You had your heart set on happily ever after. Now, you are facing the stark reality that your marriage is over sooner than you would’ve liked. Guess what? You can still have the happiness you’re seeking. Your divorce has set you free.
What is the secret to a happy life? It is simple. Picture what your life should looks like and start living, for yourself, right now.
During the next few months you’ll find that everything shifts. People that you thought were your friends don’t return calls, allies take sides, and the family that would give you the shirt off their back now give you the cold shoulder. While this illustrates the worst breakup fallout, your circumstances can feel this dire when you are knee-deep in the muck. Your perception plays a huge part on your happiness and how you navigate both the emotional and practical sides of divorce. Luckily, there are some things you can do to avoid the pitfalls of separation.
- Get Organized. The number one piece of advice any lawyer, best friend, or fellow divorcee will tell you is to DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. After years of being underappreciated and disrespected, it may have been an easy choice to leave. Unfortunately, Legal Separation is not so easy a task. You will be asked to produce evidence over the next few months and years, proof that your choice is justified. There are many documents that you need to collect when you’re getting ready to leave. One of the best tools to get organized for divorce is LegalLogs.com. With LegalLogs you can save money and make divorce easier by you collecting all your communications text messages and e-mails from your ex, documenting the time you have custody of your kids, and recording your income statements. You can also keep a running journal about how you want to split up the holidays, celebrate birthdays, handle paying for future expenses: braces, college or even your child’s walk down the aisle. Now is the time to get it all on the table. Best of all, LegalLogs allows your attorney to look at your records securely. You control the documentation. Trust me, having been there, it comes in incredibly handy.
- Design Your New Life: You have an amazing opportunity to make your divorce the best worst thing that ever happen to you. Our greatest life lessons are learned in the face of adversity. Remember when you first learned how to walk? No? Let me fill in the gaps. First, you couldn’t hold your head up. Then, thanks to tummy time, you had limited muscle control in your core. One day, there was a shiny object on the coffee table and you were determined to get it. You pulled yourself up, you steadied yourself, took one tentative step after another until momentum took over and before you knew it, you were putting that metal ashtray in your mouth! You did it! And you can do this, too, one question at a time.Ask yourself:
Where do I want to live?
How will having sole custody of my kids affect my job?
How am I going create “Me Time” when I am a single parent?
What do I want to do to develop myself as a person?
What gift can I give myself? Health, Time, Knowledge, Self-reflection
- Home is where you hang your hat. Now that you are on your own, you may need new, fresh surroundings to match your new fresh outlook. Has there been a neighborhood where you have always wanted to live? Is there a better school district that you’ve had your eye on, so your kids can have a better chance at life? What’s your budget now that you are supporting yourself by yourself? When I first got separated, I needed to fill my life with happy things, the things that fueled me as a person. I looked for the neighborhoods where I was most happy and that happened to be in a beautiful historic neighborhood with an eclectic mix of family structures, a rich mixture of ethnicities and tons of fun things to do. I needed to feel accepted, not ashamed. It was the perfect combination of exciting interesting neighbors, a place for kids to run and play and was in close proximity to the city center as well as a little walkable village. I decided to live the life I wanted to live.
- ME FIRST! Every flight attendant will tell you to put on your oxygen mask before you help someone else. First and foremost, you must take care of yourself. For some people, that means making sure that you are eating well and exercising. Maybe it means finishing that degree you neglected. Set some goals that answer the question “Where do I want to be in 5 years?
- Dearly Departed… Give yourself time to mourn. You are experiencing a death. There is a death of a future you thought you would have. That doesn’t mean that your life is coming to an end. It simply means that what you envisioned will not come to pass. The exciting thing about this is that you have the opportunity to design your future. You are entirely in control of your circumstances and what you want to become.
- Do something that scare you. Face it. You have already started. You have launched yourself out of married life into the unknown. If you are looking for a field guide, look no further than Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway® by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., www.susanjeffers.com. It’s a field guide about how to get over that hump of self doubt.
So, go. Live a fearless life. Be kind to yourself and embrace your choices.
Happily ever after starts today.