By Audrey Cade
Divorce is like a sucker punch! We’re caught off guard by the blow about to knock us to the ground, then–Wham! While dizzily watching stars circle above, as in a cartoon, the thought occurs: “I don’t know if I can move, let alone get up; but, I have to somehow pick myself up and carry on!”
Such is the aftermath of divorce. Picking up all the little pieces, making scary decisions, and trying to make sense of what has just happened–all while feeling numb and disoriented!
The natural inclination is to keep laying in the spot where we got knocked down because it’s simply too hard to move or know what to do at the moment. Alas, lying in a heap of self-pity and shock isn’t in the cards because life must go on, like it or (most likely) not!
How do we dust ourselves off and “keep on carrying on” when all we want to do is surrender, and we can barely take care of ourselves, let alone anyone else? The answer, my friends, is necessity! This cruel world doesn’t have time for our mental breakdown. Too many people still count on us to keep a chair warm at the office and bring life to a box of macaroni and cheese at home. Others care about our plight, but only so much.
Most of us won’t have the luxury of wallowing indefinitely in divorce shambles. To be honest, it’s actually better that we don’t; otherwise, it’s very easy to become trapped in a continuous loop of wearing a bathrobe with pockets filled with tear-soaked tissues while watching sappy TV romances and binging on pints of ice cream. A good cry fest is a healthy thing; but it can’t become our new post-divorce lifestyle!
So, how do we keep living life when life has crumbled down all around us?
In the office
Let’s face it, a job is going to continue to be a necessity despite divorce. In fact, our income will be even more important now that it’s about to become the only one! That being said, employment is not something that can be put at risk during an (understandable) emotional breakdown!
Do communicate with supervisors and co-workers to let them know what’s going on. It’s not necessary to overshare; but, it’s helpful for others to understand that there’s a reason why you may be more distracted and emotional. Often, the “family” we build at work can also offer strong support during a personal crisis.
Don’t spend time on the clock sobbing in your cubicle or searching for lawyers on the internet. It can be hard to stay focused, but the professional side still has to make an appearance to stay in the good graces of your boss. They’ll most likely understand you’re having a rough time, but they’ll still expect the job to get done!
Do throw yourself into activities at work to help keep your mind off of the negative things going on in your life. Important tasks can offer the purpose and meaning that otherwise feels lacking in life, besides an effective way to temporarily forget about what’s going on at home.
The world doesn’t stop even when we wish it would or when we struggle to keep up! Someone still has to put dinner on the table, take out the trash, and help the kids with homework. Find the balance so that home can become a haven for peace and personal care needed to remain strong and sane.
Do make plenty of time for rest, reflection, and processing emotions. Home may be the safest place to do so because it’s ours and offers the most privacy. Divorce can be exhausting, but it’s important to allow time to do things that make us feel good and help recharge our batteries!
Don’t spend every moment focused on the negative. Despite all the bad things that are happening, there are still plenty of positive things to be thankful for! Invest time and energy in the things that bring joy (and distraction) such as children, pets, hobbies, and so on.
Do use time at home to prepare to mobilize. An impending divorce means there will be court, lawyers, and other “fun” things to look forward to! Stay in charge of what happens instead of becoming a victim of the circumstances. Organize, document, make copies, gather information, and seek advice from experts and others who have been through divorce to help you through!
On the social scene
Friends and family are invaluable sources of distraction and support during difficult times. Allow the people who care to be there, but always be mindful of your personal needs when it comes to the level of activity you need and pace for new adventures. A social life can be a double-edged sword, so watch out for drama that may lurk on the sidelines!
Do accept offers for help with anything from moving to venting. It’s important to cultivate support and relationships away from the marriage. You’re strong, but everyone needs help figuring out something new or a shoulder to cry on now and then!
Don’t feel pressured to do anything you’re not ready for. If you think a night out with friends will help lighten your perspective, go for it! On the other hand, if a quiet night by yourself is what you crave most, follow your intuition. It is important to strike a balance between socialization and solitude so as not to become a hermit. Also, don’t feel obligated to go along with well-meaning matchmakers who think a fling is just what the doctor ordered if you’re not ready to date!
Do steer clear of social drama that is likely to leave you feeling depressed or angry. Stalking social media, worrying about the rumor mill’s opinion of your situation, or comparing your currently complicated life to the perfect-seeming lives of others can be a recipe for disaster. Worry about yourself, not what others think or say!
The world will keep turning, even when it feels like everything in our life is a disaster. With time, patience, and the right attitude, the dust of divorce eventually settles and it’s no longer difficult to find the motivation to keep going. Take good care of yourself, rely on the care and support of others, and keep making yourself take steps forward toward healing! In the beginning, you may have to “fake it ‘til you make it”; but, every bit of effort to keep life on track pays off in the end!
About the Author
Audrey Cade is the author of “Divorce Matters: help for hurting hearts and why divorce is sometimes the best decision” (on Amazon) and the matriarch of a blended family of eight. She is an experienced “divorce warrior” in the areas of co-parenting, step parenting, parental alienation, and re-marriage, and enjoys sharing these experiences with others who are also committed to raising happy and healthy kids. Audrey’s professional experience is as a case manager social worker with the developmentally disabled, families with young children, and homeless populations. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education, Human Service & Management, and a Master’s in Psychology. She enjoys family outings, a variety of arts and crafts, cooking, gardening, and writing. She is a featured blogger for Divorced Moms, has work regularly appearing on Divorce Force, and articles appearing in Step Mom Magazine, The Good Men Project, and others.