Going through separation and divorce is hard. It’s complex, painful, often with high conflict and hostility.
When someone loses their spouse to a death the community rallies and supports. The family goes to great lengths to comfort and be there for each other and no one judges you for ‘how’ or ‘why’. Asking for help is easier and it is easier to receive because it’s widely accepted that you need help.
When we go through divorce we also experience loss. The loss of our partner, our planned future, our family structure and the very place we called home and where we felt safe feels anything but safe anymore. Broken hearts, emotional turmoil, grief, anger, fighting, fear etc all create an environment where you feel anything but taken care of.
You have lost your person. Perhaps someone you considered your best friend. You feel alone.
Friends rally and want to take you out to either “celebrate” that you got away or commiserate about what an @$$ your ex is. It feels impossible to get away from your story and new reality. No one brings pot roasts or writes up a dinner tree for you and the kids. You are now the single friend, but sit alone on weekends while everyone else does family things.
And to add to that or perhaps because of the stigma and assumptions that come with divorce it is so hard to receive the support that is available to us whether it is from someone close or someone you don’t know like a coach or support group.
Why is that?
I came up with three possible reasons:
- You feel you should be able to do this alone and don’t want to be a burden.
- Perhaps you feel embarrassed that your marriage failed (you shouldn’t). Or maybe you are feeling blocked because you have been conditioned to believe that the resources out there aren’t for you. There’s only so many and they are for others who need it more.
- I want you to know that this is untrue. Support is available to everyone. There is an abundance of support available to you through friends, loved ones and even via people you might not know yet. When you allow someone to guide you, help you and support you, not only are you receiving but so are they. They are receiving the gift of being able to give to you. This exchange is real, necessary and available to you.
- I think we all feel this throughout our lives at different times. I believe it afflicts women more than men because we feel we are supposed to be there for everyone else but are unable to allow others to be there for us.
- We want to prove we are capable and strong
- This his me hard I must admit. And not just from within me but also because that’s how everyone saw me and now I felt that I wasn’t “allowed” to fall apart. Every day someone remarked on how strong I was and how well I was doing adn every time I heard that I felt that was what they needed from me, so that’s what I did. I stayed strong and showed I was capable to weather this storm and didn’t need anything. It’s something I deal with to this day…how to show that I’m not feeling strong or capable in some moments. Incredibly difficult for me because in the past I have unfortunately encountered negative reactions when I do. Maybe I need to show what I need differently, but this isn’t about me ;).
- We worry that our vulnerability will be seen as weakness
- This one has many ‘sides’. First, so what!? Is there something wrong with feeling weakened when our entire life and security system has been upended and pulled away from us? Is it really a weakness to show that this has shaken us to the core? I strongly feel that showing our vulnerability is in fact a show of strength because it’s easier not to.
Brené Brown says it best:
Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.
So, I want to say to you:
- Ask for help and support – you will need it. And learning to ask and receive will show you who your people are and open a door to your heart that will bring love, friendship and community into your life when you need it most.
- I want to let you in on a little secret – no one and I repeat; no one feels capable when their marriage ends. We don’t feel strong either. I can think of half a dozen things I felt but none of them were strong or capable. Instead prove to yourself that you can be compassionate with yourself and understand that right now you are not at your best or strongest. You are simply surviving. Getting out of bed is a win. Making a meal for your family is a big win. Going to work is a win. Kids arriving at school on time – WIN!
- So go ahead and be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to say; “I am struggling. This is the hardest thing I have ever done and I have no idea how I am going to get through tomorrow”… or whatever feels right to you of course. I remember wanting to scream at a hairdresser who rattled on about her unhappy marriage and going on a bout how strong I was. I wasn’t strong at all. I fought tears the whole time I was there. But she needed me to be strong for her which was so unfair. But I wasn’t able to tell her. I didn’t want her to think me weak and change her opinion of me. Silly… I know.
Here’s what I would like to suggest that you consider:
- Join the Rising Free membership so we can support you, and give you the love and sense of belonging that you need right now. Say yes to being part of a community where you can feel safe asking for help. And while you are there learn how to be part of the natural exchange of energy that happens when we allow others to support us so we can grow, heal and be there for others one day.
- Ask a good friend or supportive family member for help. Call and say “I need some help please” and then ask for something specific that they can do because they honestly have no idea how to help you.
- And if someone is not seeing you, hearing you, then go somewhere else for support. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, an update on your story or to listen politely while they trash your marriage or your ex even if they are right. You just might not want to hear others say it and that’s ok. Don’t hesitate to throw a boundary down letting them know that you will decide how much you talk about your situation.
Sending you much love and support. I am holding space for you in my heart and we are holding you in our community. I hope to see you inside Rising Free soon.