Divorce can destroy every shred of self esteem that you might have. Divorce is horrible, gut wrenching, expensive, and horrible (yes, I said that twice for impact). Every day can be a struggle to pick yourself up and brush yourself off but you have to do it, especially if you have kids, because they don’t care what mean thing your ex said to you last night – they just want their favorite shoes found ASAP!
You have to find it within yourself to function. Some days it’s harder than others but you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you don’t, it’s easy to slide backward into a pool of despair and depression.
Someone asked me recently how I keep my head above water during the craziness that I’m having to deal with. In all honesty, I don’t have a clue. Some days I feel like I’m going to drown and other days I feel like I’m enjoying a nice ride on a beautiful boat above the water. I just keep moving; I just keep swimming; I just keep smiling; I just keep focusing on what I do have instead of thinking about all of the bad stuff in my life right now.
There have been a few key things that I’ve found necessary to do each day in order to ‘jump out of the water and into my beautiful boat’ instead of drown. These are five ways that I’ve found help me to keep my head above water when I’m feeling like I might drown in the ‘Divorce Ocean’:
1. Fake it till you make it – and Smile…always. (you might have to fake the smile too)
This is probably the most important way to keep your head above water. Plaster that smile on your face, take a break from complaining about your ex every once in a while…trust me, your friends and family get it – your ex is a moron. Provide updates but no one wants to be around a debbie-downer that whines 24/7.
Some days, you’ll need to paint on a smile and pretend like all is good in the world. When you do this, you’ll realize that there really are good things happening all around you and the more you see the positive, the more positive that you’ll become. It’s basically a sales technique that you’re using on yourself.
And it works. The bigger the smile that you have, the more you’ll believe it and when you start believing it, you start believing in yourself and you can rebuild that self-confidence and then you won’t have to fake it any longer.
2. Wait 24 hours before responding.
This one I have yet to perfect but I’m getting there. I always have a hard time thinking of the perfect response to people that are rude or hateful, except for when it comes to my ex, E, and you’re probably the same way too. It’s because we know what will sting, we know what will hurt and because we’ve been hurt it’s easy to want to hurt them in return.
But it accomplishes nothing except probably make the situation worse.
My ex-sister-in-law gave me some of the best advice…wait 24 hours before I respond to my ex.
Unless your attorney tells you differently, there is likely nothing saying that you have to respond to your ex within a certain time frame. While I don’t adhere to this as much now as I used to, it was very powerful to do when I was at the point in the divorce when I was really angry. It forced me to calm down first and see his communication for what it really was, which was usually just to upset me. Now, I respond when I’m ready, when I’ve had the time to take a deep breath, remind myself how much better my life is without a loser in it, and deal with whatever the issue is.
And the icing on the cake, or at least it was for me, is that this was the last shred of control that I took from him. By not allowing him to draw me into his craziness and drama, I took back the control he had over me…and it feels amazing. He can no longer demand anything from me anymore. I only have to do what a judge signs off on and until that happens, I have pushed for everything to be done through the attorneys. And my life couldn’t be better. He can’t tell me when and where or how to do things anymore…and by the responses that I’ve seen lately, he doesn’t like the loss of power, which makes me feel that much stronger.
3. Find a ‘win’ each day.
My brother-in-law recommended that I do this early on in this divorce and it’s helped me focus on the positive in my life. I really do have so many good things happening in my life and in the kids lives which makes it hard to focus on the negative.
Even if your ‘win’ for the day is that you never had to raise your voice at the kids, or it’s that you were down a pound or that you didn’t get upset when your ex told you that he was going to show up at your son’s game and take your daughter, or that you got a job…find your ‘win’ each day. Small or big, it will help you put your left foot in front of your right and keep moving forward, in a positive direction.
4. Remember their flaws…and that you don’t have to deal with them anymore.
Each time that I see my ex, E, I smile. And it’s not because I think he’s hot (he’s not). I’m smiling because I’m imagining every flaw he has tattooed on his face for everyone to see.
It’s a reminder for me as to what someone else now has to deal with that I don’t. I don’t have to listen to E, whine about his family. I don’t have to listen to him complain that he has to actually work to make money, instead of having it handed to him. I don’t have to deal with his drinking. I don’t have to deal with his family that drinks all of the time. I don’t have to deal with his family’s violent tendencies. I don’t have to clean up after him anymore. I don’t have to pay for his life anymore. I don’t have to I don’t have to worry if he’s able to keep a job. I don’t have to deal with him. A.N.Y.M.O.R.E.
And for that I smile, when I see these flaws, and others, ‘written’ on his forehead, and I can get through a conversation with him.
5. Get moving. Make things happen. Get out of the house.
Do anything except for ‘sitting in your own stink’. My parents used to say this to me, when I was a kid, to basically tell me that I needed to function more than stay in the house all day. During divorce you can’t ‘sit in your own stink’. It’s too easy to replay everything in your head and become depressed…and life like that is just no fun.
Instead, get a job, go workout, go for a walk, visit the kids at school, have lunch with a friend, sit at the local coffee shop and journal…just get out of the house, for more than 10 minutes. Smell the fresh air, people watch, spend time with other people talking about other things happening in your life and find out what is new in their life…you’ll soon realize how much good is out there waiting for you to experience all of it. And you’ll be able to put your divorce in perspective and realize just how manageable it really is.
Keep smiling and keep swimming…you’ll get through this, I promise!