Sometimes happiness comes under the most unexpected of circumstances.

How to Deal with an Impending Breakup: Summon a Patronus

Posted: July 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: happiness, tips for a peaceful divorce | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments »

One of my readers wrote to me recently saying that she appreciated how happy I was with my divorce and was inspired by it, but that she needed more.  Her husband had just decided to end their marriage and was looking for an apartment, and she felt like her life was spinning out of control and wanted some concrete steps on how to get from where she was to where I am at.

I am such a positive, forward-looking thinker right now that I almost didn’t want to go back in my mind to those early days.  But as synchronicity would have it, reading Harry Potter with Jonah forced me there.  We are reading book three, The Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry is being tormented by these entities called dementors, who, as their name implies, drive one crazy by bringing up each person’s worst memory, in Harry’s case the memory of his parents being killed.  Professor Lupin helps Harry learn a spell that can potentially defeat the dementors, if done correctly.  He needs to summon up a Patronus, a protective spirit that brings happiness to all around it, thereby banishing the dark thoughts of the dementors.  The spell for the Patronus is simple, but not easy.  Harry has to concentrate unwaveringly on a really happy memory, his innermost feelings of joy.  Well, the lesson of this spell was not lost on me.  Focusing on happiness always trumps darkness and depression, but in the face of such devastating and debilitating emotions, it takes a lot of concentration to get to a peaceful and loving place in your mind.

So I decided to sum up the strategies that I used in those early days to overcome the pain and find my way back to the light.

1. Turn to your support system. In my case, I turned to my family in California.  Even though they were far away, they immediately jumped in and came up with solutions for me.  It was simple.  The kids and I would move to San Jose.  My dad said that I could work for his company and drive the company van.  My sister said that she would help us get our kids into her children’s school.  Oh and they even had a man lined up for me.  Of course, this was all a bit unrealistic.  I mean c’mon the van was a huge passenger van with company logos on the side that blocked your view from the back seat.  And the man?  Well, he thought I was cute but hadn’t really been consulted about the marriage and two kids part.  It didn’t really matter though.  All that counted was that I had people who loved me, cared about me, and rallied around me to get me through my crisis.  And they made me laugh.

2. Find ways to have fun and forget what you are going through. During the time that we were living together but were separated, I took every opportunity I could to get out of the house and have some fun.  The woman who wrote me told me that she went to an amusement park this weekend.  I thought that was brilliant.  The adrenaline rush and exhilaration that you get from the rides are like the Patronus, they physically banish the heavy sadness from your body.  She said that her week started on an emotional roller coaster and ended on a literal one.  She was smart to choose the latter because it’s much more fun!

3. Pamper yourself. I have always been frugal and not the type of woman to spend money on luxuries for herself.  However, a friend of mine encouraged me to throw a bit of caution to the wind and take care of myself in any way possible.  She suggested regular massages, which I did.  I’ve also learned from my mother that sometimes a good lipstick can really brighten your mood.  So I paid special attention to my clothes and my makeup because it was important to me to feel attractive.  We have some great used clothing stores in my town so I didn’t have to spend very much money to get myself some new things.  We gals know the power of retail therapy.

4. Fake it ‘til you make it. I know that this is controversial advice, and I don’t advocate putting a smiley face on your problems while stuffing your emotions.  However, wallowing in them doesn’t make you feel better either.  Find time to grieve and then pick yourself up and find a way to overcome.  I feel like this is especially important if you have kids because they are taking their cues from you.  Show them that it is okay to be sad.  There is no need to hide your feelings from them.  But also let them know that you are going to be okay and that while this is a confusing time for you all, things will become clearer with time.  In the meanwhile, you are still going to love them…and yourself.  I kept the vision clear in my mind that my ex and I would find a way through the crisis and would still be friends and loving co-parents.  I had no proof that would happen, but I just kept telling myself it would.  And eventually it did.

