Once again, winter is here. The days have grown short, and the nights are cold. While most of us look forward to the light and cheer of the holidays, for those going through a divorce, light and cheer can feel like scarce commodities. Some people find themselves alone for the first time in years. Others have young children at home but struggle with figuring out how to afford the usual gifts and activities. If this sounds like you, remember that you are in the worst of it right now and better days are ahead.
Are you tempted to refuse to take part in the holidays at all? Don’t give in! Even if money is tight, there are free events everywhere. If your children need to learn that some years are tougher than others, do not think of this as sad; look at it instead as a crucial life lesson that will build resilience. Do the things you can still afford, whether that means baking Christmas cookies or collecting things to donate to those who are even less fortunate than you. And if you are alone? Do these things for yourself! This is a time in your life that you not only deserve to treat yourself well, but you also need to treat yourself well.
Give Yourself the Gift of Hope
People at the beginning of, or in the middle of, a divorce frequently find themselves immersed in negative thinking. Some of this is realistic, but much of it is not. Negative feelings often snowball. For example, you may start with the accurate observation that money is tight or that you miss your children, and then quickly move on to inaccurate or irrelevant things such as regretting your choice of career, bemoaning your past performance as a parent, or blaming yourself entirely for the end of your marriage. If you find yourself inundated with feelings of failure or guilt, it is important to let yourself off the hook and focus on moving forward. Divorce is traumatic. Resist the urge to add to your own trauma by blaming yourself!
The advice is the same if you feel overwhelmed with anger. Blaming your former partner for everything that has gone wrong can be just as destructive as blaming yourself. You may well have good reasons to be angry at your ex. But the longer you hold onto that anger, the more corrosive it may become. Process it, address it rationally, and let it go.
If these suggestions feel impossible to you, then the way to give yourself light and hope might be through therapy. While negative feelings during divorce are completely normal, you do not need to stay stuck in them. A therapist who has experience working with divorcing clients can help you process your feelings and move on.
Give Yourself the Best Legal Options
If you have already worked through your negative emotions and are simply struggling with the divorce process, then you may need to consider new alternatives. If you do not yet have temporary orders in place, this is the time to request them. Temporary orders can help you financially during the divorce process and ensure that you have adequate parenting time with your children. If you are in divorce mediation, you may be able to work out an agreement for these things without going to court.
If you are not in mediation and the stress of litigation is getting to you, maybe the best gift to yourself is to consider moving to mediation. If you do not have a consulting attorney yet, start there. An attorney can make sure that you have taken the right steps to protect yourself and give you some idea of whether or not divorce mediation would be appropriate.
Whatever your situation is, remember to be good to yourself. And if you decide you are ready to move to mediation, contact one of our experienced and empathic divorce mediators.