Steadying yourself when you wobble during separation and divorce


A guest blog by Danielle Barbereau (BA, MA, MAC)
Professional coach, providing emotional support to clients during divorce and separation
Mob: 07860 801693 | Web: | Twitter: @CoachingDB


The coronavirus lockdown, a time of great uncertainty, may lead us to re-evaluate our lives: how we live and work, our values, and of course our relationships.

Now is probably not the best time to make major decisions on the relationship front, but if you are going through a painful break up, emotions can feel exacerbated. My clients tell me how lonely they feel, how isolated, how sad. They have no one to share their experiences with, listen to their fears, reassure them or provide the human touch we all crave.

If you are going through this, it is all too easy to feel that you have lost control of your life and that everyone else is calling the shots. In addition, the fear of falling ill; the worry about the health and wellbeing of loved one; money and job worries; the excruciating pain of not seeing your children when they stay with the other parents; and worse, when the other parent uses the virus as an excuse not to comply with parenting; all contribute to make the lockdown incredibly difficult.

Yet, I know that even in the worst times, we can find a bit of relief.

First things first, you need to steady yourself. These are a few tips, which are the results of many hours spent working with people who are going through painful breakups. Some may hopefully resonate with you:

  • As bad as things seem at the moment, these times will pass
  • Accept where you are. Don’t dwell on what you can’t change. This will make moving forward easier
  • You are going through life changing emotions; it’s OK to feel these emotions
  • Recovery takes time. You cannot just bounce back; you need to go through a process
  • Be kind to yourself
  • At the end of each day, write ONE accomplishment from your day you are proud of
  • Move, get some exercise and fresh air
  • If you are starting to panic, breathe deeply and repeat 3 times: ‘I accept myself as I am and I can deal with this’. This is an affirmation which will help ground you
  • Take some control back

Regaining some form control at this time is crucial, but it may seem impossible to do. Yet, I encourage you to seek small ways of regaining control. This can be achieved by making some changes in your life. Initially these changes may be small: eating foods your partner did not like, going to bed at a different time, watching DVDs they would have disliked. What is important here is to do things that you did not do when they were around. Do something new, however small a step that feels. As time goes on the changes will be bigger and more significant.

Take my client Josie for example: After he left, one day I sat in ‘his’ armchair. Suddenly I saw our living room from a new angle. I was in charge. It felt good.’

This is a good example because not only is it a new step, albeit apparently small, sitting in ‘his’ chair, but is ‘daring’ because it challenges the former status quo. For Josie it felt like a victory. She began to realise at that point that she would survive and be OK.

Aim at making at least one change a day, every day and observe the sense of achievement you feel. Challenging yourself is good on several levels. It takes you out of your comfort zone; it also shows you that you are capable of achieving something by yourself, and it makes you feel independent and more in charge of your life. When your partner goes, your confidence is shattered. It is absolutely vital to work on rebuilding it. Challenging yourself is a way of rebuilding a fragile confidence.

Emerging and recovering from pain is a slow process. It doesn’t happen in a tidy straight line. We go through ups and downs, peaks and troughs. Pain and grief, just like love, are personal emotions and no-one reacts exactly in the same way.

All we can do is realise that we are grieving, that the process is running its course.

Remember: this too will pass and you will get better!