Divorce and Your Emotions
Just as the legal and financial process of divorce will take time, the emotional process of separating from your partner and establishing yourself as a healthy single individual will take time and your divorce recovery will most likely happen in stages. Divorce usually causes a major emotional upheaval in the lives of everyone it touches. It ranks right up there with the death of a loved one or a life threating illness like cancer or a heart attach. Most people find themselves to be alternately angry, happy, sad, bitter, lost, hopeless, overwhelmed and sometimes relieved during the divorce. You may feel adrift or afraid of what the future holds. Some people may have a romantic view of their ex-partner that makes them feel that to be together again, even in an unhappy marriage, would be better than being alone. Sometimes you blame yourself and believe that if you were just stronger and more in control, you wouldn’t be in so much pain. All of the stress can make you very depressed and recovering from depression can be very difficult amd may require professional help. Look for the sun to break through all those dark clouds because it will with time and a good effort on your part.
Most of these feelings are all completely normal. (Thoughts of suicide are not normal and you need to immediately get profession help. Do not wait!) Everyone who divorces experiences negative feelings in some form or another. However, these feelings can be made worse if you have unrealistic beliefs about the divorce process. Below is a list of the most common misconceptions associated with divorce. If you recognize yourself in these statements, you will need to work on changing your attitude toward divorce. As you move through the recovery process, try to replace these negative messages with more positive, productive ones. Everyday you can learn a lesson that can help you in getting through the divorce and on with the recovery. But all too often we forget these lessons learned, no matter how recent, and we fail to apply them in our daily lives. Try very hard to remember what you have learned so you can avoid reliving the same negative situations over and over.
1. The divorce is my fault. I made a mistakes in marrying my spouse or I made mistakes in our marriage and now I’m facing the punishment.
Divorce is not usually just the fault of one person’s bad actions although in the cases of abuse or addiction or an affair it can be. The end of a marriage or a relationship doesn’t usually result from any one thing going wrong but rather from underlying issues that the couple had never adequately addressed. These issues can lie inside our hearts our partners or both. An event or events take place that allows us to see each other more clearly resulting in the end of the relationship. However divorce does not erase the happy times you may have shared earlier in the marriage or the joy that your children have brought you. When you consider that about 50% of marriages end in divorce, it becomes clear that divorce is not necessarily a personal failure or flaw, but a pretty common life transition that many people experience and survive.
2. Divorce is just a piece of paper.
Divorce is a major life transition, and it will affect every aspect of your daily life, your family structure, your financial status, and of course, your emotional health. If you deny the emotional effects of the changes, you may avoid pain in the short-term, but you will prolong your long-term recovery.
3. It’s not normal for me to feel this sad/depressed/angry about the divorce. I must be going crazy.
Above all, you must remember that your feelings are normal. Everyone who goes through a divorce experiences some level of pain. Do not judge these feelings as “good” or “bad.” Accept your emotions, but don’t hold on to them for longer than is healthy, either. With the passing of time you will be able to move beyond your initial feelings of hurt, anger and sadness and bring back the joy of living.
4. My spouse and I are going to divorce amicably with no hard feelings.
While it is admirable to go into divorce with the intention to behave respectfully and fairly toward your ex-spouse, it is unrealistic to think that you will not encounter anger, sadness, or emotional distress. If you are prepared to encounter these emotions, you’ll be better equipped to deal with them.
5. After my divorce no one will love me, and I’ll always be alone.
Just because one relationship ended badly, doesn’t mean that all others will. Although in the short term your divorce will be painful, in the long run it may open up the possibility for you to be in a happier, healthier relationship than the one you have left behind. You may also discover you like being single.
6. Everything will be fine once I leave my spouse for my new boyfriend/girlfriend.
If you have rushed into divorce and have a new partner waiting, you should be aware that most relationships of this type don’t last long. If you do not examine your past and explore the behaviors or patterns that prevented your marriage from succeeding, you are likely to repeat the same behaviors with your new partner.
7. I can’t trust the opposite sex. I’ll never want to get married again. (However, the majority of divorced people do marry again.)
8. I’ll never be happy alone. I need to find someone to love me so I can get married again.
This attitude is just as unhealthy as its opposite, #6. If you expect your future partner to meet all of your emotional needs, chances are you’ll never find someone who fits this tall order. Rather than rushing into dating to find someone willing to marry you, you should take time after the divorce to become a healthy single individual, in touch with your own feelings and behaviors. Otherwise, you may end up divorced again.
For parents, rushing into dating again will not be the healthiest thing you can do for your children. You will need to take some time after the divorce to re-establish a family routine with them, and they will be particularly sensitive and in need of your support at this time. Make sure that your children feel secure in this new phase of life before you introduce new partners to them. Realize that some children will refuse to accept a new mate who arrives to close to the divorce putting a great strain on the new relationship.
