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Mark Banschick, MD

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5 Steps to Getting Over Divorce

Posted: 05/17/2012 12:05 pm

Is it possible to get over a bad divorce?

Yes. But it's going to take work, including getting back in control and owning your life. Believe it or not, there is a psychological term for this. It's called Radical Acceptance.

It takes five important steps:

Mourn: Experience everything you are feeling. You sacrificed a lot for your marriage and it did not work out; feeling hurt, anger, pity, remorse, guilt, and shame is normal. You may still be angry with your narcissistic ex or your adulterous wife, and that is a part of the healing process. If the grief has extended into depression, get some help.

Admit: Admit that you cannot control everything. Certain things in life are a product of the time and place that we were born into. The universe dealt you a hand, and focusing on how you could have played it better in the past or what may have happened with a different set of cards is rarely productive. Admit that your divorce cost you something -- be it emotionally, financially, or both. Bad things do happen to good people. If you become stuck in a sense of injustice, you will miss much of what life has to offer and the world will miss what you have to offer in return. Some people form entire identities around a sense of being wronged, and many of them will go on to hurt others in the way you were hurt. It is enough to be victimized; don't let the victim role victimize you as well.

Trust: Trust that things will get better, and you will not feel this way forever. Healing is something your body wants. When you injure yourself, your body naturally reacts and begins to repair itself. Your soul is striving for equilibrium. Trust that you are prepared for the future and help yourself move on.

Forgive: Forgive yourself, forgive the universe, and if possible -- forgive your ex. Understand that everyone carries their own injuries, and that your ex is fighting his or her own demons.

Accept: You are now in a place where you can understand what happened to you more clearly. Maybe your narcissistic husband did not truly love you. Acceptance is necessary, and at this point you will no longer need to fight your past. This does not mean that you should not learn from your mistakes; to accept means to see things clearly. We don't need to go through life feeling like victims in order to protect ourselves.
In the aftermath of traumatic event like divorce, your emotions may seem overwhelming. I urge you to experience them all, from the outrage to the hurt to the self doubt and the fear of what will be coming next. This grief workis required; it is a necessary component of healing. 

Grieving is the spiritual equivalent to the body slowly healing a bad wound. Grief brings you through pain to disbelief, to anger, to "only ifs", to profound sadness, to loss, and then to acceptance. It gets triggered again and again, taking you over when you least expect it. But, grief does get worked through. We are left with acceptance and -- I would like to argue -- Radical Acceptance.  

Radical Acceptance means that we must accept what happens to us and move on. This doesn't mean that you have to be glad it happened. Life is not fair. If you are in the midst of a divorce, you gave up so much to make a marriage work. It didn't. It is a big loss. We all want to rage at the world, or dwell on the injustice and randomness of our pain.

Once we are able to accept our place in the world, we can contribute something to it. Radical Acceptance is an evolutionary good because it doesn't mean passivity. It means freedom.

 
 
 

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