Divorce is one of the great epidemics of our society. It tears families apart and brings painful memories for years to come. You go into marriage thinking that you’ll be together forever, and next thing you know, the vows you took are broken and the life you planned and dreamed of has crumbled. It makes divorcees wonder if there is even a small glimmer of hope for finding love again. Some recover quickly, but for many it takes years to adjust to the changes.
Problems like who gets the house, the splitting of the assets, and let’s not forget the gruesome custody battles. Sometimes you see it coming, but sometimes it just creeps up on you like a nightmare. Bottom line, it’s a traumatic experience that changes you significantly.
It is also a healing process that many people choose to leave out because it is so painful to deal with. But how can you truly give yourself a chance at happiness without healing first? Don’t you want to become free of the baggage that comes with the bitterness that results when we don’t forgive each other?
As a relationship coach, I believe it is my duty to help my clients understand how important the healing process is for their emotional, psychological, and physical well being. Forgiving your ex and forgiving yourself is crucial if you want to move forward with your life. It doesn’t mean forgetting what happened or even reconciling, instead it’s mentally deciding that this is what is best for your recovery process.
Mourn The Loss
Allow yourself to mourn the loss of your marriage. It doesn’t matter who initiated it, what matters is being able to move forward and start a new life. It’s important to give yourself time to heal. Set time aside in your day when you’re able to mourn. Cry, scream, shout, journal, do whatever needs to be done, but once that time is up, continue on with whatever needs to be accomplished that day.
Get Past Denial
The reality that your life may never be the same is frightening to most who grieve their divorce. Thoughts like, “ This isn’t really happening,” “Things will get back to normal soon enough,” or “I’m just going through a rough time, there’s no need to file for divorce” may come up. Ask yourself, “Am I in denial?” The sooner you accept your current reality, the easier it will be to move on.
Evaluate Built Up Resentments
Throughout the grieving process, you experience strong emotions that intensify and force you to reevaluate your self-image. It’s an internal reaction that occurs whenever someone treats you unfairly or does you wrong. Unexpressed painful emotions build up and transform into resentments. Internalized anger can lead to abusive or self-destructive behavior. It’s important to communicate those resentments. So when thoughts like “I hate my ex” come to mind, think deeper and ask yourself, “Do I really need to express my feelings towards my ex in such a negative manner? How is this behavior affecting my relationship with my children and people around me?
Monitor Your Thoughts
Often, in times of desperation, we tend to strike deals with people. When mourning the divorce, sometimes the pain gets so intense that we’d do anything to go back to the way things were. If they take me back, I promise I will change. If we get back together, things will be different. If the thought of being alone is scarier than being in a broken marriage, then you’re allowing fear to control your life. So when the urge of striking a bargain appears, ask yourself, “What exactly am I bargaining for? The thought of what my marriage should have been like?” It’s important to monitor your thoughts. Thoughts are very powerful and have an effect on our daily life. They can either drag you into a depressive state or get you out of one.
Find A Support System
During the depression phase, the belief that “my life is over” may kick in. You may feel a deep sadness over the divorce and just want to crawl up in a ball and sleep. Or you may feel restless and not sleep at all, constantly replaying all that happened. You may cry over the fact that your marriage didn’t turn out the way you imagined it would and sometimes even play the victim role — that you had no idea who you married — just to get through the pain. Any kind of fear could reinforce the other stages of grief. So it’s important that you have a great support system and not waste time with regret. Monitor your language and thoughts and be a strong example to the children.
Accept Divorce As A Reality
Wishing that the divorce never happened isn’t accepting reality. Instead, look at it for what it is. Give yourself permission to find happiness again. Positive reinforcements are a way of accepting the reality and moving on. If you’re the cause of the divorce, then own your mistakes. Forgive yourself and let go of the past. Always welcome good energy and embrace the new journey ahead. Once you allow the grieving process to pass, you open doors for new opportunities, memories, and a happier life.