But good or not, divorce, in-and-of itself, is a tremendous stressor. It’s one of the big ones. As with most life-altering events, powerful emotions arise, painful feelings can be overwhelming and adjustments to new situations need to occur.
Healing, at least to some degree, has to take place after the dream of a marriage has been shattered. I like to say, you have to lick your wounds before you can move on.
So how do you do that?
1. Get reacquainted with yourself, by yourself. Give yourself time alone. This might be hard and uncomfortable to be alone. But it is so important to know yourself once again, (for some it might be for the first time) and learn who you are and what matters to you.
I loved my time alone every other weekend when my kids went with their dad. People invited me out but I chose to stay home. I really was licking my wounds. For me being alone was very soothing. I understand for some it might be very difficult and lonely. I was very lonely in my marriage but not when I was alone.
2. Give yourself permission to feel bad. It’s in the Going through the tough feelings that you can eventually Get through them and come out in a better place. You can even allow for Some self-pity. But beware, people have been known to drown in it.
I must admit, I did not go through much of the bad feelings after my marriage dissolved. I went through the agony of ambivalent and negative feelings the last couple of years that we were still together. My main emotion afterwards was relief. I felt like a heavy load had been lifted.
3. Look at your part in the relationship. What do you need to work on? Learn from it. Grow from it. There’s always room for self-improvement. Take responsibility. It’s all too easy to blame your partner for everything bad.
I’m a red-headed screamer. I can certainly justify yelling at my ex, but that part of my personality is me. And it’s a flaw of mine to work on. I own that, no matter what he did to provoke me. We have choices in how we react. I unfortunately react with yelling- something I continue to work on.
4. Get help. If your feelings are spilling over, becoming toxic, interfering with your functioning or certainly interfering with your parenting, it behooves you to seek out some form of counseling. Sometimes you just need a safe dumping ground; someone to help sort things out and help you manage better. There’s no shame in needing it. There’s only harm and regret in continuing to carry on in a problematic way.
I’ve been on both sides of the couch/chair. As a recipient it feels really good having someone there completely and totally for You. There is an objective person receiving you in a non-judgmental, reflective way. As a provider, it is very meaningful work to be a partner in a client’s grief process and a guide along their journey as they pave their new way forward.
What has helped you heal, at least initially, from a divorce or any other major event?