Free happy woman taking 5 steps to recovery

5 steps to recovery

So it’s obvious such a great loss leaves a huge rift, a hole in your life the size of the world.
You lost something incredibly important to you.

Divorce or a breakup are like death. Death of a love, an important friendship or a certain stage in life.

Going through the process, we all experience similar emotions to someone grieving the death of a loved one.
By the book, grief consists of five stages that smoothly run from one into another:


But life’s a bit more complicated. We go back to stages we already went through; one stage lasts hours, while we might get stuck in another for days or even weeks. And the reality looks like this:

stages of grief

So the bad news is that this process is ahead of you anyway. Here’s what you can do to feel a bit better during each stage:

1. Shock and Denial

What you may think:

  • ‘I’m in shock, trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do’
  • ‘It can’t be true’
  • ‘A few weeks ago everything was fine, and now my life is upside down’
  • ‘I am just in a daze. I have no idea what to do’.

What you may be doing:

  • acting as if in a trance,
  • pretending nothing’s happened,
  • over-optimism,
  • numbness,
  • over-indulging (binge eating, alcohol, Netflix, etc.)

What can you do in order to feel better:

First, you must know that denial is the healthiest reaction in the world. It keeps your fuses from blowing out. The brain regulates itself on how much truth you can bear and stay sane. Sometimes it ‘cuts out’ our emotions to the point that it seems we feel nothing.

  • Put off important decisions until later, unless they are absolutely essential for your life. All the rest can wait.
  • It’s going to be tough, so here’s your new routine: get up, wash, eat and drink, go to work. That’s it. Minimum version.
  • You know what you feel. I think a breakup can be a traumatic experience. If you call it traumatic, it means that’s how it is. Check the TRE (Trauma Releasing Exercises) for coping with stress and anxiety.
  • Meditation, praying, relaxation helps to soothe your mind (but it’s a cliche).
  • Sleep helps to ‘digest’ new ideas, so sleep as much as you can. If you can.

2. Anger

What you may think:

  • ‘I’m pissed and offended’
  • ‘Some days I’m fine. Other days I am mad as hell’
  • ‘Now I HATE HIM. I am furious that he has stolen my dreams from me’
  • ‘How could she do that to me!’
  • ‘Why am I so pissed off that she’s out having fun?’

What you may be doing:

You get mad as soon as you see him or her. They remain calm. As a result, you look like a nutcase, which drives you even more mad.

What you can do in order to feel better:

  • Anger releases great amounts of energy, so you can use it for fuel at the gym or to start something new in life. Get sweaty at the gym, boxing, jogging etc. Sports are a great way to blow some steam off.
  • Scream in your car like bloody hell with the music turned up full blast (but please, do not drive at the same time! Go to some empty place like a parking lot).
  • Get your hurt OUT!
    • Turn it into a sculpture and bury it in your backyard,
    • or write about it and burn it,
    • or draw it and tear into million pieces,
    • or go to to the countryside and throw stones as if they represent your resentments,
    • or do anything else to express your anger.

Just DO something. Good luck and… have fun!

Holding onto angeris like drinking poison

3. Bargaining

What you may think:

  • ‘I can’t stop begging her to change her mind!!’
  • ‘All I want to do is get on my knees and beg him to give it a real chance’
  • ‘God, please, I’ll do everything if you make her stay’
  • ‘I find myself bargaining still. Not with him anymore, or with myself, but with… fate? Life?’

What you may be doing:

  • negotiating
  • begging
  • blackmailing

What can you do in order to feel better:

  • Make a list ‘What was really screwed up in my relationship?’ Be fair about it, but not too sentimental.
    • how did your Ex hurt you,
    • what did s/he do that made you feel really bad,
    • what did you agree on, even though you felt it wasn’t right,
    • what didn’t you receive in bed,
    • and so on…
      Keep it and read it every time when you want to get down on your knees.
  • Remember, when God closes doors, he opens a window. Not all possibilities show up immediately. Often, something that starts as a tragedy turns around in your favor. You know that, but you don’t quite believe it, right? Well, this time you need to take it on faith. This experience has some deeper meaning. If you believe in God, trust his wisdom.
  • But if God’s wisdom is not enough, look around. Most of the people you see had a broken heart at some point. I know it feels like you’re suffering like no one ever has before. Don’t get me wrong, but you’re not the only one. You’ll get through, like most of us did.
  • Talk with friends, blow some steam off on forums. Any form of contact with other human has a salutary effect. You’re not alone.

4. Depression

What you may think:

  • ‘I’m never going to find someone else’
  • ‘I’m not worth loving’
  • ‘Everything feels wrong’
  • ‘I feel like I want to be alone with no human contact’
  • ‘I am not suicidal but I just want to curl up into a ball and die’
  • ‘Yeah, it gets better for YOU. Not me’.

What you may be doing:

  • over-indulging (binge eating, alcohol, Netflix etc.)
  • re-playing mistakes
  • fatigue
  • grumpiness
  • no interest in anything
  • going to work is a burden

What can you do in order to feel better:

In a perfect world, you’d have full acceptance of the fact that these moments will come and go. So you’d take tender care of your vulnerable self. But if it’s easier said than done, try this one:

  • This too shall pass! Remember these words–write notes and stick them around your house.
  • Exist in minimum version. Your biggest goal: survive today. Your main job: to breathe. Approach it as if you had an accident and broke both legs – everything needs to wait!
  • Get some balance in your life and do something nice for yourself. No excuses, it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes per day and sooner you start, better for you. Read about One Joy a Day and get a break from the slump sometimes.
  • Relax your mind with meditation, yoga, tai-chi, etc. Try body scan meditation:
  • But if you’re in a hurry, here’s a super short 1-minute meditation:
  • Again, talking to other people – live, online, friends, family, strangers. Talk as much as you need (and they able to listen).

5. Acceptance

What you may think:

  • ‘I spent a few days straight just crying. And then I accepted that it was happening’
  • ‘Now I am getting closer to accepting the idea that our marriage is truly over. Okay, this is my new norm. It’s not so bad’
  • ‘I’m excited for the future’
  • ‘We were just not the right match for each other. I wish my Ex happiness, I wish the same for me, too.’

What you may be doing:

  • re-discovering yourself (who are you now?)
  • doing something only for yourself,
  • self-development,
  • trying new things in life,
  • going back to hobbies you were engaged in before your marriage

What can you do in order to feel better:

  • Everything that works for you! Search, read, try! Re-discover yourself, re-create your world!
  • Face the feelings you still have for your Ex. Make a goodbye ritual.
  • Skip dating for now. Instead, meet some new people. What you do doesn’t matter as much as just being with other people.
  • Make your life fun to live!

So what’s the next thing you can do today?

No matter where you are now, do one nice thing for yourself.
Just ONE.
Just for yourself.
Read about ‘One Joy a Day’ and get started.

there's a place for tough emotions in our lives as well

How are you today anyway?

I hope you’re great. But in case you’re not, sign up and make TODAY the best day ever since you broke up!


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So… I am happily divorced! It was far from easy, even though I tried most of the self-help stuff on the planet. Now I want to share the coping strategies with others who are stuck in the pitch black tunnel. So you will know WHAT to do and WHY it will work. Check Join. Cope. And lope. Into a better life.

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