Red Responds: Scared and Anxious After the Divorce

Dear Red,

I am presently in the final stages of divorce. I thought that I would feel relief when it was over but now I just feel scared and anxious. I have a 16-year-old son who has just checked out when it comes to school. I can’t seem to reach him anymore. I can’t concentrate at work and have fallen far behind and am now in fear of losing my job (I am loaded with debt so that would be a disaster). I worked hard 2 years ago to lose weight, which gave my self-esteem a big boost. Since the collapse of my marriage I have been feeling very sad and lonely. I find myself eating for comfort and the weight is piling on. So on top of everything else, I’m feeling unattractive and unworthy. Is there any relief in sight? Is there any sign of happiness heading my way soon? I don’t know how much more I can take. Please help me!

Kathy in Lithonia

Dear Kathy,

The only constant in life is change, and you’ve definitely been tumbling through many changes on the more negative side of things. However, even the bad stuff you’re experiencing is only a transitional period.

This is a very crucial time for you. You have to make some difficult changes, take back control of your life instead of letting your life control you. The first thing I would encourage you to do is get some counseling. It doesn’t seem like you have anyone around you that you can really talk to, or that can help you deal with the stresses you are facing. It’s like you have no release, and that is not good. Everything is so emotional around you that you can’t see clearly, and the natural defense is to hide.

There are good things to come and happiness will be in your future once again, however, your focus should be more on the here-and-now. I’m not very good with sugar coating things, so I’m just going to say it. Presently, your life is crap. You are extremely overwhelmed with all the crap, and you are hiding under it. The thing about crap is, along with being a fairly disgusting waste product, it is an excellent fertilizer. It makes things grow, nurtures things even though it stinks, and makes whatever it lands on much stronger.

Feeling scared and anxious with the finalization of a divorce is natural. The relief will come, but it coincides with you feeling like you have some control over your life instead of being merely at the mercy of it.

Your son is being a teenage boy coming into manhood – struggling with the issues and circumstances of his life. With you being so overwhelmed, it was and is a prime opportunity for him to rebel. Reaching him will come later. Right now you have to reach out and rein him in. It’s not going to be fun or pleasant. You are going to have to be tough with him and on him, or he is going to continue down a little bit of a wild path. It’s not going to be easy for you, but that is part of being a good parent, which you are. Sure, he may “hate” you for awhile if you really tighten the screws and restore order, but you’re really not his favorite person at the moment, anyways.

As far as your job goes, you are not sunk, but you do need to pull it together and get on the ball. Fearing ruin is more likely to bring it, because that energy takes away from what you should be doing. Counseling not only will help you with this personally, but also will help you on the job front. If you think that you are too far behind in your duties to get caught up relatively quickly, then be proactive about covering your butt. Talk to your boss about what you’ve been going through, make it clear that you don’t want to lose your job, and share your plan of action of getting caught up and back on the ball. If you follow through, you’ll be okay. But, you need to stop this runaway train thing you’ve got going on at work.

You’ve lost the weight before and you will lose it again. It’s not just your appearance that is causing your downward spiral of self-esteem. The comfort eating is just your physical manifestation of hiding from all the crap, and your tangible excuse to feel even worse about yourself and your life. It’s a hard habit to break, but you can do it, and you will.

Kathy, do yourself a favor. Quit with the “can’t” word. It’s popping up way too much around you, and truly is counter-productive. Think of “can’t” as “choose not to even try,” because that’s pretty accurate for you. Heck, I even want you to stay away from the word “will,” because that gives you room to procrastinate, which is a luxury your really shouldn’t indulge in right now. So, when you’re thinking of what you want, who you want to become, and what all you need to do, try “I choose to accomplish _______ right now.” Don’t forget to fill in that blank with a small and reasonable goal. Learn to break down the big things into smaller pieces, and at the end of the day, what you have is a list of triumphs of which you are now consciously aware.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you keep putting one foot in front of the other, step by step, you will break out of your personal darkness and into the sun once again.

Best of luck to you.

Brightest Blessings,
Ext. 9226

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