Transitions: we all face them.
Bigger ones and smaller ones, they’re always there.
Whether it’s the end of your time in kindergarten, starting a new job, going away to college or simply realizing that your favorite brand of chocolate is not available anymore, life never stands still.
Divorce has been my latest mountain to conquer and it’s been by far the most difficult one to date. Nothing, not even a 14-year long battle with anorexia, can prepare you for the shock and the pain of admitting that your marriage is dead.
But here I was moving back in with my parents and finding myself sitting in my old sanctuary, my childhood bedroom. I was staring at the same mirrors that reflected my depression a few years ago. I was surrounded by the same ceilings that carried my anorexia. Being thrown back into my teenage memories was, to put it mildly, rough. Hearing the destructive voices in my head telling me I had failed was rougher and I was tempted to fall right back into my oh-so-familiar mode of pitying myself.
But I wasn’t going to let that happen. After all, I had a business to run and I was not the same person I used to be mere 30 months before. I had grown stronger, more competent and I had started to be me. No, wallowing in self-pity was not an option.
So, I got back up and moved to Zurich again, not missing a day of work, not missing a deadline, commitment or cause. I was present with all my energy, focus and attention. I wasn’t heartless, but determined not to let this newest struggle in my life destroy all the process I had made.
What did I do? I didn’t just pull myself together (I hate that phrase, by the way), but I used coping methods that really helped and soothed me whenever I felt like hitting my head against the wall, wanting all the gut-wrenching pain to disappear.
I’d like to share them with you, if you’re up to it.
1. Be your own best friend
In the end, you’re the one who has to carry yourself through anything and relying on yourself is your safest bet. Being your own best friend, practicing radical self-love is the number one way to make it through all hardships of life.
Show yourself love every single day by talking kindly to yourself and always be gentle. Stop the judgments that will arise by meeting them with understanding and love, just like your best friend would.
Journaling had already been a great pillar in my recovery from anorexia and it has stayed that way during the last few months. Writing your feelings down in minute detail releases a lot of tension and emotion and provides perspective like hardly anything else.
Just like journaling helped me in recovery, exercise was a major factor in my ability to pull myself out of depression. In times of transition, we tend to let ourselves go, eat a lot of junk and couldn’t care less about going out for a run. But if you treat yourself to a daily dose of movement, you’ll feel invigorated, rejuvenated and alive, which is exactly what you need. And having a killer body never hurt when going through a breakup, right?
4. Surround yourself with positivity
Having retreated back to my parents and being caught in the same, albeit beautiful, home that whispered of so many nightmares was nothing but destructive at that moment in time. Or any moment, to be honest. Pulling myself out of there was essential.
Adding positivity to your life again is an easy but extremely affirming step to take. You can start with seeing friends, writing post-it notes, buying new, fun clothes, getting a haircut, or hunting for a new apartment. Go out and experience nature with all its positive and breathtaking sides.
When the positivity doesn’t come from inside, it’s helpful to surround yourself with it. It won’t take long for you to adopt the positive mindset and start to feel a bit less lonely inside.
5. Determine your life anchors (in the form of family and friends, your home, books and other inspiration) and don’t shy away from using them
My anchor is my family, my mom, dad and sister. I know I can always, always rely on them. No, our relationships aren’t perfect (whose are?), but there’s no doubt that we will never ever let each other go. I also have friends in the US and in Belgium that will forever be there for me and vice versa.
Who are your life anchors? Who can you turn to when life doesn’t go as planned?
Let’s be honest: transitions can suck. They can be filled with despair, feelings of loss and a nagging sentiment that you will never master this new stage of your life.
But let’s be honest again: transitions happen all the freaking time. They’re unavoidable, especially if you’re committed to staying true to who you are.
So, I think that we’re safest if we decide to throw all towels in the wind and finally just ease into transitions with all their emotions and setbacks and tears. And then deal with them graciously, one step at a time.
If you want to, you can find the strength within you, even if you have to dig a bit. Don’t give up. Fight, stay hopeful and the sun will shine again before you know it.
Need more inspiration? Well, the steps I took and the ways I took care of myself built me up so much that I’m making my dream of living in the Big Apple come true, just a mere few months after my separation. Another transition, another challenge and you bet that I’ll rely on the coping mechanisms above.