Okay, you've been seriously clobbered by your ex-partner and all you want to do is sit down, feel sorry for yourself or just curl up into a little ball and weep your eyes out. Right?
That is not the way to approach life for the newly separated. You need to take a deep breath, get yourself together and get out and see people.
It's very important to mix with friends and family as they are the best source of support and comfort for you. Booze doesn't really help, although it can be a godsend to knock off a couple of stiff brandies before trying to get some sleep.
My sleep patterns were all over the show after my split. The mind was buzzing, once awake my eyes were open thinking over all the bad and terrible things that were going on. It didn't matter if it was 1am, 2am, 3.30am or slightly later. Once awake it was either lie in bed mulling over things, or get up and do some work or go for a walk.
I did plenty of walking and plenty of working!
While walking I began to look at the positives of the breakup. I'm 44, a decent bloke, good income, in good shape, still (I'm told) attractive to the ladies and all of a sudden single again. I can do what I want, pretty much when I want (children's needs aside) and so my attitude lifted appreciably.
While the idea of a new relationship was not even contemplated I felt I would feel considerably better getting out and about and meeting women. There is, after all, a need for men and women to chat and connect and it's pretty safe if there are no relationship entanglements.
So, how to meet women?
Well it really depends on the type of guy you are and what you are looking for - company, relationship, consolation, confidence-building, point-proving or sex.
Pubs and clubs: These are okay for some, but I've never really been into the meat market thing where people go out and get drunk and then look for a partner through beer-goggle eyes. You see far too many sad cases in places like that and, low as I felt, I was not going to resort to that. Not initially anyway.
The Internet: Well, the Net has become a huge dating arena where people can get online and meet others through sites like Online Dating Australia. I found the Net to be a good way to put yourself out there safely and there are hundreds of thousands who do it.
A female friend of mine has met several dates through the Net although it has to be said that none of them have paid off into a permanent long-term relationship. It is still a safe and fun way of at least chatting to new people.
Dinner Groups: This is my own preferred way of meeting people. Sitting down with other single folk at an organised dinner where you can just chat and learn about people. There may be someone there who strikes your fancy, you may catch someone's eye, but if nothing else you've had a good meal and contact with people. There are plenty of groups around that organise such occasions.
Now, just to add a little more personal experience here I joined a dining group five days after my separation. I was interviewed by the organiser and then went along to a meal, unexpectedly, that night.
It was interesting and not a little scary.
I sat in my car for some minutes before summoning up the courage to bowl into a group of singles I had never met before. All I knew was that there were around 40 people aged between 35 and 45. So with pride thrown to the wind I walked in and after a brief period of self-consciousness began to chat to a pretty nice bunch of people about their experiences.
Some tales were not nice to listen to, some were very funny. I particularly liked the guy who said it was his first attendance two years after his split and six months after the protection order was lifted! Hmmmmmm. I didn't mention I was only five days out of my personal hell.
Then there was the rather loud woman who was talking about sex a lot . I wish she was a little quieter. I have since seen her in a local shop and did smile to myself.
Anyway, I have to say there was a person there who caught my eye almost instantly. She was with a girlfriend and the three of us chatted over a drink and then I plonked myself down next to her during dinner where we talked for the rest of the evening. We had a great time guessing the occupations of other folk there and just getting to know a bit about the other.
At the end of a rather long evening we exchanged mobile phone numbers and had a hug.
The next morning when I woke up the world seemed a different place. It is amazing what connecting with someone can do to help repair your view of life.
So did I call this lady?
You bet. And if I hadn't she said she was going to call me. We met for coffee, then dinner, then another dinner and almost four months on we see each other three or four times a week and are becoming very close.
Am I damaged by my split after 18 years with my Ex? Yes.
Permanently so? Not sure.
The best thing you can do when in this situation is not to lock yourself away and wither because of an emotionally painful event that has transpired. It's happened, and dwelling on it won't change the past, plus there are some terrific people out there - you just have to open up and find them.
One thing you will discover is that you are still a valuable person. Your ex may not have valued you, but others will. My emotional guard remains up, but I'm dropping it slowly. Wounded once, the idea of it happening again is not pleasant. But, hey, that's life and we only live it once.
Story by James Anthony