5. Laugh. Those of you who read my blog regularly know how I tend to deal with trouble.  I laugh in the face of it.  To me, laughter is the most powerful medicine I know.  So call people who will make you laugh.  Rent funny movies.  Read David Sedaris who finds a way to laugh at his very dysfunctional family.  If you can, laugh at yourself because that will give you some needed distance between you and your problems.  Maybe I won’t go so far as to say that divorce is funny.  But it kinda is…

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17 Comments on “How to Deal with an Impending Breakup: Summon a Patronus”

  1. 1 Tawni said at 8:55 am on July 19th, 2010:

    Molly! i love this. good morning america’s audience is missing out! when i was going through a tough break up, and still living with my ex i read this great break-up companion book by Greg Behrendt “It’s Called a Break-up Because It’s Broken.” It kept me laughing and motivated, which was a great distraction. love ya lady, T

  2. 2 Becca said at 3:37 am on July 20th, 2010:

    Thank you so much for your honesty. My friend is the one mentioned in this entry. Your words have encouraged and inspired her. Thank you for what you do.

  3. 3 Lisa Escue said at 6:22 am on July 20th, 2010:

    Molly,

    I’ve never met you, but I absolutely love you!! Your blog is a gift that has been sorely needed. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Wishing you loads and loads of success in getting the word out about your fabulousness!

    Lisa

  4. 4 Molly Monet said at 8:11 am on July 20th, 2010:

    I appreciate the kind words. Give her some extra special loving these days. She’s doing great at rising above!

  5. 5 Mindy Pelz-Hall said at 8:26 am on July 20th, 2010:

    You rock!!

  6. 6 Molly Monet said at 8:42 am on July 20th, 2010:

    Well, Lisa, I love you for saying that! I felt like people needed a positive vision of divorce. Help me spread the word if you know anyone who might benefit. hugs-Molly

  7. 7 Molly Monet said at 8:42 am on July 20th, 2010:

    Thanks, dear sis! As do you!

  8. 8 nursing schools said at 11:19 am on July 20th, 2010:

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  9. 9 Molly Monet said at 11:58 am on July 20th, 2010:

    Thank, Tawni. GMA may find a way to use me on another piece. I look forward to sharing a more positive view of breakups with the world! I appreciate your readership, my friend. Love you too!

  10. 10 Rebecca said at 6:32 pm on July 20th, 2010:

    Molly, this is excellent advice for anyone going through a crisis. Keep up the good work.

  11. 11 Molly Monet said at 7:17 pm on July 20th, 2010:

    Thanks, Rebecca. It’s interesting to me how what I write about ends up having larger resonances than just a divorce. I am thinking about writing a piece about how my divorce has bettered my relationships in general. There is so much that I have learned through this process that I never anticipated.

  12. 12 Molly Monet said at 10:07 pm on July 20th, 2010:

    I’m glad that you like it. I am going to try to start a weekly post on tips for dealing with different aspects of divorce.

  13. 13 Lisa Escue said at 4:36 pm on July 22nd, 2010:

    Done and done!

  14. 14 how to deal with a breakup said at 3:37 pm on August 29th, 2010:

    “Fake it till you make it”- I just loved that.
    I have read from a book entitled “I don’t want to feel this way”, I learned that the negative emotions are normal, because we’re just human. However, not being able to deal with these negative emotions may bring harmful effects on our lives and relationships with other people. I guess it’s true. We must accept that we can’t be happy at times, and there may be times of loneliness and sorrow. But it shouldn’t be the end of the world for us, we must be able to cope with our experiences and learn how to survive from our negative emotions.

  15. 15 Molly Monet said at 7:43 am on August 30th, 2010:

    Dealing with negative emotions and finding a positive use for them has been the greatest gift of my breakup. I find that dwelling in them just makes me feel worse but moving on and finding a lesson from them really helps!

  16. 16 Helen said at 9:46 am on September 18th, 2010:

    I’m so impressed with your description of the patronus. Very succinct, clear and…so useful! You helped me to see the concept in a different light and it is such a great match for the theme of the post.

  17. 17 Molly Monet said at 11:29 am on September 18th, 2010:

    I am glad that you liked it. That JK Rowling has given me things to think about, like a good author will.


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