Imagine this: You’ve been suffering silently for years, never telling anyone how mean your partner was to you, even though everything you could to make it work. You made every effort to take care of all the family’s needs. You literally and figuratively cleaned up after your partner’s substance abuse so that no one would know. You quietly managed all the of the kids’ crises so that your partner could get their work done.
Despite all of this, you believed that the pain would eventually subside and everything would get better. But it didn’t.
You finally decide to get a divorce and, even though it was the right thing, it still sucks — in fact, it hurts. You’re finally in a place where you realize that you need to talk about it, but the question, then, is who?
After I filed for divorce in 2008, I quickly realized that not all friends are created equal. They come in a variety of forms and each of them bring something unique and valuable to the healing table.
The Empathetic Friend
This is the friend who will hold you when you cry. They are critical to have at the initial phase of the divorce where you feel like an apocalypse has engulfed what was once your existence. It is a giant help to have someone simply be there for you as you cry your eyes out. With time, the crying will eventually slow down and become less frequent. The empathic friend, though, will have won a well deserved, permanent place in your heart.
The Peppy Friend
This friend will help pull you out of a sad slump by giving you the best pep talk you’ve ever heard. Your Peppy Friend is the coach John Wooden of your life. They’ll remind you how remarkable you are — that you’re smart, attractive, skilled, and that you have big dreams to fulfill, which won’t happen if you stay in bed all day. Before you know it, the Peppy Friend has motivated you right out of bed, into the shower, and into action in your life. Moving forward, you’ll want to keep this friend close because you’re going to need them throughout — trust me.
The Insightful Friend
Your insightful friend helps you make sense of the chaos of divorce while still holding you accountable, which is invaluable. If you have this friend in your life, lucky you! You won the lottery. This friend listens, understands, and never judges. Most importantly, your Insightful Friend never tells anyone what you’ve said — they’re the Fort Knox of intimate conversations. This friend helps you to keep a clear head and make solid choices, a lifetime keeper for sure. If you don’t have this kind of friend in your life, go to therapy. Seriously. You’ll need to get this type of support somewhere.
The Party Friend
And finally, the Party Friend. The one who, despite your anger, sadness, or whatever else, manages to get you dressed up and out the door for a little fun because you need fun. Without this friend and the fun they lead you to, how are you ever going to remember that, at some point, you actually forgot how to have fun? Your Party Friend will be the catalyst for this revelation and will show you the ropes as you rediscover having a good time. Eventually having fun will start to come naturally to you again and your Party Friend will have a regular date on your schedule.
All of the unique qualities that these various friends have are both wonderful and necessary to have in your life, especially when you’re healing.
If you don’t already have them, go out and find them. Considering joining a support group or a collective of people who do something that you love to do, like running for example. While it may take time to find the right support for you, please don’t believe all the voices in your head. No matter what’s happening in your life, you matter — you are important.
Keep going. You got this.