What Would You Tell Your Recently Separated Self?

recently separated

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

Being recently separated, I can remember just feeling like I was in such unchartered territory. It was chaotic. So many things were new for me, and I just didn’t know what to expect. Examples of what you don’t know when you are recently separated: the court system, what mediation is, how to keep your home, how your kids are going to react, and more. Not to mention having a broken heart and all the other emotions that go along with being recently separated.

Here’s the part of this article where I say, “Here’s my advice for the recently separated…” but I won’t. Instead, I’ll let other women who have been in your shoes give you the advice.

I asked the women in the Divorced Girl Smiling facebook group:

“If you could go back and tell your recently separated self something important, what would you say?”

The responses were amazing! Here are some of them:

“Take care of yourself and don’t drink excessively!”

“OMG woman, pay attention, he lies and the things that didn’t add up, there was a reason. Not a good reason. And why, for someone that has always been so strong did you give up on little things to big things? And why and how did you manage to not have a lot of close friends left, you know why, you saw and let it happen. And one of my favorites, this should have been the end for you and it wasn’t, why?

“When you needed to be picked up from the hospital after your pacemaker was put in. It was during Covid so you just needed a ride and he insisted that he be the one that pick you up when your daughter was perfectly capable and you my dear love sat dressed in your room in the hospital waiting over three hours for him. Because just like normal he had to do something before he left.”

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“You’re going to get through this. I promise. Focus on the things that bring you joy. Do more of those things. Every time you think of the past let it be a reminder to bring you back to the present. To your life now, the things you have to be grateful for. As you tend to those things they’ll grow and you’ll find you didn’t lose anything. You found yourself.”

“Let yourself feel feelings instead of stuff them. Be choosy with sharing details.”

“You are loved, you are enough …. You will be happy again.”

“Stop asking ‘Why?’ You will never get true answers to explain why things are the way they are. The answer is about him and not you. Any explanation you may get is false and is his attempt to justify himself. Don’t believe it!

Don’t stay in a house just for the kids. Kids are more adaptable than you think. They will love their new home.

When he changes the schedule, don’t get caught up in the ‘it’s not fair’ that he can do whatever he wants and you have to pick up all the slack. That may be true but it doesn’t matter. It’s not fair to the kids, so be the parent that is always there. You didn’t want to give up any time with your kids anyway.

Support your kids through their disappointment without words about their dad. They should only know that you are excited to be with them and nothing that you may have had planned is more important than them. Leave your anger at the ex or anger that you had to change plans or anything else out of it. He isn’t going to listen to what is right or what you agreed to. Save yourself the argument and negative energy. Say ‘Awesome, bonus time!!’ Your children will be better and your future relationship with your children will be better because of this.

Do not talk badly to your children about their dad. It does not serve you for them to know what he did. You should never be the reason they don’t love or have a relationship with their dad – let him be the reason they do or they don’t. When they have experiences or info and they bring it up, validate their feelings and support them without adding your thoughts/feelings.

Don’t listen to all the people that say it will take two years for you to feel better and ready for your new life. You’re ready (even if you didn’t want any of this)! Run towards it!

Despite the current fear and pain, you will be happier, more fulfilled, and more secure than you ever were.”


Other responses:

“To my recently separated self: Don’t listen to anyone who isn’t being supportive of you or judging you, you have to do what’s best for you.”

Liz Wakeman, Attorney, Founder, Wakeman Law Group

“Remember to love yourself. Who you truly are. You WILL find yourself again. Don’t give up hope. She’s still in there.”

“Don’t fight the tears and grief. It’s part of the process.”

“You are strong. You are worthy. The seas will calm eventually and you’ll find your new normal. People don’t have to understand or approve. Throw your shoulders back and be proud of you taking your life back. You got this.”

Dating is fun. Enjoy yourself girl.”

“I promise you will get through this.”

“Focus on you!!! Stay positive and strong it will be ok.”

“Go live life now. Don’t let the divorce stop your forward motion. The marriage is over. All that’s left is a business transaction. And I’ve watched you for awhile now. You’re going to do amazing. Are there hard times ahead getting through it? Absolutely. But you impress me with how you handle it all.

You allow people to help you and stand on your own at the same time. You thrive. When the days are darkest and you feel like you can’t do it anymore, just know that you power through again… and eventually you will get through the mountain,  and you climb and end up on top of that mountain. As I write this you are not yet through it, and it will probably be hardest before it’s over, but you have already begun to create a new and amazing life, and I think it’s only going to get better. Go grab life, babe. You’ve got this!”

Lisa Lisser, Divorce and Spiritual Coach, LZL Coaching


“I would tell myself to have patience and to be careful with who you let close to you. It is so hard when you are vulnerable and you meet people who may not be as they seem. I’m talking about friends as much as dates. I have some great friends in my life but I have let some go because they weren’t loyal or healthy to be around. I caught myself in a similar pattern with some friends as with my ex. I am proud that I was able to recognize it and get away from it sooner. With my ex, I beat that dead horse long after it was dead.”

My advice for the recently separated:

You didn’t think I’d end this article without my two cents, did you? Here are 11 pieces of advice, based on what I learned as a recently separated 41 year old with two toddlers:

1. Minimize drinking. There are so many other, better ways to de-stress and care for yourself. Ask yourself if you really need that glass of wine every night.

2. Love yourself, treat yourself with kindness, and forgive yourself if you make mistakes or if you have made them in the past.

3. If you need to go on medication, don’t be ashamed. It might only be temporary and it could be a game changer in decision making (which is really important right now.)

4. Get your support network together. Join a support group, or go to therapy. A divorce coach is wonderful! Divorced Girl Smiling is here for you.

5. Remember that your kids are hurting, too, and that might show up in different ways–acting out, bad grades, anger, not necessarily just sadness. Get them help before it happens.

6. Money is only money. If you have enough to live comfortably, don’t worry about the money you could have had had you stayed with your ex. Ask yourself if that’s really worth it.

7. Move your body: walk, exercise, dance, do yoga, lift weights. It’s soooo good for your emotionally.

8. Gather your divorce team: have consultations with divorce professionals. The more knowledge you have, the better your outcome will be. This is your time to become empowered and take control of your divorce. Put your divorce in the hands of those you trust, those you’ve interviewed, those you know have your best interest at heart.

9. Reconnect with people. It’s hard to call someone you haven’t talked to for years, but believe me, they will be so happy to hear from you.


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10. Volunteer and/or engage in kind, thoughtful gestures. Helping others will benefit you even more than it will them. Giving is great for the soul.
11. Keep your eye on your long-term goals, even if you don’t know what those are yet, think: I am going to live a happier, more peaceful life, once I figure out what that looks like.

Being recently separated can feel traumatic and scary and uncomfortable and lonely and confusing. Just take things day by day and pull all the strength you have out of you because I promise you, it’s there. Even if you forgot about it.

Divorce isn’t an easy journey, but it can have a really, really wonderful ending. I can’t guarantee a lot of things, but I can say with conviction that there will be times that you will feel so empowered and independent and proud of yourself, and it will feel great.

People always say to me, “I just want to be happy.” My answer is: If you make good choices, be patient, and always think with your head, not your anger, things have a way of working out. Make decisions with your gut, not vengefulness, and live life with your heart, unafraid to be you and to go after what you want. You deserve happiness. Knowing that is the first step to being happy.

Like this article? Check out, “When Trust is Broken in a Relationship, How Can You Ever Trust Again?”

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    Divorced Girl Smiling welcome video
    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

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