This post comes from my first blog and was written in March 2013. Part of me loves reading back to that time as I realise how far I’ve come in my own emotional journey (and in writing as well, I do eventually discover paragraphs!). I’ve opted to share these, some lows and some semi-highs, in the hopes that whatever your emotional journey may be, you own where you’re at.
Having been separated for three months now and almost completed iddah (a religious observation following divorce), I thought I might pass on a few tips that I’ve learnt during this whole process, perhaps applicable to most break ups….
1 – Don’t text/call/fb/tweet your ex. Harsh truth, if you’re like me and he chose to leave you, the reality is that he’s further forward in this decision than what you are. As much as you want to and feel you need to, don’t do it – don’t give him the satisfaction.
This is where the 60 day He-Tox comes in handy! To do this, you need a best friend whose prepared to be your wingman. Anytime you feel the need to message him, get your bud. Bud’s job is to give you a kick up the arse and remind you of all the reasons to hate him. By the time the lectures done with, trust me, you won’t have the energy to be bothered. The days will turn into weeks, soon you’ll realise a month is done with. By the time the second month is here, you’ll be fully He-toxed.
I put a date on my phone for when my He-tox ended and by the time I got to it, was pleasantly surprised that I had forgotten! Infact I felt pretty pleased with myself, so pleased that I proudly told the world who thought I was misspelling “de-tox” and congratulated me on my new diet. Well they weren’t far off, I had lost 1500pounds of (insert your own word) after all. You might fall off the wagon, I did once but the messages back were enough to put me off doing it again! Just go back to the start and try again. Be honest with your bud and they’ll keep you right.
2 – The answers not hiding at the bottom of that Ben&Jerry’s tub. I know how it feels, you just want to numb the pain with something that feels good. I can tell you right now; after having consumed 3 tubs of ice cream, six packets of wotsits, 3 classic chocolate bars all in the one go, it didn’t make me feel any better. Infact it just made me feel sadder, fatter and more depressed. Make some healthier choices. Even if you don’t feel like it, there will come a point where you will be happier for having done it.
My choices, I found that stupid Davina McCall situp machine I had bought years ago in the attic and put it in my living room. Day one of my iddah, I started doing fifty situps. I’m at a hundred every night now. My ex had always drank fizzy juice, bottles of cola were the norm in our house. I stopped drinking the stuff. I had got into a habit of eating dinner so late because I would always wait for him to get back from “work”, as a result eating at 10pm most nights! Dinner is now 7pm for me, no snacking at night and eating veggies, salads and fruit (all food he hated!). Bonus, I’ve lost weight, my skin looks good and I’m pretty chuffed with my abs!
3 – Don’t call in sick to work! Keep going – don’t go down the route of just lying in bed wallowing and hoping to numb the pain with sleep. For the first two months, I slept three hours a night, if that. I would lie awake at night, my mind not absorbing all that had happened. Questions going on and on. I was exhausted. Even through the exhaustion, although work is difficult, you get there. I struggled but forced myself, knowing that calling in sick would lead to a slippery slope. Work was also my saving during iddah; it got me out, into a routine and gave my mind something else to focus on. Keep going and I promise you that very soon it won’t be a struggle.
4 – Get rid of his things and anything that reminds you of him. Don’t sit in a hoody that still smells of him desperate to hold onto something that is no longer there. Yes, there are good memories there but all the better when you look at them years down the road. For now, you don’t need to deal with it – pack it up and get it out your sight. Photos, love letters, birthday cards are all packed in a box called “Memories” and lying in a cupboard somewhere. “BURN IT” was my brother’s standard line whenever I found anything of his – I don’t advise it. Take the high road if you can.
Mine had packed most of his belongings but kindly left a lot of his junk around the house. The trousers with a hole in them, scuffed to death boots, car magazines as well as a few things he had probably just forgotten to take. I packed it all up (including the hole filled trousers) and asked one of his friends to pass it along. He doesn’t get to choose what he leaves behind. Be reasonable though, you don’t need to pack the dessert bowls because he liked ice cream!
I think you’re entitled to a bit of mischieviousness to make yourself feel better….mine was binning all his toiletries left behind…..och he was lucky to have got all the rest back.
5 – My situation may be slightly different to some of the other Muslim women out there. I got the rights to the home, don’t live in an extended family etc. As a result I carried out my iddah in my own home. If you do have your own place then I would strongly encourage this. Whilst the loneliness might feel unbearable at the beginning, you will realise that you need your own space, get into your own routine and feel like the strong independent woman you are.
6 – Don’t cut yourself off from those that love you but take your space. Initially I had countless people over during my iddah who wanted to see me once they heard what had happened. There were times that I needed to be alone though and you will too. It’s important to not keep yourself so busy with visitors that you don’t take the time to absorb what has happened. You don’t want some random meltdown in the middle of Tesco one day, people wondering why you’re crying over a loaf of bread. I asked my family and friends to not come over on Sundays. This was my day to myself. If I wanted more then I said it but generally everybody knew that Sundays were for me. I wrote, thought about things, prayed, did whatever I wanted and needed to get myself to a better place.
7 – You don’t need to be strong. My biggest mistake. Worried about upsetting my parents, I started to put on a smile and show every time they came over, pretending to them I was doing fine. If they saw me happy then they would feel happier. I stopped phoning my brother to tell him things because the stress was affecting his health. The charade just took its toll on me – my emotions so pent up that I would sob uncontrollably at night when everyone left or crack at work, having to go to the toilets to have a cry. My staff resorted to tipping my drinks down the sink thinking I was having bladder issues.
You don’t need to hide your upset. Your family know you’re hurting. Yes it will hurt them but for now you need to think of yourself and everything else will fall into place.