The Handbook of Positive Advice for the Newly Single
Did you ever see the Tim Burton film, Beetlejuice? It used to be a favourite of mine but I have to say that when I watched it recently it had somewhat lost it’s sparkle. I don’t know, maybe something to do with it being made like thirty-one years ago or something.
Where did those years go??
Following an accident, The Maitlands find themselves bewildered in the afterlife and a less-than savoury family move into their beloved home. They make it their mission to use their positions as ghosts to haunt the family away but are clueless as to how to go about it, being nice people and all.
Then they find "The Handbook for the recently Deceased”, offering guidance….
I've been pondering this idea of a handbook for stressful situations for a while and from my extensive research of blog posts, YouTube videos and self help books, here I am providing my own version of a handbook that would have indeed proved … ‘handy' for me.
I will name it
Advice for the Newly Single.
Yep. That’s me. Never how I thought I’d be describing myself, but here I am. And who’s going to nitpick over my choice of the word newly? It’s been ten months at the time of writing this post and for me, it’s newly. I think it will feel like that for a long time. I recently read a suggestion that the time it takes you to ‘get over’ a relationship is roughly equal to half the total time you were in said relationship. Great news for me for the next 8 and a half years, then.
I’ve spent a long time contemplating this new situation and I find myself blessed to have such an amazing toolkit of goodies afforded to me from my yoga journey over the years. Here I’d like to offer some of the things that have been useful for me.
If you get home from work and all you want to do is crawl onto the sofa and slide under a blanket with all the Netflix you can process, bloody well do it. I have clocked up many hours in this pursuit. During times of emotional trauma, there are many stress hormones going crazy in your body. You may very well be in a ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response, not knowing which way is up. Because of this, it’s likely you might find yourself exhausted without the energy even to prepare a meal - yep, I lived on dust for a while - but please do.
Take a look at this post I wrote last year about How to deal with grief, loss & sadness. At the time of writing, I was considering self-care during the time of a bereavement but the loss of a relationship is also just that. It’s not just the relationship, it’s the shared history, the promise of a shared future, shared finances, shared photo and music libraries, Amazon accounts - jeez, who knew that two lives could become so enmeshed?
And then there’s shared children. Oh god, my heart! So there’s a high likelihood that’s you’ll be dealing with your traumatic present whilst parenting and caring for children as they experience their own upset.
Oh yes, and there’s that little thing of functioning well enough to perform your daily work to earn the money to buy the food that you don’t have the appetite to eat.
A very good piece of advice was given to me indirectly by the mother-in-law of a very good friend, “she just needs to find her new normal”. Even then, whilst a very sound piece of advice, the prospect of having a new normal seemed as likely as winning the lottery jackpot twice in one week because I had no idea where to even start.
My usual conversations with this particular friend almost always end up with us in hysterics talking about poo, body parts and rude noises but this funny, kind beautiful friend of mine said, almost wagging a finger at me, ‘accept every invitation you’re offered, even if you don’t fancy it, because one day people will think you are ‘over it’ and don’t need inviting anymore’. Wise words, lady, wise words.
To start with, I had no choice but to honour my need for extreme rest. Seriously, if something wasn’t urgent, important or necessary, it just didn’t get done. But slowly, I did start to push myself a little bit and accept all the kind and generous invitations given to me. I am glad and grateful to be welcomed into the homes and families with so much patience and love as I am on the days that I find myself alone without my children.
When I started this blog way back in 2015, it was to share what I’d learned about lovely yoga - tra la la! All chin mudra’s and lotus positions on a beach silhouetted in front of a spectacular sunset. But what I’ve discovered in this last year is that
there are so many things that can help you regain your sense of self
after you have processed your sadness.
Because process it you must. If you try to lock it in a box, ignore it, jump into another relationship, it will grow arms and legs and bite you on the arse. Or bite the arse of the new person in your life who may not deserve it.
For me, the onset of winter was perhaps the best time for my separation from my husband. Let’s not talk about Christmas. Or New Year. Or Valentine’s Day. Or Mothers Day. Or Fathers Day. Allllllll the Bank Holidays. All theses f🦆king Days that seemed to rub my nose in it that I was no longer in what I used to believe was a happy marriage.
And then came summer and I couldn’t hide under my blanket on the sofa any more. With the advent of family holidays, I found myself feeling alone in a different kind of way, especially and most importantly having to wave my children off leaving me with lots of time on my own. Who knew my house could be so eerily quiet? And so it became necessary to make my own plans rather than wait to be invited. The delight is that it’s not just necessary it’s an amazing, enriching and enjoyable thing to do.
My circle of friends instantly shrank, by choice I might add, when my husband and I split up. But what I found beautiful was the way I discovered an honesty and a vulnerability that I didn’t know I was able to share. As I shared, my circle of amazing friends shared more than they ever had as well.
Women I’ve called friends for almost fourteen years - now we were being honest and real with each other. None of us has a perfect life. I found I was being mothered and held and nurtured by other mothers that I love and respect. I truly would feel honoured if one day I could help any of them the way they have helped me.
At one point in my woeful tale, one of my gorgeous lovelies used to open her front door and put her arms around me with neither of us saying a word, she just let me cry. Now. If that doesn’t get you right in the feels, I don’t know what will.
In times of difficulty, lean on the people who love you. They want to help, just as you would want to help if the roles were reversed.
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Then talk some more.
Talking is so important. Regardless of the circumstances of your separation, if you don’t voice the words that make you feel angry, sad, lonely or rejected to someone in whom you can place your trust, they are something else that will grow arms and legs and turn into the ugliest monster with the sharpest teeth you’ve ever seen ready to bite you on the arse.
