We all know that we can’t freeze-frame life. The moments that go unchecked still move us along — our phone battery life alone tells us that. And then, while on a steady road of routine, comes a shake-up, a life quake, that brings us to a breaking point. Experiences like the end of a marriage, or any relationship for that matter, can serve as our wake up call.
My divorce was the kick-ass antidote that had me question what I had been doing with my life. I watched my now ex-husband pack his bags and tell me that he was done. We both knew the marriage had past the romantic phase; we had shifted from being each other’s cheerleaders to jabbing partners. But the ending of our eleven year relationship with just a few words, at the start of the holidays, in our new home…that I didn’t see coming. After that night, we saw each other once more, and then he disappeared. I haven’t seen him since.
At the time, my mind was a blur. “What could I have done more of…less of…differently?” I was stuck in grief and guilt. Moving through this loss actually became a journey to reclaiming my voice and learning to be less apologetic for who I am. It might sound cheesy, but this kind of chaos can be the catalyst for your expansion. Stripped of the identity as wife/mother/daughter/employee, you can explore the growing awareness of who you really are. Give yourself permission to have that journey and you will be amazed at what you will find.
Here are a couple of things that I did along the way that helped me not just cope, but grow. This is not meant be an exhaustive list. The sentences are short, but this by no means implies that the activities are trite and can be checked off overnight. Like everything, it’s a process. Sometimes it can feel like nothing works and then, suddenly, you’re in a new space wondering how you got there.
1. There are no solo-heroes.
You are not meant to cope alone and figure everything out by yourself. That is not how humans evolved. Turn the kindness that you extend to others onto yourself. If you have family and friends that you can talk to, then let them know how you are feeling. For a long time I bottled feelings up, and then I realized that loved ones want to help. If there is truly no one that you feel you can lean on, that sucks and I’m truly sorry. But it’s not hopeless, there are support groups you can attend and even government services that you can use as a way to begin creating a supportive network.
2. Feel your feelings.
This is a big one for those that love to analyze their situation as a way to avoid the way they feel about their situation. I’m President of this club. But, guess what? Feelings are your friend, even sadness and anger. Ignoring sadness, resentment and anger doesn’t make them go away.
Writing about these feelings, letting out the tears, squeezing an orange to release the rage, and allowing yourself to ride the roller-coaster is actually what helps us release, let go, and move forward. Consider talking to a therapist/coach, which can help with processing these uncomfortable feelings. Keep in mind that many therapists/coaches have sliding scales if affordability is an issue.
3. Jot down the peaks and valleys.
The marriage probably wasn’t all bad, right? There was a period, hopefully, of affection and care. Write down the highs and the lows of the relationship, the moments that you cherish fondly and the ones that you’d rather trash. It can help when getting stuck on the thought that you’ve wasted your time, because you’ll see that there was a reason you connected to begin with. It’s not all a wash and there are lessons and experiences you are taking with you.
4. Things to do now.
Make a list of all the things you wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to because you were compromising yourself for another person. Make room for YOU — this is the time for it! Consider items that involve self-care. Taking a road trip or workshop, or learning to juggle can all be fun – but don’t discount getting massages and making time for a bubble bath, small regular treats can be soothing and invigorating. This can help you see that there is a life ahead of you to be explored.
5. Let go.
This is a biggie and, admittedly, one that is still ongoing for me as a Type A gal. Trying to control the marriage, trying to control how life is supposed to be because of fear of the unknown, fear of being alone, it all clearly didn’t work. Surrendering is the opposite of that, it’s us giving the Universe permission to come in and offer guidance. This isn’t about rolling over passively, it’s about creating space for what you need to come in and then taking inspired action. While lying in bed with a raw ache in my gut, I leaned into my pillow and whispered to the universe, “I’ll do anything, anything at all, just tell me what”. I repeated this mantra often in the weeks after the separation. When I surrendered my control, synchronicities started happening — people, trips, books that provided me with the support I needed spilled in. Synchronicities also show us that we are not alone, even if we feel like it. These are winks from the Universe guiding us. We don’t have to know the final outcome, just take it one step at a time.
This is a time of a lot of change. Know that you did the best that you could with what you knew at the time, and you’re doing the best you know how to do now. Show yourself some kindness by giving yourself permission to feel how you feel and lean into receiving support. Know that you are at the beginning of the runway. Wishing you love and compassion as you take-off.
originally published for Divorce Angels. Check it out here