By Polly Corman LCSW-R, LTD contributor
Divorce is one of the top 10 stressors on the big list, right up there with loss of a loved one. In fact, it is often much like losing a loved one because most often, the person you are divorcing is not the same person you married (or perhaps they are and that is the reason for the divorce<G>--no growth). Unfortunately, however, the ex-loved one is still around and perhaps not very loving at this point. So, it is a solo journey. Your feelings are not right or wrong, they just ‘are’. And there is no handbook that can tell you how it will go. That being said, you need to draw that boundary in your mind and in your life. The ex is not going to support you through this passage the way he might if you were still together. Regardless of the ‘cause’ of the divorce, most men are out to punish you for it (yes, even if they were the one who had the affair or asked for the divorce).
So you are on your own. Sides will be taken, factions will form. If you have even one solid good girlfriend, you’ll be okay. If you don’t, get a good therapist. In fact, a good therapist is actually better than using a friend for support because they will continue to listen when a friend might have had ‘enough’.
One of the most important things you can do to help you through this time is to begin a walking regime. No headphone, no dog, no partner and no cell phone. Just you, your feet and the ground you walk on. A minimum of 10 minutes is recommended. If you have access to a pool, swimming is second best. Again, no need to make it a marathon or even work up a sweat. What we are aiming at is meditation in movement. Get your mind down to its essence where all your worries melt away to putting one foot after the other.
Second on my list of recommends is the ‘worry book’. This requires only a journal or notebook and a timer and your thoughts. You should start with a maximum of 5 minutes to write down all your concerns and fears and even ‘to-do lists’. When the buzzer rings, you simply close the book and move on to your next activity, practiced with no worrying—if you need another session, time it at say, 3 minutes. Keep your worrying separate from your other daily activities. I think you will soon notice that the worrying does not really impact events one way or another.
Remember, you are powerless over anything and anyone else (barring children of course). You don’t even get to control your feelings, but these exercises will help you contain them in measured ways so that you don’t necessarily act out on your feelings. THAT is the one thing you DO control; your attitude. If the voice in your head is telling you negative news, you need to counter with a positive. For example; “I’m never going to find anyone to be in a relationship with again” needs to hear “I know I’m a good person and worthy of a good relationship”.