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Divorce and Hopelessness: How to Get From Hopeless to Happy

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in divorce advice, newly separated

 

Divorce and hopelessness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shock, fear, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration and bitterness are all difficult but common feelings during divorce. Then there’s hopelessness, which was for me, one of the most difficult things to handle. When it comes to divorce and hopelessness, I think people feel powerless, like they are unable to change the way things are. I remember not even knowing where to begin to make things better because it seemed impossible. Hopelessness during divorce feels sad. It feels like things will never get easier and better. Life seems bleak, just bad, and every possible scenario to try to change it seems like it would never work. Sound familiar?

I get it. I’ve been there. In fact, I was there yesterday.  Early yesterday morning, my son accidentally spilled my cup of coffee on my 6 month old Mac. It immediately shut down and I knew it was destroyed. I had to run to the Apple store at 10 am when it opened, buy a new computer (which I cannot afford right now) and wait for a data transfer which they told me to brace myself for because the hard drive was possibly destroyed and everything could be lost. Oh, and I have no back up.

Keep in mind, I write for the Sun-Times and have thousands of articles on there, along with books I’ve written, an entire iTunes library, and hundreds of photos. I was also working on a deadline and had to give up working the entire day.

Usually a very positive, upbeat glass is half full type of person, that incident caused me to spiral into depression and sadness I haven’t felt in a long, long, long time. I was crying all day, and I just kept thinking about how hard I’m working, how I’ve poured my life into my work, and how things just keep happening to screw it up.

Trying to make enough money to live feels close to impossible sometimes. You work and work and work and work and every day something seems to go wrong. Last month, my heat broke. That was $700 something. Then my vacuum cleaner. $300. Last week my internet just went down inexplicably. That was an entire day lost of work. Also last week, I had to go have some tests to rule out some really, really bad diseases. So, I basically worked all week, but in the back of my mind always wondering if I was going to die soon.

Thinking of all these things and just feeling like I work all day, every day, every night, every weekend (and I don’t complain because I love it) but every day there is some obstacle that gets in my way and either costs me money or worries me or brings me to tears. It’s just so unfair. It’s infuriating. It’s exhausting. It feels like God isn’t there sometimes. It feels like banging your head against a brick wall. It feels HOPELESS.

Feeling like I did yesterday brought me back to the days of my divorce, when I felt hopelessness so often.

I’ll never be able to pay my attorneys fees

My kids are going to cry every day for the rest of their lives

My ex is going to live happily ever after with his new love of his life and I’m going to be alone

I’m never going to get a job like the one I had before I had kids: the one I gave up to be a stay at home mom

I’m going to grow old and die alone

My ex and I are at war and it never changes

I’m going broke

I’m going to have to live without my kids every other weekend (more for men)

No man  (or woman) will ever want me

How am I supposed to get a full time job when I have young kids? I can’t even afford daycare.

I’m old, I need Botox (which I can’t afford) and I have varicose veins and cellulite

I feel alone and isolated

 These are the feelings of hopelessness during divorce.

Let me help you change the way you think, which will ultimately turn hopelessness into hope and inspiration, and ultimately, happiness.

So yesterday, after my 8 hour pity party, (oh, I forgot to mention I got slammed one last time when my daughter came home with a swollen finger and I had to take her to the doctor and then go get antibiotics) So after I spent the day being really upset, combined with feeling fear about finances, angry (infuriated, actually), bitterness, and consumed with self-hatred for making such poor decisions in the past that led me to this point, I started to really think about what was going on.

Yes, I had a terrible computer accident. Okay. And it cost me $1500 that I don’t really have. BUT, the data was all saved. My daughter’s finger wasn’t life threatening. Two very good pieces of news (my daughter, especially.) Next thing, my editor approved Divorced Girl Smiling as a new online column in the paper! How cool is that?! And, Divorced Girl Smiling hit another all time record for number of views in a single day.

Here is what I realized, and actually, my rabbi has talked about this in temple services before. Every minute of every day, there are miracles –really good ones—going on. The second you open your eyes in the morning and get out of bed and even with every breath we take, that is a miracle. In other words, a couple things might go wrong every day, but 99.99999999 percent of things GO RIGHT everyday and we take that for granted. Not because we are bad people, but because there are millions and millions of beautiful miracles happening every second, so how can we possibly appreciate every one of them? We can’t. So we tend to forget (or maybe not realize, is a better way to put it.)

We don’t take time to appreciate the beauty in everything. Maybe some things we do, but again, the beauty is so vast, that we couldn’t possibly absorb it all. For example, today it is snowing like crazy. I took my daughter to the bus stop and we were freezing, but instead of focusing on the cold, I looked around and it was so pretty. I took it in instead of thinking of the slow driving conditions or the fact that I couldn’t feel my hands.

