Divorce can come at you like a ten tonne truck. Even if you know it’s been on the cards for a while. Actually getting through divorce is a whole different game to imagining it. No-one’s going to pretend it’s easy. But, whatever else divorce is, it’s an opportunity. And this is a crucial point that I see so many women miss.
Divorce is an opportunity to be the you that your marriage swallowed whole. An opportunity to live a version of life that you dream of. And it all starts with permission. Here’s my top five on how to give yourself permission to live the life you want during your divorce.
1. Give yourself permission to know what you want
This is huge – and it’s something so many women don’t even realise they’re missing. Here’s the thing: if you’re at the end of your marriage, something went wrong, or maybe wasn’t right from the start. That means you will have had to do a lot of compromise, making do, putting up with along the way – probably for years. Chances are you haven’t thought about what you really want and need for years. And this is your sign it’s time. I get to the heart of how to do this on this month’s deep dive blog How To Divorce Your Way (Not Your Ex’s).
2. Give yourself permission to expect more
Manifesting isn’t just wishing you had a diamond necklace then getting one in the post the next day. I wish it were that simple! But it is true that the first step to transformational change is dreaming bigger – and then doing the things to move in the direction of that dream. When it comes to your divorce and knowing what you want, are you playing small?
I’m not talking about taking your soon-to-be-ex to the cleaners to bag millions, I’m talking about shifting from a mentality of making do to real, fizzy excitement about your future. Maybe you were tempted to settle for a lower financial settlement just to get it over with. Please don’t! Maybe you were tempted to put your career ambitions on hold because you’re not sure you have what it takes. Please don’t do that either! Once you’ve done the work to know what you want, revisit it and make sure you’re not settling for a dream that’s smaller than what you need and deserve.
3. Give yourself permission to ask for help
Once you’ve got a clear picture of the life you want, it’s time to start living it. And this means asking for help, especially if you’re trying new things. Need help making contacts to work out whether a new industry is for you? Ask around. If you’re part of The Absolute Academy, ask in there.
Need help with getting on top of the house and feeling frazzled? Ask friends over for a decluttering and dinner session one evening. Not managing to fit everything in with the children? Ask whether you can buddy up with anyone for school run duties, or getting them to Saturday morning swimming. It is not selfish to ask for help when you have so much going on. And you can always reciprocate when life is calmer.
4. Give yourself permission to have fun
The main thing many of my clients have lost when they start working with me is their sense of fun. And it’s not surprising. If you’ve been in an unhealthy marriage for years, you’re going to be drained, lonely and exhausted. You’ll feel like you’ve barely got energy to get to work, or get the school uniforms ready, let alone do anything for yourself.
But this is one of those chicken and egg things. Making the time to do things that bring you joy will give you energy. I know it feels impossible, but it’s true. This is where the trick is to seek out tiny slices of fun to start with. How can you fall back in love with your life, just for a moment? A 20 minute coffee and catch up with a friend? A dance around the kitchen to a tune that always gets you moving? A barefoot walk on a field, not caring whether people think you’re the crazy hippy lady? A night out at that fancy restaurant that you have to book six months’ in advance? Make a list of tiny, fun things you can do every single day, as well as some bigger ones. And, over time, your energy and sense of self will soar.
5. Give yourself permission to put divorce down
No-one can be switched on all the time. We need to rest, and that doesn’t just mean sleep. It means mentally switching off from your divorce, so you can enjoy the fun things you’ve just made a list of. And the best way to do that is to designate divorce ‘on’ and divorce ‘off’ times.
Set aside time each week when you will definitely focus on your divorce. Put them in your calendar. If it helps, get a friend to sit and do their life admin with you at the same time to make sure you do it. But look your divorce in the eye. It gives you the freedom to then not do it the rest of the time. And that means you can focus on the important things: looking after yourself, building the life you want, and having fun.
Don’t just think about it, do it!
It’s so hard to hold yourself accountable to doing the right things during divorce, even if you know what they are (and decision-making’s a whole other minefield!). Over in The Absolute Academy you’ll find a wildly supportive community of women, as well as me and my team. We’ve got your back. We’ll help you give yourself permission to follow through on the things you need to do to live your life, as well as get on with your divorce. We’ll celebrate your wins (whether that’s taking time out to go and have a swim, or responding to the solicitor), and we’ll rally round when things look bleak.
Don’t be lonely. Take the action you need to support yourself, and come and join us!
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com