It's all going to be okay. Things are totally crappy right now, but this moment, this feeling, is temporary. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything--the next few years will be more than challenging, and you will need to prepare yourself. To build your confidence, I will share insight from the safe and secure place I'm now...six years since the day your husband announced he wanted a separation.
The New Normal
In the short term you will lose weight, have trouble sleeping, and question everything. Don't be alarmed--this is NORMAL. In the wild, an injured animal will hole up somewhere safe, and allow itself time alone to heal. This is your time to burrow. There is no rush. Eventually decisions will need to be made, important ones, but for now they can wait.
Everything Has Changed
Life, as you know it, is going to change. You will have to make many sacrifices, including selling the home you live in, cutting back on your lifestyle, cooking more meals, letting the nanny go. But you will handle all of the transitions with grace and ingenuity. You will enjoy spending more time with your children. You will make the move an adventure. I encourage ceremonies and gratitude at times of major change. For example, plant a tree that will live on the property long after you've moved on.
People from all walks of life are going to give you advice. Listen politely and with appreciation (they mean well), then decide for yourself what resonates and is adoptable, and what is rubbish, and can be ignored. Most will advise you to close your heart. This is something that you will not do. It will take courage to keep it open...when the pain is overwhelming, you will want to close it forever...but an open heart is gorgeous, and it is who you are at your core.
Your Children Are Safe
You are going to worry for your children's wellbeing, and cry so much over this idea of a "broken family." I know you never wanted this divorce. And you swore to yourself that you would never do this to your children--because your own parents divorced ripped you up inside. You are not your parents. You will handle this differently. Like a rock, you will be there for your children, to hold, comfort, listen to, and allow them some control and a voice, and constantly love and support them. And they are going to be fine. No, they'll be better than that--they're going to be amazing.
You cannot do this alone. Lean on people. Hire professionals who you trust, and have a rapport with...you don't need to waste precious energy fighting with someone who's supposed to be on your side. Make new friends, people who have been through separation and divorce, who can share their stories of both sadness and triumph with you. Family will be everything to you. They will rise up, cry with you, laugh with you, and shield you from the nastiest moments. Do not be afraid to ask for help! And when people offer to help, let them. I know that this will be one of the most difficult lessons for you to accept. But it will also be one of the most powerful ones.
Remember to take care of yourself. Go to tennis, go to dance, walk on the beach, hike with friends. Get massages and facials. Have your hair done. Buy yourself a few nice clothes, and some new lingerie. Pamper yourself. Feel and look good. Take care of yourself for your children, and for yourself. Do it because when you're ready to date, you never know where or when you might meet someone; do it because it makes you feel stronger in the presence of your soon-to-be-ex-husband.
This impending divorce will be full of life lessons, powerful emotions, difficult changes, and lots of upheaval, but it will also be full of opportunities. Chances to restructure your life, and make it into what you have always wanted it to be. You can architect a new life. Go out and have fun, amazing sex, and new love! This will be an intense, but invigorating time. It will be good and bad. It will be exciting and terrifying. It will be new and old. You will learn more than you ever thought possible, and you will do it well.
It's been six years, and life is good. You are grateful, humble, and have a full life and a happy home. You smile often, because you know that you were able to turn the greatest tragedy of your life into your greatest gift. And I want you to know that I'm SO deeply proud of you.
Kira Gould is a Certified Divorce Coach® who specializes in working with women who would like to get unmarried with clarity and compassion, and redefine a new happily ever after. Check out her website at www.getting-unmarried.com