This article first appeared on Divorced Moms and has been republished with permission.
“I breathe in my courage and exhale my fear” ~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Dear Resilient Mom,
Divorce hurts. I know.
I’ve been there.
Right now, the future may seem daunting and uncertain. Moving forward may feel like an impossible task. I get it. I feel you.
But let me tell you, no matter how hard life seems at this moment, know that you can and will get through this. Just like many before you, have. Just like many after you, will.
You are not alone.
A divorce, especially if it’s unwanted or unexpected, can be agonizingly hard. There’s no denying that divorce can be extremely difficult, regardless of whether it was your choice or not. This is especially true when the separation involves children.
You may have found that as you flicker between strong emotional states of anger and resentment, guilt and shame, acceptance and denial, fear, and intense sadness — you’re left operating in a mental fog. This fog makes completing the simplest tasks feel monumental.
Perhaps this state of being can be likened to experiencing an error that occurs on your personal computer. Windows is frozen in a certain way that doesn’t allow it to function properly, or at all. Sometimes, the only way to regain control of the system is to use the combination of these keyboard keys: Ctrl+Alt+Delete.
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This also happens to be the one action that you can take right now to get you moving forward. Reboot your operating system. Shut down and restart yourself.
To shut down means to allow yourself to sit with the despair. Allow yourself to feel the gravity of your loss. Whether it’s the loss of your best friend; the loss of the one person who had vowed to be with you through the good times and the bad; the loss of your children’s father; or simply the loss of financial security and stability…grieve. Allow yourself enough time to grieve.
Then, in the not so distant future…
Restart. Consciously make the decision to be physically and emotionally well.
Acknowledge that this will be a challenging period in your life. Accept that you may come across obstacles and setbacks. But, realize that these setbacks are mere speed bumps on your road to the perfect destination. Take each setback in stride.
Expect difficult days where it may seem that all hope is lost, but know that you will get through this. When overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to seek help from family and friends, or even a counselor, psychologist, or coach.
Resign to the fact that on some days, exhaustion will get the better of you. Yet, be kind enough to yourself to recognize that you are doing your very best, with the resources that you have.
Liberate yourself from the “victim mentality”. Be willing to let go of the painful memories, self-doubt and every fear that binds you to your past. Take responsibility for your own choices and create your own reality. Choose to take control of your present and future life. Own it.
Understand that as a sole parent, you may feel burdened and stressed.
But, embrace the fact that you are the one who gets to be with your children. It is you who gets to see the face of love every day.
If you cannot be with your children now, I can’t even begin to imagine how you’re feeling. I won’t even pretend to know the loss that you’re suffering. I do sincerely wish for you to find comfort, but also the strength and determination to make this one more reason not to give up. A reason not to yield to self-defeating behaviors, negative self-talk, and feelings of unworthiness.
Let this be a cause for you to actively find better coping mechanisms and support. Find solutions that will bring you one step closer to being with your children.
Create a vision for your life, for your children, a vision worth fighting for, and then plan the route that will get you there. I assure you that if you do this, you will find strength in every tear and courage in every breath.