Your wedding anniversary should always be a happy day. And yet after divorce, it can leave you with a strange range of emotions. No matter why you decided to divorce, your anniversary will always mean something. So when that day rolls around, it is important to be prepared for it. This is especially true for your first anniversary alone.
If your divorce is still relatively fresh in your mind it can be difficult to face it. But this day comes around for everyone. That means it is most effective to have strategies to cope with the day and the effect it can have on you.
Here we take a look at some of the things that you can do if you are facing your first wedding anniversary alone.
Don’t focus on the negative
Divorce can leave us dwelling on the negative. There is no doubt that the whole process can be fraught and difficult to manage. This can lead us to be very far from a positive headspace when the first anniversary rolls around following the fallout.
“Complicated or difficult divorce proceedings can lead to bad feelings on both sides,” says Jane Kerr of The Wells Group, specialists in divorce and family separation “our current adversarial legal system can be stressful, lengthy and expensive for the separating family at a vulnerable time in their lives.”
Remember that this is your first anniversary and that your feelings are most likely to be heightened. Try not to focus too much on the negative of the divorce, look to the future and where you can go rather than what’s happened in the past. You’ll only have to experience your ‘first anniversary’ once – and it will be the hardest to deal with.
Be good to yourself
It is important to recognise that this is one of the hardest and most challenging things that you’ll ever have to overcome in your life. No divorce is simple and there are always complexities – you might find it easy to be very hard on yourself if you allow your mind to wander and simply dwell on the past.
Your first anniversary probably isn’t the time to think about where you are at in terms of new relationships. Give yourself a complete break and be positive. Stay active, focus on yourself and do things that you enjoy – don’t punish yourself with overthinking or considering the things that you think need to change.
Rely on your support system
Remember that if you are facing an anniversary apart from your former partner, it doesn’t mean that you need to be completely alone. You have a support network that you can rely on and will be completely understanding of your need for help and assistance at this time. Think who these people are and prepare to make use of them.
It’s probably not a good idea to put out a big post on Facebook – it will likely garner the wrong kind of attention and not the genuine people who are willing to help and listen. However, it is really worth telling the people closest to you. They might not specifically remember the date of your anniversary – so there is no harm in just making them aware.
This will not only help them to understand if you’re not quite yourself on the day, it will also put them alert to be ready to provide support.
Plan an easy day
Expect the day to be an emotional one. As such it is not going to be one where you plan to get plenty of things done. Many make the mistake of trying to fill their first anniversary alone with lots in order to keep busy. The problem with this strategy is that it can often leave you in a position where you have to do a lot of things just at the time when you are feeling overwhelmed.
It could actually be much more effective to simply think of this day as a ‘sick day’. Watch bad TV, read, do something that you enjoy – but not something that requires effort and exertion. Do what you can to avoid mentally taxing or high pressure tasks and situations.
You understand yourself the best, so it is up to you to decide whether you want to spend your day with other people or if you are better suited alone. Understand that you may face some mental hurdles and limitations today, and accept them for what they are.
Avoid social media
It’s a really good idea to avoid social media close to your first wedding anniversary alone. Just as there are lots of reasons to give social media a miss while you are going through a divorce, this is a fraught time. Remember that social media can give you a warped sense of reality – you can misconstrue photos or see the kind of posts that you don’t want to.
Some find that it is easier to avoid media in general during this time. Unfortunately a lot of media can feature triggers around love, relationships and romance, which might be harder to stomach on this specific day.
Start something new
There is no doubt that your wedding anniversary has been a significant day for you – so it is not surprising that your emotions can get the better of you. Many divorcees advise that as you will have gotten used to counting this day, you need some sort of new tradition that you can continue to count.
If you don’t, it can become easy to simply continue counting your wedding anniversary: “it would have been my 15th wedding anniversary this year”. It is a much better idea to create a new ritual or routine that this day can be focused on.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that you will never have to go through this first anniversary again. Of course, it will come around next year – but things will be easier and this will continue as time heals. You might not be ready to feel truly positive yet, but you can at least minimise the worst of the feelings.