It could be you’re in the middle of a divorce and wake up every morning hurt, disappointed, miserable, or angry. Or you’re past the legal and financial aspects of separation, everything finalized, and think you should be feeling relief by now — but the feelings won’t go away. Here are some ideas to keep you going.
1. Find Yourself a Good Listener.
According to divorcesupport.com, a trusted friend and confidant is priceless when it comes to coping with divorce. Ideally your friend would be warm but objective; if you’re going to move past this, someone must tell you when your thoughts and actions are harming you. If there’s no one to contact, find someone. Look into online support groups, seek out a therapist, or touch bases with a minister at your church.
One quick note: never use your children as a sounding board, especially if they’re underage; they have their own separation issues to deal with, which can be overwhelming for them. Hearing bad things about their mother or father, especially from you, might confuse them more — and potentially backfire.
2. Journal, Journal, Journal.
Journaling is an incredible way to sooth raw emotion. Here are two approaches some people find helpful.
a. Write about it until it stops bothering you. Divorce can be traumatic, and one way to deal with trauma is to write about it repeatedly until it stops hurting so much. Write about the marriage, divorce, and aftermath, all the chaos and emotion — and do so over and over. At first emotions might intensify, but in time the bad experience loses its control over you. It’s a phase in your life, a difficult one, but you’re in control, not the divorce.
b. People also use journaling to solve problems. Describe the issue, then give yourself permission to put emotion aside and brainstorm possible solutions. For example, imagine your ex-spouse wants to meet to finalize the divorce, but getting together with them always leaves you discombobulated and plain worn out. They tend to ramble all over the place. What are your options? Here’s a quick brainstorm done on paper. Being in this situation, what are your options?
(i) Meet your spouse, white-knuckle it, and get it over with
(ii) Cancel the meeting and reschedule for later, hoping you’ll feel better down the road.
(iii) Cancel the meeting and say you’ll communicate by email or through your attorney only.
(iv) Tell your ex-partner you can only meet for 20 minutes.
(v) Bring a support person with you
(vi) Come prepared with questions and potential responses, plus a method to escape when ready
The list goes on. Consider writing as many options as you can. Think outside the box. Can you change how you think about or act because of the situation? How about any actions on your part that might be complicating things further? The next step is to choose one of the options and make it happen.
3. Forget About Revenge:
As sweet as it may sound, focusing on getting revenge keeps you stuck. You can’t rebuild a life when you’re spending all your energy on revenge. According to the website mentioned above, divorcesupport.com, it takes two to make a marriage and two to destroy a marriage. Sure, he/she may have played a larger role, but you have no control over their past or current actions. You do have control over the role you play now. Accept responsibility for your actions — that gives you power to do something about the situation — and redirect that energy to better places. You have a future.
4. Put More Energy Into Your Life:
Marital problems can wreck havoc on your identity, functioning, everything. Now’s a good time to focus on those areas, which not only gives your mind much-needed relief from your divorce problems, but also gives you a chance to establish a routine, reconnect with old buddies and make friends, build self-esteem and resilience, advance your career, and do whatever else fell to the side over the past few years.
5. Broaden Your Horizons:
Get out of the house! Join a support group. Host potluck, dinner parties, game nights or movie nights. Join community groups that do things that interest you: hiking, bicycling, reading, knitting, etc. Fill your home with people and laughter. Don’t push yourself into dating until you’re ready, but do get out and make contacts.
When you’re ready, take advantage of being single and free. You’re not tied down anymore. Take an exotic vacation alone, join a Swing Dancing class, and sign up for speed dating. Open yourself up to new ideas and new ways of meeting people. You never know: the love of your life might be waiting for you.
If you are in the process of divorcing, or have gone through a divorce, what have/did you find helpful to help you get past it? I’d love to hear about it. There are so many people dealing with this issue. Thanks so much, and have a great night!