A few friends have recently asked me for advice about getting through the tough few initial weeks of a divorce. My advice to them, based on what I did well during my first few weeks separated from my then-spouse:
- I exercised every single day. This was my obligation to myself because I knew I would have imploded otherwise. I lifted weights/swam/yoga’d/paddled/
- I surrounded myself with a tribe of supporters that I could call or text at any time of day or night. Most of these friends had been through a divorce themselves, so they “got it.”
- I threw myself into meeting new people that had no idea about my divorce. I met them online or in cafes or at the gym or at the Huntington (where I was on fellowship at the time).
- I re-made my home into a place that I loved, room by room excavating every bit of my ex’s junk out if my life. I started with the bedroom–new linens & rearranged the furniture. If something brought bad memories of my marriage, it went into the trash. I only kept the things that I loved and that made me feel good. If there were “important” documents that I couldn’t face in the moment but I also couldn’t throw away, I put them into a box to deal with later (FWIW, I just barely went through that box and I’m glad that I waited a few years so I was clear-headed as I made choices about what to keep).
- But perhaps most importantly, I kept working. I didn’t miss a day of being at my desk and in the off-hours I was pounding away at my dissertation. Despite the turmoil in so many aspects of my life, work was a bedrock-constant dependable thing and that kept me well-centered to face everything else.