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Untangling the Me from the We

Take time, recruit support, and take care of yourself.

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Starting Anew After Divorce?
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Going through a divorce can be daunting and challenging, and it is natural to feel overwhelmed.

It can often feel like all the work you did to become a couple—from finding shared interests to figuring out how to accommodate each other’s needs—has to be undone, and in many ways that is true. You have spent so much time being someone else’s significant other, that finding yourself suddenly alone can be scary.

After the immediate pain and shock of the separation begin to lift, the goal will become getting back out into the world and establishing yourself and your new interests away from what you shared with your spouse. In other words, the hope is to be able to put the focus firmly back on yourself. You are no longer part of the “we,” but are now looking to get back to the “me” you were before you joined your life with your ex’s.

Sarah Palin might be dealing with much of this now since her husband of 31 years, Todd, recently filed for divorce, claiming “incompatibility of temperament.” The question becomes, where and how does anyone start the process of no longer being a part of a couple and becoming a strong individual?

One of the first hurdles is rebuilding self-esteem, which can take a major hit, especially if you were not the one who initiated the divorce. If that is the case, you may be dealing with feelings of rejection and not good enough. No matter who ended it, you might feel like you have failed since the relationship you put so much time and effort into did not work out in the end.

In such a mindset, getting oneself out there can be a challenge. It can be especially hard to put a game face on and become involved in new activities when feeling bad and down.

So how to gain the confidence to get back out there, which everybody knows is so crucial to do? The most important thing is to focus on self-care, which probably took a back seat to caring for your spouse and possibly for your children.

Prioritize your own emotional care and well-being. Consider what you haven’t been able to do lately and do it. If that means finding time in your day to exercise, whether that could be joining a gym or going for a 30-minute walk at lunch, it is a great place to begin.

Along those same lines, if you haven’t been eating right, take time to change to cooking healthy meals, even getting the advice of a nutritionist if possible. You want to energize yourself and feel secure in your appearance and strong in your mind and body, so that you feel good about yourself.

As you are working on yourself singularly, it is essential to reach out to family and friends for support, which might include reconnecting with old friends you haven’t been in touch with for a long time. This can take effort, because your natural inclination may be to retreat and isolate yourself. But staying at home on the couch and watching television is not the solution.

Think about activities you love that you may have left behind. Maybe you enjoyed watching football, but your spouse didn’t, or you always wished for a pet, but your partner was allergic. You can do those things now. While you are at it you can also pick up new hobbies that have always intrigued you but for which you might not have had the time or backing. Horseback riding? Why not? Learning to play bridge, or taking a cooking class? Definitely. Shining the light on you will help you restore your sense of self-worth and ready you to go out and make new friends, and eventually to consider dating again.

Giving yourself time and getting support are antidotes to the anguish of separation. But the most important factor in the equation of getting back on your feet is taking care of you.