Being newly separated really is like being on a rollercoaster. Emotions are all over the place, and changing every ten minutes.
A great example is an email that Divorced Girl Smiling received from a newly separated man seeking advice. In the first paragraph, he states that he is in shock. The second paragraph clearly reveals his resentment for his wife leaving. Third paragraph, he seems devastated, sad, and lonely. But then in his next sentence he says he feels a bit hopeful that they might reconcile. The next sentence after that reads, "I no longer feel anything for this woman except pity." Two words later, he says he feels angry with her. Perhaps most surprising is his last sentence where he says he would get back together.
I truly feel for him because I was there nine years ago. From the moment you realize your divorce is really happening, up until well over a year later, feelings and emotions are ALL OVER THE BOARD. One day (or one minute) you are really angry, the next scared as hell, the next lonely and rationalizing that maybe it could still work out. But, you know deep down it's really over. Then there are times you feel empowered and hopeful, like "I can get through this" and my future is going to be great. The next hour--everything seems hopeless.
Up and down, up and down goes the rollercoaster of being newly separated. I think that during the time I was on that ride was probably the most difficult time in my life. Everything just seems so uncertain, and with uncertainty comes fear, which I believe is the worst of any of the emotions.
Everything this reader wrote is very understandable to me and the advice I will give him is this. First, healing really does come with time. Eventually, those feelings of hope will start to outweigh the bad feelings, the tears will become less and less and you'll find yourself smiling more and more.
There are a few other things you can do to make this crazy time in your life easier:
1. Find faith. I believe in talking to God as much as you need. It really does help. That doesn't mean you have to go to church. God listens wherever you are.
2. Work out. Physical release of stress is very important right now. Eat nutritiously because your body needs it. There are lots of emotions that food can make better or worse.
3. Minimize drinking. It can depress you more and make your mood swings worse.
4. Try to a make time every single day for something you enjoy.
5. See a therapist. I think this should be required for newly separated people for at least 6 months.
6. Love and forgive yourself. Remember, we are only human and humans make mistakes.
7. Lean on family and friends for support.
8. Love those kids, smother them with hugs, kisses and your time. They are hurting too.
My last piece of advice is, don't let the divorce make you bitter. I am of the opinion that not being bitter is something you need to nip in the bud early in the divorce process. In other words, catch it now before it becomes habit. Regardless of how ugly the process gets, and regardless of what your ex does and how he or she acts, be the person you are-not the resentful, bitter, cold, angry person that way too many divorced men and women become. Try to think of this horrible thing that happened to you as a second chance. Because someday - sooner than you think, life is going to be good again.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.