Divorce Survival Guide

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For anyone who has been through or in going through a divorce it’s a lot harder than people think. The process is tough whether you choose the DIY option or have a legal team involved.

The life you built is picked through like scavengers picking over a carcass looking for any scraps that can be fought over.

Possessions are one thing; the emotions are another ball game. Even the most self-confident of people will, at some point question why. The rollercoaster for some is short lived, whilst for others it can take years to even out. The key thing to remember is that it will.

Here are some top tips for getting through it:

  1. Be kind to yourself – This isn’t easy but its vital. The biggest fights you will have during this process is with yourself. Some days the dark side will come out on top, but little by little the light side will shine through.

Counsellor Michelle Newham form Driffield said: “Being kind to yourself, is often harder than you think, and will take time and practice but it will get easier.”

  • Forgive but don’t forget – If (in time) you can forgive the person who hurt you it will feel like a weight has been lifted. Holding on to a grudge or hatred takes a massive amount of energy, but don’t forget the feelings of hurt and anger. They will drive you forward and give you strength to do what needs to be done
  • Ask for help – If you don’t ask how will people know you need help?

Paula Hall wrote in the Relate Book: How to Have a Healthy Divorce “Take care of your feelings. Confide in friends, family or people who are trained to listen, such as the Samaritans, can help you feel less alone.”

  • Get organised – Plan what you need to do. Make two lists; what MUST be done and everything else. Concentrate on the musts, if the rest don’t happen straight away it’s not the end of the world
  • Accept your life has changed – Things have changed, you are single, possibly for the first time in decades. Your friends will take sides and that will hurt. Things will happen that are beyond your control, accepting that is one of the hardest things you will go through.

When I was going through my divorce I had this as the screen saver on my laptop and phone as a reminder: Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and; Wisdom to know the difference.

  • Be brave – Getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people can be scary. Finding an activity that interests you will make meeting new people easier.
  • Be positive – Take time to recognise how well you’re doing. Remembering these achievements small and large will help you through the tough days, and there will be plenty of them.
  • Make a Bucket list – Make a list of all the things you want to do. They can be a mix of large and small and be anything from changing your hair colour to walking the Inca Trail. Then start and tick things off one by one. Even the planning is fun.
  • Be realistic – Divorce is a loss, and the life you had needs to be mourned. You’ll have bad days, you’re going to get angry and upset. You’re also going to have good days when you feel positive and happy.

Newham said “It’s ok to be laughing one minute, then angry the next. Everyone deals with things differently and in their own time.”

  1. It’s your life – The American ban Bon Jovi sings in their hit song It’s My Live: “My heart is like an open highway. Like Frankie said I did it my way. I just want to live while I’m alive. It’s. My. Life.”

If there’s something about your life you don’t like, change it. Remember the only person you need to please now is you.

Going through the process can be a very lonely place leaving you feeling isolated, alone, vulnerable, and scared.

It can also be liberating. It will allow you to discover strengths you never knew you had, new passions and the confidence to say, ‘this is me!’.

Whatever emotion you are going through you’re not alone. There are many others living through your situations too. Reaching out to groups online or in the community can help. They share stories, helpful tips as well as celebrating good days and supporting each other through the bad.

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