Fiona Eckersley is a confidence coach, author, and divorce recovery expert who helps women after midlife divorce to achieve confidence, security, and control over their lives.
As a 45-year-old stay-at-home mother of four, Fiona was blindsided by divorce. Having lost all sense of who she actually was and where her life was heading, she spent years grappling with self-doubt, negative emotions, and toxic relationships before finally realizing her personal worth and understanding how to positively move forward.
Fiona uses her experiences to help other women avoid the years of searching she endured and provide a clear pathway to their new and better life. Following are some important questions and answers from Fiona Eckersley.
What Does a “Recovery” From Divorce Mean and How Do You Know When You’ve Fully Recovered?
According to the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, divorce is second only to the death of a spouse for trauma.
There are usually very strong negative feelings that come with the end of the marriage. Anger, shame, guilt, and fear are generally the strongest.
A recovery would involve:
Being able to eliminate having these negative emotions as a part of your daily life.
Being able to stop looking back on the idea of the life that you thought you would be living as part of a couple and instead start to put yourself, physically and emotionally, as a priority in your life.
Being able to begin the process of creating your vision for how you want your future to look, which is a real step forward towards recovery.
Is anyone ever fully “recovered?” Trauma is hard to forget, but you can move on from it rather than get over it.
An ideal goal is when you can wake up one day and realize that you’re living life on your terms and that you no longer hold onto blame or guilt towards your ex-partner. In fact, if you don’t even think about how it impacts your life anymore, that’s a significant move towards recovery.
What Type of Mindset Are People Commonly Left With During and After a Divorce? What Is the Biggest Way You’ve Seen Divorce Impact One’s Mental and Physical Well-Being?
There are several challenges that can arise. These cause us to lose peace of mind and forward momentum to the life we would really love.
The negative emotions mentioned earlier, added to a feeling of loss of control or an idea of being a “victim,” are often very powerful after a divorce from a long-time spouse. They can impact all areas of life.
Among the mental health impacts are a loss of confidence and an inability to trust one’s own judgment. Also, the feeling of losing identity and fear of an unknown future. All of these combined add to a rise in negative self-talk, which can cause one to spiral further into stress and anxiety and lead to very real health issues, such as a higher higher incidence of depression and high blood pressure.
With all of this going on, relationships of any kind are difficult to maintain, work becomes much more stressful, and just getting through the day, making small decisions, or setting goals can feel like an impossible mountain to climb.
As difficult as it may seem, being able to be responsive rather than reactive is the best way to handle whatever is being thrown your way as you begin and go through this process. Try not to think of yourself in terms of having this done “to you.” This will lead to calmer communication and lessen stress.
Knowing that you only have control over your own actions will help you to let go of a feeling of trying to “fix” the other person. It will also help you to understand that any negativity directed towards you from them comes from their own trauma, not from who you truly are.
Hold on to who you want to be, not necessarily what they say about you.
I would also add that being able to let go of negative people around you is very important. It could be hard because it’s a time when good friends seem to disappear. However, anyone who’s interested in nasty details or seems to want to “stir the pot” of negativity is not your true friend.
What Are the Main Steps One Should Take to Make Sure They Can Thrive Following a Divorce?
As outlined in my first book, Fearful to Fabulous, there are seven steps for thriving after your divorce. Everyone would have varying degrees of need for each.
1. Stop focusing on what your ex is thinking and what you thought your life was SUPPOSED to be.
2. Face your financial realities.
3. Eliminate bad habits that you may have started as a coping mechanism.
4. Reframe some emotions, such as blame or guilt.
5. Identify the inner voice that’s lying to you about your abilities and who you are.
6. Understand the new relationship dynamics in your life now. Maybe with friends or relatives, or even your own children.
7. Start to identify your goals and passions in your life. It’s now your chance to become the person that you want to be as you move forward.
What Are Some of the Most Beneficial Forms of Support One Should Seek When Going Through a Divorce?
I would add an eighth point to my ideas above, which is almost more important than the others. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help — whether that be from friends, a counselor, or a coach of some kind. You need someone with whom you can talk through your thoughts and who will also provide you with accountability to push through hard times.
There’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about, and trying to go it alone can add more stress and prolong the process of recovery.
Attribute to Fiona Eckersley, Confidence Coach