When I broke the news that I was getting divorced, I often received the typical response: "Do you have a good lawyer?"
It's a common misconception that all you need is a "good" lawyer to get you through a divorce. I prefer to view divorce as a human process with a legal document attached to it (much like marriage).
Below are some things you’ll need to help you through the personal aspects of this transition into a new chapter.
As the saying goes, "knowledge is power." And the person with the most power over your divorce is you. So, know yourself first. Take the time to observe your feelings and needs. Spend some time writing down your values and determining your goals. Educate yourself about the types of processes available to you, and use all of this information to strategize the most appropriate next steps on your path.
When recruiting members of your support squad (friends, family, and professionals), look for those who will lift you up, not hold you back. Surround yourself with those who will encourage you to move forward in a healthy manner (healthy food, activities, and attitudes), as opposed to rehashing old hurts and hanging on to animosity. Hating isn't healing. It's important to focus on getting better, not bitter.
At some point, you'll need help. Ask for it, and accept it without shame. Ask a parent to watch your child so you can take care of business, or just get some much-needed alone time. Reach out to friends when you need to do some literal heavy lifting. Set up a wish list so those close to you can assist in replenishing your small appliance collection.
Take time to feel good. Invest in some fuzzy slippers, comfortable pajamas and/or silky sheets. Sleep late when you can. Indulge in a massage. Wear comfortable shoes whenever possible.
Laughter really is the best medicine. Catch a stand-up show, see a funny movie, or simply reminisce with old friends. The process will help you release tension and recharge.
It sounds odd, right? But there's a good reason you need sunglasses: there will be days when you want to hide your tears, and there will be other times when "the future's so bright, ya gotta wear shades."
Oh, and about that good lawyer? You might need one of those too. But let your self-knowledge inform you of what "good" means to you and your unique situation. There is a multitude of price points, attitudes, and strategies to choose from. Choose wisely to save money and minimize stress.
Remember, divorce is a human process with a legal document attached to it. Don't neglect your humanity.