Dealing with the Feelings of Loss that Divorce Brings
Sudden and painful loss can come from a car crash, a bad medical condition, a natural disaster or the failure of your marriage. All are losses we must suffer through. Divorce brings with it a number of losses, and these losses will naturally have an effect on your state of mind. When you lose your partner, you may be losing the person who takes care of your home, cooks for you, does the housekeeping, keeps up the cars and lawn, or does maintenance around the house. You may be losing the daily routine that you are accustomed to, the daily contact with your children, the comfort of your family home, your sense of economic security, your extended family or social network, and your sex partner. It is easy to become overwhelmed by your sense of loss, but you should try to view these losses from a new point of view. Focus on what you can accomplish and where you are heading rather than what you have lost. Consider making changes that will improve your situation. For example, divorce may present you with a good opportunity to re-asses your career choices, to change jobs, or return to school. It may provide you with the time to take up new hobbies or to meet new people. You may find, as you establish new routines, that as a single person, you enjoy being more in control of your life.
You will find that your social life changes tremendously after a divorce. Some of your mutual friends may “take sides” with your spouse or become uncomfortable with you once you’ve divorced. But you shouldn’t assume that your friends will not be there for you without giving them the opportunity to reach out. Recognize that your relationship with your married friends might change, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t still be friends. Sometimes divorce presents an opportunity to renew friendships with people you care about. When you want to meet new people after your divorce, consider joining a club, like a hiking club or health club, attending church, taking a vacation cruise for singles, or volunteering (most cities have a volunteering center/check online).
Stages of the Divorce Grieving Process
It takes time to recover from the pain of a divorce. But the good news is that you can work through these feelings, and they will get better in time. Divorce involves grieving, and grieving is a process that you have to get through before you can recover from the pain and loss caused by your divorce.
For many people the first stage in the divorce process is to experience denial, shock and anger.. At this stage, even very rational individuals can act in irrational and unpredictable ways.. At this stage you may not accept that the marriage is over, or you may blame your ex for the failure of the marriage. You may experience physical symptoms of emotional distress, such as lack of appetite or excessive eating, problems with nausea or headaches, and loss of sleep. These physical symptoms are normal, but if they persist for weeks, you may want to consult your with doctor for possible treatment.
Once the reality of your divorce has sunk in, you may find yourself feeling down and depressed. The symptoms of depression include some of the physical problems listed above, but they also include a lack of energy, difficulty completing simple tasks, a fear of being alone or a lack of desire to be with others at all, frequent crying, or frequent and overwhelming feelings of sadness and despair. These feelings, too, are normal. If your symptoms persist for a long period of time without improving, if they keep you from handling your daily tasks, or if you fear you may not be able to go on in your current state, you should seek out counseling with a well qualified professional.
A third stage in the divorce recovery process is withdrawal. After you have accepted the reality of your divorce, you may find yourself isolated by the situation or withdrawing to protect yourself from more pain. The withdrawal might be accompanied by feelings of loneliness, coupled with a lack of interest in life or an inability to take action and change your circumstances. You may find it difficult to become actively involved in a social life or to establish a new parenting pattern with your children, especially if they no longer live with you.
The separation from your spouse will leave an empty space in your daily life, and you will need to fill that space with new and healthy activities. These activities might include new hobbies or pastimes, working out, or spending more time with your family. No matter how you choose to fill your time, you should try your best to remain active so that the isolation does not become a long-term state.
Eventually as you pass through the mourning stages of divorce, you’ll find that you no longer feel the acute pain, denial, depression, or isolation that you once did. At this stage you will start to feel healthy and satisfied as a single individual. You will have established a new routine that works for you, and you will have restored a healthy relationships with others. You may feel like dating again. Consistent positive feelings show that you are well on your way to a full recovery.
The Time-frame for Recovery
During your divorce you may not feel that you will never recover. You may not be able to imagine yourself without the sadness, anger, depression, or withdrawal. These stages are absolutely normal, even essential, to your eventual well-being. But they are not permanent. Things will get better. .
You may feel an initial sense of relief and freedom after separation and think that you have recovered from the end of the marriage. But don’t be surprised if the feelings of sadness or depression return after the divorce, if you move between these stages more than once, or if you occasionally feel that you have regressed. This is normal. Of course, if as the months pass, you don’t feel any improvement, if you are stuck in one stage indefinitely, or if you feel you can’t recover without help its time to seek out professional counseling.
Did you have fun today?
Did you learn something today?
Did you make someone happy today?
Did you make or save money today?
Did you love someone today?
Did you practice for an event you enjoy today?
Did you do something with or for your family or friends today?
Did you simplify or lower the stress in your life today?
Did you do anything to get you closer to your goals today?
Did you eat smart and exercise today?
Did you follow your daily routines of pride and self-improvement?
Answering yes to all these would be a perfect and a very long day. However answering yes to as many as you can as often as you can I feel dramatically improves the quality and happiness in one’s life.
Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose but the divorce blues.