By Kaelanne Jordan
Separation and divorce can bring an “emotional roller coaster” of vast emotions—frustration, powerlessness, anger, denial, confusion, depression, loss of general interest and even a loss of faith.
And questions like ‘What will life be like now without my partner?’ ‘Will I find someone else?’ ‘Will I end up alone?’ can seem very “frightening” according to mental health clinician with the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) Crystal Johnson.
Losing a relationship is also a very “painful experience” as you’re not just losing a partner and their company, but other things: social networks, financial losses, and most importantly loss of dreams—the idea of who you were with this person and the picture you had about your future together.
However, eventually with time, these reactions and emotions will “lessen” Johnson said during a ‘Topic Thursdays’ session yesterday (August 22) hosted by the AFLC on Facebook.
She shares some opportunities “to learn and grow” in the midst of separation and divorce and how to begin “sowing some seeds” of growth and even reinventing yourself at this time.
- Establish some boundaries with your partner. Limit some time and energy spent with your partner. Johnson observes some cases where your partner may want to remain friends but this can be difficult and not as realistic and healthy especially during the early stages of separation and divorce.
- Give yourself a break. Give yourself some permission to feel and function at a less optimal time during this period. “Find ways to get yourself back in a gear” and time to heal, regroup and re-energise.
- Don’t go through this alone. Share feelings; don’t be afraid to talk to friends, family and support groups. Also don’t be afraid to seek counselling, as outside neutral perspectives may help.
- Find time for self-care. Johnson maintains to take care of yourself emotionally and physically by exercising and eating properly. She warns to not make any major life changing decisions at this time and avoid using alcohol, drugs or unhealthy substances to cope.
- Avoid the power struggle with your spouse. Johnson stressed the importance of having “calm” and healthy conversations at all times.
- Start exploring some of your interests. Are there activities that you once enjoyed or always wanted to do? Use time to volunteer and make new friends.
- Start thinking positively. While this may seem difficult, Johnson asserts that you either look at the glass half empty or half full. “But you should look at the glass half full,” she said. Think positively that something good will come out of this situation.
- Don’t lose faith. God has a plan for you even in the midst of heartache. He will bring you out of the storm.
Tips for talking to children about separation and divorce:
- Reassure and listen to your child/ren. Ensure they understand that the separation is not their fault. Be concerned and compassionate.
- Maintain stability and routine as best you can. Ensure discipline and effective parenting remain the same in both households.
- Do not involve your child/ren in the conflict. Johnson warns that parents ought to never use children as spies, messengers or make them take sides. Rather, encourage age appropriate discussions.