Summertime is upon us and for those struggling with the legal and emotional needs of separating from a long-term relationship, you may be anticipating long hours working with your attorney or bemoaning your relationship status. Are you sick of feeling miserable about your divorce? Here’s how to stop thinking about it for a while so that you don’t lose all the sunshine and fun available to you over the next few months.
Feeling miserable about your divorce is to be expected.
It’s natural that you’ll feel the hit. Whether you were the one who wanted out or not. But it’s not so easy to stop thinking about your divorce, even for a little while and this is where frustration and anger come in. No one wants to lose the summer fun we’ve all grown to expect. When you catch everyone up on the latest legal twists and turns of your case, you can ruin a good burger never mind a few friendships.
Here’s how to stop thinking about your divorce for a while.
Focus on those in front of you. Focus on what their lives are all about. Even for just a few minutes. By focusing on other people, you get to let go of your divorce story. Sure, they’re going to ask you a lot of questions – after all, a divorce story is waaaaaaaaay more entertaining than most people’s lives. But sharing it comes at a price: the price of your peace of mind.
Everyone needs the latest details, the gossip, the advice-giving. It becomes its own thing. As the summer unfolds, you’ll find you spend more time catching everyone up on what he or she did or said than actually enjoying your friends at a BBQ.
If you want to feel better, you have to stop thinking about your divorce for a while. Focusing on others is the first step.
Try something new.
Anything new – a new band, a new beach, a new restaurant, new people. Surround yourself with people who didn’t know you when you were married. Let yourself be transported by their lives and what’s going on around you. It’s fun, once you get used to the uncomfortable, “I’m getting out of my comfort zone” sensation.
By trying something new, you not only shift from being miserable about your divorce to the idea that you’re capable of doing anything. Sure, you may only be taking an Indian cooking class, but when was the last time you did something you’ve always wanted to do? When was the last time you took that road trip? Or treated yourself to a beach cabana complete with cocktails for the day?
Recreating your life starts with little steps and big efforts. You must get through those awkward moments to reap the reward of feeling good about yourself again.
If you’re sick of feeling miserable about your divorce, you have to stop thinking about THEM.
When you are consumed with the details, the legalities, the loss, your ex, the person you’re desperately trying to let go of – no matter whether you initiated the separation or not – is the only person on your mind.
This is normal. It is natural but it’s also very destabilizing. You will feel miserable about your state if you continue to be consumed with your ex. In order to stop feeling miserable about your divorce, you have got to stop thinking about them. And it’s not easy!
It takes moment by moment effort to shift your thinking to what’s going on right in front of you. The more you do it, the easier it gets. But you’ll do it over and over again before it feels natural.
Which is why it’s fun to try something totally new! (And forget about something or someone you know a lot about!) Go learn something new. Activate your mind and body and forget about them for a little while.
The last thing you will feel is brave. You’ll feel lonely, scared, and angry. But in order to rise to the occasion and actually enjoy everything summer has to offer, you have to. At least at the beginning. It’s not easy to step away from the fight and allow yourself to enjoy something, anything. It’s almost impossible at first. Which is where being brave comes in. You’ll have to make some courage to do all the things I’ve suggested. None of them come easily or naturally.
Instead, you may find yourself reaching for the things you used to do like drinking or using again. I’m not here to preach to you but avoiding your feelings and stuffing them down with old habits, won’t help. They simply prolong the pain. And you will not crumble from pain.
The longer you avoid feeling your feelings and processing what really happened, the longer it’s going to take to feel good. And you risk being stuck with Post Traumatic Divorce Disorder™.
When you’re stuck, you can’t get out of your own way. Everything suffers. You won’t just lose this summer, you’ll lose many summers to come. Unfortunately, most people don’t talk about the risks inherent in not healing from your heartache. People think it just happens or figure, “this is the way things are going to be.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you’re sick of feeling miserable about your divorce, you must get into an active practice of healing.
You must bravely face whatever you need to heal. And many people would rather not. Which is fine if that’s what you want. But I think losing more than one summer is way too much time to be miserable.
When we look around, there are plenty of people who would rather feel sorry for themselves than actively pursue something different. I don’t blame them but I do feel sorry for them. No one wants to admit to being a victim but without a bigger context, it is difficult to change. It’s nearly impossible to do so without help.
Healing allows you to fall in love again. It helps you forgive yourself and your part in the breakup. When you make courage you meet new people and do new things. Your life begins to open up again. And you shift your attention from comparing who you used to be with your ex to who you are today. It’s very freeing. And it’s an active practice.
I encourage you to let yourself heal and to stop feeling miserable about your divorce. You are allowed to have a great life. You also need to do the work to get there. (Which in truth can be good fun when you let it be – cabana’s anyone?) So consider joining any of the resources I have to offer on this website and the links below. I know you’re capable of way more than you realize!
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach. Laura’s a writer, public speaker and the founder of doingDivorce™ School an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com and laurabonarrigo.com.