I've been thinking about writing a post like this here lately, because of things going on in my friend's lives and because of comments I get on the blog from women who have just found themselves in my situation of going through a divorce. Here are some of my thoughts on how to do Single, and to do it well. (I've added links to the parts of my blog where I was going through these particular phases)
1-there is a period after you breakup with your husband or partner that feels like HELL. You feel like you can't stand to be alone, you feel needy, you feel vulnerable, you question everything, you want to run into the arms of the first person you see, or even the person who hurt you to begin with. It hurts and it hurts BAD. This is a VERY important phase. You MUST go through this. There is no skipping it. If you skip it or hide from it or even worse, go back to your ex during this time, it will come back to haunt you at some point, guaranteed and you'll be back here, only it will be worse. Don't be afraid of the pain. Feel it, get through it. Mourn what you had as if it were a death, let yourself be miserable for awhile. It's the perspective that you will need someday. It won't last forever!
2-Take a vow to not date anyone for a good amount of time. Why not? You have to learn how to not need attention or self esteem from someone else, and to figure out how to give it to yourself before you can be ready to get out there. It's setting the foundation for finding the right person someday, or hey, even not finding anyone and being able to be single and happy!
3-Take care of yourself! Eat healthy, exercise, buy yourself nice things that you love and make you feel confident. Do it in baby steps if you aren't already. Start by buying yourself one thing every week that you love (mine was pj's). Then maybe start a standing appointment to get your nails done. Then maybe drop unhealthy foods from your diet. Then try working out at the gym. This is building your confidence and self esteem from the inside out. You will learn to rely on how great it feels when you treat yourself so well, and you will eventually attract someone who can take care of themselves too. My mantra for getting me through this part: The best revenge is a life well lived (and eventually, you forget the revenge because you will just love how it feels)
4-Date yourself! Make a list of all the things that make you you and that you enjoy. If you don't know what you like, then try new things. Think back to things you liked to do in your childhood or youth that brought you joy. Seek those things out EVERY SINGLE DAY. You will soon learn that this is what life is all about, bringing joy into your own life and not waiting for it to come to you or for others to give it to you. Think outside the box, and try things /go places you would never have tried before. My list is here, it's the first thing I did when I started this blog. My favorite thing to do quickly became a regular Wednesday evening habit, I'd take myself to dinner and a movie. I stopped calling it "going to eat alone" and started calling it "taking myself to dinner". It's a small thing, but psychologically a big step forward.
5-See your friends OFTEN. You must find friends who are in the same situation as you. It is so important to have someone to talk to who gets it and understand. If you don't know anyone who has been through a divorce, try a support group, or ask around.
Having a close group of girlfriends is absolutely essential in getting through this. Get dressed up, get out of the house and be silly together. Laughter is so healing. Having your girls around will feed your soul and give you the support you need. Don't allow anyone around you who is toxic and negative though...it's important to be surrounded by positivity and listening ears during this vulnerable time, not people who will tear you down or question your choices.
Guy friends are important too. My brother and I are very close, and I also have a few other married guy friends that can help me out with things around the house. Sometimes it's just nice to have a man's perspective on things, or to just sit with someone and not talk about anything in particular. Men are good for that. It's also important to have healthy male role models around your children. I've particularly noticed this for my son, he thrives on having men around and really revels in that attention.
6-Loneliness is a normal, human emotion that we all experience, even the healthiest of us. Seeing girlfriends often will combat the loneliness. A big problem for me was lack of human touch, which we all need. I am a very affectionate person and sometimes the need for human touch was so overwhelming that it almost caused me to make bad or unhealthy choices. I found that getting regular massages helps with this tremendously. My girlfriends and I have a little place we go to that is cheap, they do 1 hour foot and back massages. It is a safe way to not only relieve stress but relieve the need for touch. I also cuddle with my kids at every opportunity, but that's probably a given :)
7-Focus on the positives of being single. No one dictates when you can go out or what you can do, how much money you will spend but you. No one leaves dishes in your sink or underwear on your floor. The house may be empty but it is tension-free. You are free to make whatever you want of your life, and it is so incredibly LIBERATING! You will come to cherish your single-hood more than you ever thought you would.
8-Once you are ready to date, it's all about baby steps. How will you know when you are ready?? When you are regularly making yourself happy and joyful and don't feel like you "need" anyone. You know exactly who you are and what you love and have become so attached to that that no one will ever be able to take it away from you.
It's a big step to get back into the dating pool, so do it slowly. Maybe focus on just flirting at first, and then progress to dating and all that stuff. You want to be totally sure of yourself and what you are doing. Know that you will meet lots of Mr. Wrongs, and that is a good thing. It will reassure you that you know now what to look for and that you won't accept anything less than Mr. Right. This is where being self-sufficient and really cherishing your singlehood comes into play. If you are not desperate to have someone providing your self-esteem for you, then you won't settle for the first jerk that comes along and shows interest. My mantra: It is better to be alone than to be with the wrong person. I didn't believe it at first, sometimes being alone seemed way worse, but I truly truly believe it with every inch of my being now.
9-If you take one thing from this post, understand this: YOU WILL ATTRACT WHAT YOU ARE. If you are an insecure mess, you will attract someone who is just as much of a mess. Because what kind of person wants to date a wreck? Someone with issues. If you want healthy and strong, you yourself must first be healthy and strong. None of us are perfect and we all have hang-ups, but if at the core you are confident, independent, and centered, you will find someone who compliments that.
10-Keep tabs on yourself. I do this through my blog. I want to make sure that I am not slipping back into old habits by reading my own thoughts and analyzing myself and my behavior. For example, If I ever started to gain weight again or quit exercising, that would mean something is wrong, because the strong healthy version of me knows that I need to take care of myself to be happy, and I am responsible for my own happiness. If I stop doing the things that I love regularly, like hanging with my friends or seeing my Indie movies alone, then that is a warning sign too.
Hope this helps anyone who is struggling. It's a process, but one that is worth going through because the rewards are so so worth it. I would go through all of it again in a heartbeat to be able to get back to where I am today.