9 Tips On How To Survive A Divorce
Divorce is never easy, and even if you were the one to file suit for divorce, it still is an emotional event. Know that it will take some time for you to feel normal again. According to some experts, this usually takes about two years.
The following is a compilation of advice from various experts, but reflects some generally held truths about recovering from divorce.
1. Let yourself grieve. Divorce can be like a death in the family, and even if you were the one who wanted the divorce, it is very normal to grieve over the life you once imagined and no longer have. Allow yourself this emotion, don’t just stuff it away. Like a death, if you don’t grieve, then you never really get over the trauma. Also, everyone grieves in their own manner and their own time – no one is allowed to tell you how long it should take to get past the grief. It may never completely go away, but it will take up smaller pieces of your heart and your consciousness, particularly if you allow yourself to move on and create a new, happy life for yourself.
2. Seek professional help. This method of coping can cut straight to the heart of the matter. A counselor of some sort can provide tools for identifying exactly what your issues are and help you cope with the emotions surrounding a divorce – and there are a wide range of those in this situation. There are end-of-marriage grief specialists, as well as the usual scope of mental health professionals. There is absolutely no shame in reaching out to a professional to help yourself move through the stages of emotions attendant to divorce. These days, there are online webinars conducted by counseling professionals, so you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home. (Check these out thoroughly, though, and make sure they are legitimate and not some scam!)
3. Keep a journal. This technique is often recommended by counseling professionals, as it seems to work very well. Writing down your thoughts and feelings as you work through this time can be extremely healing. It allows you to rage and weep and question – on paper or computer. Working through the emotions in this manner sort of flushes the very negative emotions and promotes healing. It is a technique being used by therapists working with PTSD patients, and has shown significant success. Also, you can track the progress of your healing, as you look back and see how the hurt and anger have subsided, replaced by more positive thoughts.
4. Rely on your friends. Of course we all need the support of family and friends during a trying time, and friends can help distract you from your troubles, be a sounding board when you need one, and even help keep you in check emotionally. Don’t underestimate the power of these relationships, even if you have had a difficult time navigating the “who keeps which friends” waters. It may be awkward for coupled friends at first, but don’t automatically foreclose any supportive relationships.
5. Make new friends. This is the time to let yourself get out and do things as a single that you never did as a couple. Want to take a class, work out at the gym, go to a museum? You have the opportunity now, so make the most of it. You will find that meeting new people that have interests similar to yours is a great way to refresh your life.
6. Reinvent yourself. Try to think of this newly single status as a new beginning, not just an ending. If you have wanted to go back to school, or get a new job, or find new passions, you are now master (or mistress) of your own fate. Granted, there may be financial and child care considerations, but your life is now yours to shape as you see fit. Take a class, volunteer, explore new things to find what your life’s passion might be. If there are children involved, use the time they are with the other parent to re-discover and reinvent yourself. Your life will become much more fulfilling, and, as a result, much happier.
7. Start dating again. Some newly divorced people cringe at this thought, as it is such a new mindset to adopt after years of marriage. Not to say you should start seeing other people as soon as the figurative ink is dry on the divorce papers, (although some people do) but you should, when you feel ready, dip your toes back in the dating pool. It is always good for one’s self esteem to think you are attractive to others, and it can help diminish those negative feelings that accompany divorce. The key here is when you feel ready – rushing it might create awkward or rebound relationships; waiting too long may keep you from ever returning to the concept of dating.
8. Learn about finances. You may have been in a relationship where the spouse took care of all things financial. While that arrangement may have worked during the marriage, now it is time to learn about these things for yourself. Learning about finances goes beyond just knowing which bills to pay when; it is also about budgeting, saving, investing for the future and taking the best care of your financial health. Many high schools and colleges have “personal finance” courses that teach the range of financial knowledge, from bank accounts to credit cards to mortgages to investments.
9. Celebrate your single status. While you are in the midst of a divorce, you might not feel like celebrating anything. However, we are seeing a rise in the number of “divorce showers” or “single parties.” It may seem disrespectful to the marriage or the former spouse, but what we are really talking about is embracing your single status. Take a trip with your friends, spend some quality time with yourself, and prepare yourself to embark on your new journey. It can provide some closure for the former life, and open doors to a new, happy life.