Divorce Advice: 9 Things For Rock Bottom

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By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Divorce is a process. It’s a roller coaster ride. But during the ride, I think there’s a point when people feel like they’ve hit rock bottom. This article addresses rock bottom, and some divorce advice if/when you feel you are there.

Rock bottom could be when the marriage is so bad that the person feels they need to separate. It might be when a spouse shocks them and says he/she wants a divorce and is in love with someone else. It might be the day the spouse moves out. It might be the day the person finds out their soon-to-be ex has a girlfriend/boyfriend. It might be when the ex sues for sole custody. It might be when the divorce is final. Or, it might be when the person finds out their spouse is cheating, which is what happened to this reader who is  seeking divorce advice:

I need some divorce advice. I am at absolute rock bottom and I don’t know how to keep moving. I found out 4 weeks ago my husband has been having a second affair – the second within 3 years. We have 2 beautiful children who are 4 and 6, I’m 44 and haven’t worked for 7 years. I feel so broken. I don’t know what to do or how to do anything.


The part of this story about not working for 7 years and feeling like she doesn’t know how to do anything is very familiar to me. I was in that spot several years ago, feeling like a frumpy housewife who didn’t know if I was capable of getting a job, let alone managing it with little kids. Feeling incapable or unqualified is a horrible feeling, and can lead to depression, anger, bitterness, fear, and sadness.


Divorce advice: Rock bottom feels hopeless, but it can also feel pretty good because at rock bottom, there is a feeling that things can’t get any worse.


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Divorce Advice: 9 things needed for those at rock bottom:


1.  Strength. 

This is the time to get in shape both physically and mentally. I don’t mean that you have to lose 20 pounds. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is, a person with a strong, fit and healthy body will be at their best emotionally. Being healthy on the outside translates to helping you get more healthy on the inside. Being strong and fit also contributes to more confidence and self-assuredness.

The person will feel more empowered and powerful, and that will come off in their personality. Mental and emotional strength are important, too. That could mean going to therapy, and/or going on medication (there is no shame in that at all. I’ve done it and it was very helpful). It could also mean working out, yoga, a support group, including Alcoholics Anonymous or Al Anon, a healthier diet, meditation, volunteer work, whatever plays a role in making you healthier-both physically and emotionally.


 2. Courage. 

Facing and coping with divorce takes guts. How do you get guts? It isn’t easy, but you would be surprised at the courage you have that you didn’t even realize you had. Dig deep and find that person you were when you were younger, unafraid, and willing to take chances. You still have that!

It’s normal to be scared or to doubt yourself, but find that self-confidence that you are capable of making good decisions. Also, if something doesn’t feel right, go with your gut. But if it feels right, then it probably is.


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Have faith in yourself, but also have faith in God. He will take care of you and help you along the way. He is always here and always listening if you talk to him and ask for help.

Lastly, surround yourself with a circle of friends and family who love and care for you. Lean on them. Go to them to gain courage. On the flip side, get rid of toxic people in your life. Distance yourself from people who don’t make you feel good about yourself, you are possibly being judgmental, or who are friends with you for their own selfish reasons. You don’t need a lot of friends, you just need a couple or really true friends who you know are loyal and who have your back.

All these things will help you to “keep moving” as this reader writes.

 3. Self-confidence and self-worth.

If you used to be good at a job, but then you took time off because you wanted to stay home with the kids, then why on earth wouldn’t you be good at the old job now? Yes, technology has changed, and anyone out of the workforce has to play catch up, but have faith in your abilities. You got this!

Or, if you want to do something different than you did before you had kids, you can. As humans, we are constantly growing (for the better) and maybe now that you are older you have the confidence to go after the career you always wanted or that you recently discovered. People getting divorced tend to say things like, “I’m old now. What am I supposed to do?” Instead, why not say, “I’m a little older but I’m not old, and I am wiser and smarter and more experienced and more open-minded. I have even more to offer now.”


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 4. Control what you can. 

Wise people realize what they can and can’t control. So, they do the best with what they can control and they don’t worry so much about what is out of their control. You can’t control what your ex does. You can’t control your ex’s attorney. You can’t control your ex mother-in-law. You can’t control what happened in the past. You can control the way you choose to raise your kids, the job you decide to pursue, how hard you work, what you do with your free time, and how you want to look at things.


