5 Ways To Love Yourself Through A Brutal Divorce

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woman learning how to love herself better through a divorce
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Divorce is one of the hardest experiences you can go through. This can be a difficult time even in the simplest of divorces, and it's so important that you learn how to love yourself better during this time.

You're detaching from your old life completely, and going through a lengthy legal process. Being kind to yourself with make this dreaded experience so much easier to get through.

RELATED: The Stress Of My Divorce Is Literally Making Me Lose My Hair

Humiliation, rejection, and defending yourself against vicious accusations are enough to leave anyone worn down to the core. What is left to feed the soul and give life to a new day, a new life chapter?

In these devastating moments, self-love may seem unreachable. Self-doubt, despair, and a dim view of the future are ominous.

One woman's story of learning how to love yourself through divorce.

June, a 38-year-old part-time real estate assistant, was left curled up in a ball on her bathroom floor. She'd been caught completely by surprise when her husband sheepishly announced he'd reunited with an old high-school crush while supposedly on a guys' only golf trip.

June was shocked that her husband was willing to disband the family without even considering working toward reconciliation of their 12-year marriage. She thought for sure his devotion to their three young girls would have preserved some sense of decency.

But he was gone. And to compound the destruction, he blasted June’s character. He put the blame on her, saying she'd been distant from him while caring for her ailing mother.

June could barely breathe, gasping for any semblance of normalcy.

She reluctantly hired a divorce coach after months of being tangled in the mess of divorce court. During those sessions, she vacillated between fits of anger and intense anguish. 

June became hyper-vigilant, noticing and reacting to every detail of what her husband said and did. She was completely absorbed by her anxiety.

With gentle nudging, June finally peeked out from under her nightmare to wrestle with the question of self-love, but could she do anything to revive her soul after the collapse of her marriage and dismantling of her reputation?

Despite June’s abrupt loss of identity and perceived lack of power, she managed to take a breath and learn how to love herself better and be gentle with her own needs.

And so can you.

There are a million ways to cultivate self-love that lay hidden beneath the surface of the wreckage.

Yes, a million — or more!

If you're struggling through a divorce like June, you can soon be on your way to discovering how you can declare gratifying love for yourself right in this very moment, regardless of your circumstances.

Here are 5 ways to love yourself better when you're going through a brutal divorce.

1. Practice "rescue" breathing.

The breath taken by June is available to you, too.

Use a shallow breath to see how effortlessly life rushes in. Then, let the breath deepen to fill all the empty and dark places inside of you.

Feel the stirring of activity inside your body. One breath leads to another, giving hope to every scared, shaken, and seemingly helpless part of you.

2. Receive the immediate relief in front of you.

The second way to love yourself back into purposeful action is to notice the resources right in front of you. Sunshine, a cool breeze, the smile of a neighbor, a mysterious visit by a hummingbird or butterfly.

Notice you can choose which resources to really let in to soothe your aching heart and tired brain. Each of the resources offer moments of respite from your exhaustive efforts trying to feel OK and fix problems. Let them in, and let the pain of the past out.

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3. Notice your power of choice.

Self-love is the gift of choice. Choose one thing you want in your day today.

Is it cinnamon or jam on your toast? Is it Beyoncé or Taylor Swift on your playlist? Iced tea or hot coffee with extra milk?

Tapping into your “chooser” is the key to empowerment. Accepting the responsibility of choice allows you to break free of a victim mentality and step into new energy for this moment.

4. Take inventory of your good qualitiies.

The spirited country singer Reba McEntire reminds us, “To succeed in life, you need three things: A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.”

A brief inventory of these three important qualities points to necessary inner work for the day. Do you need to discover your wishbone and imagine something good coming your way?

Do you need to find your backbone and confidently declare something you need or want?

Or would you benefit most from sitting back a minute and chuckling at life or at yourself, allowing your funny bone to bring levity to an otherwise dreary morning?

I agree with Reba, these are three must-haves. Pick one to move forward today.

5. Allow yourself to grieve your loss.

“Getting over” a brutal divorce is not self-love. Self-love is creating a fresh approach to life with new insight and healthy habits that spring from lessons learned.

Instead of pushing through to try to regain a sense of normalcy from the past, try creating a grief ritual instead. Notice the difficult emotions and hold them in a fresh, curious way to transform the pain and stress into resilience.

In self-love, allow the troubling emotions to surface for just a few minutes. Welcome and hold them. Light a candle, play special music, journal, or walk at a slow pace, and notice and ponder the emotions with tenderness.

With gentle self-talk, whisper, “There, there, the dark night is over, darling. We’ve got this.”

Josh Grobin’s Let Me Fall and R. Kelly’s The Storm is Over are two personal favorite tracks when aching memories call for self-love.

June developed a ritual to honor her grief journey that she uses to this day. When the waves of pain come over her, she takes a breath and turns to her inner playlist.

She sings along with four or five songs that capture her empowered transition to self-love. She gives herself permission to remember her agonizing pain, lovingly notice the sorrow, and sing it out.

Affirmation: I don’t need to escape pain; I can transform the stress to resilience.

No matter how tough the divorce you're going through, there's never a bad time to learn how to love yourself better. Practice these steps and you will make it through this tough time and be better than ever!

RELATED: The 12 Emotional Stages Of Grief & Heartbreak You Have To Survive During A Divorce

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Amy Armstrong is the co-founder of The Center for Family Resolution in Columbus Ohio, serving separating and divorcing couples through parent coaching and mediation. Amy inspires clients to focus on good habits for self-care and empowerment. For further coaching and mediation services, visit her website.

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