Brenda Fisher is an inspiring blogger, and SWIHA great graduate, who is passionate about educating others on utilizing nutrition and wellness in a holistic way. Brenda’s passion has developed over the last 15 years and gained momentum two years ago when she enrolled in SWIHA’s Holistic Health and Wellness Coach Diploma Program. Brenda is ecstatic about moving forward in her career, and being a first-time entrepreneur. For the purpose of this blog, Brenda felt moved to intertwine her education and current personal experience, of a marital separation, to help others. Brenda’s desire is to encourage self-care, help others feel comfortable to reach out for support and embrace the process. Brenda states, “I want them to be empowered and have support during what can be a crucial healing time and an opportunity for self-growth and self-love.”
I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry you are going through this. It is tough. Some days are downright agonizing. Sympathetically, I do believe there is hope! We can choose to take this path as a learning journey, not just a way to work out our marriage or not. I have heard and read about marital separation. Most of the time, it exudes negativity and seemingly is always a precursor to divorce. However, I am an advocate that marital separation does not need to lead to divorce. Going through hurtful times, betrayal, or loss of love is not easy. We do have a choice of how we are going to move forward. We have a choice to stay stuck in the past of regrets and hurt. Me, I would rather be free of my past and work through the issues and hurt.
If we are honest, there is always something we need to work on as a person. There is a sense of control we must let go of when we separate from our spouse. Sometimes our relationship with our spouse gets so messy and convoluted; we don’t even know where to begin fixing it or how to heal from all the junk. I want to tell you right now, my intention with sharing my experiences and insights below is because I care and I want to give you permission, just in case no one else has, to take a time out. There is nothing wrong with hitting the pause button on your marriage. During the separation, it is vital to honor yourself in the journey. Here are some simple things I would like to share that I have found helpful. First, know it’s going to take time and be a process. During the process, embrace self-care and get the support to ride it through.
It’s going to be a process.
One of the major things I struggled with both times was ‘waiting’. The dreaded wait. Can we please hurry this up so the pain will stop? I challenge you, however, to get to a point where you will embrace this time. It will take you to a deeper place of resilience that you didn’t know you had. If we don't rush it or overthink it, and instead initiate healing and forgiveness while instilling self-growth, I assure you, you will come out winning. This can be a special time in your life that not only benefits your marriage; it will also benefit yourself and all your relationships. You decide. Are you willing to see where the journey will take you?
Let go completely. You have no control over your spouse, if or when, or how long it will take for them to do their part. Their journey will be different than yours, respect it. Let God do His work in you AND them. Trust me, He does it better!
No Regrets, Grace
Banish the regret of past actions and words. You can’t do anything about that now. Move forward with self-convictions and growth. We all have them. Take time to sit in quiet to think and pray about which ones God wants you to focus on right now. Take your convictions one at a time. I bet you know off the top of your head right now at least two things you can take accountability for and start working on them. In time, I encourage you to ask forgiveness for your part. Stay with me. When we don’t, we can hold onto the guilt or shame and keep hiding it. This becomes a block to moving forward with this relationship or a future one. Once it is in the open, you are free and so are they. Personally, I am committed to knowing I have done everything possible to save my marriage so that if it doesn't work, I am at complete peace.
Be prepared to ride the emotional roller coaster! Do not deny yourself this; let your emotions go free! DO NOT suppress them. I’m sure you have experienced this already; I just want to make sure you honor your emotions. Notice I didn’t say follow them. FEEL them. RELEASE them. From my experience, separation has the same emotions as grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Denial is the piece I think we can get stuck in leading to suppressed emotions. The sooner we deal with them the sooner we can move on. With this said, be prepared. As in finding a safe place you can go to such as a closet, room, car, outside, etc. Somewhere you can be alone. Tears, pain, betrayal, disbelief, anger, hate, regret, insecurities…all of it. LET IT ALL OUT. I realize now there will be times you can’t just completely lose it or if you do then what? I say do what you need to do.
Whatever you do, trust your intuition, and don’t rush yourself! Don’t rush to fix you or work it out with them. Don’t feel pushed around or guilty for the separation whether you initiated it or not. This one was a big challenge for me and currently is. My husband wanted to come home. I know innately it was not time. One, because he has things yet to be worked on and two, I am not ready. I am still in the healing process. I have a tender heart and can give in; however, tough love is sometimes in order. Plus, I understand it is God’s job to do the work in Him, not me. I am at peace with that now.
