How to rebuild yourself after a divorce? What are the actions you should do to overcome a breakup? How do you learn from difficult moments?
Today I invited Lisa, a realtionship coach who specialises in coaching people after divorce and helps them rebuild themselves. She is giving you nuggets to be able to make your life better.
1/ How did you react when you learned about the divorce?
I learned that my husband had left me via an unexpected text message that I received while I was out of state visiting family. Mere hours before, my husband was telling me how much he loved and missed me and we were planning a trip to coast for the upcoming weekend.
When I saw the message on my phone, I literally fell to the floor. My entire world collapsed alongside me. The next twenty-four hours were a blur. My dad lifted me off the floor and stayed by my side as we traveled back to my home. My mom, who was my go-to during the legal process, contacted a friend to check in on my dogs, who were abandoned at the marital home.
I never spoke to my husband again.
I had a very strong PTSD-like reaction to the myriad discoveries about my husband’s other life and the ruin that I was left with. I trembled for the better part of year, not trusting the reality of anyone or anything. For a time, I was energized by a need for him to face the consequences for his choices. I grew obsessed with the criminal charges leveled against him (for bigamy) and with making him listen to me detail how his actions ruined my life in the divorce trial (which I initiated after he refused to answer my bids for contact). Neither of those ever happened.
Alongside all of the revelations and dealings with lawyers and police, I was in deep mourning. At that point, I had spent sixteen years with that man and he was everything to me. It was a strange time. I was still in love with the man I believed he was but I was reeling from the devastation the reality of him had left behind.
2/ How did you rebuild yourself after the divorce?
The rebuilding happened in stages, as you can imagine. The first order of business was to get my body somewhat functioning again. Due to the trauma, I had lost twenty pounds in two weeks and was not able to sleep or eat. I agreed to medication to help with those and my dear friends (including a special one who let me live with her family for that year) encouraged me to eat.
I was also not breathing properly, holding my chest tight in a futile attempt to guard against further assault. As I was able, I turned to yoga and running to help me reconnect mind and body.
Another pressing area that needed immediate attention was my finances; my husband had been committing marital fraud and I was left with less than nothing. I had to work to pay off many of his debts and figure out how to bring in more money to pay for the attorneys and other associated bills. As with all the rebuilding. This was frustrating at times because it required taking a long view.
I have certainly learned that it takes far less time to destroy something than it does to rebuild it.
The most important rebuilding was what happened internally. At first, I was more than happy to place all of the blame at my ex’s feet. After all, he was the one who lied, cheated, stole and abandoned. I had done none of those things. Yet, the painful truth was that, even though I was ignorant of his actions, I helped to contribute to an environment where that occurred.
I knew that if I was ever going to have healthy relationship, I would have to accept and work to change my part in all that happened. This process took years and even now, almost ten years from the abandonment and five years into an amazing marriage, I hesitate to say that it’s “done.” After all, there is always more to learn.
3/ What was painful for you during this process?
What wasn’t painful?!? 🙂
In the beginning, I took all of it very personally. I saw myself as part of some targeted attack led by my ex in an attempt to destroy me. Only later did I realize that he was seeking more to escape himself than to take me down. I was simply collateral damage.
Over the five years it took for me to finish paying off the debt he incurred in my name (including the other wife’s wedding ring!), I battled a strong sense of anger and unfairness. I tried to counteract this by writing a short note of gratitude for all that came from this situation each time I paid a bill. Additionally, I carried a lot of shame about being so foolish to have trusted him with my money and not being careful enough about verifying his claims.
The biggest pain has come from the repercussions of abandonment and gaslighting. It’s hard for me to trust again, especially in my own perceptions. Those are the areas that caused some of the biggest challenges in my now-marriage as I partially expected to be lied to and left again. Of course, from the greatest pain comes the greatest opportunity. And although I wouldn’t want to go through that again, I also would not want to go back. I wouldn’t trade what I have now for anything.
4/ What action did you implement during this time that was powerful for you?
One of the most powerful tools I used from the very beginning was journaling. I was prompted to write during those sleepless nights in an attempt to purge myself of all of the vile and painful thoughts that filled my mind.
I somehow knew, however, that simply writing down the ugliness wouldn’t help me move forward. So I took my drugstore spiral notebook and divided it into three sections – past, present and future. The first section was intended to hold the pain and guard the words that were too ugly to speak aloud.
The middle section was where I wrote about my present-day anxieties and problem solved my way through the land mines that kept appearing. The final section was for my hopes and dreams, where I would explore the life and love that I wanted to have.
I wrote in it every day with only one rule – start in section one and always end with section three. I believe that this helped train my brain to keep moving forward even on those darkest of days.
5/ How to rebuild yourself after a divorce: What is the main advice you give today?
It’s important for you to figure out what works for you. There is so much advice out there for dealing with divorce and its aftermath. Yet even though the themes and lessons are shared amongst many divorces, the particular tools and voices that resonate with you will be unique. Take the time to discover what helps you and don’t be afraid to ignore or discard advice that doesn’t fit for you at this point.
6/ Do you work with women and men or just women?
I work with anybody who is ready to learn from their divorce and who wants to learn how to thrive on the other side of tears.
If you have any question, you can leave a comment or follow her on her social media and her website.
Feel free to reach out to her to change your love and personal life. You deserve the best.