First steps on how to overcome divorce or separation

By: Valery Danko

With the recent pandemic we have seen a tremendous increase in divorces worldwide. The pandemic just outlined issues that existed a long time before.

Therefore, I felt an urge to share this message NOW to support you, because I have been through divorce 2 times. It’s never easy and never will be. But the good thing – you will get over it, and if you follow advice from this article, you’ll be good.

You just walked off from your husband or he walked off. Doesn’t matter, it is painful anyway. You still think about him, shared memories and years together. Be aware that those images will penetrate your mind for a while. But be aware, those images are just thoughts, like cars passing by on the street. They stop on the crossroads and disappear in the darkness of the night.

I shared my memories with you as you will find yourself in them as well.

So let me guide you through the post-divorce steps into your beautiful life.

1. Grieve over memories.

“Please, don’t do it to me” I see a distorted image of my husband fading away and wake up. Its 4 am and I stare at my soon ex-husband to be. His beautiful curly blonde hair, how he moves in his sleep. Memories start invading my head. I feel sorry for him.

But the best thing I can do for him – is to not lie. And leave. And give him and myself a chance to find Love. I was the one who is leaving but I didn’t know how painful it is. My heart is breaking into microscopic pieces. In order to do something, I put on my gym clothes and go for a run. I did sports, but I never used to run before. Well, I start now. I go outside and head towards Hyde Park. The first memory comes up. A freezing December night outside my apartment block. He looks up, and with a little hesitation leans towards me and gives me a gentle kiss. It’s our first. I run faster and it fades away. A February night when he picked me up from college and we went to his family country house. We got stuck in the snow storm and spend 3 happy days rolling in the snow and eating fried potatoes (the only food we found in the kitchen) next to a fireplace. I run faster. It fades. His cheerful grandma, smiling to me and proudly showing her roses in the garden. Her dog, merrily meeting me. I can’t catch my breath and nearly suffocate of the speed of my run. But memories don’t stop arriving, they hit me like a thunderstorm, covering all of my mind.

Therefore, I stop. I allow them to come, I accept them. They overwhelm me.

Memories matter. They make you who you are. Don’t try to erase them, just accept them.

One day you will feel better. So allow yourself to grieve. Grief is an important part of letting it go.

2. Physical activity.

What helps you instantly is a physical activity. ANY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. Do 100 jumping jacks. Do 100 squats. 100 burpees. Can’t do 100? Push yourself to your limits, but do it honestly. Can’t do those above? Dance!

It is an instant help. The best anti-stress pill. It increases the level of oxytocin in your body and that’s the way your body lies to your mind that everything is alright and under control. Sports trigger brain chemicals that make you feel happier.

I see you just grabbed an ice-cream bucket? Throw it to the bin.

Relationship pain can only be cured by another pain – let it be physical.

I did yoga in the morning, walked, ran, did pole sports. Combination of those activities helped. I participated in pole sports competition and got 2nd place. I was proud of myself, that I did it only with my support. I was my friend. The more I exercised the better I felt, I had no time for negative thoughts.

Physical activity also increases your brain work and you will perform better at work and will be able to generate new ideas.

The secret of sport is while you are doing it your mind is completely absent and becomes refreshed afterwards.  It works like a day restart.

Professional athletes rarely have depressions.

3. Gratitude.

I cross the road, tears run down my face. I look up and let the sun dry them.  Where will I live? What should I do?

Then I think. I am healthy. I am alive.  Why am I playing a victim?

The weather is perfect. I still have a place to live for 2 months before I have to find a new one. I’m grateful to the Universe to be able to see, hear, walk, feel the sun.

I don’t have money. So what? Well, I’ll earn it.

Think about things that you are grateful for. Your kids, if you have them. Your health, your beautiful brown eyes, a green tree next to your house. Start with small things. The more gratitude you express to your life – the better attitude you will have towards it and Life will open a door for the great things.

4. Financial independence.

Your self-esteem is important for your financial independence and vice versa. Find things in your achievements you are proud about. It doesn’t have to be something financial. You might have helped someone, finished university, you might be the best at cooking vegan lasagne or you have raised 2 wonderful kids, the list could be endless. It is important for your self-esteem. Once you found it, you will start building your confidence on this foundation stone.

Strip off your fears. Easier to say then do, but you just have to boldly believe in yourself. If you allow fears to invade you, you will never succeed. Fears are a mental disease. Don’t give yourself that chance. Only go forward!

A healthy relationship starts from financial independence. Your man can pay bills or pay for the holiday or whatever you decide, but in your mind, you have to know that you are capable of doing it yourself as well.

On the time of my first divorce I was not financially independent.

I had a freelance job I truly adored, but I worked for peanuts. I had little savings to compare with what was needed to maintain the same lifestyle I had before. I lived in a nice spacious flat 5 minutes away from Hyde Park and I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford this anymore.

