They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, you guessed it: exactly the same applies when it comes to surviving a separation or divorce.
As early as possible, you need to begin assembling an A-list support team (let’s call them your entourage) to help you break-down, break-through and then move on from your breakup! Now, if you’re already well on the way to legal separation or divorce but still feel isolated or alone – this blog’s for you too!
What you need is a group of people who will act like a nice, cushy layer of bubble wrap – supporting you, guiding you and protecting you (and your children if you have them) from the pain and challenges surrounding separation or divorce.
Finding the right mix of people takes time and can be trial and error. Some might be on your team for a little while; others are in for the long haul. This is absolutely normal – so don’t take it personally if a few people drop out of the picture.
So, who’s in your entourage?
There are those you need to help manage your emotions:
- You need people who’ve been through loss and healed
- You need a sympathetic shoulder to cry on
- You need a professional that can listen and give you exercises to actively move you through your emotions
- You need people to soothe your soul and help you heal
Then there’s the crew you need for the practical stuff:
- Professionals who can guide you through the process – legally and financially
- Someone who isn’t emotionally attached to the situation
- Someone to straighten you out when you’re throwing a pity party
Some of us are blessed with a ready-made network of amazing extended families and incredible friends. Others may have some key people, but not all the bases covered. Whatever the case, believe me when I say you need to extend your network and start building your support team – because you can’t walk this journey alone.
Here are 10 tips to help you assemble your entourage
- Carefully choose one or more of the following: a friend, relative, church leader, social worker, counsellor or professional that you can speak to on a regular basis for the purpose of downloading your emotions and heartache. Tell your story. Actively work through your emotions. Be open to personal growth and look inward at YOU during this process too. Don’t bottle things up and brew.
- NOTE: be careful of people who thrive on drama, invite you to talk more than you want to or encourage you to embellish on reality. These people are not helpful and can set your healing process back a long way.
Legal & Financial:
- Consider your options for legal representation.There are tips on how to do this in my e-book, 5 Separation and Divorce Hacks.
- Reconnect with your accountant (or find a new one if there is a conflict of interest with your ex).
- Find a financial mentor or advisor if you need support crunching the numbers or covering bills.
- Make contact with a government support officer to discuss options and payments for single parents, children’s benefits or hardship.
- Appoint a lawyer in the case a business is jointly-owned, or perhaps to get advice on protecting IP if you’ve discussed a new business venture or idea with your ex prior to separation.
- Make an appointment with a counsellor, social worker, psychologist etc (government support agencies often have a list of professionals you can meet with free of charge). In some countries, doctors prescribe what they call Mental Health Plans to subsidize payment of private Mental Health professionals. Ask your doctor if this type of plan exists in your State.
- Interested to learn a few key strategies that will help you to free yourself from feeling stuck and hurt as a result of separation or divorce? Join our FREE masterclass and you’ll be able to start out on the right foot. Details below.
- If domestic abuse is present, it’s vital you have a police representative or domestic abuse officer on your case and continually updated. You should also have professional counselling support and get familiar with alternate accommodation facilities should you require them.
- NOTE: domestic abuse covers more than just physical abuse. Conditions of domestic abuse include: physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or psychological abuse (including in person, on the phone, or via email or SMS), neglect, financial abuse (including withholding funds), stalking, harm to an animal or property, restricting your spiritual or cultural participation, or exposing children to the effects of these behaviours. Always seek support or advice from authorities if you have concerns.
- If no one within your family or friends springs to mind, search further afield for someone who may be sympathetic to your situation but emotionally unattached. The idea: they mentor you on being able to approach the legalities of your separation or divorce just like it’s a business transaction. They help you remove the emotion from the facts and figures of the legal process, and save you valuable time and tons of money. It’s always good to bounce ideas off someone (other than your legal representative) regarding the merits and cost of battling contentious issues – both for and against you.
- Connect with someone who has been through a loss and healed. They can inspire you to see the light at the end of the tunnel and believe in love and happiness again.
- If you are in any way religious, or even if you’re not, think about becoming more connected with a place of worship. This can be invaluable in helping you through the dark days and difficult decisions.
- If it interests you, meeting with a spiritual reader or psychic may offer some comfort or hope at this difficult time of your life. It did for me!
- Seek professional support for your children. Student counsellors at your child’s school may be able to offer support for free or point you in the right direction.
Health & Well-Being:
- Contact a friend, neighbour, yoga studio or personal trainer to lock in some regular exercise times. Not only does exercise offer so many benefits for your body and mind, but also, you are likely to meet new friends along the way. It releases endorphins and helps promote a feeling of well-being you will most likely be struggling with.
- Speak to a nutritionist or doctor about the most beneficial food & beverage choices – there’s a ton of science and research to support the fact that whole foods and healthy eating can dramatically affect our mood.
- Write a list of people including your go-to hairdresser, skin and beauty salon, nail parlour, massage therapist, kinesiologist etc. People who can help you with self care and add a little more sparkle when you’re feeling down.
- Choose a few books or authors who can deepen your understanding about relationships, breakups and healing, and everything in between. Check out Breakup Emergency by Eris Huemer, or Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser, or Life Code by Dr Phil. There are plenty more uplifting books listed in our Book Club.
- Bookmark pod casts, TED talks and YouTube videos that inspire through others’ acts of kindness, triumphs over adversity and words of wisdom. This uplifting Youtube video features a disabled, female, muslim, comedian discussing how she overcame her challenges in life. OK, it’s totally unrelated to the subject of breakups but gives you perspective; it shows you how humour helps in difficult situations; it shows you that times can be tough but you CAN make it through – move forwards with strength, a positive attitude and determination. Or this Youtube video, for anyone who’s ever loved. Relationships expert Ester Petel examines a completely alternate point of view on infidelity. Opens your mind!
- Join a positive online forum for support (but, of course, exit the group if it’s making you feel more depressed or idle in your journey).
- Throw yourself into learning more about your children and ways you can empower them through your experience. Make them proud of your actions, words and attitude to living your best possible life. Check out The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary, or Helping Your Kids Cope With Divorce The Sandcastles Way by Gary Neuman.
Important to note: be aware that your family and close friends will live this entire separation and divorce alongside you. They love you. Their support will be genuine and unfailing. However, do keep in mind that they have a life to live as well. Attempt, as best you can, to have a laugh with them from time to time and let your positive ‘old-self’ shine through when possible so your situation doesn’t drain them, too.
So that leads me to my last point: make sure there is someone in your entourage who can make you laugh – out loud and A LOT. I know: it’s not easy to see anything funny in your situation at the start, but little by little you’ll find ways to lighten up. Laughter – and a good sense of humour are some of the best forms of medicine you can get on this journey. This is definitely a case of more is more!
I’d love to know your recommendation for books, resources, people, motivational courses, videos or blogs on the subject of relationships, breakups, healing or overcoming adversity. Let me know in the comments below!