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'To my friend on the day after your divorce: This is what I want you to know.'

To my friend,

I have been exactly where you are, and I survived this first day.

This day when you wake up legally... alone, when you open your eyes, in a bed that you once shared with your spouse or one you never have, and you start shaking because as you blink up at the ceiling and realise what day it is, it dawns on you that life as you knew it is over.

You may not want to get up because you don’t know how.

How are you going to face your friends? Your children? Your boss? How are you going to navigate life as now a single person when you have been an attached one for however long? What actually will your hands do when they aren’t holding your spouse’s?!?

Maybe it was your choice to end the marriage. Maybe it wasn’t.

It doesn’t matter because this day begins your new life. Either you knew this day was coming because of so many painful moments, or maybe you were so blindsided that your neck should goddamn hurt because it was like a car smashing into your life.

But, sweets, you have been given freedom.

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I know that may sound ridiculous, but please listen.

I know you want to do some things that maybe aren’t in your best interest.

Maybe you want to stay in your bed sobbing all day, or maybe it’s been tooooo long since someone had their fingers on you, so you want to go out and get you some.

Maybe you want to set some things on fire or get f**ked up, or pretend like nothing is going on at all, so you’re just going to dress for work and put your game face on and tackle what you need to because you got no time for this feelings bullshit.

But, listen to me, really.

Please take a moment. Just one. It doesn’t even have to be long, but consider that this is the first day of the rest of your life, and you've been offered the gift of a crisis:

Glennon Doyle Melton writes it best:

“…the Greek root of the word crisis is ‘to sift,’ as in to shake out the excesses and leave only what’s important. That’s what crises do. They shake things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most. The rest falls away.”

That’s right. Here you are. Right in the muddle.

Your life as a divorcee has begun.

You get to decide, here and from now on, what needs to fall away and what you need to hold onto dearly.

Listen to Mamamia's award-winning podcast on surviving separation, The Split. In this episode, Mandy Nolan shares her story and talks to women about how they started their new life post-divorce. 


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Whether you’re getting drunk or lining up dates or sobbing while you fold the laundry or trying to pretend everything is all right while you drive your kids to school, know that yes, you’re in the middle of the storm, and it’s a storm that will tear everything to pieces, but you’ll get to ravel whatever pieces you want back together.

You will get to weave the life of your goddamn dreams out of those pieces.

I know it because I did it. I too felt the sadness and the loss and the grief and the fear and the anger and the anxiety. And I survived because feelings can’t kill you.

Here are the simple steps you should take.

1. Get out of bed.

Put your feet on the floor.

2. Take a shower.

Or at least wash your face.

3. Move.

If you don’t, it’ll feel like the grief will take you under like 1980s quicksand.

4. Pick one thing — just one — that you can do that is kind and loving for yourself.

Eat strawberries out of the carton. Drink cool water. Watch a funny movie. Go to a bookstore. Go for a run. Read your child a story. Put your bare feet on the earth. Sit in the sun.

5. Pray.

If you don’t like that word, pick another name for it.

Prayer can look like a lot of different things: calling a friend, journalling, talking to yourself, singing in the shower, breathing in and out, in and out.

6. Focus on the things that are concrete.

Don’t spend your day worrying about how you’ll afford a new place or when you should tell your parents or your kids or your boss.

Instead focus on the next right thing. It might be contacting a friend who’s been through this before. Calling your or a divorce attorney. Packing or unpacking a suitcase.

Focus on the small picture for now. The big picture will come into focus later.

Or, if you’re so used to doing, give yourself a break. Today can be just the day where you sink into the knowledge that your new life has begun, and whatever that life it will be, you will get to choose it.

While all of this will suck, misery is optional.

You don’t have to suffer just because it’s painful. You can find those pockets of joy and peace and collect them in the little altar you make right in your heart to show yourself that you will be okay someday.

When absolutely everything fell away — my marriage, friendships, other relationships — I was left with just me and my children.

I picked up writing and reading after too long of a hiatus. I wrote an entire book. I dedicated time to improving myself. I put good food in my body. I started running.

I re-directed all of the energy I had spent in resuscitating a dying marriage into resuscitating myself because that marriage had been killing me and now I wanted to live — wholly, fully, joyfully.

It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually, I stopped surviving and started thriving, and today I am thriving.

You will too. I promise.

This post first appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission. 

Tara Blair Ball is a Relationship Coach and Writer. Check out her other work at tarablairball.com, and sign up to get her FREE "Be a Match for Your Dream Relationship" worksheet here. 

Feature Image: Getty

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