The friend of one of my closest friends just lost her husband of only a year and a half to lameness, dishonesty, narcissism, and infidelity. The common friend asked if I had any advice to share to this other (also Jewish) discarded wife. This is what I wrote:
I'm sorry to hear that you are going through similar crap. I wish we could just all be in the same room and I could get to know you over an evening together. But here are a few pieces of advice/strategies, whatever in the meantime…
1.) Go to the chumplady.com website. Her blog is so fabulous. I get her daily emails, and they never fail to provide me with strength and courage. She's far far ballsier than I am in perspective, language, and everything. That's what I find I need right now though. So if you don't mind some f-bombs, avail yourself of her site.
2.) Make yourself a playlist. I'm known for being the last one to know about anything popular. My sister had to laugh at me (understandably) when I told her that I heard a song called "Home" by Philip Philips one day. "Yeah sis, he was only the most famous singer in America a couple years ago," she said. Well, anyhow, she just introduced me to the songs 'Wake Me Up" by Avicii and "Roar" by Katy Perry recently, and I've been blaring them and belting them out in the mornings. Also on the list are Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone." I'm a big Dar Williams fan, and her song "It's Alright" has been a central theme for me. Anyhow, invest some time into making a good playlist for yourself. I listened to that stupid Roar song a DOZEN times yesterday morning while getting ready for work and driving there. Needed it. High energy, uptempo tunes to keep you feeling strong. I have quite a story about my 6 year old son wanting me to play "Strong Enough" by Cher because he knew that was a "strong song" that would help. He had know idea just how much those lyrics were accurate. Oy. That's a longer story. And "The Cave" by Mumford and Sons got me through the first two weeks. I survived on that song rather than food I think. Whatever eclectic collection you like, put it together with easy access to help you put one foot in front of the other at any given moment.
4. This one straight from my therapist: Don't try to make yourself get over it. The learning and growing is in the pain. Be there. In it. It's completely shitty, but if you want to emerge able to create a new life for yourself and manifest your dreams and goals, be there now in the muck. I'm a perpetual pollyanna (as I'm sure Sue will attest), so this is really hard. I just want to feel better now, and I'm usually so good at just "choosing my own mood" as I was taught to do as a child, that I don't "choose" to be in a negative, hurt, sad mood much. But I'm learning to be patient with myself and this grieving process. Please do the same for yourself.
My prayer life has always been on again off again (with far more off than on), but I have found consistently that it has been helpful. (If only we would consistently do the things we consistently find helpful.) I try to wake up every morning saying "modah ani…" before getting out of bed. (recently straight from that to Katy Perry - ha ha). Then when I remember to take a couple moments after getting dressed to read from the meditation book, chant birkhot hashahar and the shema, it helps center me for the day (or at least the morning), allowing myself to have moments of gratitude so that I'm not consumed with grief.
Furthermore, when I'm able to go to shabbat services (hard to do with three boys), I find that helpful. I don't know about you, but different words seem to pop out at me from the sidur, right when I need them most. And different ideas wash over me. Saying the amidah one day last spring I was thinking of our matriarchs and then my own personal family matriarchs and then all the women in they synagogue community who've come up to me to share their stories in the past year. And somehow, recognizing the shared experience in it all helped lighten my own pain. I've described it as feeling like I could throw this whole thing on the collective dung-heap of human experience. I'm not alone in it. I'm learning again and again that everyone has a story. And if they don't yet, they will. It's what I do with that story…. yada yada… but don't take that too far and get impatient with your grief.
6. Lastly (for tonight anyhow, as this has gone on far longer than I anticipated), blogging. I have found it tremendously useful to start a secret blog. To do so I had to set up a new secret email address and whatnot, so that I could really have a blog that wasn't easily traceable to me. I feel a huge sense of freedom that I don't need to worry about what I say, because no one that I ever care about will read it. In fact, probably no one ever but spambots (oh plenty of views from them) will see the blog. But it gives me a completely safe place to process my emotions and hopefully keep track of my progress (or not). I set it up so I can email blog posts straight from my phone. They are not well edited, but I don't care. When I need to spew some thoughts and feelings, I have a vehicle for getting them out. and while you're at it, check out momastery.com and http://honoringhope.blogspot.com/. I've appreciated both of them (even if the former isn't about this issue; the latter is.)
Ok, that's probably way more than you needed from a perfect stranger, and perhaps you've already been doing all this anyhow. In which case just know you're not alone.
I'll send you a friend request so we can message more another time if you want without necessarily bothering S----. I'm not sure how well messaging works if you're not a "friend."