Not Every Day Is a Good Day. Show Up Anyway.

My hairdresser is usually an upbeat and positive woman. Her energy pulls me into the moment and her “bright side” approach helps me forget the fact that I seem to have a little more grey to cover every time.

Yesterday was different. Tears teased the corners of her eyes as she detailed all that had happened to her recently. She was valiantly trying to hold it together, but it was like her emotions were winning at tug-of-war, pulling her over the edge.

Finally, as she applied the last of my color, she wiped the corner of her left eye, picked up a curling iron and exclaimed,

“Damn it. I am going to be beautiful today.” 

And she was. I watched as her hair – and her face – transformed while we waited for my color to set. As each new ringlet was formed, her eyes became a little more determined and her expression became a little more hopeful.


 

It is a fact of life for all of us – bad days will happen.

Some bad days are of the, “I overslept and my car was rear ended on the way to work.” Other bad days fall into the, “I just buried my best friend” category. And in between those, there will be plenty of the, “I’m just not feeling it today” variety.

On those bad days, there is the temptation to crawl back under the covers and wait for the next sunrise to signal a do-over. Our minds feel pulled towards what’s not going right, thinking about it even past the point where thinking is needed. The plummet of our emotions seems as inevitable as a raft in whitewater poised at the top of a waterfall. We yearn to avoid the discomfort and so we try to distract with food, a drink or busyness. And the idea that things can be better is nothing but a distant possibility, so hazy that it seems like the false hope of a mirage.

Not every day is a good day.

Yet even if the chips are down and the tears are frequent, it is still YOUR day.

You can make the decision to show up anyway.

To proclaim, “Damn it. I am going to be present. I am going to persist. I am going to be positive.”

 

My husband likes to say that loyalty isn’t about being there when things are good; it is about being there when things are bad.

Be faithful to yourself.

Even on the bad days, show up.

And never confuse a bad day for a bad life.

 

 

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6 Self-Care Tips When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed By Divorce

These aren’t magic elixirs that will suddenly make everything okay, but these six strategies can help you cope while divorce seems intent on bringing you down:

 

1 – Limit the Time Spent With People Who Exhaust You

It doesn’t matter if it’s your mother or your neighbor, when you’re feeling flattened by divorce, it’s okay to limit your exposure to people that you find emotionally draining. It’s okay to not answer your phone. It’s okay to come up with an excuse why you can’t make the weekly dinner this Friday. It’s okay to duck behind the couch when the doorbell rings.

Right now, you need to take care of you and if that means keeping others at arm’s length for a time, so be it.

 

2 – Say “No” to Unnecessary Obligations

Maybe you’ve always been the one to organize the neighborhood Halloween party or spearhead the new campaigns at work. Perhaps your friends are accustomed to asking you to help shuttle the children around or you are the family “go to” when discord arises.

Their expectations and your past history do not mean that you have to continue those things. This is a time to pare down, to simplify. Say “no” to those burdens that can be pushed off, ignored or delegated. You’re not helping anyone if you spread yourself so thin that you begin to disappear.

 

3 – Cut Yourself Some Slack

You are not going to operating at your normal levels of functioning right now and that. is. okay. Consider this like recovering from a major illness. You’re not going to go straight from the sick room to the starting line of a marathon. Likewise, don’t expect to leave divorce court and immediately be operating at peak capacity.

This is a perfect time to adjust your expectations. Let some things slide. Prioritize where you spend your energy. And, most importantly, forgive yourself for your mistakes and your shortcomings. You will return to your normal bad-ass self again. In the meantime, it’s okay if you’re just managing to get your ass out of bed.

 

4 – Set Yourself Up For Sleep Success

The hours between sunset and sunrise somehow manage to feel twice as long and three times as lonely when you’re struggling. You can make the nights a little more bearable by priming the pump for a calmer mind. Explore trying vigorous exercise at night to exhaust the body. Try instituting a ban on any divorce or ex-related tasks for the 2-3 hours before you retire. Make sure your bedroom feels like a comfortable space with no visible emotional reminders. Lose yourself in a story by watching, reading or listening before you retire.

If you wake up in the middle of the night and find that your nightmares have traveled with you, make an effort to interrupt your thoughts. Try an engrossing puzzle, take out your journal or even just take a bath or shower to help your mind shift gears.

 

5 – Incorporate Daily Movement

When we’re exhausted, we often think that what we need is to stop. Yet too much time in a still body makes the mind quite the active wanderer. Make a vow with yourself to move every day. Go for a walk before dinner or try some morning yoga. If you like being around people, use this as an excuse to join a team or group exercise class.

On those days when you just don’t feel like it, tell yourself you’re going to give it 5 minutes and that you have permission to stop at that point if you want. More often than not, once you begin moving, you’ll want to keep moving.

 

6 – Ask For Specific Help

People want to help. But first, they need to know that you want help and then, they need to know what sort of assistance they can offer. So tell them. I know it feels weird and maybe even shameful to admit that you can’t do it alone. Yet that’s more an internal dialog than an external truth. After all, when you offer assistance to a friend in a rough patch, are you secretly judging them or are you just happy that there is something you can do?

