I want to offer something to you that might help make this unprecedented experience a bit
less difficult and as they say, help you find a “silver lining”. And I offer my thoughts and
suggestions to the majority and not to minimise the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the frontline helpers and victims.
Before I focus on some silver linings, I need to reflect on some of the parallels between
the current crisis and the experience of separation and divorce:
- Your daily habits and routines have been radically changed
- Your financial situation is radically altered
- You worry about your children’s well-being and how they are affected by all the disruption
- You have many practical problems to solve
- You may be feeling very lonely
- ... all the while ruminating, ruminating about so many things.
Not only is Covid-19 pushing on many of the same pressure points as separation, they both
involve “the neutral zone”.*
While everyone’s experience of separation and divorce is unique, there’s the beginning, the
end and the neutral zone.
The neutral zone is a very emotional and confusing time. You feel the tug between what’s
behind you and what lays ahead - but neither actually exists. You can’t go back - at least in
the way you knew it - and the future is unknown. This can be scary and all the uncertainty
makes it a confusing, emotional and exhausting space to inhabit.
And that’s why traditional and social media (and your inbox!) are inundated with the
message that we “physically distance but socially connect”. That’s because you need to get
support from those around you as you try to regain your footing.
But along with connection, you need self-care to sustain yourself and to sustain others.
So, just as I recommend that anyone going through separation & divorce finds ways to
nourish themselves, the same is true at this moment. And as you know, there’s been a
constant flow of suggestions from traditional media, social media, the government and your
inbox is probably overflowing with suggestions emailed to you.... from mediation to music
from Netflix to novels. But you need to choose one of the hundreds that are “out there”
and fill your cup. And if you are the mainstay of your family, this is crucial... you are crucial!
Really focusing on your self-care – whatever option you choose - is a silver lining. Before
this crisis, self-care had most likely fallen to the bottom of your “to-do” list with so many other important demands on your time – perhaps a partner, children, elderly parents,
friends, paid work, house-work. It makes me tired just thinking about all you have to do.
So, can this moment be an opportunity to move yourself up your to-do list? It is for me and
I notice how much better I feel by doing something as elemental as getting a good night’s
sleep or nurturing myself for an hour which involves nail polish, a $4 home facial, music, and
a locked door! Or, as I've mentioned before, time in my garden. These small things help to fill my cup.
So, as you move yourself up your “to-do” list, I suggest you also spend some time
considering “all the possibilities”. We are in “the neutral zone” similar to a stage of
separation & divorce when something significant has ended but you are waiting for the new
beginning. It’s a time to consider, what’s possible both in terms of your internal world and
your future external situation.
And I mean positive possibilities. To paraphrase something that I heard Brooke Castillo say
recently on her podcast .... "if you are going to spend time thinking about all the things that
could go wrong, shouldn’t you also let your mind consider all the things that could go right?"
The only limit to exploring “what’s possible?” is your imagination – it might be revisiting
what you believe in, evaluating your priorities, digging into your “why?”. The list is endless.
Then if you want to consider taking some steps from “what’s possible?” to “how can I make
it possible?”, there are still so many steps you can take at home - whether you’re focusing on
an internal journey or an external path – journaling, reading, doing research online or
enrolling in one of the courses that are proliferating every day.
Separation and divorce is often unwanted and a massive shock, just like this crisis, but it can be an opportunity for insights, personal growth and a future of your-making. So, wherever the state of your current love life - whether you're single, enjoying coupledom, struggling or separated - this unprecedented moment can be a time to reflect and prepare for when the new beginning arrives.
I hope that despite all the difficulties of this time, these are your silver linings.
If you feel you need to learn more about separation and divorce, transitions and particularly
the transitions of separation, please get in touch.
*This piece was partly inspired by the work of Dorie Ellzey Blesoff who amongst other contributions
has a delightful piece about the neutral zone on youtube (click below). Thanks to Pegotty Cooper, the co-founder of CDC Divorce Coach Training, for introducing me to Dorie's work.