What does “Know that your life will never be the same again” mean? It means just that. Divorce is a life-changing experience. You cannot expect to keep the exact same lifestyle – in fact, you won’t even have the exact same thoughts! The way you relate to the world around you changes dramatically. If you have children, think back to your life before children. People told you your life would be dramatically different, but it was hard to imagine. You had that child and boom! Your life was altered forever! Well, it is that way with divorce. The truth is, some innocence is lost. You are not the same person. However, and this is important to note, working through this book, or with a coach or counselor, could put you in a position a year from now where you really really like who you are, you are happy and satisfied with your life. You are clearer about your life purpose and you are moving through your life with intention and clarity! But for right now, just concentrate on BREATHING,
GETTING OUT OF BED,
EATING AND SLEEPING
AND PUTTING ONE FOOT
IN FRONT OF THE OTHER!
I remember grocery shopping the week after my separation. I was in the vegetable aisle, and I just stood there dumfounded. I turned in a circle, looking at the vegetables, knowing I wanted to get something…but what? I did not know what I wanted…I was so use to buying what my husband liked that I literally did not know what I liked!
When I went to the checkout, I remember the cashier, the same one I had known for years, looking right through me. I thought he saw me differently. I couldn’t look anyone in the eyes without crying. I looked at him, he looked at me, and we both had tears in our eyes. Did he feel my pain? Did my tears make him tear up? Did he know what a lost soul I was?
Everything you do for the first time as a separated person, as a divorced person is different. It takes on a different meaning. Going to the doctor’s office, you fill out a form and check a different box. Every holiday is different, every tradition in your home, how you tuck your children in at night, who showers when, breakfast and dinner time, TV time, reading time, computer time, talking on the telephone, workout time, bedtime. Our future plans are different. Everything is different.
Is that bad? No, of course not. But the truth is, if we cling too much to our old ways of doing things–our customs and traditions–they may end up making us sad and miserable. Remember, those traditions were once new ideas, chosen by you as a couple. You can choose new ones that fit the life you are living today.
But here is what we have to do to make the changes.We need to move from a place of FEAR and SHOCK to a place of ADVENTURE. We need to remove ourselves from the complacency of our married lives and replace it with a new rhythm for our new life. Have you heard the phrase “feel the fear and do it anyway”? Well, that is exactly what you need to do.
I know that you are going to make it through this excruciating time, but you may doubt it. So, if you believe you won’t make it anyway, why not feel the fear and do it anyway? The worse thing that will happen is you will be right. Moving from fear to a place of courage is the bravest thing you can do. Take extreme care of yourself. Do more for yourself than you are comfortable doing. Treat yourself better than you ever dreamed of being treated. You need this now more than ever.
Exercise: Create one new family tradition this week. Begin slowly. You may start with your children’s homework, dinnertime, or bedtime. Perhaps your spouse helped with the homework or your child did it alone. Now you can sit down with your child and ask to help. Give positive feedback. Catch your child doing something good and give him praise. If you choose to change the dinnertime routine, perhaps you can have your child help you prepare dinner. Perhaps you decide that one night per week will be a picnic on the floor. When my children were small, we use to throw down a sheet over the carpet and have a picnic. Bedtime could also change; maybe you choose to read a family book together, each taking turns. Maybe you can make up a story together, each person creating a part of the story. Perhaps you choose to say prayers…I started this after the divorce, asking for God and angels to watch over my children. I think they felt more secure, knowing that they were watched over.
This next week, the family tradition I will change or create is:
Exercise:Create time for yourself. Have a date at least once a week for time just for you. Get your nails done. Take a long luxurious bath. Read a book. Join an adult-education class. Join a gym. Start meditating. Do yoga. Get up early in the morning and watch the sun rise. Call a friend and talk for hours. Go to lunch or dinner with a girlfriend. Draw a picture. Go for a hike. Go for a swim. Ride a horse. Drive to the nearest city and shop till you drop. Learn a new language. Take a class from www.teleclass.com. Sit quietly and pray.
This week, I will do the following for myself, just for me, even if it makes me feel selfish, I will do it anyway:
Remember, if you have children, you are still a family. Your children still crave the family structure and they need you as their parent. Resist the temptation to spoil them. Just love them. Create your new traditions. They will come to love and count on these too.
Whether you have children or not, you have the opportunity to create yourself anew. Answer these questions: Who are you? What does your soul long for? What was holding you back in your marriage? What is freedom? Who can you be now that you couldn’t be before?
Other articles by Lori S. Rubenstein