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Looking ahead

plantNow that your family law process is over, you can start to look ahead for yourself. This can be both exhilarating and intimidating. You need to become comfortable making yourself a priority.

You will need to set some goals for yourself and develop a plan to help you achieve those goals. To do this, think honestly and positively about your strengths, what you enjoy doing, what you are passionate about.

You may want to meet new people, especially if you have left some of your old circle of friends behind. You may be able to do this by finding some volunteering activities, becoming active in your new neighbourhood if you have moved or joining a community group.

You may not be used to thinking of yourself as capable, so celebrate each milestone, from big ones like finishing with family court to small ones like the first time you take on a responsibility that your ex-partner would typically do. And don’t hesitate to call on friends and family to help you with tasks you have never done before, especially if they are willing to help you learn how to do them yourself.

Find friends who make you feel good about yourself and with whom you can laugh as well as be serious. Build yourself a support network of these people and call on them when you need them, whether it is for a shoulder to cry on, someone to take the kids for a couple of hours when you just can’t cope anymore or someone you can vent to about problems you are having with your ex-partner.

Don’t worry if you have good days followed by bad ones. Your life is undergoing a huge transformation, so it is perfectly normal that you will feel differently about it at different times. Be kind to yourself.

You may find it helpful to keep a journal during this time. If you do, be sure to keep it in a secure place so your kids won’t stumble on it and your ex-partner won’t be able to find it.

Physical activity is an important part of self-care. You don’t have to become an Olympic athlete, but building exercise into your routine will be good for you emotionally as well as physically.

Depending on your personality, how long you were with your partner, how he is behaving now that you are separated and other factors, it might take you a few years before you feel like you are consistently back on your feet again.

Don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. Your women’s legal advocate can suggest experienced counsellors and therapists who have worked with women who have left abusive relationships. If you were seeing a counsellor or therapist during your family court case, consider continuing to see them, at least for a while, after your case is completed. You may need this ongoing support as you develop a new kind of working relationship with your ex-partner.

For more tips on taking care of yourself, see the self-care section.