For those of you going through a divorce right now, I know exactly how you're feeling. Because not all that long ago, I was you. I was exactly where you are, I know exactly what you're thinking, I know exactly what you're feeling.
You're worried. Terrified almost. Your older kids already know, and the younger ones are still trying to figure it out. They're all confused. And that's to be expected. You have no clue where you'll end up; physically, emotionally, financially... and you're terrified.
You've all but filed the papers, or you've already filed the papers, and begun the process of selling what you had... that is, if the bank hasn't already taken it. Or one of you has left the home that you once shared. Whatever furniture you had, you've split down the middle (naturally, with some disagreements as to who gets what), and you've finished "Craigslisting" whatever was left.
Now you're in a new and unfamiliar place, and you're broke.
If you're a woman/mother, you're living "hand to mouth" with the kids. You've been a stay-at-home mom, raising the kids and taking care of the house 24/7. You have no job or income or savings for that matter, to "tide you over," and you're crapping bullets with worry. The Christmas season is fast upon us, and you don't even know how the hell you're going to buy milk and bread, never mind gifts and Christmas dinner.
If you're a working (outside the house) mom, you're sweating over how you're going to make it work on ONE income. You're sick over the fact that you and your children could very well go hungry, and your "soon to be ex" is no help; you're fighting over child support (he's holding out), and he'd just as soon let you live you under a bridge somewhere.
But you can't let that happen. This is where you turn it around.
I know you're scared. I know that this shit isn't "fair." But "they" say that "life's not fair." "They" suck.
Sometimes it's completely unexpected, and for others, it's a miracle that it took as long as it did to get to this point. But regardless of how it went down, it's nothing that you can't handle. You can DO this.
These are the five things that helped me through... gave me some semblance of strength and sanity;
1. Make PEACE with "worst case scenario."
This is probably one of the best ways to maintain your sanity in this process. If "worst case" for you is moving into your mother's place with your kids, make peace with it. Once you do that, it'll feel like you've taken a huge breath of pure, cleansing air. Odds are, that you won't ever get to "worst case," but if you're okay with it regardless, you're bulletproof.
2. Let go of the "stuff."
The courts aren't there to take sides... period. They're kind of like that crowd of people who will stand around watching a fight, but no one will step in to break it up. So many women think "well... we had 'x' number of dollars in the bank, so half of it is mine...." Which is great, but unless that money is already in your hands, it'll be a cold day in hell before you see a dime. You'll spend eternity in court trying to get back what's "legally yours," and my BEST piece of advice here, is "Let it go." It'll take you a LOT LESS time to figure out a way to make the money that you're bound to lose fighting for it in the process; whether you lose it to a lawyer, or to a spouse who "insists" on getting/taking more. Make peace with the fact that it's gone, take a deep breath, and let it go. I can't say that enough.
3. Get over the "spite."
Sometimes, in the divorce/breakup process, we do stupid shit purely out of spite. It feels great for all of a split second, but in the short run, it's unhealthy, and all it does is take precious mental and emotional and financial energy away from where they should be going. Put that energy into managing the stress of the situation.
4. Put your "expectations" aside.
Again... when/if you end up in court, most expect that a judge will simply see that they're "right" (whether or not that's the case), make a judgement in their favour, and the whole thing will be wrapped up inside of a couple of hours. It NEVER works that way. Not ever. You can be certain of three things in this process, right or wrong; it's gonna take FOREVER, it's a crapshoot, and you NEED to go in with no expectations... period.
5. Ask for what you need.
I know that this sounds really "hippy dippy," but I believe in the power of the universe like I know my own name. In my experience, I remember sitting on my bed one night, and completely distraught, I said, "I NEED a lawyer. But I need one who won't charge me up front for this because I do NOT have the money. Please GIVE me a lawyer who won't charge me. I also need it to be a tough lawyer, not some pushover..." And with that I went to sleep.
The following day I called my brother, and asked him if he knew a lawyer who fit my description (tough... free...). He told me that he didn't personally know a lawyer, but that a friend of his used to work for a lawyer who was, in his own words (and I swear this is true), "a pit bull." Long story short, I got in touch with her, she became my lawyer, and without my mentioning the money "thing," she didn't charge me a dime. (I'm sorry I can't give you her name, as she doesn't generally work for free.)
The key to getting what you need, isn't asking, and then sitting on your ass waiting for it to fall into your lap. The key to getting what you need, is asking, and then moving in the direction that you'd be moving in if you were going to make this thing happen for yourself. Reach out to anyone you think could help, or might know someone who could help. Once you start asking for what you need, with specificity, everything simply falls into your path. I'm not saying that it won't be difficult. I AM saying that you'll be much better at managing this thing.
You. Can. DO. This.