Dozens of authors have written shelves of books on recovering from the emotional pitfall of divorce. Too often, these books are bought only to become props in the living room of a person who once thrived, but is now trapped somewhere in the healing process. Instead of merely vegging on the couch with the latest divorce self-help book, try writing a little yourself and creating a journal that will help you better process your feelings and create a new life story that leaves you stronger, happier and more independent.
Buy a notebook, find a pen and get comfortable in an environment where you won’t be distracted. If your house holds too many memories of the past – go to a park or a local coffee shop. Divide your journal into four sections and begin filling them with the following content:
It’s important to write down your perception of your previous relationship and ex partner. Capture what you think when wrong. What worked in the relationship for you and what didn’t? One of the reasons that the divorce rate for second marriages is even higher than that of first unions, is that often divorcees jump right back in, without taking time to LEARN from their previous relationship. This section can also help ground you when feelings of loss or regret become overwhelming. Reread these pages to help avoid the tendency to romanticize the past and remember that there were reasons the relationship failed.
Write down how you feel during this transition time. Are you lonely? Scared? It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and vent. Often individuals get so caught up in the business side of divorce that they forget to take care of themselves emotionally. You can’t channel anger or sadness in court, at work or around the children, so use this section to let some of those feelings out. Remember, this journal is a helpful exercise to moving on but can’t replace professional counseling if your situation warrants such support.
A divorce can destroy lives, but it can also be a great time for rebuilding. Use this section of the journal to write down dreams and goals. What do you want life to look like? Is there an occupation track you’d like to pursue? What composes the happy, fulfilled, successful you? You have obligations, but this is also a time to be selfish and focus on you.
This is the most important part of your writing. Now that you’ve drawn a picture of your ideal future, make a list of steps that will move you closer to realizing those dreams. Too often, we process and plan but then days and weeks go by with no movement toward those goals. Make a list of “action items,” and start shaping that new future. If you find yourself in a rut after divorce, the only way to get out is to create a clear plan and do something everyday to help life you out of the pitfall and place you squarely in your new story – a new life for the independent you.
For more information on taking care of business and taking care of yourself during and after divorce, visit www.equalityinmarriage.org