You’re embarking on a new adventure! You are beginning a new chapter! You are starting over! These are the words of well-meaning friends, colleagues, and family members. They are meant to provide encouragement, a positive spin on a series of negative events, and to help you re-frame your current situation as something new and remarkable – a jumping-off point of sorts. And, let’s face it, they sound so much better than the alternatives such as Your life as you knew it is over! Your ship has sailed! Your chapter has ended! Your book is closed!
But, I’ve decided those “brave new world” phrases aren’t right for me just yet. Life as a recently divorced mother of two does not feel like an adventure. It is not an exciting new chapter. It is not an opportunity to blaze new trails. Not yet, anyway. Rather, it is sad. It is painful. Sometimes it is downright agony. And it is okay to embrace those feelings, even if those around you are ready for you to get better and move on. You can only move forward at your own pace – baby steps sometimes – and you will only feel better when you feel better.
It is totally understandable that you and those in your circle of friends and loved ones have entirely different perspectives on your life. Generally, with the passage of time, comes the expectation of a return to normalcy. And though your post-divorce normal is likely different than your prior normal, folks who care for you want you to feel better and may think it is about time that you do.
But, here is what I know: Emotional pain can come in waves – sometimes gentle, sad, tolerable waves, and sometimes big, crashing, unbearable tidal waves. Maybe you already know how to surf. You’ve navigated other turbulent waters and developed the skill-set to handle them. Or maybe you haven’t, and divorce feels like the worst thing that has ever happened to you and your family. If this is the case, you may be less exuberant about the process of starting over. There is no shame in that. Nursing a broken heart is a big, complicated, painful task.
And while it is okay – necessary, really – to embrace your feelings, it is equally critical that you avoid existing in a full-blown pity party day in and day out, because that probably won’t help much in the long run.
So, what to do? Consider these tips for managing your post-divorce funk.
1. Accept it
When people offer you words of comfort, whether they resonate perfectly with you or not, accept it for what it is –
loving support meant to show they care and want you to feel better.
2. Feel it
Let yourself feel your emotions – whatever they are – all the way down to your toes. Cry if you need to. Get mad if that’s what works for you. And then do something, anything, that helps you move forward in a positive direction.
3. Fight it
Fight the urge to crawl under the bed and stay there. Keep getting up, getting out, and moving on. Don’t waste precious moments of your life in misery.
4. Fix it
You have life left to live. How can you make it better? What energizes you? Think about it, make a plan, and then get busy working on it.
5. Try it
What are you waiting for? There is no time like the present to try those things that you have been putting off. Been saving a project for a rainy day? It’s raining. Start it today. One of my favorite sayings is “motivation follows action.” Getting started is the hard part. Once you start, you’ll be surprised how motivated you are to continue.
6. Reduce it
Break down big tasks into bite-size pieces. Want to run a 5K? Start by walking around the block. In the words of Lao Tzu, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take that first step.
7. Write it
Make lists, write stories, journals, post-its – the choice is yours. Things get real when you write them down. Put pen to paper to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and future plans.
8. Learn from it
Divorce changes people. You may feel different about life, relationships, love, and happily ever after. It will take some time to assimilate these new feelings. Pause and reflect on this and learn from your experiences. Find something you can take away from this difficult time and use it as a building block for your future.
If these tips don’t click for you, add your own. Whatever you do, remember that there are people who care about you and want to see you succeed. Maybe your ex is no longer one of them, but that’s okay. Don’t discount the support of those who are here for you right now. You need them.