Dealing with the ‘D’ word holistically
‘Divorce.’ It’s that dreaded ‘D’ word that no person entering marriage ever imagines they will one day have to face. I certainly didn’t!
It’s also something that I always felt ‘older’ people went through. At the tender age of 31 (at the time of separation) and just 2-days shy of our 3-year wedding anniversary and over 10 years into our relationship, I discovered I was now going to be joining the First Wive’s Club. As one gorgeous friend humorously put it, “Welcome, we’re a lovely bunch.’
Fast forward to today and I am writing this blog as I find myself 7 months into my separation journey. And what a journey it’s been so far. It’s given me the all-important daily practices, non-negotiables and holistic rituals that helped me – and have continued to help me – navigate my way through the healing process.
First up, it can most definitely be worthwhile to see a professional counsellor (I did once a month for 5 months) but what will ultimately be of most service is finding what I like to call your go-to free therapy. The kind you identify by knowing yourself inside-out.
If you are reading this and currently going through what can feel like an endlessly painful time, it is my wish that some of these ‘therapies’ or practices, if not all, may resonate with you and help you find your inner strength, courage and empowerment. But most of all, that they allow you to move forward one step at a time with grace, integrity, gratitude, love and a beautiful abundance of self-love and SELF DISCOVERY.
Find your happy place
For me, it’s the ocean. Between November to June you would find me at the beach almost every day. The ocean has always been a sanctuary for me (I’m a Piscean) but its importance in my life became more significant than ever since my separation. The sun, the sand, the smell, the air, the water, a book and/or some music. I became a sunset chaser. The beach is my second home. I went there to cry. I went there to smile. I made new memories – mostly alone and sometimes with friends. Whatever I need in a day or a moment, it gives me, just by being there. It’s my happy place and I recommend you find yours.
Think through movement
The link between exercise and an improved mindset isn’t breaking news. If you are like me and have always valued and made time for exercise, you’ll understand what I’m saying already. If you haven’t valued exercise or perhaps let your life circumstances be an excuse to stop, you are missing out on a crucial form of free therapy. It will be different for everyone but what matters is choosing forms of movement that LIFT you up! Running gives me a sense of empowerment, Jungle Body gives me playfulness and FUN with my friends, walking the dog with a podcast or music in my ears to fit the mood grounds me and yoga – the most head and heart connecting movement of all – literally moves me. My yoga studio is my safe haven, my second family. Class allows me to move through my thoughts and emotions. There are many times I have found myself shedding tears throughout class and mostly at the end in savasana, allowing whatever needed to be felt and acknowledged to come flooding through. Think through movement.
Grab your girls
“Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates, and guys are just people to have fun with.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex in the City.
I have always been blessed with an abundance of girlfriends and I truly believe all women should feel and have this blessing too. At no other time had my need and gratitude for them become so apparent. I had my few closest to me in the know at the start when everything was unfolding and unsure and confusing. When you aren’t in a place to talk about it openly or face reality because you are still trying to work out what reality is, you still speak on the daily. They check in with you on the daily. And they offer support – not solutions. They give you the space to do and feel as YOU need. And they pick you up during those moments you don’t know how. Or just crawl into bed and hold you as long as you need it. And slowly, piece by piece as you find some strength, they grab your hand and help you enter the world again.
A girls’ night-in full of wine and laughter, walks on the beach, long chats over coffee, your first night out on the town. Grab your girls who know you and who you share every detail with on a day-to-day basis. The ones who don’t necessarily tell you what you want to hear, but what you NEED to hear. Grab the girls who know enough of what they need to and will be there when it counts. Grab the girls who have also been through this. They get it. You need women who can speak and bond through this shared experience. And finally – and probably most crucially – grab your single girls. Lord knows there aren’t many of them as you get older but my God do you appreciate them! Take holidays or breaks together, link arms on your social life (get busier with your social life!), enjoy nights in with food, wine and a movie when you just don’t want to be by yourself and when you are ready to date, navigate your way through the highs and lows of modern day dating together. Again, you need women in your life who GET IT! Grab your girls.
Go to town working on and prioritising YOURSELF!
The biggest realisation I had not too long into my own separation was that for the first time in over a decade, it was all about me. There wasn’t anybody else to think about, make time for, prioritise or consider. This was such a new concept that it took me a while to relax into. So how does this look? Well, for me it meant staying in the bath for as long as I wanted knowing the only person dinner time affected was me. And to be honest, I got God damn lazy with cooking and I’m totally ok about it! Cooking for one wasn’t all that attractive and many times I’d rather catch the sunset or make a social plan so organising dinner became a last minute thought. This doesn’t mean I was eating like shit – I was just not caring whether it was a simple salad thrown together or the awesome $10 take away salad options from the deli section of my local Fresh Provisions.
It meant LOTS of reading – and podcasts. Like more than what I already did. Instead of 20-minute stops at the beach filled with conversation (or silence), I stayed for however long I PLEASED and read until my heart’s content. It meant putting me above work. Something I thought I already did but now I am REALLY committed to. It meant spending lots of time alone plan-free – even when it felt lonely. And falling in love with that alone-ness. It gave me space and permission to sit with my feelings and thoughts, take random naps or lie downs, have room for last minute spontaneous plans and to just stop and cry when needed to because I could. Sometimes it would be in the bath, sometimes watching the sunset, quite often going to sleep at night and sometimes in the middle of just walking through my house. It’s not easy, but this initial space and time alone (especially in the first few months) to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and ok with being a little lost is the greatest gift you can give yourself because it leads to the ultimate journey of self-discovery. Go to town working on and prioritising yourself!
I truly believe that through our most challenging times, in fact it’s generally always through our most challenging and difficult times, we find the blessings. But to do that, we need to do the work. We need the rituals, the practices, the free forms of therapy. Instead of it being the journey of divorce, it becomes the journey of discovery. And that is something to celebrate.