While you may not realize it today, your divorce can actually be the beginning of an amazing new life for you. Not that I want to spoil the end for you, but everything is going to be okay. In fact, you're going to love your life after divorce!
I'm going to talk to you with the assumption you want to use your divorce as the launch pad for your new life. Even if you're still in the midst of it, you can start today making small and simple actions that will eventually result in the significant outcome and life you truly desire.
But first, we must address the inevitable breakdown that is likely to occur, if it hasn't already. Not to sound flippant or dismissive, and I'm not talking about the kind of breakdown that will land you in an institution. I'm focused on the breakdown one has before their breakthrough, the one that makes you wonder if you're really losing it. The same breakdown that brings with it overwhelming feelings that can sometimes take over at the least-opportune moment, literally seconds after you've been really in a great mood. If you haven't had any of that happen yet, you probably will. The truth is, you are grieving the end of your marriage, even if you are quite deliriously happy it's finally over!
Read this when you're in the midst of your breakdown, or even when you're having a breakdown moment:
- Let your feelings out! Be sure not to fight or stuff your feelings. It is completely normal to have lots of emotional ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, frustration and confusion. Sometimes all in the same day! It's important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong your grieving process.
- Talk about how you're feeling. Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. We will discuss therapy and other types of support, but for now find someone to talk to, as knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and will help you heal. Journaling can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings. Note: In some states, journals are discoverable during a divorce. Several attorneys consulted on my book, If Divorce Is a Game, These Are the Rules, recommended writing a journal to your attorney as a daily log. It will be protected under attorney-client privilege, even if you attorney never sees it.
- Remember: Moving on is your end goal. Expressing your feelings will liberate you, and only a few times, to the right people, is probably enough. It is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to overanalyze the situation. Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger and resentment will rob you of the valuable positive energy you need to heal and move forward.
- Remember: You really do have an amazing future ahead of you. When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. It's hard to let these dreams go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.
- Know the difference between a normal reaction to a divorce, and real depression. Grief can be paralyzing during and after a divorce. I promise that, after a while, the sadness begins to lift. Day by day, and little by little, you start moving on, feeling better, and having hope. However, if you don't feel any forward momentum even with these suggestions, you may be suffering from real depression and need to consult a therapist.
As you allow yourself to dream again, as you let the old dreams that came with your marriage go, you will feel your breakthrough happen. You will notice the sun on your face, the birds singing, even a butterfly or two. You will wake up and realize, "Hey, I'm actually feeling pretty good today."
I remember not being able to understand how the end of a relationship actually felt like physical pain. I couldn't wrap my brain around how a non-physical event literally physically hurt. It was awful. Yet I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, just kept doing what I knew would help me get better and feel better, and one day I woke up and hurt a little less. Months went by and I hurt even less. Then, my breakthrough happened and I actually laughed out loud.
If it's been awhile for you, I totally get it. And, you will laugh again soon.