The Pain of Separation Seems Insurmountable – 10 Steps to Survive

Thursday, July 29, 2015

I didn’t get out of bed on Monday (fitbit said I walked less than 400 steps – bathroom breaks).  Not a great way to start the week.  I needed a mental health day and I work for myself – so I could take it. Curtains drawn, covers over my head, jammies on – 18 hours of sleep.

I had NO motivation at all.  Just exhausted.  It’s amazing how your emotional state can impact your physical self.

Depression just sucks

According to Radar Online (perhaps not the most reliable source), Robin Williams was sleeping 18 hours a day before he committed suicide. I believe it. I don’t know how people get through such deep depression and agony from separation, but they do; all the time. I just want to go to sleep and wake up in six months feeling better.

I’m eight weeks into this ‘experience’.  (I’ve decided not to call it a nightmare any more – the negative language must go and ‘experience’ is benign enough.) For 8 weeks I’ve walked around like a zombie; crying, reading, sleeping, meditating, going to therapy, praying and sending S.O.S signals to my wonderful support group of friends via texts, emails and phone calls.

I’ve learned valuable lessons about shock, grief and coping with the agony of separation, abandonment and rejection.  This is an emotional earthquake of epic proportion. Maybe my journey can help you…

1.  Feel the pain

It’s easy to get busy and find distractions that stuff or mask your grief.  I believe, in order to grow and be a better stronger person it’s important feel the loss. It’s temporary, I promise….or so I’ve been told.

Curled up in the corner of your closet is a horrifying place to be. Words, emotions, images assault you from every direction like sledge hammers – relentlessly pounding you into the ground.  This pain is visceral, cellular and all-consuming. Cry your heart out.  Scream at the top of your lungs.  It’s not fair!  You want to do-over!  How could this happen after 20 years!!!??? Ask all those questions and sob.

And then – get up and breathe

Stand tall, inhale for 6 seconds, exhale 6 seconds – repeat 10 times; from the bottom of your gut to the top of your lungs.  This will signal to your biology (which is in fight or flight)  that “I’m okay”. Say to yourself, “I’m okay.  This pain is real and I’m okay. I’m okay”. Even if you don’t believe it….SAY IT! Then drink some water….lots of water.

2.  Don’t go it alone

Call on your PEOPLE.  There is NO PLACE FOR YOUR EGO when you are at the emotional bottom of the well. Reach out! Be open to the possibilities; people are ready to help.  Bashing your spouse isn’t going to help…but talking about your feelings will. There are not right or wrong feelings or answers – just getting OUT helps. Believe it or not, showing your vulnerability is a sign of strength!

Start a group chat with your closest friends….let them know you need help, love and encouragement. You will be surprised how people SHOW UP! Update them when you’re ‘on the edge’ or ‘feeling ok for a moment’. They care and will help.

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The nights are the toughest – find a friend or relative that is a night owl, or in a different time zone to be ‘your person’ when you’re laying alone in bed at night. This is when the pain is most excruciating. A few minutes of gentle love and encouragement over the phone can make all the difference.

A friend that experienced a horrific divorce after 25 years of marriage, helped me through a rough night – when my  husband was unsure about his decision to move out:

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3.  Mind Your Mind

It’s easy to replay every situation where you could have (would have, should have) made a different choice that may have altered the situation. It’s easy to fantasize about your spouse with other people – moving on without you, without pain or heartache. It’s easy to hope that he’ll come back, on bended knee – promising to be different and recommit to the relationship. It’s easy to look into the future and play out every possible scenario of how you think you’ll feel or behave when a milestone occurs.

It’s hard to stop the mental monkey chatter – and it’s TOXIC. SO YOU MUST. 

Change your mental playlist – daily affirmations are essential…I strongly recommend Louise Hay.  Her book/movie, You Can Heal Your Life and her affirmations are calming, healing, divine and will help you (re) discover self-love, joy and peace.  If you don’t believe them initially – say them anyway – FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!

Here’s a sample:

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Daily communication with your spouse will not help you heal. This is the HARDEST STEP, especially if you’ve been married for most of your adult life, like me.  Your spouse has been YOUR PERSON.  You relied on your mate to help you through life’s tragedies.  They comforted you in the past – maybe made you feel safe and loved. They cannot do that for you anymore. They are too close to the source of your pain to provide comfort and safe haven. You are not safe in their care. The more you reach out the more you will delay your healing.  Let go. If it’s meant to be….get your feet under you and step away for this agonizing earthquake to see things more clearly – for yourself and your future. My therapist gave me an article from The Daily OM that helped me put letting go into perspective.

Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery.

Stay in the NOW and trust God.

Only NOW matters. Even if you’re not a religious person – praying helps and the Universe will answer you. One day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time – that’s your job. When ugly, painful, unhealthy thoughts creep into your psyche press the mental DELETE, BACKSPACE buttons.  Tell yourself out loud – I’m okay right now.  I’m okay, I can do this. I am enough. I deserve better.  In this moment, I’m okay.

