A Different Kind of Summer

Summertime changes dramatically as you go through divorce. Obviously, there is no way that your summers are going to look the way they did when your family was together. So, if weekends are hard for individuals to get through on their own, summers can feel completely overwhelming, as they stretch out in a seemingly endless string of days and nights.

Family vacations, trips to the shore and backyard barbeques with our kids and spouse, are now a thing of the past and the sooner we accept this hard truth, the better for our health and wellbeing.

For me, summertime brought with it anxiety and trepidation during the divorce process and for a few summers after as well. Questions like, how am I going to get through these weeks? How can I get my mind around the fact that everyone’s heading to their family’s beach house, and I won’t ever be staying at my old beach house again? Can I find a way to enjoy and appreciate summer, ever again?

If I could offer a suggestion, it would be that you craft your own individual plan to help you get through the summer. Preferably a plan that offers you a sense of security and stability. I devised a plan that ended up working very well for me and yours, of course, should be custom-made to suit you. Mine involved staying close to home, ferreting out things to keep me busy, with the option to retreat to home base when I felt triggered or a bit overwhelmed. I visited family and friends nearby and took advantage of the things around town and in the general locale that piqued my interest. I made sure to stay busy and involved, doing the things that brought me joy. I took walks, went to the lake, found interesting spots for my photography obsession, rode my bike, started running again and called friends who were in town during the summer, inviting them to join me for dinner, lunch, or breakfast, whenever I wanted companionship or support. I’d take an occasional day trip to the beach with friends or head to a bird sanctuary or an arboretum. Many times, I chose cost-friendly places to visit, and settings that didn’t force me into social situations where I’d have to smile and pretend that everything was great in my life. (Also, I did many of these things alone. It is very empowering to be able to do things on your own!)

I took small steps when figuring out how to maneuver through the “endless” days of summer. I knew it was important to be patient with myself and to have protective boundaries to feel grounded and safe. For me, being close to home gave me that security, because I knew that I could exit any situation if I needed to get away from all the “shiny, happy people”. As time passed and I began to feel more confident, I started to branch out and actively plan more exciting, adventurous summer days and nights.

Finding acceptance for the fact that summers are going to be different takes time. But when you can accept the reality of this, you will be giving yourself a kind of liberation. It is liberating to release your grip on what was and what should have been and to embrace the reality of what is. I think it is critical that you give yourself time and space to process all the hard, new realities of your life. In this way, you offer yourself a gift of genuine healing and mental well-being. With the passage of time, you may want to start planning exciting trips and adventures for yourself. The grip and struggle for what was and what should have been will drift away like puffy white clouds in a bright, blue sky. In time, a shiny, new love of summer will emerge.

Weekly Dose Divorce Support Group

Denise Palmer


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