How to cope with separation
Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
Although children are the most important people when separation is taking place, you also have to consider how you will cope both emotionally and mentally. Whether you wanted to separate or not, it can be very hard to overcome as it may trigger painful and unsettling feelings. However, there are many things that can help you get through this difficult time. Try to be more positive rather than dwelling on the past.
Separation can have a detrimental affect on an individual even if the relationship was no longer working. This can be due to the loss of not just the relationship but also shared dreams and commitments. Close and romantic relationships begin with positives and excitement for the future. Therefore, when these relationships fail, this can cause mixed emotions. In turn, it is crucial that you:
- Recognise that it?s OK to have different feelings. It?s normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, and confused?and these feelings can be intense. You also may feel anxious about the future. Accept that reactions like these will lessen over time. Even if the marriage was unhealthy, venturing into the unknown is frightening.
- Give yourself a break. Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for a period of time. You may not be able to be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way you?re accustomed to for a little while. No one is superman or superwoman; take time to heal, regroup, and re-energise.
- Don?t go through this alone. Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this period. Consider joining a support group where you can talk to others in similar situations. Isolating yourself can raise your stress levels, reduce your concentration, and get in the way of your work, relationships, and overall health. Don?t be afraid to get outside help if you need it.
Moreover, allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship, if necessary. Grief is a natural reaction to loss and separation involves losses such as:
- Loss of companionship and shared experiences (which may or may not have been consistently pleasurable)
- Loss of support, be it financial, intellectual, social, or emotional
- Loss of hopes, plans, and dreams (can be even more painful than practical losses.
Allowing yourself to grieve may sound scary however, this will help in the long run. Grieving helps you to let go and is essential for the healing process.
Tips for grieving after separation or divorce:
- Don?t fight your feelings ? It?s normal to have lots of ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. It?s important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the grieving process.
- Talk about how you?re feeling ? Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and will help you heal. Journalling can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings.
- Remember that moving on is the end goal ? Expressing your feelings will liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to over-analyse the situation. Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger, and resentment will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from healing and moving forward.
- Remind yourself that you still have a future ? When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. It?s hard to let these dreams go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.
- Know the difference between a normal reaction to a breakup and depression ? Grief can be paralysing after a breakup, but after a while, the sadness begins to lift. Day by day, and little by little, you start moving on. However, if you don?t feel any forward momentum, you may be suffering from depression.
You can also contemplate on asking others for support. You may feel alone however, talking to family, friends or perhaps our charity may help the situation. It is important that you:
- Spend time with people who support, value, and energise you. As you consider who to reach out to, choose wisely. Surround yourself with people who are positive and who truly listen to you. It?s important that you feel free to be honest about what you?re going through, without worrying about being judged, criticised, or told what to do.
- Get outside help if you need it. If reaching out to others doesn?t come naturally, consider seeing a counsellor or joining a support group. The most important thing is that you have at least one place where you feel comfortable opening up.
- Cultivate new friendships. If you feel like you have lost your social network along with the divorce or breakup, make an effort to meet new people. Join a networking group or special interest club, take a class, get involved in community activities, or volunteer at a school, place of worship, or other community organisation.
Moreover, there are many self-care tips that you can follow such as:
- Make time each day to nurture yourself. Help yourself heal by scheduling daily time for activities you find calming and soothing. Go for a walk in nature, listen to music, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage, read a favourite book, take a yoga class, or savour a warm cup of tea.
- Pay attention to what you need in any given moment and speak up to express your needs. Honour what you believe to be right and best for you even though it may be different from what your ex or others want. Say “no” without guilt or angst as a way of honouring what is right for you.
- Stick to a routine. A divorce or relationship breakup can disrupt almost every area of your life, amplifying feelings of stress, uncertainty, and chaos. Getting back to a regular routine can provide a comforting sense of structure and normalcy.
- Take a time out. Try not to make any major decisions in the first few months after a separation or divorce, like starting a new job or moving to a new city. If you can, wait until you?re feeling less emotional so that you can make better decisions.
- Avoid using alcohol, drugs, or food to cope. When you?re in the middle of a breakup, you may be tempted to do anything to relieve your feelings of pain and loneliness. But using alcohol, drugs, or food as an escape is unhealthy and destructive in the long run. It?s essential to find healthier ways of coping with painful feelings.
- Explore new interests. A divorce or breakup is a beginning as well as an end. Take the opportunity to explore new interests and activities. Pursuing fun, new activities gives you a chance to enjoy life in the here-and-now, rather than dwelling on the past.
In turn, learn from your past and try to turn it into a positive. If you’re healthy and stable during separation, it is more likely the child will be too. KNBP offer support packages for adults and can help you through these tough times. We are always here to help and encourage positive outcomes amongst yourself and your child/children.