Divorce is not "like a death," it IS a death. It's you saying goodbye to the version of you that was married.
This is true for long-term relationships too.
You told yourself you weren't going to do it, that you were a sovereign woman. But it happened - you wrapped your identity up in someone else's, they played a starring role in your show...and then when they were gone, it was like, part of you died - that character got "killed off" of the series.
In order for that "other you" to rest in peace, the you that's left here must mourn. So, you may go through similar stages of grief as you would when someone passes away: shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger, bargaining, relapse, upward turn, acceptance, hope.
During my first divorce I developed PTSD, anxiety, and severe depression. I was in a waking nightmare. I didn't eat for 3 months. I wretched over the toilet. Time stood still. Nothing anyone could say would stop the pain. I withdrew. I wanted out. It got dark. I got dark. I became a different version of me. And it was all a trauma response.
I was cheated on and after that I thought everyone was lying to me. I developed irrational fears, like the mailman was going to rape me, or that someone was stalking me. Knowing that the person I shared a bed with for all those years was lying to me, really messed with me psychologically.
And it was pervasive. It filtered into literally everything. I remember, I couldn't watch William and Kate's Royal wedding, or see anything wedding related for that matter without sobbing or blurting out, "what a crock" or "yeah, good luck with that."
Break ups are clinically, a form of withdrawal. When all those "happy hormones" are no longer being released, you will crave them, so get ready for the shoulder twitch and the "jonesing." Even if the relationship was toxic, (especially if it was), you will actually crave the toxicity, because it's what you know. And stepping into the unknown can be scary AF. We stick with what's comfortable, even if it hurts us. So the fact that you are on the other side of a toxic relationship means, girl, you are SO BRAVE. I am so proud of you.
Regardless of the circumstances of the separation, who cheated on who or broke up with who, or whether it was mutual, it doesn't matter...breakups are a b*tch. When your imagined future crumbles before your very eyes, it can take time to regroup, heal, and begin to visualize a new future for yourself. Take it slow and be compassionate with yourself.
Here are my 10 Tips for Surviving a Breakup:
1. Allow yourself to feel any emotion that comes up. They are all valid. Don't judge yourself for having them. They can change rapidly from depressed to exhilarated, from pissed off to euphoric, frightened, deviant, hopeless, distracted, irritable, antisocial, inconsolable, paranoid. You will experience a spectrum of emotions, so embrace them all as part of your process. Now is not the time to feel bad about feeling bad. Tell yourself that every "feeling is for your healing."
2. Journal. Journal. Journal. It takes your feelings from being just these ideas that are inside you that are hurting and puts them on paper outside of you. You can point at them and say, "see, THIS is how I feel."
Here are some of my favorite healing journal prompts:
A. Write a letter to him (that you never send). Maybe you didn't get it all out in your last conversation. So, have your "John Mayer moment" where you "Say what you need to say" to him. Be brutal. Cuss. Get it all out. Spill you friggin guts. It will be delivered energetically. You will feel better having purged it, instead of letting it fester. But please do not send it to him because if you don't want him back (or even if you do), this letter is not for him, it's for you.
If in some alternate reality, you feel the absolute need to write something to him, write a separate letter after you write the angry one. Make it incredibly brief and be an adult. Rise above, no name calling, and end it by wishing him well. I generally say, if you're done, you're done and reaching out perpetuates the energy between you too, which is the opposite of breaking up. But you will know what's best for you. I won't judge.
B. List all the amazing opportunities you have now that that person is out of your life. You are free on Tuesdays now that you don't have to dog sit for him. You can move to San Diego like you've always wanted and he always objected because his parents are in Sacramento and that's too far. You don't have to cook mushrooms anymore (you hate mushrooms and he insisted on having them on his burger). You can be as deep or shallow here as you want. Just try to find anything positive.
C. Make a list of what you learned from this exchange. This lets the Universe know that you are not just acknowledging, but showing gratitude for the lessons that are coming from this dissolution.
D. Make a list of how this could suck more. "I could have spent ten years on this guy instead of five. I could have had to give him the cat. I could have NEVER found out about the cheating and spent my whole life being lied to." If you can't fully muster a "gratitude list," this will get you closer. If you can, then by all means, do daily gratitude lists, woman.
3. Cry. Cry. Cry. Be a Diane Keaton movie. Bawl your guts out. Put on Christina Perry's "Jar of Hearts" and just mourn. (Music is very cathartic). I cry in my car, in my bed, in the shower. Just do a cry montage for as long as you need. It's your soul purging. And better out than in, they say. Please, for the love of God, do not bottle that up.
4. Reach out for support. This is the time to call your mom, girlfriends, sisters, cousins, aunts, neighbors and Facebook friends. Tell them what happened. Ask them to listen. Be raw. Be vulnerable. People that love you will want to help. Be sure to tell them what you need because people don't always know. Say things like "I just need you to listen." or "can we just sit here and watch a movie and not talk about it unless I bring it up?"
5. Get outside.
I know it can be hard to even leave the house sometimes, but FORCE YOURSELF. Go to the beach, walk through a park, take a hike, walk around your block. Just connect with what's bigger than you. If you cry out there, even better. Give your pain to Mother Earth. She's got you. Know that you are never "alone." Spirit is guiding you, God's got your back, your team of Angels are sitting right next to you in the sand.
6. Make new memories out of old memories. If you always went to that Thai place with him, don't NOT got to that Thai place because it reminds you of him. If they have killer pad see ew, don't hold yourself hostage from enjoying that pad see ew. Invite your girlfriends to go there and order that same dish and share it with them. Make even better memories there - girl, this time, get the Thai iced tea.
