I was in my late twenties when I experienced divorce. It was shocking, numbing, sad, and physically painful. Anyone who has been there can probably relate on some level. If you’re here because you are going through it right now, please know that you are not alone. As a wise and wonderful friend told me each time I saw him during that time, “This too shall pass.” He was totally right. It does, and it did.
Besides that mantra, here are 3 things that helped me cope with divorce:
#1: I started attending a yoga class at least twice a week.
I had never tried yoga before. I noticed the class on a flyer posted in the gym I went to. It took place in the basement…I wore socks…I had no idea what I was doing.
Nervous and self-conscious in that first class, the instructor did something that forever changed me. She encouraged us to tune in to our body. How did we feel? Where were we sore? What was going on inside? New to the world of yoga, meditation, mindfulness…these questions had a big impact on me. I made it my business to research these questions during my time on the mat.
If you haven’t tried yoga or some type of class that encourages you to check in, I highly recommend it.
The bottom line is this: it gave me an outlet to face my feelings in a setting where I wasn’t alone, doing activity that actually helped me to physically feel better. It was like the negative thoughts that surfaced during class were being replaced by the endorphin-charged feeling of stretching and moving my body.
#2: I reset with 30 Rock
When I was feeling hurt, it was hard not to get swallowed up by those feelings, especially sitting alone in a tiny apartment. 30 Rock (my favorite show) was my reset button. If I felt myself getting overwhelmed, I would recognize it, turn on my show, and reset for 23 minutes (the length of an episode). I would focus on the characters and remind myself to feel joy and laughter.
Usually after the show I would have a much better outlook on things. Some days I would watch 2 or 3 in a row…other days 6 or 7! I gave myself permission to indulge during this time, and I think it really helped.
By the way, I wasn’t tuning out my emotions. During the show I was constantly reminding myself to focus on the show. I would acknowledge a sad feeling and snap myself back to Liz Lemon’s relatable antics. It was an organic introduction to mindfulness.
#3: I focused on the things I could do now that I was alone
Food was a major deal for me. I could plan and prepare meals that suited me and what my body needed. I started to look at food as nourishment, not just something on my to-do list.
I could fill my physical space with things that gave me energy…or with nothing at all. I bought a few beautiful lamps that filled my small Boston apartment with warm, wonderful light during those dark winter months; this was a major mood boost for me.
I took walks as often as I could since I was on my own time. No schedules to work around. While sometimes that thought made me sad, I spent a lot of effort making that narrative a freeing and positive one!
I know these things may not fit exactly into everyone’s lifestyle. I didn’t have kids when I experienced divorce. Now that I have a child, I can only imagine how different things would have looked. No matter whether you have kids or not, my heart is with you, and just remember, “This too shall pass.”
If you’d like to hear more about my journey in greater detail, below is a link to a podcast interview I did recently with Carol Chapman of Hearts Rise Up.