The first few minutes, hours, and days will envelop you like a fog, whether you’re the leaver or the left. Trust me. I stood there before the bench and heard the judge ask my spouse, “Is your marriage over?” and I heard this response: “Yes.” And in my head (after eighteen hard years of marriage and prayers for both healing and release and fifteen months of reconciliation attempts and a legal separation filing on my part), and I inwardly and silently screamed, “It is?!? Since when?!?” This is called shock. And it’s completely normal.
So here are a few things I would suggest you do during your first year of being divorced.
For the day of:
Make a plan. Will you go to the courthouse alone or do you want a friend there for support? Will you go straight home and into bed? Or will you go shopping? Or get a massage? Or meet a friend or two for tea or prayer? Do not just go get divorced. You will walk out of that courtroom having no earthly idea what to do with yourself if you don’t have a plan for your day.
Within the first couple weeks:
Don’t do anything drastic. Don’t cut all your hair off. Don’t get a tattoo of something big and scary and I-am-woman-hear-me-roar on your neck. Don’t buy a sports car. And don’t marry that guy you’ve been inappropriately texting throughout your separation. You’re a mess right now, even though you don’t think you are…big decisions can and should wait.
Within the first six months:
Read my book. But that’s kinda a given.
Get some coaching. And don’t wrap up until you’ve figured out the answers to at least these three questions: why did I marry him?, why did my marriage fail?, and what was my part in the demise of my marriage? Seriously. Keep digging until you know.
Community. If you’re not attending a Bible-believing church, this is the time to find one that’s all your own. And if you’re attending a church but not yet in a small group, get in one. Divorce can be isolating. We must make sure we’re leaving the house and talking to other humans. Oh, but don’t serve just yet. Just soak in.
Go through Heartbreak to Hope. This is my three-month comprehensive guide to ALL THINGS DIVORCE HEALING. You WILL feel better, stronger, softer and steadier as you move through each lesson, I promise. (A new session is starting super soon!)
Within the first year:
Do not date. For the love. I will come to your house and ring your neck if you do. You will think you are ready. You will not be. Listen, I’m not trying to be all bossy. Okay, yes I am. But it’s because I’m trying to save you from making super poor decisions too soon.
Rest. Give yourself a lot of opportunities to soak in moments of rest, whatever that looks like for you: a walk along a quiet path, reading a book in a coffee shop, lying on the couch watching a favorite movie, just sitting outside with a cup of tea watching the sunset. You have been through hell. Your body, mind and spirit need to recuperate. Allow this for yourself.
Grace. Show yourself tons and tons of grace. Grieving a marriage and healing from a divorce takes loads of time, more than you think it will. You will be driving down the road and see a car that looks like your ex’s and be hit with flashbacks. Or you’ll be in Target and “your song” comes on the overhead speaker and you’re toast, crying like a baby in the vitamin aisle (hypothetically…whatever).
I’m not going to lie: this will be a painful year. And it will be a weird year. You will feel about a million things, all sometimes on the same day. It’s all normal. And I promise you…I seriously promise you…you are going to be okay. Just hang on.
If you missed my free live webcast debunking three top myths of being an ex-wife, you can still catch it here.