When You're in the Muck, Roll and Tuck
Alright, so I wanted to be all rhymy with my title, but it made sense when I had a friend call me recently very upset about her pending divorce. She’s really just at the beginning of it. And it’s bad. She was an emotional wreck worried about money, custody and even having to see her abusive ex. She felt like her entire world was unraveling and there was no way to fix it.
I told her to take a few deep breaths and tuck and roll. I reminded her that she’s not alone and it absolutely does feel overwhelming at times. And these times come and go. Often, they blindside you, which only adds to the emotional toll. Fear, panic and sadness go hand-in-hand with most divorces, but especially when divorcing an abusive partner. There’s so much more to navigate in these cases.
When you’re in the thick weeds of divorce, and you’re really struggling emotionally, you need to tuck and roll, then prepare yourself for the next shot. Here are some Tuck-and-Roll methods I practiced to help get me through the really tough times.
1 Pick one scary thing and vow to do it that week. Scary things, to me, are things like: Making an appointment with the attorney (finally), finding an alternate place to live, getting a separate checking account, calling the IRS, dealing with debts. Anything that makes you groan and put off doing it? That’s the scary thing you need to manage head on. Some of these things may not seem scary to people in normal relationships, but with an abusive person, the minute you make a move on anything, you’ll be interrogated and yelled at -- also insulted, berated and threatened. So, we don’t take these little moves lightly. They are scary. But if you do my next part, it will be easier…
2 Write down your fears. Write it all down. Even as silly or serious as it may sound. My list used to include things I didn’t actually think would happen, but if there was even a little part of me worried (like the fact it was even rolling around inside my head), it went on the list. Right down to what if he kills me or I end up homeless or he gets full custody. Write it all down. And Step two of the fear exercise is to make a contingency plan if that happens. Just a quick answer. For example: What if he gets everything and I’m left broke and homeless? … Then I’ll rent a small room somewhere and start over. It will suck for a while, but I’ll make it back – better than ever!
And total aside? But I’d rather be broke and homeless than still married to that guy; am I right? Do this exercise and I promise you’ll feel better. If you have the inclination, you can also think out all the ways you know he’ll try to maneuver through the divorce so you can try to stay a step ahead of him.
3 Visualization. One day, while in the thick of the muck, I opened up a Google email draft and did a visualization exercise. I wrote A Day in the Life for my son and me. I imagined what our life could look like on the other side of the divorce. Or not even that soon. It was more like a someday. I got very specific with details. I described our house, a little cottage with a screened in porch near the water somewhere. I described our lives and friends. I described what we would do when we got up every day and how our day would be from dawn to dusk. I enjoyed dreaming this up. And then? When I was having a bad day, I would go back and re-read it. I would visualize it all over again. I keep this picture in my head and referred to it often, if not daily.
Want to know the really strange part? A couple years later, it all came true. I ended up in a house exactly as I had described it. And it wasn’t by design – it was by chance. Or so I think. But it’s very possible my subconscious (and the universe) were hard at work finding the details to meet my vision. I mean, I didn’t even know such a place existed when I dreamed it up!
This isn’t a testament for visualization. While I think there’s something to it, I’ve also been visualizing one day I wake up thin for years and that hasn’t happened. So. There’s that. 😊 But the house thing? That had to be because it was my go-to happy place inside my head. And? I still have some work to do. My Day In the Life is not entirely done yet. But I’m getting there.
So, the day my friend called. I gave her three homework assignments. 1) Do one scary thing; 2) Write down all her fears; and 3) Create her Visualization. Vision boards work, too (same thing but with pictures). I always have one of those going too. I keep Word docs with pictures on them. You could do this in Pinterest, too.
My friend called me a few days later and sounded so much better! She did two scary things and was so relieved and proud of herself! She had started writing down her fears and couldn’t wait to get started on creating her dream life. Then she would have something to focus on – a goal – a destination – an answer – an escape. Whatever it is for you, dream it up and then make it happen. After all, you’re doing great! You’re going to be better than ever!