Divorce sucks. I know this because I experienced it, saw friends and family go through it and spent the last 24 years representing clients who suffered through and survived it.
Over the holidays, the absence of your estranged spouse, being apart from your human and canine children, being in a temporary home, the reality of your new normal – it can feel overwhelming and exacerbate existing anxiety and sadness.
You are absolutely entitled to your grief, to your confusion, to your anger, to the range of emotions you are experiencing.
That said, maybe you are ready or desperately wanting to feel lighter, more at peace, and more present over the holidays. There are things you can do to help release the weight of your emotions.
First, it can be an incredible blessing to find an insightful, wise, and compassionate therapist who works with individuals going through the divorce transition. In a quarter of a century of family law practice, I have found that the large majority of clients benefit from and enjoy having a therapeutic resource.
Second, having a constructive outlet for your energy and time can make a huge difference in how you feel and heal.
If you like to write, journal.
If you like to paint, buy some oils, acrylics, watercolors, brushes, and canvas and have at it.
If you enjoy running, find a new beautiful trail along the Chattahoochee, at Stone Mountain, wherever your soul steers you – and run.
If you love languages and have always wanted to learn a new one, audit a class.
If volunteering for those in serious need gives you perspective, volunteer at CHOA, Winship, Shriners, or a homeless shelter over the holidays.
Engage yourself in activities that help you feel good about you and that give you a break from litigation.
Third, when your head seems stuck in an inescapable funk, after stopping to acknowledge that you are not in a good mental place, take a really deep breath, and slowly exhale all the darkness, all the noise, all the fear, the anger, the bitterness, the self-doubt, self-hatred, and with a clear head, ask yourself these questions:
How to Lift the Divorce Fog During the Holidays
- Aside from being in a difficult emotional place with the divorce, do I have my health?
- Are my human, canine, and feline children healthy?
- If those I love aren’t healthy, do we have wise doctors, contemporary medicine, and hope for their recovery?
- Does my family live in a safe neighborhood and home?
- Do we have money for food, clothing, medical care?
- Are our children in school and doing well, and if not, are we getting them the help they need?
- Do I still have my parents? Are they healthy? If not, am I there for them?
- Have I overcome illness? Have members of my family and good friends overcome illness?
- Do I have a loving and supportive network of family and friends?
- Am I financially able to support my family, even if money is tight?
- Do I love what I do for work?
- Do I have activities that I love that help keep me sane?
- Am I trying in my own way to help others?
- Did I wake up today feeling hopeful?
- Despite circumstances, are my children thriving? Have they been resilient?
- Do I have opportunities to improve my station in life? Do I have the courage and strength to change the things that need changing?
- Did I open my eyes this morning and see the leaves covering my yard? Did I hear the voices of my children? Did I smell the scent of pine from our Christmas tree? Did I awake in a country where I can choose how to live my life and practice my faith?
- Do I have the will and desire to do whatever it takes to be a more self-sufficient, emotionally stable, wiser, healthier, more compassionate me for myself and those I love?
Remembering the many ways we are blessed can help lift the divorce fog by affording perspective. Gratitude is insight. It helps clear the mind of debris by reminding us of the frailty of life and the blessings of health, freedom, financial security, psychological well-being, love, friendship, and family that we tend to take for granted.
Wishing everyone a healthy, happy holiday – and a new year that brings insight, growth, and healing.
A version of this article originally appeared on www.behindthegigglemug.com
Rachel A. Elovitz is a founding partner at Elovitz, Edwards, O’Nan & Buerlein, LLC. She has been practicing family law for 24 years, is a civil, domestic relations and domestic violence mediator, and serves as a guardian ad litem for children.