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Working through the hard times – Charlotte Friedman

The summer holidays are over and the house is eerily silent. The kids have gone back to school and you are settling back into work. Previously, there might have been a spring in your step. Refreshed and relaxed, you looked forward to starting work again without the dogged tiredness that plagued you before the holidays started. You might have looked forward to the space that the return to school brought.

But now, with a divorce looming, things are feeling and looking quite different. Relief and looking forward may be replaced by fear and dread that you are on your own and can’t occupy that spare time or work environment comfortably. Work instead, becomes a place where you may struggle to cope, trying to get through your day whilst holding your thoughts about your divorce at bay. It’s the same work, same school, same kids, same summer but an altogether different perception of it all.

How then to manage? It is really important to accept that life is different.  That doesn’t mean worse, but simply different.  When life changes are accepted, then you can inhabit them and make something of them, instead of battling against them. To fight life events which you can’t change is tiring and is destined to make you feel alone. Fighting them leads to comparisons with other lives lived and then you feel that yours is wanting in all the wrong places. Your life is as valuable as the next persons – married or not. You have as much to offer as you did before and you are still you.  If you can start to think about that, then you will be able to get back to the rhythm of your life, even if it is a different rhythm. This doesn’t mean a ‘pull yourself together’ approach.  You are entitled to feel devastated, angry, envious or whatever else you feel on any given day, but it is the wishful thinking that inevitably draws you down and compels you to look backwards.

Work can be a place where you can take your mind off your personal life for a few hours. Where you can be creative and feel that you are doing something that you are skilled at and used to.  It can be a place which is a refuge from your separation worries. If it isn’t, if it is a place where getting through the day is a chore in itself, then ask yourself is it the job or is it your feelings that are taking the pleasure out of it. If it is your feelings, then it is sometimes helpful to notice how you are feeling. That is, to think about what you feel at any given time. Sometimes feelings are overwhelming and are much more manageable and less chaotic when you give some thought to them.  You may begin to notice that you thought you felt sad all the time, but actually there are certain things that happen that lift your mood.  Be your own record keeper. Again, it will make you less tired and less at the mercy of a tide of emotions. Inevitably, if your job is getting you down, then that is a different story too.

Getting the kids back to school and yourself back to work can be the relief that it once was. You need to think yourself to the new life that you have and make it yours.


Charlotte Friedman.