10 Things People Who Thrive After Divorce DON’T Do!

We all have seen that some people manage to make it through even the most horrific of divorces with their hearts and smiles intact, whereas others seem permanently withered by their experience. We all want to be a member of the first group and yet we often find ourselves unwitting members of the second.

Why is it that some people flourish and others atrophy?

This is the advice that I wished I had received while I was still in the depths of my own divorce.  I had plenty of people telling me what to do (and I followed the suggestions that fit for me), but nobody really clarified what those that thrive don’t do.

Learn what not to do here.

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7 Reasons to Cross a Finish Line During Your Divorce

Divorce is often a long process. Apart from assembling the required documentation, writing checks to your attorney and making the requisite trips to IKEA (where you fight with college kids over the practical and value-minded inventory), you end up spending a lot of that time simply waiting.

Waiting for your divorce to be final.

Waiting for the legal approval to make changes to your name, your accounts and maybe your living situation.

Waiting for the uncertainty and the pain to end.

And maybe even waiting to live.

 

Let’s face it – waiting sucks. Feeling helpless sucks. Feeling insecure and lost as you tentatively start your new sucks.

And you know what can help all of that suck a little less?

A finish line.

No, really.

Learn more about how a finish line can help you here.

After Divorce: The Rule of Three

The period after divorce is chaotic as demands fight for attention and everything seems to require a decision and an action. It’s overwhelming with its ability to impact every single facet of your life. And it’s confusing as you struggle to make the right decisions when your emotions are smothering your abilities to think rationally.

So here’s something simple. Straightforward. And yet still helpful.

I call it the rule of three.

Rule 1 – Find Something to Release

In the last few years of my first marriage, I made extra money tutoring. I spent up to 15 hours a week teaching math after my day job of teaching math. Accepting the jobs had become habit. And then the marriage ended suddenly and I had to cancel the tutoring jobs that I had while I worked to find my equilibrium.

In those weeks, I realized that tutoring was something that I no longer wanted to do. In addition to becoming a habit, it had become a burden. A drain on my energy and attitude. And so I let it go. And I immediately felt a little better.

Divorce is an opportunity to examine what is in your life and to discard that which no longer serves you. Find one thing that you’re doing out of habit, out of concern for how others see you or because you feel like you “should” do it. And then release it.

Rule 2 – Find Something to Reintroduce

My ex hated the smell of pancake syrup and bubble gum. And so out of respect for him, I eliminated these foods (okay, food-like compounds) from my diet.

After he left, I found that frozen waffles were one of the few foods that I could choke down. With plenty of syrup, of course. And I enthusiastically chewed the pinkest, fruitiest bubble gum within the confines of the car.

Identify something that you have let go of or allowed to slide from your life that you used to enjoy. What have you eliminated because of time, responsibilities or because of your ex? Find it and then reintroduce it.

Rule 3 – Find Something New to Try

I have always been a doer. I struggle with slowing down and simply being. A few months after my marriage ended, I decided to challenge the view I had of myself and I booked a three night meditation and yoga retreat. To add to the test, I left all of my books – my preferred method of escape – behind.

It was a difficult few days, but it was also a transformative and incredibly powerful experience. I met a fear head-on, shook its hand and discovered that it wasn’t so bad after all.

Reflect on those things that you have told yourself that you “can’t do” or “won’t do.” And then pick one and try it.

 

So that’s it, the rule of three –

One to free in order to create space,

One to bring back to help you reconnect to self

And one to investigate to teach you to be curious rather than afraid.

 

Forget the Casserole! What People in Crisis REALLY Need

When bad things happen to good people, the calvary arrives soon after with food and flowers. Level surfaces soon fill with cards expressing condolences and well wishes. Money is collected to help with both normal and unexpected expenses. Friends and family all want to help and being unable to change the circumstances, they respond with whatever loving gestures they can.

At first, the attention is overwhelming. The outpouring of affection comforting. But eventually, the letters stop arriving. The casseroles are consumed and their dishes returned. The dried flowers have been relegated to the bin. The calls to check in are fewer and further between and when they do occur, their is an undertone of impatience that the crisis wasn’t over once the initial offerings faded.

And yet the need is still there.

The loved ones still care, but they’re busy with their own lives. Consumed with their own problems. And perhaps most of all, they find it difficult and uncomfortable to sit for any extent of time with the harsh realities that life can bring. It’s easier to simply pretend it isn’t there.

Our culture is uncomfortable with grief. With pain. With anger that rises unprovoked. We’re expected to be gracious at the onslaught and then to suffer in silence so as to avoid the discomfort of those around us.

Speaking Out: Why Hiding Your Struggles Only Makes Them Worse

The initial outpouring of support is needed. It’s the transport when you cannot manage any movements unassisted. But it’s rarely enough.

Both because grieving does not speak calendar and because it’s a journey that often requires assistance.

Which is why I propose another way to support those going through crisis – a contribution to a well-being and mental health fund.

These monies would be earmarked towards services and modalities that help support mental health and healing – therapy, medications, retreats, specialized trauma care, mind-body practices  – whatever is deemed applicable and helpful by the recipient.

The benefits are multifold. First, it helps to normalize the idea that attention towards mental health is important and should carry no more stigma than care towards the physical body. It allows the professionals to pick up where the first responders left off, helping the person move through their grief and pain. Contributions to a fund signify that grief is a process, not an event. It allows that it will be ongoing for some time. And most practically, most insurance plans only address mental health needs at a minimum and the fund can help to make up the difference. A mental health fund is a gift that truly can keep on giving because it will help people regain their lives after crisis.

I’d love to see an app or website designed and marketed around this idea. More of a Please Comfort Me instead of a Please Fund Me. Any programming-minded takers?

 

The Power of “Me Too”

I recently responded to a woman over at Divorce Force. She had just discovered that for 30 of the 34 years she spent with her husband, he had another family. Her post is brief, the details sparse. But I’m confident that one of the many overwhelming emotions she is feeling right now is that of being alone in this experience.

I’m confident because I remember feeling the same. Convinced that there was nobody else who could possibly relate to the shock of sudden abandonment and the crazy making aspects of divorcing someone who made his own reality.

And then I found some message boards. A few articles. A book. And those words all whispered, “Me too.”

“My husband left me a note on the counter and I never heard from him again.”

“My wife simply didn’t come home from work. I found out later that she moved in with her boyfriend that same day.”

“My ex husband  fabricated all of the documents that were submitted to the courts. It’s all lies.”

“My ex wife falsely accused me of being abusive. Now the judge looks at me like I’m the bad one.”

As I read these entries, I felt sorry for those that had endured. And I also felt some relief. Some companionship. Some sense that I had found my tribe.

All because of the power of “me too.”

“Me too” doesn’t try to compete for the greatest pain trophy. It doesn’t try upstage the circumstances or tell a better story. It doesn’t engage in a game of tug of war, attempting to direct all of the energy to one side. “Me too” doesn’t claim to understand all of what another is feeling or to insinuate that the paths are the same.

What “me too” does is tell you that you’re not alone in your experience. That others have been in a similar place and can empathize with how you are feeling. “Me too” provides hope as you learn that others who are doing okay now were once not okay. When you hear the words, “me too,” you know you have a compassionate and nonjudgmental ear where you can feel safe and understood.

If you’re feeling alone, seek your tribe and find peace among those who whisper, “me too.” And once you’ve been there and through the other side, be brave enough to remember your own struggles, share your own “me too” and then just be there and listen.