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There is an After

Hey you.  Yeah, you.  The one over there bleeding from your blood pumper chest hole where your heart used to be.  Waking up daily thinking it was all just a dream only to in the very next moment have reality crash into you that the break up, the divorce, the separation, the end, really did happen.  I’m talking to you.

There is an after.

I’m almost two and a half years post marriage implosion and I’m there.  There are very few days I even think about my ex-husband, let alone my marriage or how it ended.  I don’t know when it happened but I can tell you how it happened and I know you’re not going to enjoy what I’m about to tell you.  It really does just take time.

Yeah, I know, you just closed your laptop or slammed down your phone and flipped me the finger, but it’s true.  Come back….read the rest of this post.  I have more revelations to share with you.

You will be ok. No, you will be better than ok.  You will be happy!  You will be successful, you will be no longer angry and you will be whole again.  You will find things to fill that empty gaping sucking black hole in your soul.  For me it’s been photography, writing and finding my fun again.  For you it might be running or hiking or dancing with your buddies.  Whatever it is, you will find it.  It will feel strange at first and you will kind of feel like a baby zebra taking those first few shaky steps with wet, sticking up tufts of hair, but each step is a little bit more secure, each stride is a little stronger and more graceful.

It’s even good to be around couples and friends who used to know me in my old life. There is no more weird head bobbing and saying “Yeah, I’m fine” when people ask me if I’m doing ok.  I have finally reached the After.  I’m not even sure people see me and remember I was part of a couple for so many years.  I’ve established that I’m a singleton and that I am perfectly happy to be that for the forseeable future.

Whew!  It has taken me a long time to get here and it will take you exactly as long as you need it to for you to get here too.  Man, this post has been on my mind all day.  It was spurred on by a post by my online divorce guru pal Lisa Arenda at @Stilllearning2b where she wrote about Thriving After Divorce.  It reminded me that I am indeed thriving after divorce.  It also reminded me that there are people who read this blog and who I talk to on various social media platforms who are still in the thick of the weeds.  They are still treading water in the horrors of heartache and trauma.  They are still feeling like they’ve been punched in the chest and wake up every day hoping the nightmare will finally be over.

There will be a day when you will wake up and be so damn grateful that you are on the other side of the After and you are even grateful for the heartache.  You are grateful for the pain and the aching soul sucking agony that you sloshed your galoshes through every flipping day because it built up some stout silos just waiting to be filled with happiness.

You just closed your laptop again and flipped me off didn’t you?  It’s ok, we’ll wait.  Come back when you’re ready.

Ok.  Steps to find your After.

  1. Feel the pain.  You can only numb it with booze or drugs for so long.  You have to feel it, there’s no other way.
  2. Surround yourself with people who love and support you.  Friends or family who want to lay their burdens on you and yuck your yum have to be sent to the sidelines for a while.  They won’t be able to drink from your well, your well is empty right now.
  3. Find what brings you a little bit of peace.  Is it meditation?  Is it yoga?  Is it kickboxing?  Is it picking up the camera and finding beauty somewhere?  Is it painting or writing or smooshing clay between your fingers?  Find it.
  4. Keep repeating number 3.
  5. Add more positive people to your life.  Make new friends who didn’t know the old you as part of a couple.  Reinvent yourself with them and in reinventing yourself you will discover a new normal.
  6. Create positive patterns.  Shake up your morning routine.  Start a new night time routine.  Change what you used to do during your day and keep changing it until you find something that makes sense to you.
  7. This is a huge one…GO NO CONTACT.  Even if you have kids, go no contact unless it’s about the children and you absolutely have to talk.  Talking and communicating reinforces the bond with your ex and it feeds the addiction.  Go no contact and every week of not communicating gets easier and easier.
  8. Find healthy ways to fuel your body.  Your one job is to care for your body.  Try all the foods and cooking trends you’ve always wanted to try.  You get to be the boss of you.
  9. Drink water.  Just do it.
  10. Forgive yourself.  Even if you weren’t the cause of the end, there is some guilt and responsibility we all wind up saddled with.  Forgive yourself.

In the end, after you have gotten to number ten, I’ll bet you’ll begin to release the anger and resentment too.  Not all at once, but a little at a time.

Once you realize you aren’t angry anymore you’re pretty much at the After.  Welcome.  We have cookies.

All of this can seem pretty simplified and it’s easy for me to write out what worked for me.  Will it work for you?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  You might find that you skip around and bounce from one to another in the list I’ve created.  You might have your own list that works for you and that’s fine.

The After is a pretty epic place to be.  However you move through the stops to get there is up to you.  Just get there.  Because….cookies.

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