Don’t pretend to be fine if you are not fine.
Don’t bury your sadness to spare someone else’s discomfort
Deborah Adele’s The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice translates this beautifully. Would you rather be nice, saying just the right things for people to like you or would you rather be real? Being brave enough to carry your emotions and express yourself with honesty?
Don’t get me wrong, this is a tough practice, but believe me, it’s better in the long run.
In yogic philosophy, the second of the yamas is satya, or truth. The first is ahimsa , which translates as kindness. Show yourself kindness by being truthful about how you feel. Granted, your mood might change from rage to extreme sadness in the blink of an eye and that’s just fine. Acknowledge how you feel and account for your emotion in this very moment.
Do it now; stop reading, close your eyes and work out which emotion you’re carrying. You don’t have to do anything about it at all, but giving it a name is an act of both ahimsa and satya.
In your extremes of emotions you will need to lean on the people who love you best - the ones who you can trust to hold space for you while you cry or shout or rant. But, a word of caution; the people who love you best will not enjoy seeing someone for whom they care deeply so upset. And for those people it will be terribly hard to not take sides. Brace yourself that one day they may express dislike or mean words about your ex and you might not want to hear them.
You need to know that your opinions of what happened in your relationship breakdown are just one side of the story. Your own perception of how you interpreted the situation(s). This is influenced by every experience or emotion that has shaped you as a person. It doesn’t necessarily make your ex the devil incarnate. They will have their own interpretation of what happened between the two of you, based on their life own experiences.
One who can remain impartial while their best friends heart is breaking is worth their weight in gold.
Lots of people will have an opinion on how you should respond to this situation or that situation - and this will come from a place of love. I would suggest to you, dear one, that only you know how you feel and as well-meaning as your circle is, only you can walk the path that you are on. There is not a soul on this earth who can do the healing for you, but they can hold your hand and walk beside you as you heal yourself.
It is for this reason I say, if you are lucky enough to be able to invest in the services of a professional counsellor, please do so because I’m certain you won’t regret it. My own talking therapy has been a saving wonder. Alternatively, consult with your GP to see if there are any local services or support you can access. You might also want to have a look at Elefriends and The Blurt Foundation.
The jury is out on whether you should cling onto hopes of a reconciliation that may or may not even be on the cards.
Been there, done that.
In your heart of hearts, only you will know if the relationship is done. And if you’re not sure, satya will be your friend again.
If you can, stay away.
By that, I mean try not to look at their social media profiles. Do as I say, not as I did. It can hurt.
“Don’t look at the car crash, don’t look at the car crash”
Do you want to do that to yourself?
I discovered the idea of the inner child during one of my many hours of ‘research’ of self-help books / YouTube videos, and this has been quite profound for me of late. In one of my recent blog posts,I invited my reader to consider their five-year old self. Here I invite you to do the same. Don’t you want to snatch them up in your arms from the middle of the living room rug and make sure that the goblin under the sofa doesn’t get them?
This is where I am with social media.
Also where social media is concerned, NEWSFLASH not all on there are your friends - especially the more ‘anonymous' of them like Twitter and Instagram. Whatever you post can and may arrive at someone else’s door.
If you are having a rant directed in a passive-aggressive way to your ex, someone else in a vulnerable state may read that and take some deeper un-intended message from it. We all know someone who looks to inspirational quotes to better their life.
Or to validate their sense of injustice.
Does it help you feel better to post these things? Really?
Another consideration is, and I’m sorry to say this has happened to me; a memory I innocently shared on my profile that related only to my own feelings of that moment was deliberately shared with someone I had intentionally stopped from seeing what goes on in my life. Lesson well-learned.
Here are some positive steps you can take right away
Account for your feelings Give them a name, don’t bury or ignore them, let them move through you. Don’t listen to your inner critic (my own can be a bitch).
Talk to someone you trust. Be honest, even during the times that you worry that you are a burden. (You’re not, by the way.)
Nourish your body with clean water, clean food, good rest and movement. Let your feelings move through your body with dance, walking, yoga, running, cycling - whatever floats your boat. I offer some really gentle yoga classes at my studio in Hucknall and all of the groups who come along to my classes are friendly and welcoming. You could also consider joining a local women’s circle (or a men’s group, but I’m afraid I don’t lead those, being a woman, and all.)
Do the things you love to do make plans, pick up a book, restart your guitar lessons, have coffee dates with friends, take a bubble bath, enjoy an early morning walk, learn something new which gives you the opportunity to meet different people who have common interests.
This is not a tale of "woe is me". This is me telling you that I understand. Really, I do.
I understand the void that you feel, the grief, the sadness, the anger and the injustice. Whatever you are feeling, you are perfectly entitled to feel.
In this, please know that there are also feelings of growth, rediscovery of friends, beloved hobbies and SELF.
I’ll leave you with something that I have taught in countless children’s yoga classes over the last few years. There is an ancient Japanese art called Kintsugi. If a ceramic bowl or ornament is broken or cracked, it is not disposed of, but repaired with molten silver or gold. The object becomes far more beautiful and interesting. It is the destiny of us all to learn, evolve and grow from our own personal experiences; there is a lesson to be learned in everything, good or bad. The clever part is to identify what the lesson is. This way you can grow and make yourself stronger and more beautiful a person for overcoming challenging times.
Sending you all the love that you need in this moment,
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and it may have given you some food for thought. Use the buttons below ⬇️ to get social.
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