So, there you were, going along quite nicely as a married woman. Life was basically good – things certainly could have been a lot worse. You thought you would be married forever. Sadly, your husband had other plans.
And now you are left reeling from the shock of being abandoned by the one you thought would always have your back. You sincerely believe that your life is over and that you will never feel whole again. You are not only dealing with the loss of your partner you are dealing with the loss of your hopes and dreams for the future.
Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter what age you were when you walked down the aisle or how long you were in the marriage the fact is, none of us really enter into marriage with the thought that it will one day come to a screaming end.
So when it does come to an end, we are left to pick up the pieces and do our best to survive the changes on our own. It is not easy, it may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. It may well shake you to your very core.
BUT make no mistake, you can and will get through this. And if you do it properly, you will not only access an inner strength you never knew you had you may just create a life more beautiful, and more profound than the one that was taken from you. I did.
Here are 4 things you can do to not only survive but THRIVE after being left behind:
1. Allow yourself to grieve
It is completely normal after any loss to experience a RANGE of icky, painful and downright uncomfortable emotions. This is part of the grieving process and it is okay. Allow yourself to FEEL whatever you are feeling – do NOT suppress or block anything. This is not to say that you should ACT on the emotions (burning all of your ex’s belongings/taking a golf club to his car), but you should teach yourself to sit with them for a time.
Yes, doing this is hard and the temptation to distract yourself from the pain will arise. But if you can manage to sit with the feelings – even for short periods of time – you will be doing your future mental and emotional health a HUGE favor. Why? Because blocked emotions can resurface at a later time, often WORSE than they originally were.
So, CRY. Scream, wail, throw pillows at the wall (preferably in the privacy of your bedroom!). Get it out of your system, then move on. When the feeling comes back (it will come back!) do it all again, then move on once more. Do it, get it out of your system, move on.
One day you will find that the icky emotions are no longer ruling your life – you will NOT be in this space forever, I promise.
2. Protect yourself
First and foremost – ensure you and your children are SAFE. If you and/or your children are at risk of being exposed to violent behavior (physical, sexual or mental) by your ex-partner or anyone associated with them, seek help and assistance NOW. Do not wait until the at-risk behaviors have occurred. You also need to take action to protect yourself from such forms of abuse as harassment, manipulation, and control.
Ensure nobody has access to any personal financial information, online accounts or money. If you don’t already have one, open a new bank account in your name only, and consider closing any joint accounts and credit cards. Spend some time going over your current assets and debts, and make (or update) your Will. Seek the help of a good and reputable lawyer. This is a must, even if you and your ex are on brilliant terms you NEED and are entitled to your own legal advice.
3. Rediscover you
Now for the fun part! It is time to begin seeing yourself in a new light, to rediscover YOU, the you that was somehow lost in the years of routines and restraints and being a wife.
When my husband left me, I was shocked, bewildered and blindsided. I went through all of the stages of grief and then some. I was truly devastated. Then after some time, I started to feel different. I was still a sad and confused mess, but there was also a new feeling, a feeling that I was unfamiliar with. I felt a liberating and damn near intoxicating sense of FREEDOM.
To really connect with this new sense of myself, I spent some time alone. And hard as it may seem, you need to do this too. Go for walks, read, write in a journal, fill yourself with wholesome food, sleep. Whenever you get the chance, switch off from electronic media and the world even if just for an hour at a time and just be.
Contemplate what you have been through and all that you have overcome. Get in touch with old friends, rediscover lost hobbies. Remember the girl you used to be – she’s still in there somewhere!
4. Set some goals
Last, but by no means least look to the future. Divorce is a beautiful opportunity to reinvent yourself so don’t waste this second chance at life that you have so generously been given.
Get the pen and paper out and start goal setting. No need to be too rigid, your goals may change over time as your psyche slowly adjusts to your new life and reality, but that’s OK. Even if you don’t achieve a particular goal, or it changes significantly, there is still power in letting yourself envision, plan and dream of a better future.