Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Survive a Divorce... with Children (part 1)

Several weeks ago, a reader asked me how he would be able to survive his impending divorce, especially as a father. To be honest, the question left me speechless. It's not an easy answer. It's not a one time deal. It's more of a process.

I planned to write out my thoughts on the subject from my recollection of separation and divorce 5 years ago. I soon found that I was again speechless. I couldn't possibly relate to who I was then.

Then, my ex husband announced that he was engaged and WHAMMO... a grief relapse. Grief has been known to reappear now and again. After all, grieving is a process too. And I'm apparently still in the process of surviving my own divorce even after all of this time.

Again, I was flooded with fears and memories of when we separated, along with the pain and confusion. I knew this was as good a time as any to write about it. Perhaps as I continue to heal myself, it will help others as well.



Your body's in fight or flight mode. Everything is going to change and the fear of the unknown draws anxiety and panic...and then... anger... and devastating sadness...

After the ex's big announcement last week, I was overcome with unexpected feelings. I wanted to run from them but I've learned that if I face them, if I really take a look at them, without judging them, I'm able to process emotion better and quicker.

I poured out all of my emotions here on the blog, however when I was going through my divorce, I kept a private journal. I didn't always feel safe venting to friends or family. I didn't want anyone to feel caught in the middle. But that's just me. Anyone else going through a divorce may have a therapist, counselor, pastor or priest to talk to.

These fears will come raging out of nowhere. Some of them will be justified and some will make no sense whatsoever. I found that if I try to talk to friends or family about my fears, they try to talk me out of them. They put their own stories and fears on what I have to say. They feel frightened about the words I use. I, because I understand the words are nothing more than words, don't put much stock in my fears. To me, fear is nothing. But when you're feeling it, it feels like EVERYTHING.

Find a safe place. Let it out. Don't judge yourself for your thoughts or fears. Let them be. Try to accept where you are right now. It is absolutely normal to be afraid.

Your past looks differently that you thought. Your future will look different. Your present feels like a blur.

The venting process, like grieving, could be a daily occurrence for while. Soon, you'll learn to adjust. We're all very resilient, believe it or not. The vents will become few and far between as you learn to stay present and begin to trust in a new future. Be patient with where you are along the process. Trust it.

Find a safe place to be post vent as well. You'll need a place to sit in silence away from the exhausting parade of thoughts in your mind. To me, it was a yoga class or in nature. Sometimes, I would go for a long walk in the woods, find a stump in the middle of the forest and wail like a dying animal until I was exhausted. Other times, I would find strength in a yoga class and gently allow silent tears during our final savasana or relaxation pose.

In this space of confusion and being knocked off balance, find a way to nurture yourself. Most importantly, find the part of you that is unchanging and, as much as possible, focus your efforts there.

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