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 5. Friends.

Lean on them! Enjoy them! Cherish the special bond you have with them. They will be here for you. Again, get rid of the ones who are toxic, who make you feel badly about yourself, who are in competition with you, or who are no where to be found when you need them.


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 6. Your kids.

Focusing on your kids and making sure they are doing OK isn’t just helping your kids. It’s helping you, too. Being a parent gives us a sense of purpose and strength never even knew existed before you had kids. Remember that you are the leader. You set the example. Your kids will grow up and model what you did and how you acted. And that’s a beautiful thing because it motivates you to be the best person you possibly can for that reason alone!

I hate to say it, but you have to act like you are on stage when you are around your kids. I’m not saying to be fake, but you have to keep in mind that their minds are still developing and you are making lifelong memories in their heads, so you crying in front of them, badmouthing your ex, screaming, being angry and bitter in front of them will have a negative impact. You are allowed to scream and cry and trash your ex, but don’t do it in front of your kids. And, don’t beat yourself up if you do it a couple times. No one is judging you.


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 7. Passion. 

What do you love to do? Figure it out and then do it! Find a passion, whether it is in your professional life, volunteer work, a hobby, or a dream. Just do it as much as you can and it will start to make you high. For me, it was writing. Whenever I felt sad and depressed or scared or angry, I would sit down at my computer and write. I still do it. There is something magical that happens when you do something you love. It lifts you out of the dust and to a place that offers peace and joy.


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 8. Entitlement. 

People always use this word in a negative way, but I think entitlement can be a good thing at times. You are entitled, in other words you deserve to be happy. You deserve happy times and joy and good things that come your way. Believe that. Sure, we’ve all made mistakes, and there are always things in our lives we wish we could have done differently, but don’t punish yourself. Believe that you deserve to get to a better place and you will.

 9. Self-love.

Some of the best divorce advice I can offer is that getting up from rock bottom is impossible if you don’t have self-love. Look in the mirror at all your wonderful qualities and how much potential you have. Focus not on the mistakes you made or what you could have done or your regrets, but rather on the special qualities you have that will give you the life you want moving forward. If you love who you are, there is no way to go but up.

Like this post? Check out my blog, “10 Things a Divorced Woman Should Always Carry In Her Purse.”

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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at: DivorcedGirlSmiling.com

    7 Responses to “Divorce Advice: 9 Things For Rock Bottom”

    1. Ivy

      I feel for her. Just decided to divorce and 1-3 are at an all time low. Fortunately we have no children and I have 2 degrees and a job. Does that make me feel any stronger, braver or accomplished? Not at all. And our anniversary is looming – Easter Sunday. Just trying to get through each day.

    2. Ouvrielle Holmes

      Thank you. I am at rock rock bottom, and your blog prompted me to email a friend and just ask for help.

    3. Mia

      This is a very glib article that neatly fits a traumatic experience into a numbered list. All the points above are easier said than done…

    4. Karen

      I love this article. It makes me realize I am not alone and I am not crazy. I asked for the divorce and was so glad when he moved out. I was relieved and happy until I found out he got himself a new girlfriend immediately. All of a sudden I wanted him back and felt intense jealousy

      • Karin

        You are telling my story exactly. I too asked for the divorce after 20 years of marriage and three kids. He moved out and got himself a girlfriend within a month. I too feel extremely jealous and my mind constantly ruminates and imagines him with her. Funny enough I don’t want him back but him moving on that fast was extremely hurtful.

    5. Sarah Chaytor

      I found this blog post to be incredibly helpful. The advice given on how to handle rock bottom moments during divorce is spot on. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to not be okay and that it’s normal to have a hard time. The tips given on self-care, surrounding yourself with positive people, and setting boundaries are excellent. I also agree with the author’s point on keeping things in perspective, it really help to put things into perspective. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    6. Leah

      it really is a hard going through divorce most especially after betrayal from a person you vowed to spend the rest of your life with. it’s even worse now that there are children involved and entirely difficult that financially you were dependant on him.
      all I can say is hang in there, it’s very okay not to be ok. and eventually all will be well

      praying for you


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