Chapter 2

Reviving Your Ever-Improving Mental Health

If you’ve gotten to the forgiveness stage, you are truly on the road to recovery—even though many days do not feel that way. Trust me, you are! If you have cut off contact with your ex, changed your phone number, e-mail address, and yes, even the cell phone, and returned his mail to sender, you are really on the way. It is now just you, so, what do you do when the blues hit you out of nowhere? (And believe me, they will!) You just go with it and this too shall pass. Feel whatever you need to, cry whenever you need to, and eventually those moments will become fewer and farther between. That day could not have come soon enough for me, so check out the following series of strategies for continuing on that bumpy, ever-changing, sometimes too-long road to feeling like yourself again. Your focus right now needs to be on you. So here’s what you can do.

The women included below are from my California divorce support group. Thanks, ladies, for your insight, support, and of course your tissues.

See a therapist. Jess contacted her work EAP (Employee Assistance Program) and started out with a therapist who would have been better suited for a more demure, well-mannered woman. She ultimately found a new therapist named Alison, who shared her bawdy sense of humor and desire for revenge. Alison had Jess call her doctor and set up an appointment to help her live with the stress of her divorce. The doctor recommended antidepressant drugs to calm her down so that she could function and keep her job—and they really helped. “Healing Through Pharmaceuticals should be a bumper sticker; they can make the day float by,” said Jess who can attest to the fact that there is no shame in needing help with your life. But you should think of prescription drugs as a transitional stage: a raft to get you across the river, but not something to carry around on your back forever. Today Jess is pharmaceutical-free—and happy to be free of her Mr. Wonderful to boot. (If you don’t have the resources for a therapist, well, that’s what friends are for, as we’ll see below).

Keep a journal. This is a lot less expensive than therapy and just as helpful for maintaining mental (and physical) health. It’s a therapeutic way to work through your anger and get all of the buried feelings out. Release them with a sigh-filled good-bye and feel your heart open up and your body relax a bit as they go. You’ll come to look on your journal as a true friend and confidant, one who will never break a date or cancel dinner because “something came up”. No matter how much we may confide in a friend, partner, parent, or even a professional counselor or therapist, there is something unfiltered about the experience of engaging in conversation with your deepest self. After you are ready to move on, burn those journals. You really would not want anyone else to read them, now would you? They could be really scary. (Better yet, put them in a locked box or password-protected file so you can read them a year from now and see how much progress you’ve made).

Eventually you will be ready to add to your journal writing one of the Native American smudge pot ceremonies that will cleanse all negative energy (i.e., him) from your home. Sounds a bit far-fetched, but people I know who have tried it swear by it. Try a smudge pot with lavender, lemon, sage, and cedar to further get rid of all of your ex and the negative energy he exuded in your journal writing and in your life with him. As you light this mixture and add your journals to the fire, the smoke will attach to all of the bad energy and it will float away. As the smoke clears, all the negative energy is removed and someday will be regenerated into positive energy: your journals will also be history. If it works for the Native Americans it will work for you. Be sure to have a well-ventilated area out of doors. No home fireplace will work. One of my friends, Kara, nearly set fire to her living room and set off all of the smoke alarms in her house. No one needs that kind of that stress as you are endeavoring to get rid of your Mr. Wonderful stress.