5.  Meditate & Read

I started Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s 21 day meditation challenge five weeks into this ‘experience’. It’s hard to quiet your mind but so necessary.  BE OPEN to the breathing, the message and the divine power of stillness. It takes practice but DO IT DAILY.  This is such a key part to self-assurance and self-love; two things lacking when you feel rejected and abandoned.

Books have been placed my hands in the most DIVINE ways.  There are not coincidences and every book I’m reading was given to me by Spirit.  My suggestions are: The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, You Can Heal My Life, by Louise Hay and Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  I have more on my list and will share in future posts – but these offer tremendous comfort and insight.  But, you must be OPEN to listening to the messages and FEELING the SPIRIT.

6.  Go to therapy – IMMEDIATELY

A professional can help you cope with the day to day, week to week challenges of separation and divorce.  Don’t just go to vent.  Have an agenda – listen to the feedback and journal key observations and revelations during the session. You can also join support groups at your place of worship or speak to clergy but I recommend a LCSW to help you through these initial, painful months.

Get recommendations from friends and be honest with yourself and your therapist about your condition and your journey.

6.  Medicate & Move

If you’re not sleeping, get a sleep aid ASAP.  My drug of choice is Lunesta because Ambien gives me amnesia and I do stupid stuff! Sleep deprivation will only make matters worse.  You feel beaten down emotionally, spiritually and physically.  Lack of sleep will make this worse. You must sleep – at night. Try to get on a regular schedule and sleep soundly.  I know it’s easier recommended than done.

You may also want to consider an anti-depressant or anxiety medication like Xanex. This is a tough road and a little pharmaceutical help could go a long way.  Talk to you doctor about options and side-effects candidly.

Download happy music and go for a walk or play it in your house.  Music is a major emotional trigger; good or bad.  Go with the GOOD; Pharrell Williams (I’m happy) or Rachel Platten’s This Is My Fight Song helped me…it’s my anthem (especially the chorus and the first verse).  iTunes will create a Genius list for you based on a few core selections or use Pandora.

Yoga classes help too…but be prepared to be emotional.  It’s okay.  I’ve wept through many yoga classes and that’s why I like the dark ones – when the lights are turned down.  Just breathe, listen to the music and love your self and your body.

Don’t pressure yourself to be a fitness fiend, but if running or another activity helps you, DO IT.  I just don’t have the will or energy right now – I will soon.

8.  Journal, Read & Set Your Intentions

Scream onto the pages of your journal. You may never read it again or share it with anyone – but getting it OUT is cathartic.

I read an affirmation every day when I wake up and before I go to sleep.  My sister gave these to me as a gift – her therapist gave them her when she was coping with her divorce (so I cannot attribute these pictures, source). Even if you don’t believe it – read it!  OUT-LOUD.  EVERY DAY!  DO IT!!!

My daily affirmations, brought to me by a beautiful life coach at the Jersey Shore named Janis.  Although I have not met her…I KNOW she is beautiful.



I’m not sobbing everyday anymore but do have horrible episodes of panic and sadness.  Sometimes when driving, I need to pull over to the side of the road and just cry. I’ll experience this for a while, I know.  I don’t want to feel this pain, but it’s part of my journey.  It’s necessary. To be whole again – I must take the next step every day…knowing some steps will be forward and backward.

9.  I (We) Must Give My (Our) Friends A Break


Although I have a strong network of tender, spiritual people that love and support me, this is my journey and every step I take is really up to me. Everyone has their own life to live.  The negativity and agony gets old for those around me and impacts their lives because they love me. They hurt for me. Even though my network wants me to heal, they can only take so much.  Sending out a daily SOS and sharing my pain/sorrow it’s too much to ask – even the most giving souls.    I owe it to myself and my angels to press DELETE/BACKSPACE on the negativity, take deep breaths and step each day…and say positive things to myself.

10.  Be grateful for this experience.

Gratitude is a powerful tool and a gift.  Give this gift to yourself. This is your time to grow.  You have a beautiful opportunity to learn about yourself, your friends and family and go deeper into your soul.  Re-connect with your True Self.  Be in the quiet space and do the work; breathe deeply, read, exercise, pray, meditate, journal and say thank you UNIVERSE (God, the Source, the higher power).  This is a transformative gift of a lifetime and (throughout this journey and) on the other side awaits a healthier, authentic you – patiently wanting to embrace you with unconditional love.

This is no longer my nightmare – it’ my ‘experience’ of rebirth. And I will be stronger/wiser as a result.

I am enough.

I am loved.

I am safe.

I will love again. 

And at this moment, in this day…I’m good.

And so are you…your thoughts are powerful.  Love yourself.

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Namaste and God Bless,


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