I have been separated from my husband for 2.4 months and I’m still alive so it seems like as good a time as any to talk about what it has been like and some of the survival tricks I have amassed thus far.
I’d like to start by saying that breaking a relationship, no matter how long it lasted, hurts. It really fucking hurts. Here’s what I know so far…
- It will take at least 1 month for the denial/novelty/adrenaline of your newfound separateness to sink in. The first month is filled with far too much paperwork, confusion, and disorientation to feel anything real. Try to be as much of a human as you can muster and don’t be too concerned if you have absolutely no idea how you feel about anything.
- Once the shock wears off, you will start to catch glimpses of the vast, undefined, uncharted unknown that is now your future. Everything that was once a ‘we’ becomes a ‘me’. You’ll read stories about women who quit their jobs and traveled the world and lost 30 pounds and found the relationship of their dreams right after their separation. Don’t take any of this nonsense to heart. To try to make a coherent, long-term commitment right now is to deny yourself the crucial experience of listlessness, pain, and grief. Feel it now to free yourself from it later.
- Doing a detox or cleanse at the end of month 2 might be the best thing you could possibly do for yourself. I committed to a 5 day juice cleanse and by day 3 I was able to see my situation more clearly than I had in weeks. It also felt like I was removing old, leftover toxic energy from my system. I highly encourage this. It’s also a great way to reverse some of those bad coping habits we accumulate over the years (drinking too much, overeating, drugging, not sleeping, ignoring self care, etc…).
- During the first 2 months you will do one of two things: 1) you will try to do everything to avoid being alone with yourself and the reality of your situation 2) you will close yourself off from the world and spend far too much time alone, driving yourself slowly insane. It’s important to find some semblance of balance between the two. It has worked for me to schedule ~4 ‘social’ activities per week. These can include coffee with a friend, co-working, yoga class, church, live music, movie.
- Now is a time when you really need to hear yourself. It’s really scary to get quiet enough to do this. For the first 2 months, I could only muster about 5-10 minutes a day of uninterrupted quietness, but that proved to be enough to hear my ‘inner voice’ and its guidance. It was in these minutes of silence that I realized I wanted to be writing about my experience, that I should do a cleanse, and that I was giving my husband way too much of my hard-earned retirement out of guilt. Give yourself these pockets of silence. It can be helpful to keep a small journal to house the insights that come up during this time.
- Lastly, during these first 2 months, it’s important to not do things before you’re ready. You might think you can start dating again or accept more responsibility at work or tell your entire Facebook community about your separation. My best advice: sleep on it. I dove headfirst into several things during this time and regretted every single one the next day.
I hope this is helpful and I promise to continue to provide insights, updates, and real talk. Remember, in the wise words of Glennon Doyle Melton, ‘we can do hard things’. Stay with yourself, it WILL get easier.
Love love love,