When you hear of someone struggling with hurts and broken-ness, what do you do?
My blog – which possibly has 100 readers(YAY!) – has brought me new friendships and some old ones have resurfaced as they share their pains and trials with me. I’m glad my stories have opened up some.
It’s not something I expected but it feels good knowing my journey has helped. And while my journey, like all ours, are very different, the emotional roller coaster ride, the suffering, the hurts, the anger…it’s all there. It’s the same. Just different.
I was thinking what new entry to make that would be practical and REALLY help. So I prayed for guidance and I finally decided(I’m still thinking the name as I type this…) it would be helpful to be a WHAT TO DO kinda entry on different topics. So here goes.
STEP ONE – Dealing with Broken-ness
- Knowing the Situation
It depends WHEN you are aware of the situation. 1st sign is a feeling of heartbreak. For some of us, it’s a physical pain in the heart, for others it could be just deep deep sorrow and inability to think properly.
For me it was a long time coming. Mebbe Year 5 into my marriage? I’m not sure still. Coz it dragged on. But when it fully registered in my brain that this was it, my marriage was really coming to an end(after 18 years), there was a deep deep sadness and shock that THIS WAS IT. Things were going to change. There is fear. Coz with the unknown there is always fear.
Sometimes you stay in a situation – called the Status Quo – coz you just feel it’s more comfortable even if you don’t like it and it hurts you. I guess I did. For those 12/13 years. It has a numbing effect.
Once you know the situation, that’s when acceptance will slowly set in. It won’t come right away, but it’s the first step towards it. There are 7 Stages to Grief but will discuss that later.
2. Find Someone to Talk to
This is very crucial. I find that bottling it in is a sure-fire way to a very bad depression. It’s especially hard for men to share and wanna talk. But if you don’t have a close trusted friend, then it’s best to seek a Counsellor. Just talking things out will put some things in perspective. Unload your burdens, your grief. Keeping it in is disastrous for your well-being.
For me, it helped me to journal as well. Journaling was my healing process. I know that now. Especially coz in that state of shock, your memory seems to go haywire and I did my journaling more so that I would also be able to capture things I was worried I’d forget.
3. Find a Support Group
We are truly so blessed in the Catholic Church to have support groups. I was blessed that somehow during my time of grief, without any attempts to look for help, the Beginning Experience popped up in a church bulletin (in a church I seldom frequent mind you), So I went.
Shortly after, there was publicity of the first time in Singapore Catholic Divorce Survival Guide programme (now called Surviving Divorce) which was established in USA. So I was in the pioneer batch.
There is nothing like being amidst others in your situation. Strangers become best friends coz of the shared trauma and crisis. It helped me tremendously to put things into perspective hearing other’s plights and realising my situation could be so much worse. I could see some small blessings. That in itself, is pretty wonderful.
4. Get Focused
Getting focused is the toughest part I find. When your mind is all over the place, when your emotions are like a roller coaster ride where you can be crying like crazy one minute, then suddenly you feel like a crazed lunatic who can hurt someone the next. Ya, it’s time to focus all that energy.
For me, it was easiest to focus on my kids. My top priority was ‘How do I tell them? How do I help them get through this?’
I told someone recently when I saw her at breakdown point, ‘Do what you feel you need to do for yourself.’ You see, sometimes, especially for us women, we wanna do everything. We are mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, driver, cleaner, nurse, teacher….we burn out. When I started to feel my mental health was steadily on the decline, I knew I needed to have some Time Out.
5. Nourish your Mind, Body and Soul
I went for a vacation – some kinda retreat – just to spend time with God and to take stock of my life, and rediscover Who I Am. I felt I’d lost my identity in trying to fit into so many roles. Taking stock is necessary. It’s not about planning the future. It’s about looking deep into yourself, your heart and soul to pick yourself again, to start to know who you are again. Part of that process also includes liking who you are. And if you don’t, to change to wanna like yourself.
I had forgotten all the things that made me happy, that drove me to get excited. All my hobbies and my interests like writing, crafting, sports had been put aside. Even just getting a pet – coz you couldn’t last time in your marriage for whatever reasons – could make a difference.
The most important thing is also Self Care. We are at risk of forgetting to nourish our bodies in our state of sadness and anger and pain. If we fail to take care of our own health, it’s harder to take care of others, especially our children who will also be closely watching you and depending on you.
I lost 3 kg in my first month of separation. It was like ‘Wow, there is something good that came out of this!’ Coz the previous year, I was trying so hard I joined the Lose To Win programme. It took me 3 months to lose 3 kg(triple the time). Believe me, it’s not. It’s never good when you don’t feed your body, don’t get enough rest, don’t nourish your soul. I saw my body like a plant that needed the sun, nutrients and happy surroundings. So I was grateful for friends around me rallying to make sure I was nourishing myself and taking care of me.
Once your body is nourished, you can start focusing on the next steps…which is the legalities, the change in living arrangements, the practical things that may be the last thing on your mind. But it needs to get done.
6. Start a Gratitude Journal/Jar
The simplest advice I’d give now is to start a Gratitude Journal or Jar. It’s really simple. Every day list at least ONE thing you are grateful for. It could be your dear friend who called you to check on you, or your little one jumping into bed to wish you good morning…anything. Even that your plant bloomed a flower.
It matters. When you start thinking of the blessings you have all around you, you’ll realise how God loves you and is watching closely over you, even sending his Angels to make sure you’re doing ok.
7. Call on your Guardian Angel
Your Guardian Angel is with you always. Each of us has our own. You just need to ask for help coz your Angel can’t interfere unless you ask for its help. You may even see little signs around you making its presence felt. It could be a feather, a butterfly or just someone turns up unexpectedly with a message you needed to hear.
‘Take a look at the ordinary, don’t need to look for Paradise. You could be next to an angel in disguise.’
Step 2 in my next entry.