Going through a divorce or a break-up from a significant relationship can be life-altering. While leaving a toxic relationship can be healthy in the long run, moving on can be quite difficult for most people at first. It is normal to feel sad and tearful, to have flashbacks of memories together and to want to isolate oneself to avoid answering questions from bystanders. It is also normal to feel guilty – “Could I have made this relationship work?” and to doubt the decision to break up, “Can I have it better than I did?” Feeling hurt, angry or scared is also quite natural. For most people, a lot of emotional work is needed to get through the first few days, weeks and months following a significant break-up, not to mention dealing with the logistics around a messy divorce.
After the immediate pain and shock of the separation starts to lift, you have to try to seek out a new normal and to build a healthy relationship with yourself. Although there is no magic recipe, here are some positive ways of thinking and being that might be helpful:
- Forgive yourself: It takes two to tango. Regardless of the circumstances around your break-up, chances are that no one party is entirely to blame. Do not make yourself suffer through guilt and anxiety by perseverating on your role to play in the break up.
- Prioritize on self-care: Take all the time and energy that you spent on yourselves as a couple and use it towards taking care of yourself. Prioritize your own emotional care and well-being, whether that means making time for exercise, eating well or enjoying some spa time to energize yourself. Get involved in that hobby that you never took up or go travel if your situation permits.
- Seek support: As you are working on yourself singularly, it is essential to reach out to family and friends for support. This can be especially difficult if your natural inclination is to retreat and isolate yourself. But you will likely feel better talking about your emotions with someone that cares about your well-being. You can also try to seek out professional help from a counselor or therapist if that helps you to work through your emotions.
- Establish a working relationship with your ex-partner: This is crucial, especially if you share children and plan to co-parent or if you think that you will run into each other in social or professional gatherings. A working relationship will not only make life logistically easier but it will prevent you from being triggered every time you come across your partner.
Commit yourself to letting your past make you better, not bitter. Life will move on, one way or another. At some point, you have to learn to let go of your grief in a healthy way and think about how you grew as a result of this challenge in your life. Take these lessons and try to become a better person, whatever that means for you in your life. Giving yourself time and getting support are antidotes to the anguish of separation. But the most important factor in the equation of getting back on your feet is taking care of you.