The depressing reality is this: the odds of your marriage ending in divorce in the United States are comparable to the flip of a coin (give or take depending upon exact locale).
Add the loss of a baby or child, a pervasive illness or any other major life-changing factors and the odds are cruelly against your marriage’s favor.
Wow, maybe I should call myself the “Gloomy Yogini”.
Apologies for the downer, but if you are reading this article, maybe you will find comfort in the fact that you are not alone—that there are others feeling scared, lonely and isolated in a world of Happily Ever Afters (those other married couples who somehow manage to make marriage seem too simple).
We like to believe that our marriage will be one of the lucky ones—the Happily Ever Afters.
This hope can cast a shielding shadow upon a failing marriage and just as one individual adjusts to an unhappy or loveless marriage with the magical tincture of denial—bam, someone in the marriage holds an excruciatingly glaring lantern against the other’s unresolved issues and suddenly a world that was functionally dysfunctional comes to a soul-rattling halt.
If you find yourself in a sinking ship with your spouse and one (or both) of you has already gone overboard, if your marriage is beyond the point of saving after numerous sessions of couples’ therapy and you find yourself stranded in a sea of uncertainty or lying in bed with a narcissistic toad rather than a prince, then here are seven divorce survival tips from one divorcee yogi to another:
1. Stay hydrated.
This no-brainer tip is a critical one.
You are enduring one of life’s top stressors. Stress increases your heart rate and can labor your breathing. Both of these physiological tasks require your body to use more water than normal.
Dehydration increases the stress hormone cortisol, so drink up and re-hydrate because I guarantee your cortisol levels are firing in high gear. Add the busy-ness (paperwork, financial work, legal work) to the tragic loss of your family unit and the simple task of drinking water becomes a major chore.
Drink plenty of water, warrior. You need your strength and your H2O.
Eat anything (within reason of course) that appeals to your non-existent appetite.
While your friends might compliment your instantaneous weight loss, the divorce diet is not a healthy one, friend. Please do not starve yourself.
If all you can manage to eat is a box of Mac n’ Cheese, then eat up. You can get back on track and on your raw vegan diet when your appetite returns.
3. Round up your support system.
Surround yourself with your loved ones who will sit silently with you while you cry or who will listen to you with a loving ear.
Ask those you trust to take the kids to the park for an hour so that you can sob in private. Let your friends and family know that you need them and how they can help.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. You will be surprised how many people find comfort in knowing how they can help. People do not enjoy feeling helpless. Asking for and receiving support is an act of maitre (Buddhist practice of loving kindness).
4. Focus on yourself and your children (if you have children).
If you over-focus on your spouse and watch his or her every move, you are bound to react in a destructive manner. Now is the time to nurture yourself and to focus on your needs and the needs of your children.
Surrender control over your ex. Save your energy. Focus on you.
For the love of the Divine, scream.
Find a private location (your car and an empty parking lot are great scream spots) and scream from the depths of your core. Screaming is a great stress-reducer and a magnificent way to release your emotions.
Your body and mind will thank you. I promise.
6. Take yourself on dates.
You get to do whatever you want. Enjoy it. Take yourself to the movies. Buy yourself flowers. Court yourself for once. Become your own knight in shining armor.
7 .In moments of desperation, pause.
Be still. Breathe. Do not act from a place of fear or desperation. Be patient and then act if you still feel the need, but from a place of clarity.
People do crazy things on impulse during divorce. Hold off on getting your breasts done or that hot guy that you can’t get off your mind. If you cannot be patient, then find yourself a healthy distraction.
I promise, the urgency that you feel will slowly dissipate. It is only natural to want to escape your current life situation.
Pretend like you are taking a yoga class and notice that natural urge to want to escape a challenging pose—the urge to move forward and out of the present moment.
What does your instructor tell you? If you have a wise teacher, she will tell you this: “Allow yourself to be in the pose. Hold the pose. Breathe into the pose. Notice and observe your body and mind. Play with your edge. Then just as you become okay with that uncomfortable asana (pose), it’s time to move into a different one.
Take it moment by moment and don’t forget to breathe.
Incorporating these seven survival tips will help keep you sane and healthy while facing divorce.
You will not always be in survival mode.
Thich Nhat Hanh says this: “No mud, no lotus.” These muddy situations create opportunities for major soul growth.
You, my muddy buddy, are growing a beautiful lotus and one day, if you let this challenge become your practice, you will thrive, not just survive.
Rachel Gray, M.A. is a yoga teacher and a writer. She is dedicated to writing the ugly truth in hopes of helping others through challenging times. You can find her at www.theprojectlotus.com.
Editor: Jamie Morgan
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