A number of things can shake up a person’s life, but divorce is definitely one of the biggest. Whether you initiated it or not, dealing with the aftermath takes a great deal of emotional fortitude.
Most people start to identify themselves in conjunction with their spouse, especially after several years of marriage. Having that identity wrested away in a divorce is a soul-shaking and world-shattering event. There is no more “family” the way you previously defined it, and it’s something that affects both you and your children.
It takes a great deal of time to cope with divorce, strength and support to come to terms with a new identity. That’s made even more difficult with all the constant reminders of all the “couples” things that you used to do, especially with the start of a new school year.
How are you going to deal with the “couple” things that you’ll now have to do alone, like attending school functions? How about coping with seeing your ex-spouse there with a new significant other?
It’s important to learn to accept and move on, but here are a few divorce support tips for staying sane in the present.
Divorce support tip #1: List your fears
Even if you’re not an anxious person by nature, divorce can have a major effect on that. Maybe you’re worried about seeing your ex with his or her new interest. Maybe you’re worried about attending all those school functions — parents’ night, plays, concerts, what have you — by yourself, when everybody else will be with a spouse. Maybe you have other fears.
Whatever the case, you can’t face your fears if you don’t name them. Make a list of the things you fear, or that worry and concern you, about facing the new school year as a single parent. Acknowledging your fears is the first step to facing and eliminating them.
Divorce support tip #2: Accept your limitations
You aren’t Superman (or Wonder Woman). No matter how much you may want to, there will be times when you just won’t be able to do everything. It’s okay if you scrap a home-cooked meal in favor of frozen food or dinner out so that you can make it to functions on time, or if you get a store-bought costume for the school play instead of making it yourself. You are only one person.
Divorce support tip #3: Keep the peace
As emotionally trying as it would be to see your ex at school functions, it’s vital to maintain a peaceful relationship for the sake of your children. Kids are brilliant at picking up on tension, and they’re probably more worried than you are that there will be a humiliating scene at their school play.
If at all possible, keep your post-divorce relationship with your ex friendly. If you can’t manage friendly, at least manage civil. And don’t speak ill of your ex to your children. Tempting as it may be to list what you view as a litany of faults, it will only serve to damage your ex’s relationship with your kids, and possibly yours as well. If you need to vent, do it to a supportive friend or relative.
Divorce support tip #4: This, too, shall pass
Above all, know that everything you feel – the fears, the worries, the grief and the transitional feeling – is not permanent. The present stage of your life will pass, and you will move on to the next. With each passing day, coping will get a little easier. The good things in life may not last forever, but then again, neither do the bad things.
Divorce brings lots of changes to your life, but you don’t have to let those changes destroy your sanity. The school season is stressful enough without adding a new list of worries to it. Take a deep breath and take it one day at a time, and eventually things will get better.
About the author:
Dave Webster & Tolu Adeleye are partners of Contemporary Lifestyle Consulting Inc. and co-authors of “Stay Sane Through Change: How To Rise Above The Challenges Of Life’s Complex Transitions.” Don’t spend another minute floundering in stasis. Visit www.staysanethroughchange.com/book.php today.