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Gong shows - and other ways to cope

I think I feel asleep.”

I think you did too. I’ve been listening to you snore for 45 minutes.”

This conversation is pretty much all I remember from the one-and-only gong meditation I went to with unhitch co-founder and my good friend Meagan.

Sometimes I honestly forget we even did that, plus a whole list of other activities we tried, trips we took, books we read, movies we watched. All during the very trying, early moments of our separations and our attempts to feel “normal”. Or maybe just to feel. Anything.

(And yes, for the record, it was me who fell asleep. Meagan says she spent a big part of the hour-long event listening to me and another participant snore but also trying not to sob too loudly and disturb us.)

I think it’s fair to say that until those years, sound and gong meditation therapy was not normally something either of us would have sought out. But during my separation (and the years leading up to it) all I wanted was some quiet, a respite, a pause, anything, that would relax the vice-grip of anxiety around my heart.

Enter yoga, meditation, and heck yeah, hour-long gong therapy. When Meagan asked me if I wanted to go, I don’t think I even hesitated. We needed it. Or we just needed a soothing nap and a chill place to cry a little. Either way, it was a nice hour and a pleasant change of pace.

How to cope when you are too tired for … everything

The process of separation and divorce can make you feel desperate to find the right path, the right answers, toward healing or feeling better. Maybe toward just feeling less guilty, less unsure and less sad all the time. It can be disorienting, lonely, really stressful and a whole lot of other tough, draining feelings.

And we say this a lot, but for a reason: there really is no “right” way to do or handle this.

In our experience, just trying anything to feel better was the start of actually feeling better.

The “doing” of things kind of shook us up, got us out of the house, back into the practice of claiming some time for ourselves, moving our bodies and boosting that serotonin. And probably most helpful of all, gave us time with a good friend where we could cry and laugh at the same time if we wanted to.

Meagan and I tried all kinds of things in those early days. A lot of them we have kept up with.

We started holding “porch wine” with a couple of girlfriends, accommodating our need to gather but also our new limitations of not being able to leave the house because we were now solo parenting and not being able to spend so freely on cocktails and wine bars because of single incomes. We started running and doing in-studio and online yoga practice. We became clients of the same wonderful therapist. We talked to our doctors about our crushing anxiety and high blood pressure and all the treatment options to cope.

I painted, took dance classes, read books again, and listened to A LOT of podcasts. It’s possible after pandemic lockdowns that none of us will want to go for another walk again, but, there is something pretty restorative in popping in your headphones and turning on a podcast for a solo walk. I love Dear Sugars, Modern Love and The New Family.

Meagan redid her bathrooms, tore down wallpaper in her kitchen (and fell off the ladder—safety first, ladies!), started a new job, joined a trail-running group and started a weekly outdoor movie club on her lawn.

One time we drove to Grand Marais, 1.5-hours each way, just to have tacos and donuts while the kids were at school. We ate a lot of cheese and chocolate. We leaned into each other and our community of really good friends and neighbours.

And slowly, almost without noticing, we started to feel a little less awful—some days even better.

Maybe just try one thing and see how it goes. Maybe just reading this will make you feel a little less alone. Maybe take a friend. Or just your dog. Maybe to talk to your family doctor or a trusted counsellor. Maybe you try something you used to really enjoy, or maybe you say yes to something new just because.

More help for coping

Can we even make this list without starting with Brené Brown and Ester Perel? Definitely not.

Thunder Bay Counselling is a good place to begin and offers its free “Talk-in” program every Wednesday. We cannot stress enough how life-saving it has been to have an unbiased, trained therapist to hold us accountable and hold our hands as we navigate all the uncomfortable and complicated feelings and fears that come with separation.

Books like Untamed, Broken Open, The Optimist's Guide to Divorce and All About Love: New Visions make regular rotations through our friend group.

The Divorce Survival Guide or The New Family websites and podcasts offer camaraderie, expert guests and inspiration.

And if you’re looking for more of an escape, why not climb back into bed with some seriously brilliant, page-turning fiction that features sharp, witty, complicated women? We’d suggest My Brilliant Friend (the Neapolitan series) and the Trickster trilogy.

If binging on well-written TV is your thing, we are currently into Good Girls, Ted Lasso, Sex Education and The Chair.

Can we even end this without mentioning Bridgerton? We didn’t think so either.

Upcoming unhitch events

We offer affordable access to the experts on family law, financial health, real estate, health and wellbeing and more through our Live Q&A Events. Browse and register for our upcoming events—these one-hour virtual gatherings are an ideal way to get a friendly overview of separation and divorce from professionals in the field. Members get a discount on all events and the opportunity to submit questions ahead of time to our speakers.

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