As I look back on myself as a newly separated 41-year-old with two young children, I realize now how utterly lost I was. Those first several months were brutal. Not only was I trying to navigate the waters of divorce, dealing with the ups and downs of litigation and mediation, but I was also trying to heal my broken heart, and at the same time trying to find my way to a happier life.
It was like a roller coaster, and I remember that winter, I got the worst flu I've ever had in my life -- probably my body's reaction to months and months of some of the worst stress I can ever remember.
Had I had someone like me (a divorce blogger and someone who has been there) to give myself some good advice, it would have been nice! A lot of stress, probably most of it, stems from the fear of the unknown, so if someone would have given me a few nuggets of advice, it really would have been useful.
So, here are 20 things I wish I could have told my newly separated self.
1. This isn't going to be easy. Put on your seatbelt and go for the ride. Try to enjoy the non-bumpy times, because there aren't many, but some parts of the journey are wonderful, believe it or not.
2. Your ex is hurting too. And he's angry. Try to be understanding of erratic, unreasonable behavior. I'm not saying accept it. It's not okay. Just understand why it's happening.
3. Getting divorced doesn't make you a failure so stop looking at it that way.
4. Be careful who you talk to. Airing your dirty laundry to the wrong people could have consequences.
5. Reach out to the people who love you. They want to be there for you. Don't sit in a room and cry by yourself all the time. There are times you need to call up your girlfriend and just sob.
6. You won't be alone and single when you're 70, so stop worrying about it.
7. Your kids are going to act out, cry a lot, and possibly be angry. It's your fault for getting a divorce but their behavior isn't YOUR fault and it doesn't mean you made a mistake getting divorced. Deal with it the best you can and get your kids therapy if you think it will help them. Don't feel guilty.
8. Your ex will have a girlfriend in the next two weeks. Be prepared. And, he will still be cold and distant to you, no matter how blissful he seems with her.
9. Your in-laws will act like strangers to you. Be prepared to be in shock when they treat you like the scum of the earth.
10. Some of your friends will stop calling you or returning your calls. Don't take it personally. Your divorce is THEIR issue.
11. Some of your friends will start calling you and want to get together to hear the dirt on why you got separated. After one get together, you will never hear from them again.
12. Start doing yoga. Today.
13. You're going to get calls from your attorney telling you what is happening in your case. Some calls will cause you to cry so hard you will hyperventilate. Remember that it will all turn out fine if you make good, ethical choices, be the best mom (or dad) you can be and don't break the law.
14. You're going to meet a lot of men who will paint a bleak picture of what the dating scene after divorce is like. Trust me, there are good ones out there! Don't lose hope.
15. One night, you will be out and you won't be expecting anything, and a guy who you never thought would be interested in you will be. And it will make you feel young again and sexy and pretty!
16. There will be so many nights you will feel exhausted and feel like things will never get any better. They will.
17. If someone other than your soon-to-be ex tells you that you should consider getting on anti-depressants, consider that they might be right.Many men and women go on medication for the short term during the beginning of a divorce. There's no shame in it!
18. Worrying doesn't really do anything except cause sickness and disease and make you feel depressed.
19. Whenever you feel extreme anger, sadness, depression or anxiety, do one of two things: go to the gym or write in a journal. Just do it. Don't even think twice. Those two things are guaranteed temporary remedies.
20. Don't lose sight of other things going on in the world, or your friends and family's lives. Your divorce isn't the center of the universe.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!