All divorce are hard. But healing from them can be even trickier. I liken divorce to home renovations: they usually take twice as long and cost twice as much as expected. Whether you and your ex parted amicably or despicably, here are five golden pieces of advice to get you through the hardships of divorce.
Whether you and your ex parted amicably or despicably, here are 5 tips to get most women through the hardships of divorce.
1. Find ongoing support
When I divorced, I couldn’t find support where I expected it. Given my family disapproved of my situation, I had to find support elsewhere. Although my close friends served as my guideposts down a treacherous road, they couldn’t relate to the depths of my despair. Therefore, I avoided overloading them with the heaviness of my grief. Instead, I turned to other divorce survivors who not only related to me but helped me navigate through stormy seas. Better yet, I also found a sympathetic therapist who was best able to make sense of my feelings and land me in an ideal emotional landscape.
2. Get your house in order
Get your house―and life―in order (literally and figuratively). Why? Because chaos in your surroundings only invites emotional chaos. If you’re moving to a new place, make it a happy, calm place of refuge and healing. Unpack and unload your emotional baggage.
If you’re staying put, then re-paint or re-decorate to make this space your own―free of any negative or painful memories. More importantly, a stable home will introduce a sense of much needed ‘normalcy’ for you and your children. Remember, when you get yourself together, you help your kids do the same.
3. Keep a journal
Therapists and friends aside, keeping a journal of your thoughts is another sure way to purge those pesky demons. A journal offers a private, quiet interlude where you can sort out your feelings. Not only is it extremely cathartic, it’s also insightful and healing. Your journal can also embody that angry, unsent letter to your ex, a love letter to yourself, or even a wish list of what you want and need in your life. Think of it as your personal roadmap to happiness. You have nothing to lose and only clarity to gain.
I recently perused through my old journal and felt immensely proud of how far I’ve come since my separation. You will too!
4. Rediscover yourself
Starting over doesn’t have to be scary (although it can be at first). Most women get swallowed up by the deluge of drama that comes with divorce, and they end up losing themselves in the messy process. The end of your marriage doesn’t have to mark the end of your lifelong desires and interests. After all, you were whole before your got married―and you’re still whole.
Make a list of a few things that you truly enjoy doing. Maybe now is the time to take that art class you’ve always considered. Or sign-up for some hot yoga lessons. If time and money are tight, then join a book club where you can lose yourself in a toe-curling thriller or explore your own spirituality through self-help books. Taking small steps towards happiness will lead you up the stairway to serenity.
When I first separated, my joint custody schedule meant that I didn’t have my children every day. At first, I cried whenever I was apart from them (a mother’s guilt never fails). But when a friend enviously pointed out that I now had ‘free time’, I realized that I needed to change my perspective and make the best of this time bounty. Armed with this insight, I made more time for my friends, exercise, and yes, more time for myself. This allowed me to rediscover what makes me tick―and pursue my interests with fantastic outcomes.
5. Stay single (for now)
I cringed whenever my friends advised me to stay single after I separated. I insisted that I was ready for a relationship. The truth is that I wasn’t, but it took a disastrous heartache to make me understand this undeniable fact. There are a number of reasons why you should remain single for at least a full year following your separation. Namely, you need time to grieve and heal. No matter how many tears you shed, healing takes time.
Most new divorcees experience a sequence of defined emotional stages, and not one of these stages includes committing to another. In fact, now is the time to commit to yourself and to your kids. No matter how ready you believe you are, or how comforting a companion seems at the moment, you don’t need more ingredients in the sour blend you’re recovering from.