Surviving the early days of a separation
At 8 pm on 25 March 2008 I was, I believed, a happily married woman with a loving husband and two small children. By 10 pm, my world as I knew it had come crashing down around me, as my marriage ended very suddenly as the result of one simple sentence. I felt overwhelmed by panic and fear. I had no idea what to do, where to turn.
If, like me, you have been on the receiving end of a sudden ‘out of the blue’ statement that seems to have come from nowhere, it will feel devastating. If, like a friend of mine, you were the person who initiated the split and had to deliver the news, it will still hurt like hell. Either way, this wasn’t what you envisaged on your wedding day. You might want to just crawl into bed and stay there until it’s over. However much I promise you that there will be better, brighter days ahead, it probably doesn’t feel like that right now.
I’d like to share with you five simple techniques you can use to help you to handle the early days of a separation.
Take each day in small chunks - 10 minutes at a time, or an hour at a time. Give yourself a pat on the back every time you survive a chunk of time. You did it. You made it through another part of another day. I still remember the day that I got through the whole morning without crying. It was a real achievement, of which I could feel proud.
Make sure you eat
If, like me you're struggling to eat, eating little and often will help stabilise your blood sugars, and keep your metabolism ticking over without over-working it. Avoid alcohol, junk food, sugar and caffeine, and instead, choose foods that will boost your serotonin levels, like fruit and veg rich in vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Ask yourself, "what would my best friend say to me right now?"
Be your own best friend. Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your feelings and let them flow. Be compassionate and gentle with yourself. This is a time of uncertainty and doubt, and whatever you are feeling, it is normal! It's OK to cry, and it's OK not to cry too. Try keeping a journal - writing down your feelings helps to get them out, and to start moving through them.
Build your support network
Let your close friends know what is happening. Ask for a hug if you need one, and ask for help if you need it. Confiding in good friends can really help you to re-energise and heal. Choose your confidantes wisely, so beware of those friends who just seem to like the drama, or who gossip. Listen to your gut. Be cautious too of the friends who try to tell you what they would do if they were you – they aren’t you, and they aren’t in your shoes.
Limit your social media
Don't torture yourself looking at what your ex is doing on Facebook or Twitter. Take a break from social media. Unfriend, unfollow or block your ex so that you can’t see what they are doing. You might find this hard at first, but you don’t need to know their every move anymore. You could also ask mutual friends not to talk to you about what your ex is doing. Instead, focus on yourself, and looking after you.
I remember how confusing and difficult the first days, weeks and months of my separation were. So I am sending you virtual support and love to you if you're in the midst of this at the moment.
With love, Claire x