1) It’s okay not to be okay. Because I was a Yoga studio owner and teacher and mom living in a small town, I felt a lot of pressure to appear “okay” to everyone around me while my marriage was falling apart. But then once it hit ground zero, I did too, and I learned that it’s important to be real with yourself, and the people who know and care about you.
So many times we walk around pretending that everything is okay, while deep down we are suffering and in deep pain. We are perpetuating an image of flawlessness that is only doing more damage. When we can admit to others that we are struggling, it actually gives them permission to acknowledge their own struggles and pain.
Saying to ourselves "It's okay not to be okay" during this time gives space to allow the process to unfold exactly as is needs to, not how we "think it should" be.
In doing so, not only do we open to receive support, our friends and family members feel amazing, helpful and connected to us when they can give support, and it affirms for them that it’s okay to be real and honest and raw and to reach out if and when they need to.
2) In the darkest hours, you must be willing to surrender. Divorce and other life-shattering events will dig up our deepest fears which are accompanied by our strongest emotions. It takes so much energy and effort to push away the emotions or ignore them, but even more effort to clean up our mess after we have acted from them.
Surrender in its most profound form is to let the emotions be there and become the loving witness to them, without trying to change them.
This is easier said than done, but as we commit to the practice of deep breathing and softening into the sensations that come with our grief, the emotions become life’s messengers to help us grow rather than cause us to lash out or numb out.
If you don’t already have a meditation practice, there are so many good tools available to help with being able to witness and love the parts of ourselves that we hate. I like the app “Calm” and always find that watching a Youtube video, listening to a podcast or audiobook of my favorite spiritual teachers helps a lot.
3) The grieving process takes time-don’t rush through it. The only way out of this time of chaos is to go through it. Step by step, day by day, sometimes hour by hour or even breath by breath.
And the funny thing about grief is that it is unpredictable and non sequential. Waves of grief will come when you least expect it...my biggest one happened the day over a year after we had separated when I realized that my ex had a new love who would become a mother figure to my children. Talk about digging up every old belief of being unlovable and unworthy...I’ll tell ya. This is where the surrender comes in.
To be able to hold those difficult feelings and get the message from them that get us to see the places inside ourselves, most often from childhood, that need healing is the only way to survive the tidal waves of grief.
4) Until you get the lessons, you won’t be able to “get over it”. Until we are willing to accept that all of the pain and grief is coming from inside of us, rather than from our ex, we will never be able to move on.
I know a woman who 33 years after her own divorce still blames her ex husband’s leaving her for every unhappiness she experiences, even to this day, including her bout with breast cancer. Instead of facing her own fears and insecurities that he mirrored to her, she continues to be a victim, and may never truly be free.
There is so much richness in the mud of divorce...so many nutrients. So much information about our wounds that are being mirrored in this process. Until we are willing to heal them, we will never truly be able to move on from our ex or from the experience.
It’s amazing to look back at the first several months of my separation and how I was a sobbing, fragile, “new divorcee”. It’s taken the work of facing all of my fear based beliefs through tools for self-love and radical gratitude to have gotten to the place of acceptance where now, the divorce is just a matter-of-fact part of my history, no longer my identity.
5) The process of transformation is inevitable. Have faith. “Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over, she became a butterfly” is one of my favorite quotes because the caterpillar wraps itself in a cocoon and literally becomes a sticky gooey substance before becoming a butterfly.
It can feel like life is ending, but the more difficult the process, the more powerful the process, and the greater the outcome will be.
There are only two ways to view what is happening in our lives...either life is happening TO us or FOR us. When we can let go and surrender and have faith that we are someday going to be a butterfly, we can save ourselves a lot of suffering.
Just remember, you are not alone in this process. Millions of women have gone through it and not only survived, but come out the other side with a brand new love, life purpose and/or appreciation that they went through it. You will too. The sooner you can find faith and support to let go and be grateful and thankful for what is happening, no matter how distraught and scared you feel right now, the faster and more gracefully you will move through the process.