Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, accountant, or licensed therapist. This blog’s content is based upon my own life experience and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Contact a professional near you if you need legal, financial, or mental health assistance related to your circumstances.
Anyone who has been through a separation and divorce will tell you that it is an incredibly stressful process that can take far longer and be more emotionally and financially draining than you could ever anticipate. Regardless of the circumstances that led you to the attorney’s office, it is a painful experience that will leave its mark on you.
Feelings of shame, guilt, regret, exhaustion, fear, anxiousness, and loss are common and all-consuming. You may also feel isolated and alone as you embark on the journey. I know. I have been there.
During my own process, I realized early on that it would be a marathon and not a sprint. I would have to go into a very special place in my head to get through each day and come out the other side intact. After all, I was still a mother, and my children needed me. I was an employee and leader and had to show up regardless of the backdrop of my life. I was a daughter, sister, and friend and needed my personal relationships more than ever during that period of time. Finally, I was still me. A very broken, discouraged, lost, and confused version of myself, but I had an obligation to myself to keep my head up, eyes forward, and continue to walk the walk with integrity and self-pride. (Not easy when you want to hide from the world for indefinite periods of time.)
Giving yourself positive things to focus on is critical when you are in this situation. You may not know what the future holds, but you have a huge opportunity to craft what that might look like. There is something very exhilarating about flipping the script on yourself and proactively leaning into your new life versus walking away from your old one. This idea is what gave me hope and optimism when I felt like it would never end.
Here are some tips for not only surviving your process but positioning yourself to thrive on the other end. These tips are not one size fits all, but hopefully, inspire you to take a few steps towards clarifying your sense of self and your future and mapping out new goals for the near and long-term. There’s a new you inside, and you just need to create a space for her to be revealed.
- Walk. (It’s free and freeing!)
The greatest asset I had available to me during my separation and divorce (even now!) was my pair of sneakers. Putting on a good playlist or podcast and getting outside does wonder for the soul. It provides an escape, is a healthy activity to counter stress, and stimulates creative thinking. You’ll be amazed at how therapeutic it can be to simply breathe fresh air and allow yourself to have that alone time.
- Allow yourself to dream.
It may feel impossible to focus on your future when you are worried about the roof over your head, your children (and custody, if that applies to you), and your financial stability, but giving yourself permission to explore your biggest hopes and dreams for your future is an important step in the goal-setting process. Having a vision of what makes you happy and excited about life’s possibilities can be an incredibly helpful source of motivation when you need it the most
- Express gratitude.
It may sound impossible to be grateful during this time, but expressing gratitude each day is a game-changer in rewiring your perspective. Taking a few minutes each day to reflect will help you appreciate what you do have instead of what you don’t. This is vital when you may feel like everything is slipping away. It allows you to zero in on the important things in your life and get clarity on the soul food that you should seek more of.
- Tap into your faith.
There is no greater time to rely on the strength that comes from having faith than when you are experiencing a personal crisis. Spiritual wellness gives you peace and a feeling of being whole, which are the two things you are likely struggling with right now. It can also help you find meaning in your life events. If you belong to a house of worship, go there and feel joy from the worship music, a sense of belonging as part of the congregation, and connection through events (events geared towards the ladies in your church can be compelling and moving forums full of love, support, and judgment-free zones.) If you have lost your faith or lack clarity on your spirituality, this may be a time for you to explore that (speaking from experience, this can be a big help in your healing and self-discovery process).
- Clean house.
I mean this very literally. Purge, girlfriend! Whether you are moving or not, there is something very cathartic about cleaning up and cleaning out. Not only can decluttering your space be good for your mental clarity, but getting rid of things that are emotional triggers or simply symbolic of the pre-divorce you can be liberating. (You can do this to your social media accounts as well.) Creating a clean slate for a fresh start is a very actionable first step. (Note: this may be an iterative process over a long period of time…on some days, you just can’t.)
- Feed the tribe.
Whether your support system is big or small, remember to reach out. Please do it for yourself, and do it for the health of your relationships. These are the people who will be there for you through the fire and to celebrate with you in your new life. Ask them how they are doing, send them notes of appreciation, and acknowledge how much they mean to you. You may not have much capacity to be the best friend/daughter/sister at this time, so small gestures will go a long way to preserving those special bonds. Oh, and be deliberate about knowing who your “person” is. We all need one for various moments and reasons, and your spouse was likely your person before. Who is it now?
- Dress that hot mess up!
Remember, despite what the broken soul inside tells you, you are not invisible to the world! Part of the process of getting it together during divorce is to respect yourself and not lose sight of your professional and personal identity. Rock the heels at work or lunch with a friend, or buy a new shirt and gloss for the long day of video calls. Invest in yourself and invest in your ego. Sometimes, looking good is all it takes to feel good…and feeling good can go a long way to how you show up across all aspects of your life. Hello, confidence…where have you been?
- Allow the compartments to leak.
Cry, journal, rinse, repeat. Sometimes the mental compartments get so full that they are overflowing with all of the stuffed thoughts and swallowed emotions that they have nowhere to go with the contents but out. Let it go, sister. Cry it out, angry run it out, or journal it out. This will not only help you remain in touch with your feelings and work through the process but will allow you to have the capacity to move forward with the energy around plans for your new life. Speaking of which…
- Vision board or list your way to a new life.
Visualize your future. List your hopes and goals that came to mind in tip #2. What do they look and feel like? Get tactical and specific. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s thoughts or opinions here. (Very liberating when you pick out a new bed with eight pillows all for yourself because you can!) What does your home look like? What new décor and furnishings do you want? What does your car look like? Is it the same one or do you have to buy a new one? Are you dating? What type of person are you looking for? Are you remarried? Do you have a new sense of style? What does your hair look like? Your body? What are your hobbies? What are you learning? How might you be professionally advancing? All of these things can be exciting to focus on and can be sources of inspiration as you explore what your next phase of life might be like…authored by you.
- Get the heck out of dodge!
While it may not be in the financial cards to take the trip of your dreams during or immediately after your divorce, there are still plenty of ways to get out of your daily life and create a memory for you with your friends and/or your kiddos. Whether it’s a weekend at a friend’s house a few hours away or a magical week at Disney World, your proverbial cup will be full again and likely overflowing with joy as you allow yourself some time to not think about all of the daily details. Just be. Just have fun.
If you needed to hear this today, reach out. You can comment on Instagram or Facebook or shoot me a message through the Contact page. You’re not alone, and you will get through it. Hugs to you!
All my best and more,
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