Going through a divorce isn’t easy. In fact, it is downright horrible, particularly in the beginning, and even more so if you are not the one who initiated it. I should know. Five years ago my husband left me, announcing he would reside permanently in Asia and making me a single parent with full physical custody by default.
Though the demise of our marriage should have come as no surprise given that our relationship had been deteriorating for years, it did. The pain of it, which was both physical and emotional, was excruciating. I couldn’t eat or sleep. My heart raced. And I got way too thin.
I did the unthinkable and begged a man who was treating me with disrespect to stay. I wanted my “old life” back, despite the fact my old life hadn’t been making me happy. I didn’t care. In my mind, at least in that reality, I wouldn’t have to face the unknown which, looking back, was what caused me the most stress of all.
At the time, all I wanted to do was feel better. I wanted a quick fix. A solution. A cure. I wanted to find the “one thing” that could make me feel better and fast. The problem was, no such thing existed. Instead, quite by accident, I found other ways to divert my attention, and before I knew it, not only did I begin feeling better but I had also built a new life for myself. Here is what I did, and you should, too.
Specifically, turn your attention to the divorce process itself. It may sound like the exact opposite of what you should do if you are looking for a distraction but, in a sense, facing necessary tasks will keep you centered on your future, and help you regain some much-needed control. Compile your financial information, determine what your expenses are, and gather any relevant documents you can access. It is critical that you stay involved in your case. You will only divorce your spouse once, so you need to get it right the first time. Of course, you can always go back to court post-judgment, however, doing so is expensive and the outcome uncertain.
You have much better ways to spend your time than wasting it on someone who isn’t considerate of you and your well-being.
Turn it off. Stop obsessing about what you cannot control – how your husband is treating you, who he is dating, and why he wants out of your marriage. Thinking about it isn’t going to change anything, that is, except how well your day is going to go. You have much better ways to spend your time than wasting it on someone who isn’t considerate of you and your well-being. Get outside. Go for a walk or a run. Meet a friend for coffee or lunch (and talk about something other than your divorce). Work. Sign up for a class. Go to a movie. Read. Do what you have always enjoyed or something new. If you feel ready, go on a date. Whatever you choose, you must make certain you are taking care of yourself while doing it.
You know who they are. They are the individuals who fan the flames, the ones who are not supportive, or worse, do not offer you constructive criticism. Stay away. It doesn’t matter how long you know them. Your job (yes, I said your job) is to protect yourself, not only from a spouse who may not mean well for you but also from others who may not have your best interests at heart. Whatever their intentions may have been in the past, if they are not serving you well now, walk away. See a therapist for added support. Your job is to survive and eventually thrive, which brings me to this.
Your job is to protect yourself, not only from a spouse who may not mean well for you but also from others who may not have your best interests at heart.
As bad as life may seem right now, think about the dissolution of your marriage as a new beginning instead of as an ending. Those who have been through a divorce will tell you over and over again that things will get better. Even so, no matter how many times they say it, you likely will not believe them. And that is understandable, especially given that you may never have felt this badly before.
So today, I present you with a challenge, which a close friend recently suggested to me: write yourself a letter. In it, be as honest with yourself as you can. Describe how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and why. What are your fears? What do you wish? Don’t hold back, even if you still wish for the unimaginable or the impossible, including reconciliation with your soon-to-be-ex. Next, take that letter and put it away somewhere safe. Then forget about it, and get back to doing all of the above.
Sometime in the future, whether it is in six months, 12 months, or years down the road, whenever the thought crosses your mind, pull out the letter and read it. Guaranteed, you will congratulate yourself about how far you have come. After all, you wrote that letter while at your lowest point, when you had nowhere to go but up. And one day when a friend comes to you crying and looking for support because you have been through it all before and are standing tall, share it, letting her know that you made it through and she will, too.
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