One of the most precious gifts I received during my divorce was the gift of safe spaces. I had my dear friend’s kitchen floor, where I could cry and curse without judgment while surrounded by the comforting activities of normal family life. I had my team at work who seemed to know whether I needed a hug, a bite to eat or simply a moment by myself. I had my family, who although spread around the country, would send me emails of support and understanding (liberally peppered with humorous anti-ex sentiments).
Those safe spaces were so treasured because the larger world was anything-but-safe. I had acquaintances question what I must have done to have deserved betrayal and abandonment. I had men at the gym view my fragility and naiveté as an invitation to pursue me long before I was ready to consider a new relationship. And social media? Ugh. It seemed like every message of well-stated support was followed by something well-meaning but clueless (“Don’t worry, honey. There are plenty of other men out there. And you’re still not too old to have babies.”). And then there were those that treated me like a pariah, as though divorce was somehow contagious and by consorting with me, they risked bringing it into their own homes.
There have been many groups that provide a safe space for those undergoing divorce. Each one strives to be a place free from the blaming and shaming that so easily follows the end of a marriage.
Divorce Nation is a little different. It is the safe space, offering virtual community so that those experiencing divorce don’t feel so alone. But unlike most other groups, they don’t just want to help you heal emotionally; they want to help heal your body too. Which from my experience, is a critical component to divorce recovery.
Exercise has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. And so when faced with the enormity of the challenge of coming back from the beat-down of divorce, it was no wonder that it became a significant part of my tool kit. Through fitness, I learned how to release the trauma from my body. The cage erected around my still-bleeding heart began to relax, allowing the lungs to again expand. Running released the excess anxiety while providing a welcomed sense of movement and progress. And yoga, my blessed yoga, continues to teach me that strength can exist alongside vulnerability.
I don’t think I could have made it through the divorce without the benefit of exercise.
Maybe exercise hasn’t been a part of your life. Or perhaps your once-welcoming gym now feels like a danger zone filled with happy-go-lucky youth or predatory singles. Divorce Nation wants to help you bring exercise into your life and teach you how it can help you heal and move forward, stronger in both mind and body.
I’m jealous of those in the Cleveland, Ohio area. A physical gym is in the works that specifically caters to those working through the end of a relationship. The vision is a safe space, a welcoming community with therapeutic support and the opportunity to allow the body to help heal the soul.
Here are the pertinent links for Divorce Nation:
3 thoughts on “A “Safe Space” With a Purpose”
please I need help. its been 1.5 years since my separation of an unwanted divorce. I’ve seen therapists and nothing’s helped. I am a teacher and cry all the time by myself at lunch. been teaching 20 years. I’m surrounded by the same nice staff who all have families. I used to as well. my wife and kids were my purpose. she left me without warning for my good friend. it I see my daughter half time but my son not as much – he has special needs and we thought more consistently with his mom would be better. I miss my wife, the family unit,].. I feel the light has gone out in me. no joy only anxiety– I go home to an empty house. I feel like my job is not as meaningful. I hate waking up.
I cry in front of my kids when I have them because I hate being from a broken family.
I feel so sad that he makes her happy and I couldn’t. I don’t know how to accept this. when I picture them together or see them together I feel sick to my stomach,
time doesn’t seem to be helping. I don’t know how to be happy – I hate my new life and regret I wasn’t a better husband for her to leave me. I feel suicidal but I am too afraid to die. have kids who would be devastate. I’m living a nightmare. I was happy before , now suffering is my way of being. always suffered from worry and anxiety but having my family, wife, best friend helped that.
I don’t know what to do. please talk to me. I and so alone.
I hear your pain. You’re not alone in it. I was in a not-too different place 9 years ago. Here are my suggestions:
1 – It sounds like therapy is still needed. As you’ve learned, time is not enough to heal. It may take several therapists until you find one that resonates with you. The effort is worth it.
2 – You are teaching your kids how to respond to life’s setbacks and struggles. Let them be your motivation not only to live but to commit to getting better. Maybe that is your purpose for now – demonstrate perseverance and thriving despite of for your kids.
3 – Start or tweak an exercise plan. Movement on its own is healing. Yoga is transformative (especially if you find a teacher who is versed in trauma yoga). This can fill your empty evenings and help you with the anxiety.
4 – Begin to tell yourself a different story. Your words (happy before, anxiety, nightmare now, suffering is a way of being) sound like a well-rehearsed script. When you tell yourself the same thing over and over again, you begin to believe it. Maybe start with a promise to yourself/your kids: “Starting today, I am committing to…”
5 – I know the lunch table at work can be filled with family talk. I used to “excuse” myself from that when it became too much and used that time to tutor a few kids that needed some help (working lunch and a win/win). Could something like that work for you?
6 – Believe that it can get better. But only once A) You trust that it can and B) You make taking steps towards better the most critical thing in your life. Because it is.
I feel like when we were on the brink of divorce I saw Divorce nation on Twitter or maybe something along the lines and they were really uplifting.
I know everyone says that it feels like they’re the only people going through it but it weirdly comforted me to so many of my friends in similar situations. People I once looked at with relationship envy.
But yes, going through it is definitely an obstacle and it’s different for everyone. I’m glad you found a safe space to help you get through it