So, your marriage is over and you are getting a divorce. It’s been a long, sad slog but you know now that it’s done.
The question is – what is next? You haven’t been through this before and you have no idea what the next steps should be.
Divorce can be hellish – everything that was familiar in your life is changing and can be devastating. Keeping your spirits up for the kids, trying to focus on work and wondering what the hell you are going to cook for dinner just feels like more than you can bear some days.
I get it. I have been there.
But, I am also here to tell you that you can, and will, get through your divorce intact and, perhaps, even better than ever.
Here are the steps to take to make getting a divorce easier…
#1 – Make your space a safe haven.
When I was getting a divorce, I met a woman who had been through one the previous year. Because I had never been through a divorce before, I had no idea how to cope. Lucky for me, she was able to help because she had been just been through it.
I had moved out of our family home and had found a rental. I had left my things at our house so that it could look good when we tried to sell it. My new friend told me, in no uncertain terms, that I had to get my things and bring them to my new house.
For women, when we are going through a hard time, our surroundings are very important. It’s something almost primal – our nesting instinct. Women want their space to be a comforting, happy place.
So, what did I do? I had my things moved to my rental and I filled our family home with furniture from a professional house staging company. And did it make a difference? Oh yes it did. Being surrounded by my furniture, by my pictures, sleeping in my bed with my bed linens, seeing the little things that I had accumulated over the years on the shelves all gave me such a sense of comfort. My life was so confusing because of all the change but coming home to my things provided me more comfort than I can even explain.
#2 – Gather a strong support system.
For many women, getting a divorce is very embarrassing. It feels like failure on so many levels. And because it is so, we often try to go with alone. We think we can tough it out and get through it and that we will be just fine.
But, really, we all need support when we go through this very difficult period. We have never been divorced before and we have no idea what we are doing and it’s very important that we align ourselves with people who are informed and supportive.
What kind of people?
Someone who has been through it before. My friend who had been through a divorce was a invaluable source of information and support. She could look back on her divorce and talk to me about her successes and her failures so, as I went through my divorce process, I knew what to look out for. Without her, I am not sure I could have made it through it all as well as I did.
A therapist. I found myself therapist who I talked to every week. I really felt that I was the biggest loser on the planet because my husband decided he didn’t want to be with me anymore. She was incredibly helpful, pointing out that divorces don’t happen because one person didn’t do something right but that there are two people in a marriage and both share some responsibility for where things went wrong.
A massage therapist. Someone else who really helped me when I was going through my divorce was my massage therapist. My husband left me right after my youngest child went off to school so I was left completely alone. For the first time in 18 years, I wasn’t being touched regularly. So, I indulged and got a massage once a week for three months. Having somebody touch me for 60 minutes a week significantly helped me get through those very turbulent times.
A lawyer. Right away, I got myself a lawyer. Not a pit bull lawyer, as many people suggested I should get, but a lawyer who I knew to be strong but reasonable. I didn’t want my divorce to be about two lawyers trying to prove who was the better lawyer. She was able to walk me through the reality of getting a divorce and how much it would cost. Information for me is very powerful. It makes me feel like I have some control of my outcome. Talking to her gave me the clarity I needed to be able to move forward.
#3 – Create a map of what you want your future to look like.
After talking to my lawyer, I realized that, for the rest of my life, I was going to have to take care of myself. I was scared out of my mind.
I had been mostly a stay-at-home mom for 20 years and, all of a sudden, I was going to be responsible for taking care of myself financially, for doing my own taxes, for finding healthcare and for figuring out how to fix something that was broken at the house. I was very overwhelmed and didn’t know how I was going to handle it.
So, I made myself map of my scary future and figured out what the best route was to take.
First, I thought about where I wanted to live, what I wanted my life to look like, what I wanted to do now that I was on my own. I realized that, while being alone was scary, it was also give me a certain amount of freedom. For the first time in 20 years, I could live the way I wanted to live. Realizing that really helped me stay more positive about the divorce process and how things were going to turn out in the end. I felt almost hopeful once I had a picture of what the future might look like.