Don’t go Through this Alone
While divorce is common and most of us have either experienced it or know someone close to us who has, it is far from a “normal” life experience. The level of pain inflicted by the experience ranges widely from tolerable disruption and discomfort to wrenching despair and a sense of personal destruction.
While advice from friends and family can be very supportive, more often the most beneficial help can be found within community with others experiencing it and/or with a skilled professional therapist. We suggest one or a combination of the following to consider for your divorce coping strategies:
- Find a therapist near you specializing in divorce and separation and make an appointment. It is possible that you may need to try more than one to get the right rapport and connection. But don’t give up! Try https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/divorce
- Find and participate in a community support group Try the following:
- Volunteer. Connect with others in pain and need. Giving and helping has been shown to be deeply therapeutic and empowering for the giver.
Recognize its Normal to Feel Alone, Sad, Angry, Exhausted, Frustrated and Confused
“You’re better of without him/her”
“Run, don’t walk from that marriage”
“When you’re ready, I have an amazing guy/gal for you to meet”
You might hear things like this from well-meaning people. There is a sub-text running through each of these statements that “this is somehow a good thing in disguise and you should see that”
Well, it may indeed turn out that way one day, but it sure doesn’t feel like that now. Some combination of guilt, shame, rage, fear, desperation, confusion and fantasies of violence are more likely. This is normal. Divorce can feel like an existential threat and touch off our most primal “fight or flight” autonomic response system. To protect yourself, find support, community and trusted friends and professionals.
Take Care of Yourself Emotionally and Physically
Now is the critical time to focus on your most basic self-care even if you don’t feel like it.
- Prioritize Sleep. Rest is critical to counteract the the effects of prolonged stress. Seek 7-9 hours every night and protect your sleep time as much as possible.
- Exercise. Preferably outside and if possible in a natural setting. Walk, run, hike, cycle. Carry light hand weights and do strength building exercises. The beneficial effects of exercise for physical and emotional health is enormous. Observe nature and its beauty and tranquility. Notice that the world is much bigger than this immediate trauma.
- Lean on a trusted friend. It is ok to hurt and be needy now. A true friend will always understand that and if they don’t….they may not be a true friend.
Give Yourself a Break
Practice clearing your mind and being still. Find your sanctuary. Some good examples can be a public library, a city park, a favorite coffee shop or your church or house of worship. Observe….be still…. Breathe…..Breathe……Breathe..
Working towards a hopeful and positive mindset can be especially hard in these times. But most often with help it can be achieved and it offers you a tremendous advantage. Remind yourself that practicing and training yourself to be more optimistic is in fact possible and optimism generally leads to a much better outcome.Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Positive Psychology can both help https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral, https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-positive-psychology-definition/
Avoid Arguments with your former Spouse
They are going through their own form of torment or despair. Neither of you likely has enough ground beneath your feet to have anything productive come of this and more likely it will make things worse.
Explore Your Interests
Seek the light. This is a perfect time for personal reinvention or for rededication to your values. Now is the time to ask yourself the big questions. What are the bedrock values of life for me? What actions should I now dedicate myself to? What positive lessons can I learn that can guide me in the next phase of life?
Now is the time. Do it for others who need your contribution and do it for YOU!