The DO's and DON'Ts of Divorce
Many of my close friends and relatives are going through divorces right now. Everywhere I look, another couple who I thought had a “perfect marriage” is splitting up, leaving me flabbergasted and losing hope in love and matrimony (don’t worry, I haven’t lost all hope yet…).
Divorce can begin many different ways; sometimes it smacks you in the face out of nowhere, completely unexpected for some. Other times it creeps up slowly, but not so unexpectedly after too much time living in denial. Sometimes divorce is the final outcome of years of threats or red flags or stagnation. Whatever your flavor of divorce or break-up, the aftershocks can be crippling and traumatic. It can leave you questioning your self-worth and wondering “what the hell is wrong with me?”. Subconscious, deep-rooted beliefs you have about yourself can come bubbling to the surface, and without some level of support, it can lead you spiraling into a dark place that’s difficult to come back from.
Just like with everything else though, time is the great healer. With the right tools and support, it’s possible to transition through divorce with grace and your integrity intact.
10 Tips for Moving Through Divorce with Grace
DO - Surround yourself with a solid, trustworthy group of friends who will make you laugh, lift you up, keep you in check, and tell you the truth.
DON’T numb out with substances (or do so with caution and moderation). I spent at least a year after my divorce completely inebriated on the Vegas strip in an effort to numb out and not feel the feelings I didn’t want to feel. Alcohol was my poison and boy did it only lead to bad decision-making….This only delayed my healing process and stunted my growth. If I could do it all over again, I would’ve challenged myself to stay sober and clear-headed.
DO - See a qualified professional therapist. I waited way too long to do this. A professional in mental health is crucial and can help you move through difficult emotions with more ease and support. Is therapy expensive? It can be. I understand this may not be a realistic option for many people (because our healthcare system is shit), but as therapy becomes less stigmatized, there are more affordable options out there. Apps like Talkspace make it much more affordable and accessible. It’s worth the investment if you can swing it.
DON’T bad mouth your ex in public or on the Internet or social media or any place even remotely public at all. That says a lot more about you than it does about them. Save the shit-talking for your therapist and a very, very intimate group of trusted family and friends.
DO - Exercise. Get your endorphins going as much as you can. Find a way to sweat that you enjoy, set a goal, and do it. Besides being a mood booster, it will also boost your confidence — #winwin. Always thought about running a marathon? Interested in trying out ballet or salsa dancing for the first time? Now’s the time my sweet, single friend!
DON’T jump into a another relationship right away. This could be a sign of co-dependence. Take some time to breathe and learn who you are on your own. Trust me, I had my fair share of alcohol-fueled rebound relationships as a coping mechanism to distract myself and not a single one ended well. Also, as I’ve learned, being single is the tits.
DO - Ask for what you need from your family and friends. They can’t read your mind, so if it feels like they’re being a little overbearing or not supportive enough, voice it. Use “I” statements like, “When you do/say _______, I feel _______” (learned that one in therapy, wink wink), as a non-threatening way to communicate. They want to be there for you but may not know how in the best way, so tell them. Also… they probably have a lot of their own opinions and feelings right now. Set healthy boundaries so their projections don’t mess with your mind in a negative way.
DO - Read or listen to books about conscious uncoupling , or healing from divorce in general (there are several out there) to learn all the tools you can to end the relationship in the most respectful way possible and heal. This is especially important if you have children together, obviously.
DO - Stay busy. I don’t mean this as a way to shove everything under the rug and pretend it never happened, but a healthy amount of work, exercise, and socializing can do wonders to lift the spirit and keep you engaged with life.
DO - Journal. Writing your thoughts and feelings on paper for your eyes only is an incredibly healing practice.
Then repeat after me: “I am not a failure because my marriage ended.” Repeat it until you believe it because it’s true. The end of a relationship has absolutely nothing to do with the worth of the humans who were involved. And remember that just like everything else in this life, “this too shall pass” and you will be stronger for it.