Divorce can knock you off your game so fast. The emotional energy your body uses just to make it through the day can make it hard to do much else. Your mental energy is lowered. Kiss your physical energy goodbye too. Emotions, specifically anxiety and stress, are taking up a lot of your day. This is totally normal, so the best we can do is push through this phase—and I would argue it’s best to do that with the company of others. You’ve just lost your partner, the person who (for better or worse) was the person you spent more time with than anyone else during the course of your relationship. When that goes away, it can feel really scary.
In a nutshell, here are the people I’d start looking for as you’re going down this road. They will help lighten your load, decrease your anxiety, and put you on a pathway to healing.
1. Someone going through it. Needless to say, it can feel totally isolating and lonely when you’re going through a divorce and suddenly everywhere you look you start to notice rings on fingers, people blissfully holding hands, and doting husbands. It’s depressing, and you need someone to talk to who is in the thick of it too. You’ll find these people in unexpected ways. I found one through a random conversation I had at church, and a woman pulled me aside and asked if she could put me in touch with her friend who had a similar story to mine. Others I found through support groups. Those people were my lifeline and the only ones I could vent and complain to any time day or night.
2. Someone who has been through it. Hopefully you have lived as blissfully ignorant to divorce as I had. I didn’t have any divorced friends and didn’t know much about the process or what to expect. And going to the internet and Facebook can get a little intimidating sometimes. But if you can talk to someone who has been where you are, it’ll make the journey so much better. And if you can’t find someone, find resources. That’s the whole reason I wrote a book with the tips I collected along the way.
3. Someone single. Were all of your friends a part of a couple? Now might be the time that friendships get a little awkward. Hopefully that’s temporary, but in the seam, make sure you’re getting out and spending time with other friends to unwind and gain connection.
4. Someone remarried. Isn’t it nice to see someone on the other side? Someone to give you hope that it’s going to be okay one day? It can sure feel like I’m going to be single forever, but when I see someone who has successfully remarried and living a healthy, beautiful marriage, I get butterflies and feel hopeful for my future again.
5. A therapist / group. There may be some very obvious reasons that you’re going through a divorce, and there may be some not-so-obvious ones that you need to work through. My biggest advice to people going through a divorce is to heal. Not only heal from the pain and heartbreak of divorce, but to heal from whatever was a part of that marriage that may lead to similar challenges in a future relationship. If you aren’t ready or able to meet with a therapist just yet, I would highly suggest a divorce support group, like DivorceCare. Not only are you likely to find person #1 or #2, but you’re likely going to learn a lot about yourself, divorce, and the dynamics of others’ relationships. I think seeing and hearing that really helped me uncover things about myself that I may not have discovered otherwise.
6. A good lawyer. Obviously. If you’re going through a divorce, you’ve got to set yourself and your family up for the best possible outcome. I pray that your situation is peaceful and using a mediator is easy and conflict-free. But the reality is that many turn ugly. When we both worry about money, possessions, or most importantly, our kids—we fight. Be ready with someone on your side to lighten your load.
7. A good babysitter. You may have your kids all the time or almost none of the time. But either way, just remember that it’s your job to be the best parent you can be. And part of being a good parent is being mentally aware and able to take time to care for yourself when you need it. I had my kids 100% of the time, so they got used to sleepovers with my parents who lived close by. And they had a babysitter down the street to play with them when I was too drained. And they had neighbors who were willing to take them in for a movie while I napped or ran errands.
Silly but true—it takes a village to raise kids. It also takes a village to get through a divorce. You’ve got this! And you can use me as your person #4 by following along to our family journey on Instagram. I wish you nothing but the best during this time, and remember that this won’t last forever.
You can read about my journey in my first book, The Other Side of the Door. And if you are looking for tips on getting through a divorce, I suggest Divorce: Easier Said Than Done and the companion journal.