But I valued my life, my youth, and above all my freedom – higher than any lifestyle.

During the day I worked. Hard. On making my company alive. I had a sleep deprivation and slept for 4 hours for the first weeks. Work – is the best help to get rid of silly thoughts. I always loved peculiar history so I wanted to create tours that will be meaningful to people, will be unusual, funny and help visitors to spend a great time in London and bring memories back home. I did it out of love. I rented a room in a creepy house, but it was cheap and I could work.  Slowly tours started to sell without advertising. In half a year after my separation I made a deal to rent a flat and move out of the creepy house but refused afterwards because I moved to Prague, but that’s another story. The main point is that I could do it financially on my own. And you can do it too.

5. Explore nature.

Go to the local nature spot – let it be a river, lake or a park. Nature heals.

Pay attention to every tree, every bird’s song you hear. Is it a happy song?

Look up at nearby buildings like they were built recently, think about people who planted trees. What was their life like 100 years ago?

Look at the magical patterns of leaves, think how happy you are to be alive.

Ride a bicycle, have a feeling of freedom. You are a free woman, who chooses her life and her destiny. It is better to be single than to end up with the wrong person. Your ex was the right one for the certain amount of time, so don’t blame yourself for anything. Your marriage was not a mistake, not at all.  It had beautiful times, it had the worst times, it’s over for a reason – to let you become Yourself.

6. Focus on yourself.

Ask yourself what makes you feel good? Not what made your husband feel good. Now we talk about you.  Be honest. Important – it doesn’t have to include other people – like it’s good to see friends.

Firstly, write a list of things that make you feel great.

Secondly, create a list of dreams. Of your childhood dreams, ideas you used to have or have now. Write down everything, and then use numbers from 1 to 10 indicating how strongly you wish to perform a certain activity. You will learn about yourself and might pursue forgotten interests of yours. It’s never too late! In the next article I will explain how to open a business from a hobby.

You don’t know what you want? Just start doing what you like.

7. Get support.

You don’t have to explain anything to anyone. Don’t answer questions you don’t want to answer. You can just say politely that you are not ready to discuss it right now, maybe later when you are over. Most of the people ask not because they care, but because they want to gossip.

Get support from your closest circle, from someone you know will accept you for who you are and won’t judge you in anything.

You are not guilty.  Do not blame yourself for anything. You did your best and you could not have done it differently. If it’s you who cheated – it was your way of escaping this relationship. If he cheated – do not blame yourself. It’s alright, sweetheart, move on.

I had one friend who was very supportive and my sister. My parents could not forgive me for my divorce for a long time, thinking that I made a terrible mistake, but they love me and just needed time. Don’t push your loved ones to accept, have patience, they will come to you when they are ready.

8. Go on dates.

After you know a bit what to do with your life, go on dates. No, it’s not crazy, as it will unwind your mind and you will learn again how to flirt. You might find new friends, interesting people or just spend a nice time. A date doesn’t force you into anything. It’s just a time spent with a charming man, you owe him nothing, you are a free woman.

The world is full of wonderful single men. And maybe your future Mr X is also divorcing at the moment?

After my separation I started seeing men. With one guy we were riding bicycles in the park and it helped me to feel alive. With another we went to a musical. Then I met a handsome guy who I seemed to like but… he wasn’t the One. I instantly felt it, and realized that I didn’t divorce my husband to step into another relationship that is doomed from the start. You just have to feel it. However, I still believed in love.  

The importance of dates is you meet people, you talk to them. You don’t have to start a relationship with every guy you see, but being flirty, exchanging your life experiences and sharing a laugh makes you feel better.

Remember, it’s never too late.

I have a family friend. She used to have a perfect family: a husband and two adult children. Her calm life was shaken by the devastating news of her husband’s cancer. She did everything to save him but unfortunately time wasn’t on his side and he passed away. Afterwards she lived a tranquil life without intentions to meet anyone.

A year upon the tragic event she suddenly meets a guy at the restaurant. She didn’t have any dating intentions. They both like each other, but she warns him that she is 20 years his senior. He doesn’t care about her age. She is 49, he is 29, a year younger than her son. And no, he doesn’t need her money, she was not a millionaire.

In a month’s time they spontaneously drive to the seaside for a few days, go to drink coffee at the local cafe, travel to the small town which is an hour away. I have never seen her so happy. Does it matter how long they will be together if they are happy now, in the current moment? She just enjoys life to the full extent.

However, they got married, moved to the south of France and are together for 12 years already.

You never know what gifts life is holding for you.

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Valery Danko is an actress (, CEO of Pigeon Tours & Managing Director of Perimetr Films. She is also a history writer for ZIMA magazine. The passion to help people and animals have better lives has led her to creating miraculous tour experiences and videos that upgrade businesses to the next level.

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