Aimee Hartstein, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist, and an experienced divorce counselor. She holds her Masters Degree in Social Work from New York University and has received three years of additional psychoanalytic training at Washington Square Institute.
Aimee has been counseling individuals, couples, and groups since 1993. She has helped numerous individuals work through the difficult process of separation and divorce and emerge transformed on the other side.
Surviving Your Divorce
1. First things first: Take care of your physical needs. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well, try and get regular exercise. If your physical health is well taken care of, it will greatly affect your mental health.
2. Reach out to your friends! Separation and divorce can be a lonely, isolating time. People often experience feelings of shame and guilt and may be inclined to isolate themselves from others, which will only make things worse. Your friends and family want to be there for you, so let them.
3. Revel in your independence. There are reasons that you are getting a divorce, even if you didn't want it. The relationship wasn't working on some level. There is great freedom in the letting go of constant tensions, fighting, frustrations, and disappointments that may have characterized your marriage. You can find a tremendous amount of freedom in getting rid of all of those negatives in one fell swoop!
4. Don't blame yourself. Living through a divorce is tough enough without the added pressure of your own judgments. That's not to say that you had no responsibility for your situation, but especially in the beginning, it's important to get through the immediate crisis without beating yourself up.
5. Many people blame their ex-partner instead of themselves. If this is true for you, do everything possible to disengage from your ex. It's irresistible to allow yourself to get pulled into the anger and fighting, but it's not only useless, it's often self-destructive. There are other ways of healing.
6. Get professional help if you need it. Feeling sad, teary, and anxious is very normal during times of transition. However, if you find yourself unable to get out of bed, full of overwhelming anxiety, or feeling suicidal, these are signs that you need to speak to a professional therapist who can help you during this crisis.
7. There is life after divorce! Right now your world has been turned upside down and you may be feeling numb, hurt, angry, and/or sad. The good news is that you can use this crisis as an opportunity to reinvent yourself and your life. Divorce, even if you didn't want it in the first place, helps you leave a situation that you have outgrown in one way or another. Divorce gives you a second chance to better understand who you are and make your life better fit the new you. Try to use this time of upheaval and transition as an opportunity for growth.