Imagine a huge knotted ball of yarn in front of you. Imagine you're trying to untangle each knot. Have you ever done that? Untangled a gold chain? A knot in your hair? Your shoelace? Your ball of yarn?
Can you recall the feeling of frustration and annoyance, as every time you thought you had the knot free and clear, you really didn't? Can you remember the patience and persistence it took to get that knot free?
That, my friends, is divorce. Untangling your life from another's. Learning to build another life as you pick away at "knots"—often frustrated, but always, always requiring persistence.
With that said, there will be things you may have to do during and after the divorce process that will feel frustrating and require you to be persistent and patient. Despite those feelings of discomfort and aggravation, please don't be ashamed to do these things in order to cope with both the divorce itself and crafting a life for you once the divorce is done.
Get Financial Help
You may not have financial stability during this process. You may feel desperate at times and wonder, "Which bill should I pay, and which should I risk letting go?" Here are things you should do—and don't feel ashamed:
- Apply for food stamps and assistance if you need to.
- Ask your credit card companies to allow you to temporarily stop payments if you are behind.
- Reference hardship programs when calling all creditors.
- Apply for affordable or low-income housing if you qualify.
- If behind on utilities, apply for energy assistance.
- Ask for help from friends and family.
Divorce can be devastating financially, and typically more so for women and children of divorce. Please, reach out and don't be ashamed. It may be the difference between eating and not eating; and if you think it can't happen to you, think again.
Reconnect Broken Family Relationships or Friendships
You may have lost some good or not-so-good relationships with people due to the nature of your marriage or your life. If there are old "good relationships" you would like to rekindle with family or friends, don't be ashamed to approach them now that your life is down and out. This is the time in which, perhaps, the most understanding and repair can happen. You may need these people. This is especially true if you were in a bad or toxic relationship and are now free and wanting to reconnect with people who couldn't stand to watch you get hurt.
Go to Therapy or Support Groups
Is the divorce hard on you? Are you struggling with addiction or mental health issues? Were your issues a reason for the divorce? The marriage is done or on its way out. Now is not the time to be prideful. Seek help to heal so you can move on as a better and stronger "you." We all have times in which we struggle with demons. Some demons may be larger or more destructive than others, but we all can become better versions of ourselves each day. Don't be prideful!
Reach Out for a Job
Were you a stay-at-home mother? Are you a man whose career has plateaued and now you're looking for a bigger salary or a better job for a newly single dad lifestyle? Whatever the case is, a divorce can impact your working status. This is the time to ask everyone—every connection, work and otherwise—for insight on how to get a job or change careers. Take personality inventories. Reach out to old colleagues. Have your resume assessed or built from the ground up. Join LinkedIn. Join community and industry social media groups.
Speak Out If Your Kids Need It
If your children are struggling, now is not the time to be quiet. Talk to their teachers and coaches. Reach out to community programs. Don't be shy. Divorce is hard for us all, but especially children who have no control over their fates. Be the mouthpiece they need.
The lesson in all of this is that it takes time to unknot the tangle. Divorce requires you to be patient, persistent and hopeful—and most of all, to be an advocate for yourself. No one else will fight for you and your happiness.