I allowed my 1st husband (who worked for Disney) to cause me to despise and reject anything Disney for awhile, something I have loved my whole life. I'm totally cool now, it's a daily obsession I share with my toddler, but I lost many years there where even a glimpse of Mickey Mouse made me hiss like a stray cat. Don't let anyone's correlation with something cause you to avoid that something - especially if that something brings you true joy. All it does is hold you in bondage, keeping you from that thing and in essence, when you do this, it prolongs your suffering. If it helps to think that when you do hate something you used to love that "they win?" That's also okay too. Whatever gets you back to what feels good.
7. Be a digital vigilante.
Delete what triggers you from your devices, unfollow and unfriend at will. Invest in an external hard drive. You don't need those memories popping up and sucker-punching you in the gut. Be careful what you post on socials or what you DM people about this. If you are getting divorced, anything you post or text is admissible in court. Clear your history. Block him if he is verbally abusive. If you have kids and absolutely have to talk to him and he's being nasty, send him an invitation to the "Talking Parents" app that is court monitored.
This also goes for the material items around that are just indelibly associated with him. Remember in the movie "Singles" when Kyra Sedgwick cleans her toilet with his old t-shirt? Ha! You don't have to go that far, but if you need to get a new sofa or change your wall art, be my guest. It's you reuniting with your own style, your individuality. If he moved out, reclaim every inch of that space with your Johnny Depp posters and pink poofy pillows. If you moved out, make your new place all about you and what you like.
8. Eat ice cream and "vegetate". Take a spoon, put on something that makes you smile no matter what (my favorites movies are "Team America" or "Bridesmaids"), and just go to town. Now is not the time to count calories. Nourish yourself with chocolate, peanut butter, left over Halloween candy, French fries, and pizza. Whatever you can stomach. Obviously don't go overboard to where your health suffers, but you get the idea. Indulge yourself if it will help you in that moment.
9. Put yourself and what you value first. Get your nails done. Go to yoga. Start painting again. Commit to your mediation practice daily. Hire a life coach and start setting goals. Get your Reiki certification. Offer to babysit your niece. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels. Start running again. When we break up with someone, it actually opens a channel of energy that we previously did not have access to, because our time was being spent elsewhere. Now that that person has been removed, the Universe is asking you to redefine what you value in yourself and in the world around you by re-allocating that time in the direction of your true passions. You are being asked, "Who am I, now that I'm not with him?" This is a golden opportunity to reinvent yourself. When you ante up on your life and embrace this new way of being, you will be rewarded.
10. Have an expansion mindset. Tell your brain to project to your future. Start visualizing about all the good things coming in your new life. Let your motto be the ever-popular, "it's not a rejection, it's the Universe's redirection," and "this wormhole I fell into is GOOD." "This is a reset. A control alt delete for me. And what I will build from this will make me so much stronger."
Don't pressure yourself to be okay overnight. Don't think, oh, "I'll just do that heart opening meditation and it will all be fine." Or oh, "I'll just date someone else right away to feel better." Nah, girl. It takes time and you gotta do you first. Get right with you before you bring any guy into the picture - especially if you are dreaming of manifesting a quality man.
Part of your expansion is recognizing that your break up is a detachment. When you release and detach from that person, you are giving permission for new energy to flow. And when you are healthy, that is what you will attract. Trust me, I am twice divorced because I brought all of my trauma with me into my 2nd marriage...and you see how that turned out. Learn from me, ladies.
I know it's challenging, but I want to urge you to do something crucial during this time period, If you think of him and pine, or think of him and seethe, just tap your heart and wish his little Soul well. He's on his journey, you are on yours. And you actually have been all along, but relationships give us a false send of having just one journey.
Real quick, a couple of things I would avoid:
1. Alcohol. I had a very embarrassing moment when I got hammered during my first divorce and fell into a puddle of inconsolable tears in front of my friend and her boyfriend. They were totally understanding, but know that when you're depressed, drinking alcohol will just take you further down. Substances only numb the pain and not only do they not solve your problems, they can create new ones. Marijuana may also not be the best thing for you, but that depends. If you are in tremendous pain and cannot sleep, it may be very helpful to you. Just beware that some strains of cannabis can effect your motivation, and again, medicating the pain never makes it go away - it's a form of avoidance. The more clear headed you can be right now, the faster you will regroup. Just trust me.
2. Sleeping with someone else right away. No judgements if you do, but just remember how fragile you are right now. I swear, men can smell it on you when you are vulnerable and what's the old saying? "When a tree falls in the forest, all the men come looking for firewood." If it makes you feel better, then just be cautious. Sometimes as a reaction to the breakup, we think we just have to like "cleanse" the vagina of our ex or something, but know that it can bring up so much pain, and if we aren't ready to deal with that, it can cause more harm than good.
3. Telling the cashier at CVS what happened. I know it's tempting. When my first husband cheated, I was so blindsided and traumatized, that I found myself telling literally EVERYONE what he did. I DM'd people on Facebook warning them that he was a sociopath, I told my bank teller and hair dresser. Do what you need to do, but just know, that when you do that, every time you go to those places, your story will follow you, you will remember you told those people, they will remind you you told them, and perpetuate the story, and basically you end up creating new negative pathways in places that were once fairly neutral zones.
If you are going through a breakup, separation, or divorce, please know most of all, that this is temporary. How you are feeling right now will pass. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and the tunnel is actually the yellow brick road, leading you home. Back to yourself and your own Soul, back on the path of adventure with your truest self.
Decide that this breakup is not just a death, it's a rebirth. And the heartache is the incubation period that happens right before you reenter the world in all your authentic feminine glory.
I'm sending loving prayers for anyone reading this who is hurting. I've so been there, honey, and you are not alone. If you need further support, please join and post in my free group for women, www.feminineenergygoddess.com.