Picture This: I am 47 and freshly divorced after being married to the same man for 25 years. My heart breaks every day. I don't know how to get through this. I didn't want this divorce, he did. I did everything to make him happy, but nothing was enough. I recently found out he is already dating a woman much younger than me! Wow, he must have truly hated me. He's being difficult and wanting to argue with me about custody arrangements of our kids. Why is he making everything so hard on me? I have a solid career in the corporate world. I fear this divorce is affecting my work, because it's consuming me. I can't lose my job, I would have nothing then. Will I ever love again? How do I be strong? How do I put on a brave face so the kids don't feel my pain? I've spent 25 years giving my everything to a man who just up and left me. I never pictured this happening, we were supposed to grow old together. How do I find happiness again? How can I pull myself out of this and come back out on top? Right now, it feels like I never will.
That is a tough one, but I am confident you will absolutely be happy again. This is a chapter in your life, not the entire story. I reached out to an expert on the topic of divorce to get her two cents. I asked Ellen Schweitzer, a certified life coach and certified divorce coach for help. She was eager to help as this is what she does for a living!
Take it away, Ellen!
The pain of an unwanted divorce can be so unbearable that you truly believe that you will never be happy again. There is no easy fix or magic pill that we can take, but if you take excellent care of yourself and follow certain guidelines, you will get through it.
We’ve all heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, however, there is another response to trauma and that is Post Traumatic Growth. Post Traumatic Growth is when you grow from your traumatic experience. It can happen, and you can make it so. Certainly not in the early acute stage of the event but down the road as you get stronger.
The First Step
The first step is to rally your troops, your support group if you have one. Your family, friends, community to help you mourn the loss of your marriage. You need to allow yourself to grieve the loss of your marriage, this is a death and should be treated as such. You need to process what has happened and go through the stages of grief. Elisabeth Kubler Ross writes in her book on Death and Dying that the stages of grief are; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Let yourself feel this. The catch: at the same you are letting this pain in can be unbearable, so you need to take care of yourself.
This may be quite challenging, even hard to breathe or get out of bed, but you need to make a promise to yourself that no matter what there are certain things you must do.
So, take the first step and get your support in order whether it’s professional help such as a certified coach, a therapist or friends and family. You will need this more than you think you do. As in a death, there is a funeral, a wake or a Shiva. People have time to mourn and you need to do that too.
The Second Step
You have to show up and keep your obligations to yourself, your children and your job. Take a week off if need be, but there should be a return date on the calendar. You don’t have to participate in any social obligations, but you must show up for your responsibilities and self-care. You must do the basics, eat, sleep (if you can), exercise. I recommend some form of movement or exercise for mind and body. Exercise is the number one way to reduce stress and will improve sleep and overall make you feel stronger so that you can handle the stress and sadness of divorce better. It can be a life saving tool, so I STRONGLY encourage my clients to participate.
The Third Step
You need to not listen to any stories about your ex that are upsetting and stop looking at him on social media. Protect yourself from any more pain. Treat yourself in a loving protective way.
The Fourth Step
Do not talk badly about the ex in front of your children. You can be honest enough to share the truth and not taking responsibility for his actions. Protect your children and spare them when you can. Bashing their father is like bashing them because he is a part of them. Love them more than you hate him.
Try not to cry in front of them all the time. It’s OK for them to see and know your pain but certainly being protective is the number one thing.
The Fifth Step
No dating for at least 6 months. You need time to heal before you’ll be ready for another relationship. Some of my clients push back on this because they are afraid of being alone and think this will make them feel better but that is not a solution. After getting out of a long marriage, take time to get strong on your own. I recommend and love the book “How to be Single and Happy” by Jennifer Taitz. She doesn’t suggest staying single forever, but she very thoughtfully writes about the importance of not thinking someone else will bring you happiness and I fully support that.
Ellen is a certified life coach and certified divorce coach, who has been through divorce herself. All of her experiences have led her to where she is today, a happy, confident and fulfilled person. Her goal is to get other people to that same wonderful place. You can read more about her story here.
For personal life coaching, Ellen's areas of expertise include young adults, parenting, healthy eating & fitness, divorce, blending families, raising stepchildren, elevating self-esteem & confidence, improving family relationships and communication skills.
Her divorce coaching is a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate and guide people through through a divorce to help them make the best possible decisions for their future based on their needs, interested and concerns.
Don't Miss Coffee & Commitment with Ellen, the virtual support group for people struggling with weight issues.
CDC Certified Divorce Coach: CDC Board of Standards, April 2017
Certified Personal Coach: New York University, May 2015
Bachelor of Science in Human Development, Syracuse University, May 1984
*This is not a sponsored post, meaning I did not earn any type of compensation to create this post. This post is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. By reading this post you agree to the disclaimer.