Often our clients will tell their divorce attorney that they are just not themselves. Sometimes they find it hard to sleep or perform their duties, and tend to obsess over details regarding their soon to be ex. Other times they speak more rapidly, more aggressively, or just speak a lot more than normal, all of which tends to focus upon their divorce. This is not good for the client nor their friends and family, especially any children involved in the case. These negative behaviors can cause a loss of friends, strain on family life and employment, and financial hardship for the client. It is difficult to live in the “muck” of divorce. This divorce attorney knows all too well through personal experience the stress caused by divorce. I did not admit the problems I was causing myself by not taking care of myself.
It took me much too long to get through the pain of the divorce, but I learned some tricks along the way that helped me pull myself out of the emotional pit that I was in. Based upon my personal experiences, and upon my interactions with clients throughout my career as a divorce attorney, I compiled this list of ways to beat the divorce blues:
1. Read, Read, Read. There are so many books about divorce focusing on different issues such as the roles that parties play in their relationships, child rearing, co-parenting, property division, and so on. There are also many helpful self empowerment and healing books that support emotional recovery from divorce. You may even find that business communication books can help you look at the entire divorce process as a business transaction, and supply you with effective skills that help limit conflict. Here are a couple of books that helped me during my divorce, but I encourage you to go to the bookstore or the library and look for a book that peaks your interest:
a. “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, M.D., (G.P. Putnam & Son’s Publishers, 1998)
b. “The Dance of Anger” by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., (Harper & Row Publishers, 1985)
c. “Forgiveness Therapy” by David W. Schell & R.W. Alley, (One Caring Place, 1993)
d. “Divorce for Parents” by Vicki Lansky, (Book Peddlers, 1996)
e. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey, (Fireside, 1998)
2. Mediation. It is so important to calm yourself while going through divorce. It is equally important to develop a plan to move forward. Clients are typically very distracted with the upheaval of their life and the emotional trauma that comes with it, that they often are unable to make decisions in their case, much less decisions about their future. I found that taking a few minutes to relax, and allow my mind to rest was very helpful. Meditation does not need to be a spiritual thing if you aren’t inclined so. I still use it as a way to settle myself when life is overwhelming. All you need is a semi-quiet spot, and a few moments when you can allow yourself to rest and let go of tension. It might be helpful to download a meditation tape, or relaxing music, but it is not absolutely necessary. You can learn more about meditation through a counselor, books, or even searching the internet.
3. Visualization. As I walked the difficult path of my divorce, I found it nearly impossible to see myself any differently than i was. I could not force myself to develop a plan for my future because I could not see it. I needed inspiration. So a good friend told me to ask myself questions that would put an image into my head, then once I could see it, I could start working toward it. For instance, “what kind of woman you admire?”, “What does she look like?”, “How does she carry herself?”, “What is she wearing?”, and “How does she talk to others?” In answering these questions during meditation, I brought out powerful images that I could seek out in myself for positive change. Again, you can get help with visualization from a counselor, reading, or from the internet. I won’t pretend that what I did was exactly the manner that it is supposed to be used, but it was helpful for me. I encourage you to find what works for you.
4. Fake it til you make it. Once I had an image of my future, I struggled with how to move forward. My wise friend told me to fake it until I make it. I wondered how I was supposed to fake this image of myself in the future without fully believing in myself. Then the images came to me. I would dress the way I wanted to be. I needed to carry myself and present myself the way I wanted to be. I needed to communicate more like the woman I wanted to be, rather than like the sad and angry person that I was. For awhile I thought that I was pretending to be someone else, and it felt unnatural. But then I realized that this person I created in my mind was actually the new improved me, and the more I modeled this behavior, the more natural it became. I used visualization to create opportunities for myself to change. In fact, I ultimately realized that the entire process of divorce is a great opportunity for change. So don’t sit back and expect everyone else to make your life better. Make it happen for yourself. What does the new improved you look like?
5. Look for Signs of Depression. Review National Institute of Mental Health for symptoms of depression. If you recognize the symptoms in yourself, get to a doctor and/or a counselor that can help you manage the symptoms until you get through divorce. In a depressed state, you are going to ride the bench through your divorce and be of no help to your divorce attorney, who desperately needs you to be in top form so that you can assist with your case. This could lower your attorney fees and get you better results. Do not use your attorney as your counselor, nor your friends and family. They are either too costly, or untrained in the struggle of depression, and will not serve you well. Seek professional advice on this issue.