Divorce is extremely draining. It takes up so much of our mental, emotional and even physical energy. It is important we find ways to recharge our batteries in these areas and take good care of ourselves. Otherwise we can come to the end of our endurance pretty quickly.
It is easy to understand and see when we are running on low energy in any of these areas. We know well when we are physically exhausted and simply need more sleep. Getting it is probably the harder part. We can tell when we are low on mental energy and can't even remember the 3 things we stopped for at the grocery store. We can also tell when our emotional reserves are drained and we lose it over the cat.
But what exactly is relational energy and how can we tell if we are having enough of the good kind?
Relational energy is exactly what it sounds like. The energy being produced in relationships. It is similar to emotional energy in a way that there is a whole palette of it, ranging from toxic to life giving. We know the two end of it well. The person who is capable of dragging us down at any given moment and we feel spent, depleted, or even depressed after spending time with them. On the other end of the spectrum is the friend who doesn't even have to say anything uplifting or inspiring, we still feel energized, happier and more content after our interaction with them.
The difference is not just about what kind of people they are but mostly about what kind of relationship we have with them. I don't mean work, social, church, or personal, but what kind is the quality of the relationship. The more it is based on mutual trust, respect, love, and honesty, the more life giving it will be. For both.
During divorce our main relationship is being put to death or the very least changing into something much less significant. The longer the marriage has been, the more disturbed our relational energy forces are. It is hard to navigate this change. Even if you welcome the lack of your spouse's presence and energy, there is still a void that will be filled one way or another. The challenge is to fill this space with the right kind of energy, to help us through the hard times and not to drag us down even lower.
You need to surround yourself with people who are not just on your side (that does not equal with being against your ex) but they have something to give. People who don't just care for you but who are genuinely present for you with their time and energy. When you are drained and worn out you will need their encouragement, help, and strength. You will need others. The right kind of others.
First, you need to identify or find these people in your life. Who are those friends and family members who will empathically listen without trying to force their solutions on you? Who will cry with you when you feel like crying and tell you gently that things will be ok? Who will let you rant and rage without trying to change your feelings but remind you that you can survive this? Who will identify with you and give you sound advise but won't be offended if you don't take it? Who could be trusted to keep the words you speak without repeating them to someone else?
Look around in all areas of your life and make a list of these people. Somebody might come to mind form the past. Jot down their names. If there are not enough of them, the kind of people you trust and can openly share with about your pain, consider getting a therapist or coach. You need to provide different sources of positive and life giving relational energy in this exasperating time in your life. You will need safe places to run to when you feel like you cannot take it anymore.
Second, you need to reach out and ask for help. It is scary to ask for help. The more we need it the scarier it gets because we fear rejection. It's universal. You need to push through this fear, risk rejection, and reach out to these people. Some of them will be there for you, some won't. But you can't afford not to try. Call, email, text, do whatever you do to reach out. It is never a sign of weakness to ask for help. On the contrary. Emotionally strong and stable people always have a wide support system around they can lean on and get help from in times of trouble.
If your friends and family members can't provide all the positive relational energy you need during divorce be sure to find a coach or therapist that could. Interview few of them before making a decision and never feel bad to fire them if the relationship is not meeting your very needs. Most importantly be sure you feel completely safe with them because emotional safety is the base of all valuable and beneficial relationships where constructive relational energy can build into your life.
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