Support through divorce and separation: Danielle Barbereau, specialist divorce coach and author joins us as part of the Stowe guests programme to offer helpful tips and advice on how to steady yourself if you are having a wobble during a divorce or separation, particularly during the current global pandemic.
If you are going through a painful separation, it is all too easy to feel that you have lost control of your life and that everyone else is calling the shots.
This is especially the case during this COVID-19 pandemic.
To make matters even worse, the fear of the future; the worry about the health and wellbeing of loved ones; money and job worries; the excruciating pain of not seeing your children when they stay with the other parent; and worse, when the other parent does not comply with parenting orders; all contribute to making the breakup incredibly difficult.
Yet, I know that even in the worst times, we can find some relief.
First things first, you need to steady yourself.
These are a few tips, which are the results of many hours spent working with people who are going through painful breakups.
Some may hopefully resonate with you:
As bad as things seem at the moment, these times will pass
Accept where you are. Don’t dwell on what you can’t change. This will make moving forward easier
You are going through life-changing emotions; it’s OK to feel these emotions
Recovery takes time. You cannot just bounce back; you need to go through a process
Be kind to yourself
At the end of each day, write ONE accomplishment from your day you are proud of
Move, get some exercise and fresh air
If you are starting to panic, breathe deeply and repeat 3 times: ‘I accept myself as I am and I can deal with this’. This is an affirmation which will help ground you
Take some control back
Regaining some form of control at this time is crucial, but it may seem impossible to do. Yet, I encourage you to seek small ways of regaining control. This can be achieved by making some changes in your life.
Initially, these changes may be small: eating foods your partner did not like, going to bed at a different time, watching DVDs they would have disliked.
What is important here is to do things that you did not do when they were around. Do something new, however small a step that feels. As time goes on the changes will be bigger and more significant.
Take my client Josie for example:
‘After he left, one day I sat in ‘his’ armchair. Suddenly I saw our living room from a new angle. I was in charge. It felt good.’
This is a good example because not only is it a new step, albeit apparently small, sitting in ‘his’ chair, but is ‘daring’ because it challenges the former status quo. For Josie, it felt like a victory. She began to realise at that point that she would survive and be OK.
Aim at making at least one change a day, every day and observe the sense of achievement you feel.
Challenging yourself is good on several levels. It takes you out of your comfort zone; it also shows you that you are capable of achieving something by yourself, and it makes you feel independent and more in charge of your life.
When your partner goes, your confidence is shattered. It is absolutely vital to work on rebuilding it. Challenging yourself is a way of rebuilding fragile confidence.
Emerging and recovering from pain is a slow process. It doesn’t happen in a tidy straight line. We go through ups and downs, peaks and troughs. Pain and grief, just like love, are personal emotions and no-one reacts exactly in the same way.
All we can do is realise that we are grieving, that the process is running its course.
Remember: this too will pass and you will get better!
Support through divorce and separation
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