The end of a marriage is a process. Although you may feel a need to distract yourself from the stress, anger, loneliness, shame and pain, you know deep down that avoiding your emotions won’t make them go away.
If you are facing divorce, in the middle of it, or on the other side, you may feel both devastation and relief all at the same time. Maybe your heart is broken, and you wonder if you will ever love again or if there is anyone out there who will love you. It might be difficult to talk to your friends, family, and others in your life about the complex divorce process. As you go through this difficult time, you may feel isolated and alone, especially if old friends no longer seem to know how to talk to you.
Some days you might wonder if you will get through the day. You may feel especially lonely and hurt as you wake up in the morning or try to fall asleep at night. Perhaps you question your decision and feel certain that you did the right thing all in the same breath. You may quietly fear how your divorce will impact your children.
If you did not initiate the divorce, you may wonder if you will ever feel less angry for being left behind. You might question everything you’ve done or said, while trying to both listen to and ignore that nagging feeling inside that recognizes the relationship was not healthy and had reached an end point. Maybe neither you nor your partner, regardless of who initiated the divorce, had the energy to repair your marriage.
Many Adults Struggle with Divorce
At this moment, at least 50% of our adult population is going through a divorce. You are not alone in your experience and there is hope. Through the “dark night” of divorce comes an opportunity for self-discovery, healing, and transformation. You can find and access strength you may have never known you had.
Through the process of my own divorce along with the many clients I have helped through this issue, I have come to realize many common experiences in the divorce process. No one goes through a divorce unscathed nor untransformed. In fact, the process and the issues we face during divorce are so often the same that I would venture to label them as “universal,” at least within our western culture. It doesn’t matter your gender, race, spiritual beliefs, or sexual orientation. These experiences prevail with only slight variation. Although you may wonder if anyone truly knows the pain in your heart and the depth of your loneliness, at that same moment, there are thousands of people wondering the exact same thing.
See if you can relate to some of the following “universal” experiences:
• Questioning your own decisions and choices
• Feeling afraid to be alone
• A desire for distraction as a way to not feel so much pain
• Wondering how you will handle being away from your children
• Fears about how your children will get through the divorce
• The process of taking off your ring and the emotions that brings up
• Feeling shame about telling people you are “divorced”
• Grieving the “dream” of what you thought marriage was going to be like
• Feeling lost about creating a new identity after being married
• Contemplating what it might be like to date possibly after many years (even decades) out of that scene and trying to balance your need to heal with a desire to not be alone
• Unsure of who you are outside of your role as “husband/wife” and/or “father/mother”
• Fears about money
• Grieving the many layers of losses that are encompassed in the divorce process
• Feeling overwhelmed by a myriad of emotions that cycle from day to day
Divorce Recovery Counseling Can Help you Heal
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Support and encouragement can be important during this difficult time. Divorce recovery counseling can be an extremely effective tool to provide support, clarity, and an objective perspective for you to put together the pieces of the puzzle. All of the struggles that you related to above will be discussed and you can develop healthy and effective coping skills to recover from your divorce and thrive. As well, therapy is a great place to take a look at the patterns in your marriage that did not work and to ask yourself some tough questions, such as, “What can I learn from this?” and “How can I grow from this devastating challenge?”
I will walk through this process with you each step of the way. As your therapist and guide, I am here to listen and help generate an objective perspective. Usually sharing your story is the first step to realizing that you aren’t the only one who has been in my office telling a very similar story. The understanding look on my face helps you to know that although always unique, your struggles are not unusual. Most likely, given your circumstances, they are completely normal reactions to a very painful process. Many clients describe my office as their “safe space” where you can explore your questions and your darkest thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or rejection.
You can use this ending as a new beginning uncovering new ways of knowing yourself and engaging in new relationships. Divorce recovery is not easy work, but it is important for your long-term well-being. By developing a solid relationship with yourself, you can lay a firm foundation for future relationships.
Although you may feel that divorce recovery counseling can help you find healing, you might have questions or concerns…
Seriously? The divorce is expensive enough, why should I spend money on counseling too?
I know that divorce is expensive, but the stress that comes with the process can take a toll on you and those around you. Make the investment now to heal yourself and gain awareness of the patterns that caused your marriage to deteriorate or be built on a wounded foundation. The grass is not always greener on the other side of divorce. But if you are willing to do your work and heal your heart, divorce recovery counseling can create a silver lining in an otherwise completely destructive life event. You deserve to heal and to thrive in your life. The empowerment you gain by stepping into a place of consciously knowing who you are, what you need, and asking for what you want is priceless. You are worth it!
Nothing can really make me feel better at this point, isn’t it better if I just do my best to “get over it?”
Although many well meaning friends and family members will tell you to just “pick yourself up and get over this,” the patterns that led to your unhappiness or discontent in your marriage will just repeat themselves in the next relationship unless you do your divorce recovery work now. I know that is tough to hear, but it is in your best interest. Trying to “get over” a divorce by avoiding the wounded parts of yourself that you ignored during your marriage is the same as trying to move into another house hoping that your financial struggles won’t follow you. A new house is not going to solve that inner issue. Feeling your feelings about your divorce is the best way to get through it. Divorce is like a solid brick wall that extends to infinity. There is no getting over it. Divorce recovery counseling helps you to gently explore and feel the feelings that arise during a divorce, process those feelings, gain coping skills to deal with the pain and fear, access resources within yourself to face it, develop consciousness about your own issues and make new decisions about how to engage in relationships. Divorce recovery counseling gives you the tools to create a door in the brick wall so you can walk through it. On the other side of that wall is hope, opportunity, new beginnings, and a clear path that is yours to create on your own terms. Why would you want to miss out on that??
I don’t want to talk about how bad this feels, I’d rather just distract myself…
Many of my clients continue to make this statement even after they arrive in my office. Distractions are very seductive in pulling us out of our healing process. Similar to the above concern, you may feel that talking about how much pain you are in makes it feel worse. Sometimes in counseling you may feel a bit worse before you feel better because all of those feelings that you have locked away come up to the surface. The good news is that once they reach the surface they can be released. It takes so much more energy to hold onto stuffed emotion than it does to let it go. Distractions only prolong your healing. Trying to immediately get into a new relationship prolongs your healing, getting lost on Facebook prolongs your healing, diving headfirst into work prolongs your healing, over-focusing on your children prolongs your healing. Ways that we think might help us to not feel, just stuff the feelings down further, they do not make them go away. The risk you take is that the feelings you think are gone may manifest in a physical issue or symptom, or will definitely surface in the relationships around you. When you honestly look at all the trouble that distraction causes you, it creates support for feeling your feelings. The temporary pain you feel will be highly surpassed by the peace that comes with actually facing that which scares you the most. That is when you discover your strength, realize that you are more resilient than you ever thought, and have access to a level of courage you might have never thought possible.
The Next Step
From personal and professional experience I can tell you it does get better. If you are ready to move through the pain of divorce into a new future, I invite you to check out my free report, “The Avalanche: Triumphing Through the Transformative Process of Divorce.”