I'm not going to offer a legal advice or anything like that, that's not my field of expertise but if you do need advice you can speak to a FLAC solicitor in confidence.(Ireland only) www.flac.ie They offer free legal advice to anyone.
What I'm going to address is the emotional rollercoaster we as adults feel when we get divorced or separated. Be aware that a divorce or separation costs not only the two people involved emotionally but everyone else in the family. It can be often contentious and filled with high emotion which in Ireland, because of the length of time it takes to get divorced (4 years), sometimes runs on for years. You get caught up in dealing with the court that we sometimes forget the emotional cost we are incurring while "waiting for our freedom" from that person we once loved so much. We sometimes don't, in fact, deal with the emotion properly until we are in fact divorced.
There are some points I'd like to make that may help you now if you are divorced or are in the process of getting one.
First get help from a therapist; you need to give yourself the best support system you can. You are dealing with bereavement; you are going to or are dealing with all the same emotions you would if that person had died. You also need at least one trusted friend you can bitch to. You notice I say trusted friend. That is extremely important. Someone you can trust besides your doctor or therapist who is really there for you. Someone you can say stuff to, really share all your ups and downs in this process. Not a family member as they are too close to the situation. Don't feel you have to hide your separation or divorce from anyone but be careful what and to whom you share how you feel and what you're going through. Not everyone is your friend in this situation, some may just want to gossip about you other may offer unwanted advice and you may lose some people you considered your friend. Don't be surprised by this, it happens to everyone in your situation, some people just can't handle what you are going through.
Keep a journal or diary, note down all the emotions of how your day went, how you're feeling, how the kids are doing. This can also help when you need to seek help as you'll have notes you can refer back to when speaking to your doctor, therapist or your child's doctor or therapist. It can also act as a brain dump to help you sleep better.
Eat 3 meals a day, it hard when you're feeling down not to seek out comfort food. If you feel like you've overdone it forget about it, forgive yourself we all need sugar sometimes. Your body is seeking this comfort food because you probably need rest and relaxation, so try to get 8 hours sleep, exercise, take some me time. (Check out my blog series on self-care and self-soothing)
Meditate, yoga or mindfulness it doesn't matter as long as you relax. You are experiencing a very stressful time in your life right now so relaxation is vital. Take a class if you don't know how to do one of these, it's not about getting it right it's about just trying to help yourself remain calm when you feel overwhelmed.
Keep up sports, clubs, meet friends, work etc. You need to try to keep some balance in your life. If you are having a hard time in dealing with your feelings go see your doctor. Take time off from work and have a break-even a short one. Stop and think about what you really want to happen now in your life. Again this is where a friend can be useful.
Don't jump into another relationship, it probably won't last and you're not emotionally ready for one either. You need to take your time and get to know yourself again if you have kids you have them to consider too.
By Help Your Kids You Also Help Yourself
If at all possible do mediation with your solicitors. I say this because it helps if you can be civil with your ex, especially if you have kids.
Under no circumstance use kids as a negotiating tool, you'll only lose out in the end. Nor should you use them as a messenger between you both, again you are damaging your kids if you do this. If you have kids you're going to be tied together for a very long time, kids grow up, have kids of their own and you don't want them to avoid contact with you if a family occasion come up in the future You will regret it, you'll miss out on your kids and grandkids. This is why you need to talk about your feelings with a therapist. You don't want to bottle them up! You need to express your shock, anger, grieve over lost dreams etc.
Remember your children are going through the same stage of grief you are and are feeling very lost and unsure right now. They need to express their emotions too and need to feel safe in the process. They need your support and love, they need to find a new balance in their lives too and adjust to their changing circumstances. If you're worried about your children and how they are coping talk to your doctor or seek counselling for them. Rainbows (Ireland only) is another great organisation that helps kids of divorced or separated families. (www.rainbowsireland.com) See my post on helping children with divorce
It takes time.
Remember to be gentle with yourself, it takes time to fully grieve all that you have lost and you have lost something that was once very precious to you. Look after yourself first and foremost as you can't look after anyone else unless you do. Give yourself time to adjust to your new life; don't be in a rush to make any more big life changes just yet. Get to know yourself, you've changed as the result of having been in a relationship, you're not the same person you use to be. What can you learn about yourself from this experience? Always remember it's okay to ask for help.
If you have experienced domestic violence of any kind please reach out to www.womensaid.ie 1800 341 900
Please note that the opinions expressed here are my own & should not be used in lieu of treatment. If you or someone you know needs help please contact our office on 0894373641 we're here to help.