I’m learning as I go through this time alone that it is so very important to have goals and milestones to look forward to that are under my control. If I try to set goals like “by November I will have regular visits with my kids,” I’m most likely setting myself up for failure — I don’t really have any control over whether or not that occurs. I can set goals like — “by November I will be in the habit of writing letters to them 2x per week and leaving 1 voicemail per week”– then I can control that. But I can’t control their reaction to those letters and calls.
So I think specific, actionable goals for MY actions toward the kids are very positive. I’ve been working toward just such a goal of late and seem to be pretty successful with the letter part. Just stepped up to voicemails again this week.
But I think there are other things that are within your control that you can also set as goals and that will help a) take your mind off of the pain of the separation and b) channel your energy into something useful. I’m at the early stages this week of beginning to investigate a long-term dream of mine that would mean a change of career at some point (probably far into the future). But there are a lot of steps to take prior to ever making that final career step. I’m taking it slow, doing tons of due diligence,saving money and getting all of my ducks in a row instead of taking a wild leap into the future. I have alimony and child support to consider and I cannot risk a dip in income, even for a dream career.
I put all of those caveats in there because you certainly DON’T want to make any serious life-changing decisions during at least the initial year or so of the alienation period. You want to make sure you’ve adapted to your new life without your kids as best you can and then see about potential life-changing decisions. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t explore future options. As an example, I’m looking at going back for my MBA, helping with my church’s Christmas musical, working with the kids in my church’s children’s ministry and other things.
While I may not do all of them or even most of them, they give me the opportunity to get out and do something, they enable me to channel my parenting energies into something useful and they also have the potential to help me make new friends.
So I encourage you — begin dreaming again — not just about when your kids come back to you — but about what your life is supposed to be in the interim without them. Let’s face it — you were going to have to deal with this when they went to college anyway, so why not be ready in advance….