When I left my marriage I was extremely hurt, lost, and no longer recognized the woman in the mirror.
Divorce is a trauma and transition period, just like dealing with a sick child or even the death of a loved one. To not only survive but thrive after a life transition, I believe there are four basic things you need to establish to set yourself up for success.
You need a support network, a daily grounding practice, a self care routine, and to allow yourself to grieve (something we often forget to take the time to do).
Today, let’s talk about support networks. Humans are hardwired for connection. What is the first thing you do when a baby is born? You place the baby skin to skin on the mother.
Connection to others is what enables us to thrive.
You need people to listen, lift you up, help you, and offer advice or insight, because when you are in the midst of the trauma and drama there are days when you just can’t function and truly need support.
It is important to remember that we aren’t meant to do it alone and that our struggles can lead to strength, if we allow it.
Who are your people? Where do you find inspiration and strength? Who can you count on in your life? What professionals might you need the help of right now?
In those early months of separation, there were many times I needed to tell a trusted friend what was happening. Maybe you need to just vent or share to simply reassure yourself that you aren’t crazy. Getting those emotions out is the first step to processing what is going on in your life. When adding listeners to your list, think of those who do not increase the drama but who can truly listen and feel what you are going through. They should be well balanced individuals who care about you. You don’t want to feed the drama, but I will admit it can make you laugh and smile to hear a friend say jokingly, “I swear my sister is connected to the mob, you just let us know.”
The “uplifters” on your list don’t necessarily need to be people. Of course your dear friend with the positive outlook on life should be there, but this is where you can think outside of the box. Does going to church inspire you? Maybe there is an Instagram page, personal development book, podcast, or public figure whose words truly resonate with you.
Add them to the list.
Yes, I am telling you that you can put Oprah on your list!
Also, take this opportunity to do an inventory of people or things that are downers. You don’t need any added stress in your life at the moment. Unfollow the social media accounts that make you feel less than your best, and limit your interactions with those well-meaning individuals who seem to say the wrong or inappropriate things.
Who are your helpers? When you are going through a stressful time, we just need help to deal with everyday life. That might mean someone who can babysit your children or cook you a meal. These helpers can provide you a much needed relief.
I lived with my parents for 15 months post separation and I relied on them heavily. I feel so blessed that I had them (and still do) for my support team. There were many days when it felt like everything was falling apart, and it was hard to do the basics of life as I was emotionally drained from these life events. My mom cooked most of the meals, and they helped me daily with caring for my children. I could not have done it without their daily and consistent support.
Lastly, it can be very helpful to seek advice and support from a professional. Perhaps you need to speak with a counselor, therapist, attorney, financial advisor, or coach—someone with a higher level of knowledge or expertise in a certain area.
It takes a strong, smart person to be aware, acknowledge, and actively seek help, and there should be no shame in looking for this type of support. Divorce is a major life change—if you would seek out a realtor to sell your home or a recruiter to change jobs, then it is logical that you reach out to professionals in this situation as well.
When seeking professional help, it is important to find the right person for you. You need to be confident in the individual’s expertise or helpfulness, but also comfortable with them as you will need to share parts of your story with this person. Interviewing several professionals before choosing one is fine.
Take a few minutes to make a list of your support network. You will be surprised at how many belong to your tribe and are there to support you.
Who are your listeners, uplifters, helpers, and professionals?