During a national tragedy like they’re experiencing in Houston TX this week and parts of the south, people who are divorcing wonder if they’re supposed to be less concerned for themselves than those in dire situations? Or they think they’re supposed to be numb to their own pain in comparison. They question if they should put country and community above themselves and give other people support? It’s tough to feel bad. There’s little to no more room to care about anyone else with all the stress of their divorce. It’s often difficult for those going through separation and divorce to know just how to feel or how to give other people support.
During a breakup feeling justified for your pain can be confusing.
When you’re dealing with heartache, personal trauma, a separation or a divorce, it may seem as if you’re in a constant state of emergency. You’re exhausted from the fighting and fear and it’s tough to give other people support for their pain. You’re worried about the next decision. Confused about which direction to go in. And afraid you’re going to lose everything: money, status, your children, and your things ALL THE TIME!
There is work to be done to move on from your breakup.
You have permission to feel your despair and not to support other people at this time. You’re allowed to know you’re justified for feeling frightened and at the same time, believe you’re also going to get through these days. No matter how you may feel in the moment. (Just like those in Houston are going to get their feet back under them as well.) Eventually, your life will move in the right direction no matter how difficult it is right this moment and you will have the ability to support other people in pain.
Try to believe that because it’s true! Eventually, your divorce will be behind you. As I say to my children, you can feel bad or you can feel optimistic. The choice is yours. But either way, the work needs to be done. The healing work (your divorce) doesn’t care how you feel about doing it.
I know how to give other people support, how come no one is helping me?
As the world watches Houston, TX and everyone seemingly is getting help, you may wonder why you’re not being given the support you desperately need. The difficult thing is that it feels at times as if no one gets it. Your friends and family can’t deal with the ongoing fighting – literally the years it can take to become divorced. It takes a long time usually to get your feet back under you. And all the world is paying attention to Houston, TX at this very moment. It can seem very unfair.
I remember going through my divorce while all the world was watching a celebrity couple breaking up in a very public way. Here they were being showered with attention and the court of public opinion eagerly weighed in. It seemed as if the innocence of the wife was being pitted against the bad behavior of the husband. It was all I could do to keep myself from screaming!
During your divorce, it may feel as if you’re all alone.
At times it’s also true. The deeply personal healing is truly you with you. No one else can take on what you’re up against no matter how often you give other people support. These are difficult moments. They’re also gifts as difficult as that is to hear.
I am grateful my ugliness stayed within my small circle of friends and family instead of being seen by the entire world. It’s a relief that no one cared enough about me and my personal drama. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to become strong enough on my own. Because of the healing work I did, I now get to write, teach, and mentor without having my personal lessons be strewn across the media for all to see.
The cameras are going to leave this crisis and go to the next big event.
You know that. You also know how difficult the day in and day out activities for any family in crisis will be. Try to keep in perspective just what all this attention means when the waters recede and they have to get to work rebuilding their lives. It’s similar to what you’re doing all the time!
Eventually, your divorce will be behind you! You will once again lift your head up and look toward the future. The pain you’re dealing with and your lessons are deeply personal. For that, I suggest you be grateful you’ve had some semblance of privacy. You are not alone – I am right here sharing your pain while holding out the possibility of your speedy recovery and healing.
How to give other people support when you’ve barely got enough for yourself?
Those of you who are religious and believe in giving will have no trouble donating time, money, and your personal energy to those in need. Others of you dealing with your own ongoing trauma are going to feel torn between writing a check to the American Red Cross or taking care of your own legal bills and personal expenses. There is a lot that needs your attention.
You have permission to take care of yourself, your energy, mind, body, and spirit.
There is no right or wrong answer at this moment. Yes, other families need our help. However, your family also needs your help. Your health and your family’s safety are just as important to your community as those who can offer help to the families in Houston, TX, and parts of Louisiana. It’s important to remember to “put your oxygen mask on first” before helping others.
Lastly, separation and divorce take a very long time.
They are man-made decisions between adults. They have justifiable reasons and explanations. The law and the courts weigh in on many of the steps and decisions for a family moving forward. It’s difficult to stay the course over the long haul – just like it’s going to be really difficult for families in Houston, TX to deal with their lives being totally disrupted by Mother Nature!
We know, going through heartache and divorce, just how difficult it is to keep up one’s spirits.
You have way more experience than some others at getting out of bed each day, putting a smile on your face (no matter how fake) and managing your home, your job, and your family. Even with a certain amount of heaviness and pain. You know what it takes.
Those just beginning their long ordeal need our thoughts and prayers. They need to believe they’ll get through these changes. They need to believe – just as you’ve had to learn – that they’ll become stronger and more resilient for the next families struck with loss and tragedy. No one gets to go through this life experience unscathed no matter what we think.
And though divorce is an equal opportunity experience, so are the effects of Mother Nature’s wrath.
We’re all subject to the whims that life sometimes throws our way. And though it may not seem fair, seldom does fairness get doled out during our life lessons. I truly believe you are stronger than you realize. I truly believe in the grace that mankind has to offer others – as we’re witnessing between neighbor and neighbor in Houston, TX. You are able to give your family and your community grace and generosity. You’re also allowed to ask for a hug, a moment of peace with your kids, a chance to say thank you, and the belief that your future will get better. I believe in you and all you have to offer.
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach. Laura’s a writer, public speaker and the founder of The Better Divorce and doingDivorce™ School – online coaching programs for those ready to shed the pain of breakups. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com.