While I don’t wish divorce upon my worst enemy, the national average tells us that it’s going to happen to many of us. It’s unfortunately a fact of life when you are dealing with adult humans who have freedom of will and sometimes a case of impulse control or just a Shady AF partner.
While divorce sucks no matter how you slice it, there are a few things those of us on the other side of the pain can share with The Newbs out there who are just coming out of the pain – fog.
Do yourself a favor first and foremost, buy yourself a new set of sheets. New pillows too if you can afford it. Many of us are stuck with the “marital bed” and the memories attached to it and while a new mattress and box spring would be a fantastic purchase, it’s often times outside of the financial means for many of us starting over. So sheets are a great compromise. You can pick any color or pattern you like, often it’s satisfying to pick something you like and something your ex-parter would have hated. Trust, me, as Martha Stewart says, “It’s a good thing.”
While it’s fine to slip into the bottle after divorce and drown your sorrows in the hooch, don’t get stuck there. It’s not pretty and you will have regrets. I know I do. Pull yourself out, dry yourself out, practice a month of abstinence from alcohol and drink some water for goodness sake, your liver will thank you.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….discover the center of the bed! It’s the best part of sleeping alone. Smack dab in the center of that big bed with pillows on either side of you, bookending each flank. Either way you roll you’ve got a cuddle buddy and if you’re a back sleeper, you feel safe snuggled in between two fluffy clouds. I sleep the best snuggled between Bruce the Body Pillow and his pint size mate, one of my extra standard size pillows on the other side. My dog Chewy likes them too.
Get a pet. This might be controversial if you are unsure of the amount of care you can provide another living thing outside yourself, but it’s great to have something you have to look after. I know there were days I wouldn’t have seen sunlight if it weren’t for needing to walk Chewy. He also gave me unconditional love and encouragement and sometimes the only smile or laughter I knew for weeks with that little derpy face of his.
You’re going to lose weight in the beginning. We call it the Divorce Diet. You don’t want to eat, you kind of want to starve to death and put yourself out of your own misery but of course, you won’t die. You’ll feel like you are, but you won’t. You’ll lose a bunch of weight and people will worry about you and then you’ll swing to the other side of the pendulum and comfort yourself with food and blow up with a combination of alcohol, sugar and carbs. No? Only me? Okay…. At some point, though you will have to concern yourself again with the nutrients you are putting in your body and take control of your hand to mouth shoveling. You’ll also at some point feel like putting on workout clothes and finding some kind of exercise routine again, and if you’re lucky, you might wind up in the best shape of your life. It’s called the “revenge body” and if you run into your ex, of they see you on social media it’s immensely satisfying knowing they wonder “why didn’t she look that hot when we were together?”
Talk about what happened. Get yourself into counseling or therapy – even if it’s for a short time. You have to process what happened and at some point your coworkers and friends are going to tire of hearing about what a shit-show your breakup was. They will deny they are tired of hearing it and tell you it’s ok to talk about for as long as you need to, but inside they are wondering when they are going to get their friend back. So get someone in your life who is paid to listen to your smoking dumpster fire of a heart break and figure your stuff out.
Give yourself time. Be kind to yourself and find what feels good to you. Be generous with your self care and love yourself like you never have before. Don’t date right away – trust me – your dates will thank you for working on your baggage before you turn yourself loose on the dating world. You will know when it’s time to start dating and the first couple dates will solidify if it’s too soon or not. If it’s too soon, add some more self care and time and then try it again after a few months.
Be careful with sex…we all know the old adage about getting over someone by getting under someone else, but it just isn’t a wise thing to do. I know that’s funny coming from Single & Selfish who had the year of sex…but I waited a good amount of time – almost two years before I pulled that trigger. If I would have tried to be intimate with anyone before then I would have just cried all the way through it and that wouldn’t have been enjoyable for either of us.
Healing isn’t a race. Grief isn’t a competitive sport. Your recovery and healing isn’t going to be like anyone else’s so don’t compare it to anyone’s. Trust that you can care for yourself and listen to your body. It’s ok to say no to your buddies who want to set you up on a date right away and it’s also ok to say yes to that special someone who asks you out if you want to. Listen to what you want and don’t be afraid to speak up about it.
Finally, it’s ok to be stingy with how much of you is shared with other people. If you have friends inviting you out and you don’t want to go it’s ok to say no. You will have plenty of time to go out with the ladies or the boys and get your party on. It’s perfectly fine to say no to the holidays too. Holidays can be a big trigger for a lot of people. If you don’t feel like putting up a tree at Christmas then don’t. You get to be the boss of you from now on and if being Bah Humbug is what feels right then go for it. It’s a good idea to put a limit on it though, especially if you have children. They deserve to have some normalcy back just as you do. So don’t veto all holidays forever, but allow yourself a limited veto power for the first little while.
If you are just entering into the Divorce Cesspool, I’m so sorry you got an invitation to this crapola party that is Divorce. I know it sucks and it hurts. It feels like you are never going to be okay again but I promise you will. You’ll want to punch me in the throat for this next part, but it really is true…..It just takes time. It really does. With enough time and self care you will get to the other side and realize you don’t hurt anymore. You will get to the place where you wake up happy again and don’t get hit by the freight train that is divorce re- traumatization every day. You will love your new life and see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s there. I promise. You will come out of this and you will be okay again.
Until then, be ok with where you are now, even if it hurts like a sumbitch. It’s temporary and it sucks, but the after is like really sweet laughter after a good, long cry. Cleansing and satisfying.