When you get a divorce, it’s like setting off a nuclear bomb in the middle of your life. Carnage is everywhere, and the damage touches things you never thought would be affected. Suddenly, your priorities shift, and breathing becomes a struggle just to make it through the day. However, there are things you can do to make divorce and the transition into your new life easier. Chin up sweetheart, and put down that bottle of Hennessy. You’re going to make it through this year with flying colors if you just follow these four simple rules to make it through the initial falling out after the ‘blast’.
1. Make a Post-Divorce Bucket List: No matter how much it feels as though your life is over right now, make a bucket list. Yes, I’m serious. When my marriage ended, my friend Leisl forced me to sit (sober) at the kitchen table and write out a list of everything I wanted to do, places I wanted to go and things I wanted to accomplish that I hadn’t in the 14 years I’d been married. At first, they were silly things like ‘wake up happy,’ and ‘get through one day without crying.’ But then, as the list grew, they became things that I seriously wanted. Travel to Belize, to go back to Europe, finally publish my novel. And as I wrote, I realized my life wasn’t over. It was just beginning… if I wanted it to be.
Sit down and make that list – for no one to look at but yourself. Don’t judge the list as you write it. The list serves two purposes: it gets you thinking about the future and it makes you believe in second chances. I’ve heard from many divorced women who have used this technique and – believe it or not – this list is a powerful thing. So, pull out that piece of paper and get to it. Life is waiting.
2. Buy a Vibrator! I’m going to get flak on this one, but I don’t care. A woman has needs, and that doesn’t stop because you no longer have a husband. Doesn’t matter if you go on-line, to a reputable store or have a pleasure party to get one. The important thing is to have it when you need it. If anything, your need for a release is greater now because of the amount of stress you’re under during this period of time. The majority of my girlfriends (if they didn’t already have one, that is) went out and bought a toy within weeks of their separation.
In the first few weeks (months, etc) of your separation or divorce, you might not feel like going out and dating. In fact, if getting off the couch seems like a herculean feat, then this solution’s for you. Orgasms make you feel good, they do all kinds of wonderful things for the body and brain. And let’s be honest, worrying about having sex with a stranger is not exactly what you should be focusing on right now. At a time when most of you is feeling like crap, there should be at least one thing you can do for yourself that makes you feel amazing. I know in my house that we buy AA batteries at Costco. And that’s not because I have 50 remote controls if you know what I’m saying.
3. Take a Class. I know, this is the part that everyone dreads, but it does help. My friend Marissa was darn near macraméd to her couch in the first four months following her separation until we dragged her ass to salsa lessons. She cursed us the entire way (there and back) and threatened us if we ever tried to take her again.
But we did, and after a few weeks of going to class she started realizing we had brought her there to learn more than the samba. Trying something new is exciting, it gets you out of your box and forces you out of your comfort zone – somewhere most people want to stay right after a divorce starts. Hunkering down and licking your wounds is okay for the first few weeks – but after that you’ve got to find ways to carry on. If you start by doing things you and your ex did together, it’s only going to remind you that you are now a ‘one’ where once you were a ‘two.’
The class should be something you’ve never done, always wanted to try or just thought you’d give it a whirl. Dance lessons, cooking lessons… anything you can find that you don’t actively hate will work for the first few times. It gets you out of the house, forces your brain to engage on something other than the emotional pain you’re experiencing and – bonus – usually gets you moving. I chose golf lessons because I’d always wanted to learn and hey, where else can you smack the crap out of a little white ball, curse at it and still not look like you have anger management issues? As a bonus, lots of men are on the course and my new hobby was a great way to meet new friends.
4. Have a Party. When my friend Kerry suggested this, I damn near smacked her. I was six months post-divorce. Overweight, worried about money, a little insecure and in a lot of pain. But then she explained to me that the ‘party’ is a necessary part of healing. Some women throw ‘divorce parties’ right after they separate, and that’s fun. But this is entirely different. This party is celebrating YOU; the fact that you’re surviving, thriving and moving on.
You don’t need money to do it, nor does it require a lot of time or effort. Mine was a potluck with some people bringing wine and others bringing food. Regardless of what food or drink they brought – everyone came with love. It makes you grateful to look around a room and see the faces of so many people who support you. Almost as if you’re being held safely by them and – at least for that moment in time – nothing is going to invade your safe space.
No, it’s not an excuse to slam your ex – although that’s a fun party to have, too – it’s all about you. Believe it or not, it’s also about you being the hostess without needing a ‘host’ right by your side. You’re a single now and part of your new life is learning to carry on without worrying that you’re somehow missing something. My first ‘party’ was just me and my girlfriends, but over the last few years I’ve hosted many others – dinner parties, holiday parties, and even a book party – all without someone by my side. When you’re ready to have your party, make sure you’re celebrating everything that you’ve accomplished since your divorce, even if the only thing you’ve accomplished is making it through.
The first year after your divorce can seem like a never-ending list of ‘firsts,’ but it gets easier. Take care of yourself, follow these four rules and above all – give yourself permission to make mistakes. Chin up, honey. You’re going to be just fine.