With the news of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's separation, it brought back those early days of recalling just how it felt when friends and family found out. My thoughts this week have been with their three beautiful children. And, as I woman who just wrote a book about being newly single, my thoughts went to Garner as she starts over. I remember when I had to learn to say "I" instead of "we," and how far I have come since then. It took time to start liking myself again and eventually love myself.
For me, it was a beautiful New York City night. I was hosting a charity event. But, in between my hosting duties, and conversations, I was fielding e-mails and phone calls while bawling my eyes out in the corner because I knew that more personal details of my divorce were about to be made public and that my marriage was not going to avoid being a statistic. I realized I had to face the fact that I was no longer a "we," and I was back to being just "me."
But who was I?
Along the way, I have learned quite a few lessons about a divorce that is not very secret, about how to handle it and about how to move onto the next chapter of your life and love yourself again.
Goal 1: Pamper Your Body
Undress more. Obviously, within reason and in the right environment. But to me, it is critical for you to fall back in love with yourself. I put two huge full- length mirrors in my newly decorated apartment. I walk by them all the time. I used to not look at myself. I had not seen my body and self for a long time. Both literally and figuratively. Now, (blinds shut) I no longer hide from myself. We often take care of anyone and everyone else in order to avoid ourselves. From massages to emptying out my bathroom and replacing almost all of my bath products with healthy alternatives. Again, these things sound simple and perhaps even silly, but when I walk out of my house, I do it proudly and with purpose, and all of these things contribute to the confidence I continue to work on every single day.
Goal 2: Give Your Body What It Needs--Movement!
Working out has always been an important part of my life. I have changed it up over the years from running to weights and then cross training. But, after my breakup I realized that exercise was important to me mentally as well. I started devoting myself to yoga. Up until then, I had been a huge naysayer when it came to yoga. I used to think--if I don't sweat, what's the point? Well, I could not have been proved more wrong.
Yoga allowed me to take that time I needed for myself. To unplug without apology and to focus on the poses and on my mantra each class.
Goal 3: Head to Toe
Sounds silly, right? Hair and nails? What business do they have in a post breakup/divorce advice to finding yourself again? Turns out, they have a lot to do with it. Nurturing and pampering yourself is key, even when you have no time, no money, or no interest. Pedicures, manicures, haircuts, hair color, and blow- outs were real relaxation for me. For one, during a time when I didn't feel attractive inside or out, they gave me a little boost in self-confidence.
Goal 4: Go Green
I also make my own shakes and I have learned about juicing, especially green or veggie juicing. After my divorce, I felt it was crucial if I was starting over to start over all around. I realized that eating right, concentrating on whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods gave me energy to deal with life's stresses. I don't turn to french fries (though I eat them from time to time) when I am upset. I deal with the problem at hand in a methodical way. Eating right and taking vitamins as part of my daily regime is a lifestyle--not a diet or a temporary part of my life. It is like breath- ing. I just do it naturally because I know it's right for me.
Goal 5: Home Is Where the Heart Is and Where It Heals
I have always been a minimalist. Clutter has never been a friend of mine. So, it came as a shock to me that my heart was very cluttered following my separation and eventually my divorce. I was not sure who I was, where I was going, or what to do next.
My home suddenly became very important to me both as a refuge and as a symbol of my new beginning. Either way, I was determined to start over again and declutter the things that were mentally and emotionally blocking me.
A writer friend of mine called me around the time I was rearranging my home and painting it a new color. When I told her what I was doing she said, "Tamsen, you can't paint away the memories of your marriage." Maybe not, but I could put a fresh coat of self-love into my life and that is exactly what I did.