Every time your child smiles, or hugs you, or says, “Thanks, Mom” is a gift. Every time you turn on an appliance that works, that’s a gift. For every step your legs help you walk, a gift. Every time you touch your little boys cheek, or kiss someone you love, a gift. In other words, for every million things that work, one thing breaks or goes wrong. So don’t focus on what broke, or who was mean to you, try to remember all the things that work and all the people you came in contact with that made you smile and you won’t feel so angry.

Thinking this way helps hopelessness in that whether we want them to or not, things ARE going to change. Eventually, you will find your passion and a job that works for you. Eventually, you will meet someone and your spouse (who left you for another man or woman) might break up, and he or she will be alone and you won’t. I’m not saying to hope for that, I’m just saying it’s a possibility. Eventually, you will solve your problems. Unfortunately, new ones will arise. But, God, belief in yourself and gratitude will help you through it.

We can’t control most of what happens to us in life. What we CAN control is making good choices, doing the right thing in certain situations, being the best parent and the best person we can be—presenting our best selves to the world—and working as hard as we can to achieve our dreams. All that is within our control, but nothing else is.

In closing, here are the keys to coping with hopelessness:

 

  1. Realize you can’t control most of what happens in life
  2. Self-love is perhaps the most important thing in being happy, and doing things to perpetuate self-love.
  3. Take charge of what you can control and let God and fate drive for you

I HOPE that helps, and I HOPE that your feelings of hopelessness transform into dreams of all the wonderful possibilities life has to offer!!

 

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Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is a blog dedicated to helping men and women see divorce in a hopeful, inspirational way, with a little humor added to keep them smiling!

Comments (11)

  • Judy

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    After a long afternoon in court yesterday battling an ugly, awful divorce, this article was just what I needed to read. I guess we as mothers will never understand why a father hurts his children in an effort to hurt his spouse. As you said, there are things we just cannot control.
    Thank you.

    Reply

  • Anne

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    You’re helping me get through another day. Thanks.

    Reply

  • Melissa

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    I loved this blog. I managed to hold it together until I read the part about my children coming to me and hugging me and saying they love me. My three year old daughter says “Mommy I love you, you’re my best girl.” And then I started crying because you could be describing me right at this very moment and all the thoughts that go through my mind as I walk down the divorce path. What you say is so true – even in the midst of darkness, there is light somewhere. Thank you.

    Reply

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    Jackie Pilossoph

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    These comments mean the world to me, and help motivate me to keep writing these posts. Thank you, Ladies. I wish you all nothing but the best.

    Reply

  • Tammy

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    Thanks for this post. I really needed to read it this morning. I relate so much to your feelings of hopelessness around divorce – especially the bit about children crying every day (that makes me feel so guilty) and about the cellulite etc, I split with my husband last year and I still have so much healing to do. It feels like a bit of a journey and your blog gives me hope.

    Reply

  • Doug, Chicago

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    You are amazing Jackie. In a Facebook world where too many of us repeatedly fall into the trap of comparing our behind-the-scenes miseries to other people’s carefully selected highlight reels, you have shown the courage to be raw, direct, authentic, honest, brave, present and vulnerable … that’s a gift. Shining a light and setting an example … that’s a gift. Specializing in hope when so many are experiencing despair … that’s a gift. Writing gender-neutral when it would be easy to gender-vilify … that’s also a gift (thank you). Your blog is a place for women (and men) to find both candor and support. I hope that on your worst days you will remember to re-read these comments from grateful readers and maybe an old guest posting or two: http://www.divorcedgirlsmiling.com/divorce-advice-a-cheat-sheet-for-finding-peace/#comments

    Reply

  • Donna

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    I agree with Doug. Your candor is refreshing and your vulnerability is comforting. My divorce just became final and I can’t tell you how your posts have helped me to bear this cross. This dose of perspective is sorely needed as I was laid off on Monday. Granted, the job was sucking my soul out, but I had just applied for a mortgage to be able to transfer the home into my name. Truly, God has a sense of humor. The old me would have been incapable of any action for weeks, but with the coping skills and perspective gained from your posts, I have already applied for 4 jobs. Someday I will laugh about this.

    Reply

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    Jackie Pilossoph

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    And someday you will realize there was a reason it all happened. Like you will be so happy in your new job and you will see that God did you a favor!! I am wishing you the best of luck!

    Reply

  • Jill Rogat

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    I remember the feelings of hopelessness and financial devastation I faced after my divorce. You have a great perspective and you’re right – usually these dire circumstances are not actually the end of the world and you manage to get through them. Self-love and having faith are two pieces of advice that got me through.

    Reply

  • Mari

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    Thank you so much you are a blessing, you have help me
    So much with all your articles I’m training for a
    Half marathon thanks to your advice. May you and your family
    Be bless for ever.

    Reply

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