Martha Bodyfelt is the founder of Surviving Your Split. She is a divorce coach who offers words of wisdom to get you through this trying time with less stress, struggle and frustration.
At some point during the divorce and separation process, I remember feeling like I had done everything I was supposed to: found a decent lawyer, was working with a good support system, my finances were under control, and I was no longer crying myself to sleep every night. Or in the office bathroom. Or while waiting for the light to change while stuck in traffic. It had taken months secure those victories and check off those boxes.
So, why was I still feeling awful?
Most people going through divorce know of that awful drama chaotic feeling I’m talking about. I thought everything was under control, but before I knew it, the ex-to-be would a text saying they’re going to be two hours late picking up the kids. Or when I would rush to the attorney appointment, only to wait for an hour.
Silliness like that builds up. Day after day, week after week, month after month. During that time, we’re trying to stay strong, saying “I’m fine” through clenched teeth to anyone who asks, when the truth of the matter is we just want to scream.
Why can’t we get a break, for just one day during this divorce?!?!
Here’s the bad news I learned: I couldn’t get out of the daily mess if I kept doing the same things over and over again.
That doesn’t mean I could fire my attorney, flip my boss off, and run away to Tahiti. The only way I was going to escape the daily insanity is if I changed how I reacted to it.
Think of the daily toils of divorce as the 5-foot view. During divorce, we usually only take action when something is right in front of our face, meaning that we usually react to it emotionally, and usually not in the way that best suits us and our moving on without being stressed and bitter.
The only way to get out of the rat race is to think bigger, think better, think ahead, reminding myself I was better than the BS around me. And the only way to rise above it is to think bigger. The Big Picture. Sure, I was stuck in this divorce process where day in and day out it’s never-ending to-do lists and too much advice. But that didn’t mean I had to to continue letting it bring me down.
It’s not as hard as it sounds. Take a look at the following two-part exercise I used to get my life back.
First, I had to ask myself following questions.
- What do I want…really want for myself in the next week?
- What about the next month?
- How about in three months? What do I want accomplished?
- In the next six months?
- The next year?
- Where do I want to be three years from now? If I could be anywhere, doing anything I wanted, what would that look like for me?
Hopes and dreams rock, but I wasn’t done there. It was time for the putting it together.
I listed at least three steps for each of my goals.
My Action Plan:
- In the next week, what three steps will I take to change how I’m currently handling the craziness?
- In the next month, what three steps will change how I feel right now? What will I do to make that change?
- Three months from today, what three steps will I do to feel more secure?
- Six months from now, what changes will I have made to erase the toxicity that I am experiencing today?
- 365 days into the future, what systems will I have put into place that made me stronger, more confident, and a more mindful person?
- Fast-forward three years. What changes have I made that have resulted in my ability to move on and not only survived, but thrived since my divorce?
The Game Plan to Break Free
It feels good, doesn’t it? Being able to imagine the endless possibilities that await all of us.
But remember—we don’t have to wait for them.
By identifying where I wanted to be at the end of the day, by tomorrow, by the end of the week, in a month, etc. I subconsciously told myself that I was better than falling in the vicious cycle and reaction and drama that the daily drudgery of divorce. However, although keeping my eyes on the prize and looking at the Big Picture helped me rise above the day-to-day struggles, the other half of the equation is was writing down and planning how to get there. And by doing these action, I was able to escape the divorce insanity and meltdown.
So, for those experiencing the same, remember to think boldly. See the forest and don’t just get stuck in all the trees. We must remember that what’s waiting for us on the other side is that matters and that’s where our energy needs to go.
We must think about where we want to be, what we want to do, and what we are going to do to create that future for yourself—that second chance that we weren’t expecting.