They like to say that hindsight is 20/20, and wow, does that ever hit home when you’ve gone through a separation and divorce. When my ex and I first separated, I combed through online articles and received plenty of advice from well-meaning friends and family members about what to do and how I’d feel.
Some of it was helpful, and some of it… mmm, maybe not so much.
If I was to go back in time and lay down some words of wisdom for my past self, I’d have some pointed words to say about how to handle the situation and engage in some self care.
Unfortunately, time-traveling isn’t an option yet. But for anyone who is currently going through separation and divorce, here are the seven things I really wish I could have told myself.
> Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster
Everyone knows that separation is hard, but no one really knows how hard it is until they have to walk through it themselves. It’s 100 percent normal to feel happy one moment and like that pint of Rocky Road is your nearest and dearest friend in the next.
The mood swings are normal, just like the anxiety, the sleeplessness, and the rock that seems to set up housekeeping in the pit of your stomach. Remember: it’s not fun, but this too will pass.
> Remember who your friends are
Remember the adage, keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, definitely take a look around and evaluate who your real friends are and who might be offering a tête-à-tête just to get all the dirt on your situation. Sadly, not all our acquaintances have our health and wellbeing in mind.
More to the point… make sure you aren’t airing your dirty laundry to everyone around you. Not only does it keep you stuck in a negative mental cycle, but talk like that has a nasty way of coming back and making things difficult later on.
> Stay focused on your life and goals
There’s no way to put it gently: eventually your ex will find a new girlfriend, and it will probably bring up all sorts of conflicting emotions.
The best way to cope is to realize that this is A) going to be in the cards someday, and B) focus on your life. As painful as the process is, separation and divorce opens up an infinite number of new opportunities for you to explore what you like, what, and need in your own life.
So stay focused on your life, and not on what he might be doing, because you have bigger and better things to do.
> Support your kids
Your kids might start to act out, and who can blame them? Their lives have been turned upside down too, and they’re having to adjust to a whole new paradigm right alongside you.
Remember that healing takes time, and your patience, love, and understanding is the best possible thing you can give them right now. If you can, find them a therapist and make sure they get that support too. Having a neutral party for them to vent and talk to can help them process through a lot of emotions—without using you as an emotional punching bag.
> Exercise is your friend
My movement of choice is Bikram yoga, the hotter the better. Yours might be walking, running, boxing, crossfit, barre… the possibilities are literally endless. But the common element in all these forms of exercise is they force you to slow down and breathe.
Taking those moments for yourself, to boost your endorphins and really focus on you for 30-60 minutes, can literally be life-saving. Do it.
> Laughter really is the best medicine
Science has proved that laughter has tangible emotional and physical benefits… and you need every advantage you can get right now. There will absolutely be days where laughing at anything feels impossible, but keep working toward it.
Funny cat videos, stupid internet jokes, ridiculous webcomics, late-night comedy shows… do what you need to do to jumpstart your funny bone. Even smiling will help push you down the path a little bit.
> Remember romance will find you again
During the immediate post-separation turmoil, it may feel like you are destined to be alone forever (particularly if your ex has already hooked up with someone). Statistically, this is highly unlikely, and actually the numbers show that women are more likely to find a new life partner, more quickly, than men.
So even though you may feel unlovable, try not to focus on that aspect of your life. You owe it to yourself to focus on self-love and healing from your past relationship, so that when the right person and opportunity comes along, you are ready to build a healthy, fulfilling relationship.
Everyone’s situation is a bit different, but I’ve seen over and over again how these bits of advice are almost universally applicable to the women I talk to and coach. I’d love to know what you think and if you see where you could implement these things in your own life!
Are you ready to feel joy again, reclaim your independence, and chart a path toward healing and recovery? I would love to help you as you take those steps.
Check out my guide on 7 Ways to Rebuild Your Confidence During Divorce, with real, practical tips on how to start taking control of your story and create the life you have been dreaming about!