Now is the time to assess and celebrate your relationship skills. Why?
Divorce always comes with a cost to our self-worth and self-esteem. You have no doubt heard a litany of your perceived personal flaws. It is time to reclaim the real you. Reaching out to others in a meaningful way will only happen if feel good about yourself.
Celebrate who you are and be your own best friend.
You can begin to fill that space left by divorce with new and renewed relationships. The starting point is with the most important relationship in life -the one we have with ourselves.
Where do you begin?
Take a good look inward. Your world and your sense of security have been compromised in the divorce process. As with any relationship, it may seem a bit daunting at first to like who you are. I know from personal experience how challenging it is to get out from under the personal criticisms of a former spouse. Start right now and be the best friend you can be to –yourself.
The very same skills required to relate to others are the same ones needed as you redefine and nurture your inner self.
Take out your journal and celebrate who you are.
What do you like about yourself?
List all your best people skills. Good listener? Empathetic? Honest?
Reflect on how those skills make you your own best friend.
Do you listen to that inner voice? Often what our intuition is saying is not what we want to hear but is the right answer.
Every friendship requires caring about the other. Do you care about yourself? Are there ways to improve that self -care?
Remember that a healthy lifestyle will help improve your mood. Going to an exercise class, planning a great meal and some mindfulness techniques at the end of the day to help with a good sleep are all steps on the path to your tomorrow.
Give yourself permission to feel happy again. Divorce and feeling sad go together. Now it is time to let happiness filter into your life. We know that positive thoughts and words have a positive effect on our body.
It is an enormous task to let go of those negative thoughts but every time you turn a negative thought into a positive, claim a victory in your recovery.
Have a repertoire of positive ideas ready. Make a Gratitude Jar. Every day, put something in your Gratitude Jar. Listing all the positive things in your life is time well spent. Plan for the weekend, or cook a favourite recipe, go to a yoga class, or take a hike in nature.
The more you change that negative to positive, you will notice that it gets easier. This is how you become your own best friend.
If you have children, whatever their age, they have experienced the trauma of the divorce in their own way. They need your love, support, and encouragement. Be mindful of oversharing and using them as a go between. It happens but try to minimize the negative.
Those tactics do not work in any relationship because that is using negative power.
We do make mistakes, with ourselves and others, as we navigate that initial time post divorce. Own those mistakes, be honest with yourself and carry on. Focus on new traditions and make the effort to fill the gap left by your former spouse. Talk to your children and most important actively listen when they talk to you. Be their best friend too.
Now look at the broader picture and consider your circle of friends. Losing friends happens with divorce. Focus on the ones who are present in your life.
How do you value them?
Communication is the cornerstone of any good relationship. You will have friends that are a major factor in your divorce recovery. You will lean on some friends quite heavily. Always check in with how they are feeling about your conversations.
Divorce has an insatiable appetite for attention.
You will be surprised at how good you feel talking about other things with your friends. During divorce recovery, it is time to discover everything else you have missed while going through your divorce.
Honesty is key with family and friends. Pretense is just that, pretense. Do not pretend you are OK if you are not. However, it is also important to not use that as a crutch and negative power over others. Be aware of any tendency to overshare with family or friends. Relationships are a two-way street. They are helping you through your divorce recovery and you must remember to appreciate them.
Co-workers and people outside your immediate circle will be sympathetic for a time but be mindful of their investment in your life. Acquaintances will not feel the same degree of emotion as close friends do.
Occasionally step back. Have you talked too much about the divorce at work and not enough about other topics? Talking about other things with these people is helpful because, for one, for everyone, it is a relief from the topic of divorce.
This is also a good time to make new friends. There are many ways to do this in today’s world. It can be daunting and will require initial effort on your part. Treat it like a journey and not a destination. Take it one step at a time outside your comfort zone. Say yes to invitations. Every new relationship experience is one step closer to your future.
And be mindful that no matter what you do, there will still be lonely times. Accept that, while believing those feelings will pass.
Practicing these relationship skills with yourself and others will help put you on the road to divorce recovery. Be real, be kind, be interested in others, be honest and be the best you can be, and your future will find you.
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.