Adulting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when painful adult experiences throw you back into an emotional childhood. If your husband leaves you, for example, you may feel the somatic eruption of memories from long ago. Abandonment. Disapproval. Rejection. Being unwanted… and the last to be chosen (if chosen at all).
It’s remarkable, really, how instantly a painful experience can connect the dots separated by a veritable lifetime.
Your psyche, though, never forgets. It stores the most affecting memories in every cell of your body.
Even if your husband leaves you and you have no point of reference for the emotional flood, the abandonment will still be all-consuming.
And with that abandonment and the litany of emotions tied to it comes a wave of destruction to all that is self-defining.
Your self-esteem, your self-worth, your self-confidence, your dreams for the future, your belief that you can survive…even your identity. They all take a beating.
Perhaps the most egregious feeling that comes from abandonment is powerlessness.
With the swipe of one person’s actions, you become helpless to control a huge part of your own life. And you’re left standing alone with that new reality.
Is there anything you can do to re-empower yourself if your husband leaves you?
You know, don’t you, that we are here to restore the inherent yes in your life?
This is the place where others who have already earned their stripes are going to surround you and lift you up with a resounding “Absolutely!”
Here are 9 powerful things you can do now if your husband leaves you and you are feeling powerless:
Be TOO proud to beg.
It doesn’t matter what your husband has done or why he has chosen to leave. In the movie Where the Heart Is, Ashley Judd’s character says to a young mom-to-be (Natalie Portman), “I know [he] left you. But that’s what makes him trash, not you.”
If your husband leaves you, he does so with forethought and planning. And trust us, you are above begging for that kind of base energy to come back into your life.
Do. Not. Beg.
Document, document, document.
This isn’t about revenge – although success and happiness earned through integrity make for the suh-weetest revenge!
This is about being smart and protecting yourself and your children.
If you’re going to have to look out for yourself going forward, the time to rehearse is now.
Save everything. Documents, emails, texts, voice messages (let your voicemail pick up instead of answering your phone), pictures, everything.
Keep a dedicated journal for documenting dates, times, communication, and financial actions.
Basically, be a grown-up Girl Scout: Be prepared. You’ll reap the merit badge in the battle to come. Read our “If You are Thinking About Divorce: Important Steps to be Prepared.”
Think like a lawyer, but hire a really good one.
This isn’t the time to DIY your future. There is too much at stake if your husband leaves you.
Chances are he has been preparing for a while, and that means you have catching up to do.
For both healthy and smart things to do if you are thinking about divorce, or not wanting to be taken advantage of, read our “36 Things to Do If You are Thinking About Divorce.”
It’s important that you learn to separate your emotions from the pragmatics of this severance.
By researching how to find a divorce attorney and in particular the right one for you, you will learn how to prepare for the most advantageous outcome.
Join a support group, or two… or three.
This is a time when you need support.You need the professional support of legal and financial experts. And you also need the emotional support of others who have been where you are.
Be prudent about where and with whom you share this journey.
Consider hiring a female divorce coach to keep you on-track through this painful and confusing journey.
And join a group or two (one online and one in person, perhaps) to give you a sense of empathetic community.
Annie’s Group, for example, is an online divorce support group and program for women who are thinking about or just beginning divorce. What a godsend opportunity to surround yourself with assurance, compassion, and guidance in a confidential place.
Keep the details off social media.
As I mentioned above, prudence is key at this time. You want support. You need support.
And you also probably want to drag your husband through burning coals, literally and figuratively.
But let’s review the previous two points: Think like a lawyer…and seek support in the right places.
It’s all part of the next point…
Take the high road.
Remember Michelle Obama’s famous tagline? When they go low, we go high.
Politics and political preference don’t even matter. It’s an awesome mantra to live by, no matter what the circumstances are.
Taking the high road has nothing to do with acquiescence or playing weak.
It has everything to do with staying out of the muddy trenches and connecting your energy only to people and choices of integrity.
Never, ever, ever doubt that staying on high ground will deliver the best results.
You may feel the temporary agony of delayed gratification, but stay true to what is right and good.
Protect your kids and prepare for their future.
If you have difficulty standing up for yourself or fighting for what you deserve, think about your kids (if you have them).How you navigate the aftermath if your husband leaves you is about more than just getting through the divorce process. You need to look far down the road while also checking your rear-view mirror.
Children are expensive. They need health insurance, food, clothes, tuition, activity fees, college funds, and on and on.
This is one of the most important reasons to build the strongest professional team you can afford.
Find a new place to live.
No matter how much you love your home, clinging to it will only keep you attached to someone who has abandoned you.This is the time to recreate yourself and your life.
Give yourself permission to enjoy the creative process of choosing and nesting in a new place that belongs only to you (and your kids).
Sure, you may have to downsize for the time being. But that just means less “stuff” to take care of while you do the following…
Take really good care of you.
If your husband leaves you, he may or may not ever look back.
While it’s natural to want him to miss you and regret his actions, you are now in the process of clearing out his negative energy.
Practicing self care is no longer about making his head turn in desire or regret.
It’s about stepping out of rejection and abandonment with limitless energy, health, and self-confidence.
Your kids need you, your friends need you, you need you.
So, whatever that self-care looks like—exercise, good food, sound sleep, continuing education, spirituality/religion, hobbies, social gatherings—do it.
Abandonment is a vile, passive-aggressive form of rejection. It hurts… deeply. And the wound doesn’t simply “heal” with time.
While there is no panacea for that kind of betrayal, one truth will ground you so you can step forward into healing:
The only abandonment with the power to destroy you is the abandonment of yourself.
And the only vow that must unequivocally last a lifetime is the “I do” you say to you.
Whether you are thinking about divorce, dealing with it, or recreating the life you deserve, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do it alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oftentimes complicated experience of breaking up and reinventing.
SAS offers all women six free months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you—and your precious future. Join our tribe and stay connected.