THE BLOG

Get Out of the Race and on the Roller Coaster to Divorce Recovery

08/20/2013 11:53 am ET | Updated Oct 20, 2013

If you are divorced, or in the process, BEWARE!

Not of your ex-spouse, but of self-help "gurus" promising you a quick fix or time limited recovery program guaranteed to get you over the heartbreak of divorce.

I'm all for any kind of support when it comes to divorce, but having gone through my own marital disaster, and sitting bedside with suffering divorce survivors, I can confidently say that there are no magic pills or fast remedies that will legitimately catapult you to the other side of this transition.

Tools, affirmations, support from others and written exercises are all amazing for healing the heartbreak of divorce, but they offer symptom relief not guaranteed long-term recovery and change.

Divorce makes you vulnerable because you're in crisis and desperate for answers. You want nothing more than to rid yourself of this experience, and to find a way to beat your ex to the finish line of the race to move on.

Like a chap with a flat tire in the middle of the night, you would probably pay any amount of money -- to anyone you remotely trust -- to solve your problem and get you back on track.

Recovering from divorce cannot be a rushed process. You also can't do a cost analysis on your healing because the length of your marriage has nothing to do with how quickly you get over your heartbreak. Every person is different, and every situation brings its own set of obstacles.

Whether its 30 days, eight weeks or an intensive weekend, trust that time is a variable, not something to aspire to.

So settle into your journey, and prepare to go on a major rollercoaster ride that will be over once you have fully experienced every curve, peak and drop enough times to warrant getting off the ride.

In the meantime, remember these four truths, as you keep steady on your path to healing...

Pain = Growth
Even though you feel stuck and paralyzed, you need to trust that you are actually growing. Your pain and suffering are indicators that you are experiencing change, and expanding as a person. Some of what you are being filled up with will be integrated and make you more resilient, and some of it will be held temporarily until you can let it go. The difference will not be immediately clear, but if you trust that what you're experiencing is natural and normal you won't make the mistake of throwing out what's good while trying to get rid of what feels bad.

Going Through Is Better Than Getting Over
Getting over something, and going through it, are two completely different experiences. Imagine the difference between flying above a forest filled with trees or walking on foot through its majestic beauty. When you travel through your divorce process on foot you take in the sights, smells and sounds of your personal growth in a deeply profound way. You are in it, not outside of it, and nothing gets missed including the things that will change you for the better. Rushing to get out could mean missed opportunities to learn, leading to a higher risk of repeating any mistakes.

There Is No Finish Line
I know you might not want to hear this, but the death of your marriage will stay with you forever. You will absolutely get through your divorce, but relationships have a way of sticking in your psyche for the long haul. Setting deadlines for yourself like "when I sign my divorce papers," or "when I start dating," as indicators of things being done is an illusion. Your divorce and the end of your marriage are two separate factors, each with their own timeframe and process.

Be the Change
We've all heard the affirmation about being the change you want to see in the world, but this really does apply in this context. Whether you like it or not you have become not only a statistic, but also a role model. As you walk through the world remember that you represent all other divorcing individuals everywhere. Take it upon yourself to challenge the stigma of our society that portrays divorcing people as being broken and pathetic. Teach them that it's painful, yet transformative, and that divorce is the end of a marriage not a life.

Please recognize that I am in no way discouraging anyone from seeking whatever help and support they need to get through divorce. I'm just encouraging you to keep your eyes wide open, be patient with yourself, and to trust your own journey toward long-lasting recovery.