As I look back on myself as a newly separated 41 year-old with two young children, I realize now how utterly lost I was. Those first several months were brutal.
Not only was I trying to navigate the waters of divorce and dealing with the ups and downs of litigation and mediation, but I was also trying to heal my broken heart and at the same time trying to find my way to a happier life.
I felt like I didn’t even know myself anymore.
Life back then was like a roller coaster, and I remember that winter, I got the worst flu I’ve ever had in my life, probably my body’s reaction to months and months of some of the worst stress I can ever remember.
Had I had someone like me (a divorce writer and someone who has been there) to give me some good advice, it would have been nice.
A lot of stress, probably most stress associated with divorce, stems from the fear of the unknown. So, if someone would have given me a few nuggets of advice, it really would have been comforting.
Here are 20 things I wish I could have told my newly separated self:
1. This isn’t going to be easy.
Put on your seatbelt and go for the ride. Try to enjoy the non bumpy times because there aren’t many, but some parts of the journey are wonderful, believe it or not.
2. Your ex is hurting too.
And he/she’s angry. Try to be understanding of erratic, unreasonable behavior. I’m not saying accept it. It’s not okay. Just understand why it’s happening.
3. Getting divorced does not mean you are a failure so stop looking at it that way.
4. Be careful who you talk to while newly separated.
Airing your dirty laundry to the wrong people could have consequences. You don’t want to become known as that person in your community who can’t stop talking about her divorce. People will eventually forget about your divorce, but they will never forget if you acted in a negative, mean-spirited, or unstable way.
5. Reach out to the people who love you.
They want to be there for you. Don’t sit in a room and cry by yourself all the time. There are times you need to call your girlfriends or sisters or family and just sob.
6. You won’t be alone and single when you’re 70, so stop worrying about it.
At the beginning of a divorce, it’s hard to imagine ever loving or trusting someone again. I get it. But most times, divorced people who want to find love do. Being in a healthy relationship again takes time, patience, an open mind and self-love.
7. Your kids are going to act out, cry a lot, and possibly act angry.
Their behavior isn’t YOUR fault and it doesn’t mean you made a mistake getting divorced. Try to be patient with your kids, and get them some therapy if you think it will help them. Don’t feel guilty.
8. Your ex will have a girlfriend pretty quickly.
Be prepared. And, he will still be cold and distant to you, no matter how blissful he seems with her. He will most likely try to rub it in your face. Don’t play his game. You focus on your life and try not to think about his. It might seem unfair. Why does he get to have his happy ending? Don’t think like this. You have no idea if he’s happy. He’s hurting just like you are. Shift your focus on getting to your happy ending.
9. Your in-laws will act like strangers to you.
Or, they will be really cold or mean. It hurts like hell, But you will be okay. I know this is hard to understand, but don’t take it personally. They have to take their son’s side. Accept it and try not to be bitter about it.
10. Some of your friends will stop calling you or returning your calls the second you are newly separated.
This is so hurtful.It might make you feel awful and angry. Try not to be that way. Try not to take it personally. Your divorce is THEIR issue. Some of your friends will start calling you and want to get together to hear the dirt on why you got separated. After one get together, you will never hear from them again.
11. Yoga is your best friend while newly separated.
Start doing yoga. Today. Trust me on this one. It slows you down. It helps you breathe. It’s the best stress management I can think of, and you reap the benefits even hours after the class.
12. You’re going to get calls from your attorney telling you what is happening in your case.
Some calls will cause you to cry so hard you will hyperventilate. Remember that it will all turn out fine if you make good, ethical choices, be the best mom(or dad) you can be and try to be patient.
13. You’re going to meet a lot of men who will paint a bleak picture of what the dating scene after divorce is like.
Trust me, there are good people out there, too! Lots of them. And so many people are looking for a happy, healthy, monogamous relationship. I promise. Don’t lose hope.
14. One night, you will be out and you won’t be expecting anything, and a guy who you never thought would be interested in you will be.
And it will make you feel young and sexy and pretty! But he will make you realize that your life is far from over and that it is just going to get better and better.
15. There will be so many nights you will feel exhausted and like things will never get any better. They will.
As time goes by, there will be less and less nights like that,and more better days, until the hopeless nights become almost never.
16. If someone other than your soon-to-be ex tells you that you should consider getting on anti-depressants temporarily, consider the fact that they might be right.
Many men and women go on medication for the short term during the beginning of a divorce. There’s no shame in it! I didn’t, and I regret it. It would’ve made my life much easier back then.
17. Worrying doesn’t really do anything except cause sickness and disease, and make you feel depressed.
So, when you start to worry about something, start to breathing like you would in yoga class, and just shift your thoughts to something positive.Your kids, people you love, your dog, simple life pleasures. All of these thoughts are better than worrying about something you can’t control.
18. Whenever you feel extreme anger, sadness, depression or anxiety, do one of two things (after the deep breathing and shift of thoughts): go to the gym or write in a journal.
Just do it. Don’t even think twice. Those two things are guaranteed temporary remedies. You will feel great after either one.
Smiling and laughing are so healthy and so good for you physically and emotionally. You’ll thank me.
20. Hating depletes your own energy.
I know you’re angry, and I know you might feel like everything is unfair.You might feel a lot of resentment and animosity towards your ex.It is healthy to express anger.It’s one of the stages of divorce. But try not to be hateful because all that doesIs exhaust you even more.
In closing, the bottom line is, I know this is a really hard time but you’re going to do just fine.Try to have patience, and try to enjoy your life even during these tumultuous weeks and months. I promise things will change, and you will look back and think,”Wow, what a hard time that was, but I got through it and I’m stronger, wiser and happier.”
Like this article? Check out, “Dating After Divorce: Advice, Tips and Why This Is An Exiting Time”