day, this will all be behind you, and you will come out a better, stronger, happy person again!