Ask for what you need, whether it be picking up your dry cleaning to an evening phone call to help keep the loneliness at bay. It’s amazing how freeing just a small bit of help can be when your plate is both overflowing and collapsing.

 

The way you feel right now is not the way you’ll always feel. What works for you today may no longer be appropriate tomorrow. Reevaluate your self-care strategies every 6-8 weeks and be ready to modify them as needed until that day comes when instead of feeling overwhelmed, you’re feeling energized and ready for the next step.

 

The Mistake You May Be Making With Your Divorce Pain

“Why am I still hurting so badly?” the email implores of me, the writer speaking of her ten-year-old divorce.

As I read her message that details her divorce and her continued and prolonged sadness, I found myself thinking about how the modern western world handles death.

Before the rise of the modern medical and funeral industries, death was truly a family affair. Most people died at home, where there bodies were then washed and dressed by their loved ones. This intimate experience provided an opportunity for the survivors to come to terms with the loss and to grieve together. Denial or avoidance of the reality was simply not an option; there was too much to do.

Death has now become sanitized. Distanced. We have the ability to turn away when it becomes too much. We can keep the discomfort at arm’s length while we fill our minds with no shortage of distractions. By avoiding the grief, we prolong the grief.

And we’ve gotten quite adept at avoiding pain.

Not only when it comes to death, but also when it comes to divorce.

At first, it seems ideal to try to give the pain a wide berth. After all, we’re often advised, “If it hurts, don’t do it.” But sometimes that detour around the discomfort is an endless path and the only way out is through the thick of the heartbreak. Here, let me guide you. 

 

Is the Time Spent In a “Failed” Married Wasted?

When my math students first start to tackle more difficult algebra problems, they retain their elementary focus on determining the single correct answer. While this difficult work is still relatively new to them, they have a tendency to completely erase or even tear up an entire page of work that led to this incorrect value of “x.”

One of my goals during this time is to help the students focus on the process. Once they recreate the steps that led to the wrong answer that made them quit in frustration, I’m able to show them that, more often than not, they completed every step correctly with one simple mistake that led to the wrong answer. I point out the correct reasoning that I see in their work and also highlight the errors that led them astray.

They learn that it’s not only about the end goal; it’s also about the process. And by analyzing their work that led them to the wrong answer, they learn how to recreate what they did well and how to avoid the mistakes.

I see marriage as much the same.

It’s easy to see a “failed” end as a sign that all the years invested were wasted. It’s easy to get frustrated and to want to erase all of the memories or tear it up in anger. It’s easy to focus on the mistakes and neglect to see all of things that went right.

 

Here’s how I learned how to reframe the sixteen years spent in my failed marriage as a lesson rather than a waste.

The Importance of Finding Your Truth After Gaslighting

It all hit me when I saw the bank statement.

For the prior thirty hours that had elapsed after my former husband disappeared with a text, I was still making excuses for him. He must be depressed. Or acting impulsively. He’ll come to his senses soon and we’ll discuss what’s going on. I still believed in him.

And then I saw the bank statement.

Days before, I was with my dad and his wife almost 3,000 miles away from my home when my debit card was declined at lunch. Shocked and concerned, since my calculations had the balance well into the black, I texted my husband. He seemed to as surprised as I was and told me he was pulling up the account on his computer as we talked since my flip phone wasn’t up to the task.

“Oh, crap,” he grumbled, “Southeast Toyota did it again.” Only there were a few more expletives involved. He went on to explain that they had pulled his car payment out of the account four times that day, an apparent glitch in the automatic payment system. “Let me call you right back.”

Twenty minutes later, he phoned and related the news that Toyota would fix the error and return the funds but that it would be three business days before they were available.

It just so happened that my husband disappeared three days later.

After making my way back across the country and into the shell of my marital home, I pulled up the joint checking account (after resetting the password that he had apparently changed).

Southeast Toyota had never made an error. My husband had made a choice.

My card was declined because my recent paycheck went towards buying another woman’s engagement ring.

And that’s when it hit me.

Anything that I thought was real through my husband’s words or actions was suddenly suspect.

And somehow in the midst of his fiction, I needed to find my own truth.

 

Gaslighting surrounds you with lies, trapping you in web of deception and clouding your vision of your own reality. Make no mistake, even with no iron bars and no locks on the doors, gaslighting is a trap. The prison is initially woven from the words of another, yet it eventually keeps bound by your own beliefs.

And that’s the true danger of gaslighting. Because even if the one responsible is removed,  the web remains. And that’s when the work of clearing away the debris and finding your own truth begins.

After gaslighting, your vision of your world and even yourself is clouded and distorted. Over time, you have begun to rely less on your own senses and beliefs and more on those of another. You doubt yourself, question yourself. Do I believe this because it’s real or because I’ve been told that it’s real?

Removing the gaslighter from your life is only the first step in recovering from this type of emotional abuse. The next step is evicting them from your head. Only then can you begin the process of rediscovering and trusting your own truth. Here are five empowering ways to begin this journey.