Are you Wallowing in it, or are you Wading Through it?

single mum's survival guide logoThere are so many ways to cope with the loss of a relationship, but some of them will make you feel a whole lot worse…

Denial- you assure everyone you are fine but you realise that you are drinking too much, eating too much or laughing just a little too loudly. You may even be dating again with a vengeance and using -often unsuitable – other people to make you feel better (this is not fair on the person you have picked for this job, and it’s not worthy of you). You may be pretending everything’s fine but inside you feel like a jelly that’s slowly dissolving into a puddle. Quit pretending and ask for some help. You don’t have to share this with everyone, but it’s important that you tell someone the truth (even if the first person you admit this to is: yourself!)  Once you’ve done this, get some help. You might pick a couple of close confidantes that you can talk to when things get really bad, or you can write it down and use a diary or journal to help get some of the angst out of your system. If you are unwilling to unburden yourself to a loved one, come and see me or another professional – we are paid to listen and we actively enjoy the process of assisting you in processing what you are going through.

Obsession – you are stalking your ex online, or pumping his friends or family for information about him, even if that information serves only to make you feel more miserable and depressed about your split. No contact is the best way to go here and if you have to communicate over the kids: do that but only that. Don’t use your children as a way to initiate unnecessary contact or prolong a dialogue about what went wrong and who did what to whom. That way madness lies! Work out a strategy to communicate with your ex so that you don’t feel bruised or battered after every exchange.

Withdrawal – You have become a recluse. You’ve stopped going out or seeing anyone and you have started to withdraw from even the most innocuous of interactions. You need to heal and some alone time is a must but beware of becoming too lonely when actually a visit with a friend or family member might be just the tonic you need. If you are afraid of breaking down and weeping all over anyone you speak to, practise a phrase that you can use when your lower lip starts to tremble – something along the lines of “Anyway, let’s change the subject- tell me about you!” And then do just that. Don’t keep returning to the subject, give yourself a break.

So are you wallowing in it, or are you wading through it? It will take time, but make sure that you are taking a small step every day in the right direction. You may not be running yet, but I can help you get to the other side!

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    • There are many ways to approach this. The first is to calmly plan what you would like to achieve from the exchange prior to the conversation itself. You might even write notes to remind yourself of the points you want to cover. If you are co-parents then it’s always worth bearing in mind that your prime consideration is the needs of the children. Hard as it may be to put personal animosity aside, try to avoid getting sucked into name calling, criticising or becoming overly emotional with each other. It takes two to argue and an argument doesn’t really ramp up unless there are two people playing. One way to deal with antagonistic language is to ignore the insults or unhelpful words and paraphrase the other person’s statements whilst only including the salient points. There may be some points on which you are not prepared to budge but other areas where you could concede. Decide in advance if you can what these are, or ask for time to think about it before giving your reply. Like it or not, if you share children you need to work out a way to move forward in your communication. Some of my clients rely mainly on text or email to confirm arrangements for the children and this can certainly be useful if things have a habit of becoming too fraught. If you are the one losing emotional control a helpful technique is to imagine that the whole conversation is being recorded on camera and you are going to have to watch it at the end. Be civil, clear and reasonable in what you say and you may be surprised at the extent to which your ex responds in a positive manner.

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