After my divorce, I needed advice, strategies, and moral support to get through the relationship mess that I was living in. I needed to move on, but was wanting divorce support for me — “someone not young, but not quite old” from someone like me — a woman of a certain age.
I began the search by looking for a self-help book that would offer me relief. Visiting more than one bookstore, searching on-line, and checking out the ever-present Saturday morning yard sale for discarded but useful books (I don’t know why I like that genre), I was astounded to find nothing that offered help for the middle-aged woman.
Why is it that no books existed for the middle-aged woman experiencing un-engagement, separation, or divorce? Do writers think that women like us will just muddle though it and move on without any support?
True, middle-aged women are strong, resilient, and feisty but, as in many other areas of our personal and professional lives, we are often ignored. I had enough. So I decided to write my own story, full of tips, strategies, success stories, and divorce advice from middle-aged women who have lived through their own relationship trials and who have come through the experience with their sense of joy and self. These women have survived and are now in a better state than they ever imagined they could be.
How did they do it? Here are a few teasers from my book, The Feisty Woman’s Guide to Surviving Mr. Wonderful: Moving on with Humor, Laughter, and Chutzpah!
Find Different Outlets for Support and Relief:
Since you seem to ache and feel awful from head to toe, seek out as much help and as many, varied (no matter how weird that they may sound) types of help that you can stand. You will know when enough is enough.
One woman sought out a life coach to guide her through this process. Be sure that your coach suits your personality and style. Check out their training and certification. Her coach actually, first recommended a 60’s “cure” for dealing with the stress of the situation. This unusual strategy involved a field trip to Colorado, but the lady in question declined that one. Instead, she chose something more traditional to get herself focused and to calm her nerves. A therapist. Consider the right professionals who abound these days. Women no longer have to do this reinvention stuff in the dark. You might consider a divorce coach or therapist who specializes in divorce or life changes. Find someone who knows the terrain you are going through. Having their feedback and perspective will advance your recovery time.
Many women prefer to “write” it out of their systems. Keeping a diary, just like we all kept as teens, really helped another friend. She wrote whenever anger welled up in her. She wrote and wrote to keep herself from doing harm to her ex and the new chick in his life. She filled many books (who wouldn’t?). When it was time to move on, about a year or so later, she contacted a Native American healer friend to assist her in the journal burning. They both knew that if these journals were ever read by anyone else that it would be bad news, so they set up a time and place for the “burning of the journals”. She invited a few friends who invited a few friends and her bonfire, with special added herbs, freed my friend from her Mr. Wonderful and his bad karma. The bonfire has become a yearly ritual with just the bonfire and lots of wine.
The Right Friends
I was talking at 9 months of age, so this strategy would have worked for me. Talk things out as long as your friends can stand it. But make sure they are the right friends. You can trust them. They will keep your confidence. They know that you are hurting and want to help you in whatever way they can. Set up “talk times” so that your words will not interfere with their lives. Do not call after 11 PM or you both will be sleep deprived on top of everything else that you are feeling. You don’t want to lose friends since losing your spouse is about all that you can handle at this point.
You can also talk to yourself but if you start having a “conversation” with yourself, stop immediately. One friend talked to herself at home but made the mistake of starting a conversation with “herself” in the grocery store. Boy, did she ever clear the produce section. She stopped shopping at that store and never ever went back again.
Your immediate neighborhood has some great people who you may have had limited contact with previously. Be careful what you do tell them if you are still navigating your divorce. You don’t want the info coming back to haunt you. On the other hand, after her divorce, one friend found out just how rude her ex was to a neighbor when she started up a conversation one Sunday afternoon. This gal immediately made a new friend and these two women remain close today. Chances are that if he treated you like crap that he treated others the same way. And women never forget an encounter with an obnoxious, pompous male. A new close friend could be but a few doors away. You never know.
The Unexpected Friend
If you are a hater of children, get over it and make friends with the kids in your neighborhood or building. All kids “sense” when someone is hurting and you need all of the support that you can get right now. They may help you with your groceries, mow your lawn (for a price — lower if you are nice to them), or even just wave at you as you enter your driveway, or walk down your apartment hall. One friend met her new beau through a neighborhood child. Even if you are not ready for this new man, stranger introductions and lifetime memories with a great guy could be waiting for you.
Volunteer. Yes, You.
Since you now have some free time on your hands, try volunteering. Someone in need may need your more than your ex ever did. One friend volunteered at the animal shelter. Animals and kids seem to offer the best un-solicited affection of anyone that I know. Dogs are a great judge of character and can make you feel special and loved at the un-special and unloved time of your life. Another friend volunteered at the senior center in her town. She learned new dance steps, new ways to cheat at cards, and has developed a real knack for chess. Still another acquaintance took a jaunt overseas to volunteer in an orphanage. The plight of those children made her look at her divorce in a new light. All of the women mentioned felt that they became better people because of their volunteering experiences and who would not want that in their life?
Guest post by Elizabeth Allen, author of The Feisty Woman’s Guide to Surviving Mr. Wonderful: Moving on with Humor, Laughter, and Chutzpah! a collection of break up stories, including her own. Available on Kindle or paperback through Amazon, Allen’s book is a humorous guide to helping you move through the divorce fiasco so you come out a stronger, more vibrant, confident, powerful, and totally evolved woman.