Remember you are not alone
It’s tempting to hide away during a crisis. Feelings of embarrassment, humiliation and confusion can consume us. You may feel it’s best to keep to yourself while you figure things out. Not so. Avoid isolating yourself and instead, spend time with family and good friends. Support from the right people will help you feel less alone.
Seek help from professionals
A deep desire to rationalize and review the situation can grip us during a separation. We can spend countless hours mentally pressing rewind and playing scenarios over, hoping for a different outcome. Our thoughts easily take us to dark places of anger, sadness and loneliness.
There’s a saying worth remembering: You can’t solve a problem from here. In other words, if it was that easy, you’d already have all the answers on exactly what to do. The healthy thing to do is to get some advice from experts. The Canadian Mental Health Association offers workshops on separation and your clergy, family doctor, Employee Assistance Plan counsellors, and mediators can also guide you. When you’re searching for advice, talk to professionals for unbiased, practical suggestions delivered with compassion and understanding.
Allow yourself time to grieve
Well-meaning friends and family may encourage you to put on a happy face, find a new relationship and get on with life. Before you can really move forward, take time to grieve the loss of your old life. At one time, you and your partner cared for each other and made a commitment, based on hope for the future. When hope and dreams don’t materialize or last, it’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions and yes, even relief, in some cases.
Separation can mean a change in living circumstances, different routines, confusion, awkward conversations, and a sense of loss. Just as we grieve the passing of a loved one, we also need time to grieve the end of a relationship.
Give yourself time to heal. Many people find journaling, meditation, support groups, grief counsellors and taking time for self-reflection, all help.
Children come first
We know separation and divorce affect children. It’s our job, as parents, to lessen the blow. Your child may be confused by feelings of loyalty, love for both parents and uncertainty. Do your best to speak in a positive way, and assure your children the separation isn’t their fault. Arrange regular parental contact, using a third party if needed. Don’t grill your children about your spouse when they return to you. Children need the love and support of both parents to adjust to new family arrangements.
Look after yourself emotionally and physically
Separation is stressful. Seeking comfort in drugs, food and alcohol only offers false, temporary relief, numbs your feelings and postpones any progress towards a new way of being. You may feel depressed and anxious and if so, speak to your doctor rather than self-medicating.
Exercise produces a natural high and even if you don’t feel like it, get outside and move your muscles. You’ll be glad you did. Rest, eat good, nourishing food and feed your brain too. Zoning out in front to the television or browsing the internet won’t solve your problems. This is an excellent time to take up a new interest, especially a creative one, where you can express your feelings.
If you’ve lost friends during the break up, make an effort to build a new social network. Find out what’s happening in your community, take a class, volunteer, or reconnect with old friends. Explore new activities and do something just for fun.
Small luxuries provide a sense of well-being, so indulge in daily activities you find soothing. A long bath, a massage, a walk, and sitting quietly with a warm cup of tea can do wonders.
A new beginning
Remember, separation isn’t just the end of something; it offers a new beginning. During the early days this may not seem possible, but in time, you will be able to move forward.
Another old saying, this too shall pass, may seem out of the question when the pain of recent separation is strong. Believe in yourself and believe you will not only make it through this time in your life, but emerge at the other end a confident, happy person who doesn’t regret the past, but lives for today.