Divorce Advice for Fear

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

There are so many feelings that come with being newly separated and going through a divorce: shock, guilt, devastation, sadness, anxiety, anger, jealousy, bitterness and…one of the worst—FEAR. That’s why I decided to write a piece offering divorce advice just for fear.

Fear is a very powerful emotion that can cause a lot of pain, along with a lot of other issues, both physically and emotionally. As a newly separated woman at 41, who hadn’t had a job in five years, I can remember being incredibly scared for a long time. Of what?

  • my financial future
  • my kids and issues they were having
  • loneliness and isolation
  • growing old alone
  • the divorce process (judge’s rulings on custody and financial issues
  • attorney’s fees
  • living alone with two kids.
  • what people were saying about me (the single mom in the suburbs)
  • how angry my ex seemed
  • dating again and all the weirdos out there.

I think it is very normal and understandable to have fear, but how you choose to handle it is very important in how your life will be and how it will end up.

Beware: fear can lead to some bad things if you let it. Such as:

1. Anxiety and stress that can lead to physical symptoms: such as ulcers and other digestive issues, depression, weight gain, insomnia, irritability (mood swings), poor immune system/illness.

2. Anger. I believe anger is driven by fear. Good rule of thumb: if your ex is angry, he or she has fear about something. If you understand that, you will have empathy and not be angry back.

3. Bad decision making. Maybe you are afraid of your ex, so you make decisions to try not to anger him or her. Or, fear can hold you back. Maybe you don’t take a new job because you are afraid of failure, or even worse, you don’t look for a job because you are fearful you won’t be able to handle it.

4. Lack of self-love. People who let fear rule the decisions they make don’t like themselves that much because they don’t have self-respect.

Now, here are some positive things about fear:

  • Fear causes motivation. I recently received a text through Cyber Dust from Mark Cuban, saying that fear has caused him to work harder and become successful. If you are afraid of not being successful, it could motivate you to work harder and smarter. Fear of financial problems often motivates people who work on commission and in countless people I know, it made them extremely successful and wealthy (like Mark Cuban.)
  • There’s nothing like the feeling of overcoming fear. There is no better self confidence booster than thinking to yourself, “I’m not going to be afraid anymore.” Not being afraid of something you used to be afraid of is THE BEST feeling. It’s so empowering, so freeing, and it makes you proud of yourself, and gives you self respect and self-love.

I recently went through something that was causing me a lot of fear. Because of that, I cried a lot, I felt anxious, and it felt a bit paralyzing in my decision making.

How I handled it was: I cried a lot—until I couldn’t cry anymore, and then my skin got thicker and I felt like a boxer in training. I educated myself, I thought through things clearly, I did some yoga, I focused on having gratitude for good things in my life, and I had conversations with some people I needed to straighten things out with. I did what had to be done without letting fear stop me.

It was an amazing feeling. I loved myself for it. I felt strong and it made my problems seem really manageable.

And when I showed up to rehearse with my dance partner last week, (for an upcoming show I am performing in) I looked at him and said “I’m ready,” and he knew exactly what I meant. For weeks I’ve been really scared to do the lifts in our programs. It was a terrible feeling. It was almost ruining the experience. But then I thought, ‘If I can handle all this other crap I have going on in my life, where the fears are so much larger than being afraid to let my fit, young, strong dance partner lift me in the air, it’s time to relinquish control and just do it.’ So, we danced. And he lifted me high off the ground and he spun me around. And I wasn’t scared. Why? Because I decided not to be. And I loved it and looked darn good!

I’m not saying that you are wrong for having fear. Fear in divorce is very normal and to be expected. What I’m saying is, find a way to manage your fear in a productive way. In other words, find a way to do YOUR lifts! Because once you aren’t afraid, you will make better decisions, you’ll like and respect yourself a lot more, and you’ll be a happier person.

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

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