Anyone who has ever gone through a divorce will probably tell you there was a point they felt was rock bottom. 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 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 about 9 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.
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.
Here are 9 things needed for those at rock bottom:
1. Strength. This is the time to get in shape both physically and mentally. A person with a strong body will feel more confident and self-assured on the inside. The person will feel more empowered and powerful, and that will come off in their personality. Mental and emotional strength is even more important. The thing is, you’ve got to get really tough. I was walking out of a hospital today feeling a little sorry for myself until I saw a woman wearing a scarf on her bald head walking out of the cancer center. She had a look of strength that made me proud of her.
2. Courage. Facing and coping with divorce takes guts. How do you get guts? You just have to decide you want to have them and then you do. Take deep breaths when you’re scared. When you are unsure of a decision, believe in yourself. Also, having faith that things will all work out OK fosters courage. 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. All these things will help you to “keep moving” as this reader writes. To keep living each day with hopes that things will get better, to be a single mom, to be the leader of your household, to go after the job you want, to do things that are scary and that aren’t always easy or comfortable, to take chances, and to protect yourself from being bullied by listening to those who put you down and make you feel badly about yourself.
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!
4. Wisdom. 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 attorney or 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.
5. Girlfriends and family. Lean on them! Enjoy them! Cherish the special bond you have with them. They will be here for you.
6. Your kids. Same as #5, but not only will they be here for you, you need to be there for them. Focusing on them and making sure they are doing OK will help you have a sense of purpose and will give you strength within that you never even knew existed.
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.
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. 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.”