They were both sitting at my feet, eyes wide, smiles even wider; waiting in anticipation as I opened my Christmas gift from them…one that I was not involved with in any capacity. I tore off the paper, lifted the lid off the box, and then… I’m pretty sure my heart stopped for a second as I knew I would remember this moment forever. Before I could lift the bracelet out of the box, they were up on their feet, “It’s an anchor Mommy, it’s anchor Mommy…BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN OURS.”
Let me back up a step…this was the year that we encountered a lot of change, there was a LOT in flux that year…divorce came like an earthquake with tremors that left quite a wake…including a 1,200 mile move (from Sunny Warm Florida to the Northeast and all of its seasonal challenges (I mean joys!), new friends, new school, new climate, adjustment to a new family dynamics…you name it – we took it on!
BUT we did not go it alone. Not for a second. We were surrounded by love and grace. Family and friends stepped up and showed up in the ways that only your inner tribe can and will. I am forever grateful.
And so, in the appropriate Kindergarten and 1st grade terms, I explained to the girls that an anchor is something that can help steady the boat and hold it in place when the waters are a bit rough. I explained how our family and friends had been like anchors for us that year helping to keep things fun and healthy when we had a lot of changes and new things that didn’t feel so normal or so good. And so that year for Christmas, in teaching my daughters about gratitude we purchased small ‘anchors’ for those who had really been pivotal in helping us on our journey.
An anchor is an incredible gift. But if you’re anything like me asking for help isn’t one of your favorite things to do. But, I have come to realize that it’s actually a source of strength to recognize and realize when you could use a little assistance; we all need it at one point or another and I would much rather need a little help navigating my ship then feeling the pull as we start to drown. I have experienced great strength as well as gratitude when the love and support of family and friends pours out and walks in AND when the professional assistance I employ provides the clarity and direction I need to take action and move forward.
I have learned and lived that anchors are not only a gift; they are a critical component of surviving divorce well. So here are my recommendations for the key and critical areas of support (my top 5 anchors ( +1) that will help you not only to function through divorce, but will actually allow you to strengthen. You will be empowered from a place of support to make the critical and important decisions that are required of you right now.
1. Emotional support – A great therapist will provide the time and space that you need held specifically for you to process all this happening emotionally. It is crucial.
2. Legal support – This can take many forms; mediators, attorneys, collaborative divorce etc. But the point is you need to have someone in your corner who can advise you on the legality of what is happening. They went to school for many years to understand the law so that we do not have it. Network and resource to find the best fit for you.
3. Your kids – Support for your children is critical at this time. You will be pulled in many different directions in order to deal with the ‘Divorce To Do List’ and your kids will need to maintain some normalcy. Whether it’s a babysitter, grandparents, a fun neighbor, or that terrific girlfriend you can call you deserve to know your kids to be well taken care of at times where you need to be on the phone, attending therapy sessions / meetings, or just time to process emotionally what you were going through without feeling so frazzled and pulled in 1 million different directions.
4. Self-care – Have you heard of it? Have you ever tried it? It’s going to become your new best friend. You need to make time and space for the healthy things that keep you you. For me it was working out and going to daily mass. At this time taking care of your mind body and soul is SO important. You may think “ I don’t have time for that”, and that is probably true, but we need to make time for you. It is not a luxury it is essential. As my therapist told me once “Shannon, if you go down, the whole ship goes down with you.” And in that moment self-care became a priority.
5. Faith, spirituality, The Universe…whatever you call it. Whether it’s a priest , a rabbi, a counselor, a coach, a meditation plan…bring it in and bring it on! Nothing is impossible with God and I have leaned on, grown in, and developed my faith in this challenging time and it is a gift I am so very grateful for.
6. I know I said top 5, but my bonus anchor recommendation is a divorce coach…there is great power in having a partner to walk this path someone who has lived through a similar chapter in life, has navigated it well, and is certified to coach you through this experience.
We are all anchors and we all need anchors; it just depends on which chapter of life we are navigating at the moment. Particularly when going through a life changing, challenging experience like divorce anchors are the support we need. My daughters were just 5 and 6 at the time but there was no mistaking it, they got it; they had lived the importance of an anchor and they had felt its grounding, supportive, strength.
With Love, Strength, and Grace
Shannon McGorry is a Divorce Recovery Coach passionate about creating a powerful shift in focus for women who are ready to reclaim their power during and after divorce. Shannon is certified as a Professional Coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, a graduate of I Heart Coaching, and a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Siena College with a B.A. in Economics. Her powerful coaching skills lead women toward lives of purpose, fulfillment, and joy. Learn more at http://www.lovestrengthandgrace.com