According to court statistics more divorces are filed in January than any other month of the year. The reasons are probably manifold from wanting a new start in the new year, saving on taxes for the previous year, to not disturbing the children’s holiday season. In most cases the one who files has been preparing for it a long time mentally and emotionally while the other might feel completely shocked or ambushed by it. Either side we find ourselves at the beginning of the divorce, we all want to go into it as prepared as possible, otherwise we will be easily taken advantage of.
Lots of us enter the divorce process with extremely unrealistic expectations, mostly when it comes to our ex spouse. Naively believing he or she will not hurt us deliberately in the process. Realistically we need to prepare for the opposite. Most of the time whatever we think he or she would never do to hurt us is exactly what he or she does in the heat of the divorce. It is hard to imagine beforehand how vicious the divorce can become and how uncharacteristically our ex can behave. What is even harder to imagine how uncharacteristically we will behave and how little it will take to turn us into our worst self.
When preparing for a divorce it is always best to prepare for the worst when it comes to our ex and to focus on the best when it comes to ourselves. Meaning we will need our best self to deal with all the issues his or her worst self will create. If we go into the divorce with this mindset and preparation we can be sure to come out of it with sanity and dignity intact.
When entering divorce we need to cover our bases in the following five areas:
Legal support. After educating ourselves on the different paths and possibilities of divorce we need to find a lawyer or legal advisor to aide us in the process. It might be expensive to interview multiple people for the job, but this extra cautious step can save us a lot on the long run, not just financially but also mentally and emotionally. We need to find and pick someone we trust, agree with their strategies and approach, and feel that they would truly represent who we are and what we want. Finding the right person might take some extra time and cash but ultimately it will be one of the most important divorce decision we will make.
Physical support. Entering divorce is like picking up a part time job and paying for it too. The process will require so much time and energy that we have to be sure we have enough help in other areas of life. We will need all the extra hands we can find watching the kids, running errands, grocery shopping, housekeeping, etc. Physical exhaustion is common in divorce and can be dangerous because it affects our mental abilities causing us to see limited options and we might compromise sooner than planned. Being sure we have enough friends and family around to help us with everyday chores when needed is a crucial preparation area.
Mental support. Our mental health and focus will be one of the most important factor determining the outcome of our divorce. It is very easy to get tangled in the blame game, focusing on the other person, and as a result, becoming obsessed or trying to manipulate the situation driven by all the wrong reasons and motivations. Ongoing support from a coach or other trained professional helps a lot when it comes to mental clarity and focus. The very least we need to have a trusted friend or mentor on our side during the whole divorce process to use as a sounding board before making any decisions. Our judgment can get easily distorted and impaired when left alone in the crazies and chaos of divorce.
Emotional support. The emotional roller coaster during divorce can get unbearable if experienced alone. Sharing all the emotions and feelings that rise throughout the process with a safe person is a crucial element of divorce because unprocessed emotions will hijack our logical decision making, easily sidetracking us. There is need for quiet and solitary processing too, but if that’s all we do we will feel overwhelmed and engulfed by our emotions. While it’s not wise to talk to everyone whoever would listen about our feelings, it is necessary to select few trusted and nonjudgmental friends or professionals who would help us deal with our emotions and understand what and why we are feeling certain way and how to proceed as a result of or despite of them. We have to remember that all feelings and emotions are valid and true for us, but they don’t necessary reflect the truth of the situation we are in. Having an outsider’s perspective and input could be the difference between a disastrous, chaotic, emotionally driven divorce, or a calm, reasonable one.
Spiritual support. Many religions condemn divorce and create an incredible amount of shame on top of all the guilt we already feel about it on our own. It might be necessary to get the help of a trusted minister or spiritual coach to walk us through our guilty feelings but we need to be sure to find someone who won’t shame, blame, or accuse us even more. Pilling on the shame and guilt will lead to contorted self esteem, depression, increased alcohol and drug consumption, physical illness, and even suicide. Divorce is the time when we need to rely on our Higher Power even more than usual but if we feel condemned by our religion we will turn away instead of leaning into our faith and spirituality for unconditional love and support.
It is smart to think through all these areas before entering the divorce process and build a strong and multi-people support system around ourselves. The more friends, family members, professionals we surround ourselves with, the softer the falls and bounces will be, and the more bearable the emotional lows and the under the belt kicks will feel. Divorce is never easy, but with sufficient support it can be endured sanely and survived with dignity and strength.
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