You've started the process - it's really happening! - and the papers are filed, you've hired a lawyer. You really didn't want this, but the ex blind-sided you. One Sunday afternoon he said, "This isn't working for me anymore. I think we should get divorced."
Suddenly he's moved out, and you're getting requests from financial people and attorneys for mortgage documents, pay stubs, titles to the cars and the boat, investment account statements, and a whole pile of other documents.
The kids still have to go to school. You still have to go to work. The show must go on. But you feel exhausted and disengaged. It feels like you're wading through molasses. You cry at night, the betrayal, depression, and "overwhelm" like a tablecloth that's been out from under you and the dishes all broken on the floor.
Sound familiar? How can you be OK even when your world is crashing down around you? What do you do?
Start by being mindful. The past is gone; the future isn't here yet. We can't go back, and what we're worried about may never happen. We spend 100% of our time in right now. So doesn't it make sense to make the most of this moment, right now, no matter what? Which leads us to...
Find gratitude for what's right in your life. Even though it feels like the world has turned upside down, there are still things you can be grateful for. Think about your wonderful kids and your supportive friends. Remember that you still have your job. Find wonder, amazement, and appreciation for the nature around you and the tech that makes your life easier. Use this life mantra: "Something good about right now is..." Which leads us to...
Turn negatives into positives. Turn "I can't handle this," into, "I've had to deal with hard things before; I can do it again." Take thoughts like, "I have no control over my life," into, "I will solve the problems that present themselves, and decide how I want my life to look from now on." Use another life mantra: "I'm amazing because I'm handling all of this."
You are allowed to feel bad sometimes. It's not the feelings and emotions that become a problem; it's what we do with them. Let yourself have 10 minutes every day to be sad, angry, feel betrayed, cry, rant and rave, or tear up a box of tissues. Don't allow the emotions to drive and control your life, but give them an outlet. Another mantra: "I'm allowed to feel bad about this."
Use the ILIO method to keep negative emotions in check while you're taking care of your responsibilities. We all know that suppressing emotions just causes them to volcano back at us later. But how to keep on truckin' at work or when you're taking care of the kids without having your head explode...? Like this!
Identify and Label: What emotion(s) are you feeling? "I'm angry because..." "I'm sad because..." "I'm anxious because..." By identifying and labelling those emotions, you're shrinking them down from a huge honkin' cloud over your head to a name and a label. Not as scary!
Isolate: Where in your body are you experiencing it? Tummy? Tense neck? Heart? Jaw clenched? Put an imaginary bubble around it. Let it stay there, but don't let it spread.
Observe: Observe it. Watch it. Tell yourself, "So this is what it's like to feel angry/depressed/anxious/etc." You're a human being, and humans experience emotions. Let the emotions ride with you, where they're isolated, but you are driving. Bring your focus back to what you're doing, and get the job done - because you have before, and you can now.
These are only a few of the ways you can override the overwhelm of your divorce! Click here for more life mantras to get through a tough day in piece:
Susan Petang is a Certified Stress Management Coach, helping women stop feeling overwhelmed by their divorce, and start waking up happy in the morning again.