Here you are. In a place you never thought you would be in. Single, separated, divorced. Whether it was mutual, unwanted, or your decision, life, right now, is going to be very very hard. There is no guidebook. No 10-step program. No expiration date. So friend, I want to help. I want to be real and honest. I want to share advice to you. Maybe it will make you feel not so alone. Maybe it will help you to keep going. Maybe it will scare you because deep down, you know your journey is just starting. And letting go to what you know and love is really terrifying. The future is unknown. The pain unbearable. The mountain is too high, too steep, too rocky to climb.
Sit in the pain
The first two months of my separation are a blur. I can’t remember much other than the intense pain and grief I felt. I wanted to escape it all. With distractions, people, activities. But I forced myself to sit. Sit in the silence. Sit in the pain. Sit in the suffering. Sit in the loneliness. The rejection. The anger. The disappointment. I made myself feel all of the emotions. I absorbed them, identified them. Over a year later, I still have to force myself to feel it all. But, I can acknowledge them and let them go. The hurt is less and less. By doing this, I am healing. When you run away, it will find you. Five months down the road. A year down the road. Five years down the road. Harder. More brutal. Affecting you, the children, your new relationship. Don’t hide. Don’t ignore. Don’t label it as nothing. Don’t push it aside. It is hell. It is hard. It gets easier.
Give yourself some grace
There is no finish line in a divorce or in the healing process. We all grieve differently. However, the first year is about survival, getting through the firsts, the legal process. All I wanted was to have it all go by quickly. Let’s just get it done with already. I am done with it all! Yet, it can’t be rushed. Because it’s not the divorce that is going to determine you, but the journey. So when it all becomes unbearable and you don’t want to do anything. Don’t. Don’t worry about the laundry, the cooking, and the kids watching t.v. It will get done. Maybe not tonight. Or tomorrow. Pour the glass of wine and order take-out again. Cut yourself some slack. Soon. Soon enough it will be better. Soon enough it will be over. Trust me.
I was already seeing a counselor but I knew I needed more. I did not know anyone else who was going through a divorce. I didn’t know if how I was feeling was normal. I took this huge leap and reached out to the head of women’s ministry at the church I was going to for Mops. She connected me to DivorceCare. In this 12 week course, I connected with others who are and have been through this, while focusing on our relationships with God. This woman invited me to a Tuesday morning bible study. I sat among these women and poured my heart out. Tears rolling down my cheek, they prayed over me without judgement or prejudice. I was surrounded by love, support, and strangers. I barely knew these women. It was easier to tell them everything then close friends and family. And by doing this, I have some amazing people in my life now.
Let your guard down. Ask for help. Seek help. There are people who want to help you in any way they can. Let them. Let others love you. All of you. Be vulnerable. Be honest with others and yourself.
You are going to change
Change is inevitable. In your life. For your children. You. There is no way to avoid it. Your lifestyle. Your financial situation. Everything from friendships to where you live to how you live. And it can happen so quickly, that it feels as though everything is spinning out of control. Yet, you get to decide how. Is it going to make you better or bitter? Are you going to let divorce become who you are? Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Let yourself be transformed into something strong, something breathtaking, something amazing. Decide now. Who do you want to be in the end? Divorce does not define you. It is something that happened in your life. What you do despite it. What you do because of it. What you do after it. That is what defines you.
Everyone is going to give you advice. However, no one is living your life. Only you. Do what is right for you and your children. Follow how you feel. Live your life. If that means you and your spouse can only communicate through a lawyer then do it. If you can share a joint checking account for 15 months than do it. I have a decent friendship with my former husband. I do what feels right to me (with guidance from God). But I have had to set boundaries. These do not look like someone else’s boundaries. They are mine. Own your life. Do not compare your divorce with another. Trust yourself and your ability. Make choices. Follow through. Be brave. Be bold. Be strong.
Because my friend, you are all of these things. You will be okay. You will get though this. If you allow it. If you trust the process. If you stay true to yourself. If you accept the journey. The view at the top is breathtaking. And so are you.