Ahh February…..and Valentine's Day. That time of year when couples celebrate their romance. But if you're facing the possibility of going through or have recently finalized a divorce, most likely Valentine's Day is just a painful reminder of what you have lost. You may be grieving the loss of your marriage and the future you thought you had. You may wonder if you will ever find love again. Or you just might want to know, "How will I survive Valentine's Day?"
Take heart. There is healing from divorce to be done, and there is hope for a wonderful future ahead. For now, the most loving thing you can do during this Valentine's season is to focus on the most important relationship there is...the one with yourself.
How? First, make a list of all of the areas of your life. Include categories such as:
Make a pie chart including all of your categories. Make sure to include the categories that may be under-represented right now, but that you know would benefit from more attention. Create one pie chart that reflects the percentage of each area in your life now, and make a second one that reflects how much time you would like each area to have in the future.
Then think of things you can do create more balance in all of the areas ~ and make them non-negotiable. For example, if you are feeling sluggish and you want to increase the amount of time spent on your physical needs, perhaps find a yoga class or put on those running shoes that haven't seen the streets in a while. Carve out specific time on your weekly calendar for these activities.
Or perhaps you've been spending so much time in your parenting role that you've stopped doing anything fun for yourself. Trade babysitting favors with a friend or use the time that your kids are with their other parent to go to dance class, join a soccer league, have dinner with friends, or go to that awesome new movie you've been dying to see.
A second way to nurture your relationship with yourself is to pay attention to your self-talk. That is the running commentary that is going through the back of your mind at all times. I like to think of it as a scrolling marquis in the back of your brain that never shuts off, but we usually don't pay attention to what it says. Stop and read the sign. What is the content? Is there a lot of commentary on your spouse/ex and what he/she did wrong? Is it a lot of fearful thoughts about how the future will turn out? Is it a lot of beating yourself up over things you wish you had done or said in your marriage or during the divorce process? Be intentional and choose to shift your thoughts to things that feel good, thoughts about the life you want to create, and being kind and compassionate to yourself. When you notice what you are saying to yourself, ask yourself: "Would I say those things to my best friend?" If not, change it. You will fare much better when you offer the same compassion and encouragement to yourself that you would give to a loved one.
Another way to nurture the relationship with yourself is to plan a special Valentine's Day date with yourself. Create a ritual to honor how much you have been through. You could make a list of your amazing qualities. If you have forgotten what they are, ask a trusted friend to remind you. Post this list where you can remind yourself on your difficult days. Perhaps write a list of the things you valued and miss most about your marriage as well as the things that you are grateful not to have to deal with any more. Or, write down the lessons you learned from having had your spouse/ex in your life. You can fold it like a boat and set it adrift on a lake or pond, or set it on fire to symbolize releasing it and starting new. Then go do something fun or nurturing...take in a movie, go for a massage or a manicure, have lunch with other single friends, treat yourself to a new outfit or a round of golf, or buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of flowers or a new tool for the garage. Let yourself know how valuable you are and how much you love YOU!
Lastly, remind yourself... This is just another day in another month of another year. It will pass like all the others. And before you know it, you will look up and realize that you made it through this difficult time in your life and that everything is OK.
If you are supporting a friend, client, or loved one dealing with divorce, please feel free to share this information with them.
Sheri Hardin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Decatur, GA. She is the owner of SDH Counseling, LLC, which provides psychotherapy to couples and individuals dealing with a wide range of relationship issues. She specializes in relationships from cradle to grave, including getting relatioships off to a good start, repairing them when they are in trouble, and helping people get through and recover from their divorces when necessary. More information is available at www.sdhcounseling.com. To talk to Sheri or schedule a counseling appointment, call 404-424-8488 today!