Take care of yourself.
This leads nicely into an important subject! Self-care is the buzzword because it is SO important. Please, do not deny taking care of yourself. There were days I felt like I was meandering, not knowing what to do, how to feel, what to think, unable to cook, sleep, drive or care for my children, or honestly just function normally. It was messy and horrible. One of the first things I did was get a counselor. I HIGHLY recommend this. In addition, I wish I knew the first go around, how to better take care of myself. I like to call this the holistic approach. Caring for yourself by way of mind, body, and spirit. It's not all woo-woo. For simplicity, I would like to break it down this way: sleep, nutrition, exercise, prayer, and fun. An already stressful time for you, I know, please take one piece at a time. Focus on the ones that resonate with you first. For me, it was rest and prayer.
Sleep is king! Do you ever wonder why you feel so tired after a good cry, angry rant, or adrenal rush? Listen to your body. There were times I felt tired and went to lay down but didn’t fall asleep. Yet, I felt refreshed and proud of myself for listening to my physical and emotional needs. Sometimes when we avoid our emotions, this causes a stressful impact on our bodies. Creating a steady bedtime routine can be a really helpful place to start!
I know it is a simple yet complicated and vast topic especially with all the “experts” out there. We do not have to be experts to eat well. I bet you can tell me right now what eating healthy looks like such as fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and lean protein. In general, this is a good starting point. Don’t forget about drinking water! How I would direct you, is don’t eat it if it’s going to make you feel bad about yourself. For example, sugary or junk food, drinking too much alcohol, not eating OR overeating. Either way, it needs to be balanced. It is my opinion, in addition to many studies, that people emotionally eat certain things due to their emotional state. The root is from not dealing with our emotions. Going back to the importance of processing our emotions.
Woot! Or maybe not woot for you. I mean you don’t need more pressure right now. Did you know, exercise can help you during this time? Exercise reduces stress. It increases your endorphins giving a mood lift. It also promotes better sleep, more energy, helps maintain weight, and combats illness and disease! It would also be helpful to find a friend or join a group class to keep you social during this time. Remember, exercise can be fun and include different things such as swimming, biking, sports league, hobby, walking, hiking, and playing with your pet or children not just going to the gym. I found yoga to be therapeutic for me. It calmed me and I would feel God’s comfort around me.
Prayer is a big part of my life. I have a deep connection with God and I connect with Him throughout the day, especially in the quiet moments of prayer and devotion. Whether you do or not is not the point. I encourage you to explore this. What I would like you to take away is simply implementing what you need to in this space such as meditation for a spiritual connection.
Go have fun! For goodness’ sake, we do not have to sit around and sulk. Go out with friends, family, events, see movies, children, pets, try something new, anything. Make time to have fun! If you are struggling and depressed, reach out to a friend to help motivate you. It is temporary. Remember: “Your life is controlled by what you focus on.” (Tony Robbins)
Self-care topics noted above are pieces to support your mind, body, and spirit. There is an additional piece that I feel is crucial enough to advise on its own: Support. Where does your support come from? Separation can be a difficult life event to share with others. It is deeply personal, people choose sides, tell you what you did wrong, there are children involved, some people will judge you, and well-meaning people will hurt you. You need help during this time. Embrace this. One of the first things my mom did for me this second time around was provide dinner for us. She also calls me weekly to check in on me. Do you have this kind of support? It may not be your mom, it could be a friend, pastor, or even a counselor. I have all of those holding me up right now: mom, sister, friends, counselor, and pastor. I am so incredibly grateful for these people in my life supporting me. Be bold, reach out. This road we are traveling on is very lonely. Find support and resources that you need. Here are some resources to help and get started: separation approach, EAP, and free counseling.
I honestly never thought I would be writing about this. I never thought I would say the words I have shared with you. I surely hesitated to share out of fear. I mean it is scary to put yourself out there to be judged. I mean how do I know what I’ve learned will be meaningful and helpful to you? My hope is my experiences have resonated with you. I hope you have found it beneficial by sharing my sincere suggestions of processing, self-care, and support. I hope it provides a level of support and comfort. Separation does promote healing if you allow it. I encourage you to take this time as a journey of discovery, self-care, growth, grace, and love. My hope is you have peace and confidence at the end. Peace and confidence to continue with your marriage or not. Mostly, know you are not alone! People care about you; I care about you. You are good enough. You are worthy to be loved. Reach out and in. Everything will be okay!