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Is it possible to bounce back after divorce?
That was the first question my client asked me. Is it possible to heal through a divorce and come out the other side?
Nine years ago, I went through my own divorce and it was a perfect storm. I went through some very dark times. I have never felt such grief, confusion and despair. There was a big custody battle and a drawn out financial settlement that I was unprepared for.
I watched with guilt, fear and sadness as our son lost his home, friends and familiar surroundings and shuffled between two houses and feeling split down the middle.
I also lost my status going from married to single mum, and bewildered how I would be able to financially support us given I was still studying at the time.
For mums already struggling to balance work and family responsibilities, divorce can make the work-life balance juggle even harder to cope with. It’s not easy to get up every morning and meet the demands of your children, your emotional needs and your new job, and all on your own.
Some days you might feel like hiding under the bed covers and hope the world sorts it self out, but you can’t. You have to muster that inner strength to get up and help your kids get ready for school, keep the home in order and keep down a job.
I remember feeling so trapped, and angry plus frustrated at having to stay constantly connected to my ex-husband (when we weren’t getting along), plus deal with the new co-parenting, living arrangements and schooling, just to name a few.
How do you bounce back from divorce?
What can you do to recover and move on from divorce more easily, and build a new, confident happy life for yourself? Can you find joy and laughter again?
To help you move forward and start your new life, I would like to share some personal advice and strategies that have helped me get through some tough times.
Reframe your situation
Try to take a fresh look at your life and this starts with ending the blame game. Can you reframe situations or events? Inject a little positivity. We have a choice at how we want to view things. Sometimes we can forget that.
What lessons can you learn?
You are going through a healing process even if you don’t want to believe you are. During this time consider treating any setbacks as valuable lessons, and insight into ways to do things differently. Look at how and why your relationship didn’t work out (notice I didn’t use the word fail). Remember you are not a failure. Don’t internalise what’s happened. Try this reframe. We failed to communicate effectively.
Fiona, you’ve got to be joking. But seriously, what can I be grateful for? During your marriage did you feel lonely, powerless or scared? Many women discover that they’re much better off in a small rented place that is a safe home than in a grand mansion where they feel unwanted and unappreciated.
Be around positivity
It’s the energy of positivity that you want to be surround with right now. Keep to positive people, inspiring people and those that give you a good belly laugh.
Accept offers of help and people who understand how you’re feeling, who want to help and are prepared to give you a boost sensing you need love and support.
Find time for reflective interests
I’m a life balance coach and know the importance of balancing times of being busy and productive with rest and reflection. So learn to use your free time well. If you live alone or have shared custody of children spend some of your alone time constructively – yoga, coffee with the girls, reading a book, painting, spending time in the garden, walking on the beach.
Pride in your new home and situation
Inject some positivity and personality into your surroundings, even if they’re only temporary or you’ve no spare cash. When you feel ready, start entertaining such as having friends round for a coffee or supper. Make your place feel cosy. It’s important to feel good about your surroundings. It’s your safe place so make the effort to create a space that nurtures you i.e. candles, cushions, flowers.
Celebrate how far you’ve come rather than what you have to do. It’s hard to pick up the pieces after a divorce. A new life, new friends, home and job. What my marriage showed me was the generosity of others. I soon learnt who were my real friends, who cared about my son, and who was loyal.
Look to the future Start creating a vision for the future and schedule in things that you can look forward to like a movie, art gallery viewing or museum. It doesn’t have to break the bank to get out of the home and feel inspired by nature and beauty. Maybe the perfect time to dabble in a new hobbie or start a course.
Say yes to invitations
Early on in my divorce I felt ashamed and different around other married women. Over time, I found my tribe of single mums and started accepting invitations to go out more, but I still needed to process what happened. I found working with a therapist healed my wounds and together we worked on my confidence, negative thinking and my future.
Whilst divorce maybe the end of your marriage, it isn’t the end of your life. Let your past make you better and not bitter (which is one of my favourite quotes).
This is your time to discover the real you, and create your dream life.
Fiona Craig is a work-life balance coach, business mentor, upcoming author, speaker and busy mum who loves helping women become better at juggling career and family. Fiona’s new book, “Stuck In A Rut: How to rescue yourself & live your truth” is out October 2015. Email Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website http://www.lifebalancecoach.com.au