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BLOG: Divorce : Surviving the first 3 weeks - 7 steps that will help

Reality has now happened. What you feared for a while is here and has to be faced. One of you have decided, maybe both, that the marriage is over.

The dreaded word is out : Divorce

You have been kicked in the pit of your stomach, your heart is in shreds. You have cried buckets full of tears and wondered around aimlessly. You cannot concentrate on any work and you cannot stomach any food. You are in this stormy sea and the waves are over your head, but just up there in front of you it is calmer – everyone tells you.

You have no other choice but to pull yourself together and face every day. Maybe you have children in the house and they need taking care of. How do you manage all of this? How do you survive the first three weeks of your divorce when all you want to do is curl up into a heap, cry and die? How do you face the world after your divorce?

During the first three weeks of your divorce, all you need to do is to survive the stormy waves, so you can ride the waves to the beach a little later.

How do you do it:

1. Be kind to yourself: You have just experienced one of the top 10, most stressful situations that a human being can be exposed to. You are experiencing this physically and mentally on a level that is off the charts. Be kind to yourself. There is absolutely no need right at this moment for a “pull-yourself-together” talk. Allow yourself the luxury to experience all the emotions that you are facing. And they will come at you randomly. You are still busy with one when the other pops up and you are on a roller coaster of note. The best advice – allow it to run through you. This is not the time to rationalize and fix it. Feel the emotions – really feel them. The big trick is not to react on them. Although people will be understanding, it really is not fair to lash out at them. Cry if you want to cry. Find a place where you can scream if you feel you want to. Weed the garden if you need to punch something. There are many ways to release these emotions – feel them, acknowledge them and release them. You have a right to them, and you owe yourself the luxury. You also owe yourself to release them now, so you do not bottle them up for later years. This is not wine. Release them so you can start the healing.

2. Rome was not built in one day. You have been married for how many years? And before that you had a courtship. All of these took time. Why do you want to settle everything regarding the divorce immediately? I know you want to get rid of the hurt as soon as humanly possible, but trying right now to sort it all out is not in your best interest. Never, make a decision while you are emotional. Never. If you broke your leg, do you tell yourself to pick yourself up, stiff upper lip and off you go on a run? No, your body needs time to heal. You are broken – and broken does not have to mean that you are a “mess” heading for a psychiatric unit. No, you are hurt, you are broken right now. Allow for some healing to happen. And the healing path is still going to be long, but first allow this roller coaster of emotions to run out of steam a little bit. Catch your breath. Do not allow people to push you. Do not allow your expectation of how you think the process should go to force you.

3. Do some exercise. This might be the last thing you feel like doing, but this is the one thing you really need to do. Preferably out in nature if you can. If you are in the city, why not take the kids for a stroll when you get home from work? It does not have to be far, but any exercise will be good for you. The fact is that exercise releases endorphins that will lift your spirit. It will give your heart and lungs the needed exercise and help with the anxiety. You will not feel so boxed in. If you have children, they are in this with you. If you are not going to do it for yourself, do it for them. Find any reason, it does not matter, but go out and do some exercise. If you want to go all out and build a new body, by all means, but this kind of exercise is more to release. To breathe.

4. Tomorrow is another day. If today is black and grey and it feels like everything has gone wrong, it is today. Tomorrow is another day. During those dark days tell yourself "tomorrow, just hold on for tomorrow". And somehow, tomorrow is better. The release of chemicals in your body right at this moment is so erratic that your moods are all over the place. And depending on how much beating up you did to yourself, you will hit those “black/dark/muddy days” and in the beginning you are going to hit them often. But they do get less until they disappear, but tomorrow is another day.

5. Beautiful and free. We live in a beautiful world. I know you do not want to hear it right now, but this planet is just amazing and beautiful. Around us are beautiful things. Every day, find one thing that is beautiful. One thing. Be it the smile on your child’s face, the smile from the stranger as you walk to work, the new leaves on the tree, the red leaves nearly ready to fall, the sun playing through the leaves, two dogs happy to see each other and jumping and playing. Anything. The only rule – it cannot cost anything. It has to be free. No monetary value. Truth is that we cannot see anything beautiful at this moment, and maybe for quite a while before this, that is why you have to train yourself to look for the beauty. Make it a game on your way to school in the morning - your children have their own emotions to deal with at the moment. The wonderful thing about this is that before the three weeks are up, you will notice more than one thing a day. Your day will become filled with miracles around you, with beauty and gratitude. (Follow me on Facebook the month of June – a month of Gratitude with the Senses

6. Your time. Maybe you never had free time during your marriage, maybe you did. But should you have children, no guilt, you are now forced to have time for yourself. The first weekend that they are away, you will suddenly come face to face with this reality. You have absolutely no excuse not to grab it. If it means that you are going to spend the whole day in your PJ’s watching movies, then so be it. If you want to go to the beach and lie in the sun for an hour with a book, then that is it. If you want to buy a colouring book and colour the whole day, do it. It cannot become habit, but why not be a naughty child now and do exactly that? Whatever you decide, you are getting this time, so plan it. Plan something that you need to do for your soul – and in need I mean anything that is not for anyone else. As a “single” parent" you will not have much time for yourself. Get into a routine, where part of your “off duty” weekend is allocated to you. No responsibility to this, no duty, and no guilt.

7. Accept invitations to friends. You might not feel like company, you might crave company. Does not matter, people do care and people want to be supportive. Allow them. You need to get out of the house and you need to think about something other than your situation. This is a payoff both ways. And if you talk about your hurt, they will understand. And if they don’t, well that is just tuff for them because you are going to talk. The invitations will dry up. And if you are female, believe me, sooner than later. You can build a new friendship circle later, for now, drop in on your friends. Accept the dinner invitation. Go for coffee. Make dates to go and hike with your friends. We are not singular beings, we are social and just because your marriage is over does not mean that you have leprosy. You have no excuse to sit at home alone all the time. Accept the invitations from your friends.

The first three weeks cannot settle the whole situation, neither can you build a foundation for the future.

This is not the time to jump out of the blocks and build that new life without your partner.

You could end up doing things you might be very sorry about for a long time to come. This is a time of catching your breath. This is a time to be kind to yourself. This is a time to take time and find your feet – as best you can.

Sue Leppan

Transformation Life Coach

NLP Practitioner

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