What Really Helps You Move On After A Divorce?
Minimizing time with negative people. They're lurking among your family, long-time friends, co-workers and of course the ex. Try to stay away when they are judging and critical. This just erodes the foundations you are building, sapping your strength when you most need it.
Giving people a chance to support you. Even if you are usually the strong one that everyone shares their troubles with, this is a time to ask for help. Lean on their shoulders for a change. When I asked friends and former clients what got them through, every one of them could name the people who stood by them, offering time, a guest room, shared meals and weekend fun.
"My sister had me over for dinner twice a week—still does," Ann Marie said. "She says I'm more relaxed and lively without my husband around."
"Definitely my college buddy Don and his wife," Gary told me. "They'd stay up hearing my tales of woe, loneliness and confusion and made sure I could spend the holidays with them. And they pushed me into life planning, what steps I needed to take in the next month, three months, six months. I'll always be grateful."
Hiring neutral professional help. You know how the most well-meaning friend has an opinion about what you should do? Not to mention mom and dad? A competent relationship or divorce therapist could be just the ticket.
Two decades later, I still recall how my counselor Kathy steered me through the murky waters of my divorce. She hung in there for a year, letting me examine what went wrong and my part in that. Together we journeyed from my emotional mess to giddy possibility and finally to a graceful stability and peace. I believe with all my heart that she kept me from descending into a bitter "ex-blamer."
Accepting the losses. The fifth stage of grief recovery is acceptance. So many things—kid time, financial support, ex-spouse's family, holiday rituals, house and home—have changed forever. Stop struggling. Work (and it is definitely work) to let go of the way it used to be. Create new patterns and, as Anne Lamott says in Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts On Faith, "We have to take the gentlest possible care of each other."