You woke up one morning and it hit you, you’re not married anymore. Everything you thought you knew about yourself and who you are has changed. You feel a deep heaviness in your chest and wonder if it will ever go away. Having been through it myself, I know exactly what you’re going through. It’s not easy. Let me offer 5 survival tips.
1. Allow yourself the luxury of grieving.
One of the strangest things after a divorce is the grief. By the time you have completed the divorce process, people usually feel pretty relieved to be out of the marriage. So then why do you feel so sad? The grief is not about the marriage. It’s the death of the dream. We all had a dream of what we THOUGHT the marriage would be and it is now dead and must be grieved. Take a day and explore the emotions and allow them to come out, no matter how loud and ugly it might be. The only way beyond grief is through it. There are no shortcuts.
2. Find your passion.
This can be really, really hard. As women, we still tend to sacrifice our individuality to being a wife and mother and meeting the needs of others. This may be the first time in years that you actually have time to yourself! Use it! If you struggle with this as I did, think back to the last time you really loved doing something – even if it was finger painting when you were 5! I signed up for a watercolor painting class at the local community college and discovered my budding artist! It was also a great chance to meet people and make new friends.
3. Lean on your friends.
A support system now is critical. Pick out the friends that are always positive and not afraid to kick you in the rear if you’re being a downer. You need positive people encouraging you to be positive! Beware the emotional vampires that will encourage you to feel sorry for yourself. If you don’t have someone positive in your life, get onto Meetup.com and find a post-divorce support group or other group in areas your interested in and make new friends. This is a time to indulge in new interests, new people, and new places. Embrace it!
4. Date, but only casually.
You may be tempted to jump right into another relationship. DON’T DO IT!! You are not in a healthy emotional place and you will only attract people who are also not healthy. Give yourself time to heal. You will know you’re ready to date when you can admit to yourself what YOU did that contributed to the failure of your marriage and take full responsibility for your contribution. Once you realize it, FORGIVE YOURSELF! Now that you have that awareness, you are now ready to behave differently in a new relationship.
5. Get counseling.
Being able to talk through the issues of the transition can be very, very helpful. There are a plethora of counselors and coaches that specialize in women’s recovery and growth. You will likely need to help your children cope with all the changes also and a counselor with experience in divorce can be critical to your healing and recovery.
Everyone’s divorce is different but also the same. It’s the end of a family unit the way you had planned and it will take at least a year to get your feet on the ground again. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the time to grow, change, learn, and evolve into a new version of yourself. There is life on the other side and if you take the time to do it right, it can be a life that is far more rewarding than the marriage you’ve left. Good luck!