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
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
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
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!!