If you are like me, you are the type that has an experience that you seek to understand, and then you research everything you can about it, to better understand it and to move through it in a healthy way. That happened to me with my divorce.
Besides the nuts and bolts of divorce–the lawyers, laws, rules, statutes, paperwork, bills, [and did I mention paperwork?]–there is a lot of other stuff going on when you get divorced. Divorce is technically a business transaction in which you and your ‘partner’ extricate yourselves from financial entanglements. That’s it. What we know by being in the process of divorce is that the ‘business’ end of it is simple. The emotional end of it is anything but simple.
What I wanted to know was HOW to emotionally recover from my divorce. I wanted to know what steps to take, and what I would have to go through in order to get myself back to a place where I could trust myself and my feelings again, and move forward with my life. Funny thing, though–what I learned is, there isn’t just one path to recovery from divorce. There are many. Though there are many, there is a common thread of feelings and experiences you will have to go through to recover from your divorce, or start the process, anyhow.
Here are the common threads I found::
>Erratic emotions and fears. I remember being on an emotional rollercoaster right after my separation. I was so emotional that the smallest thing could set me off crying. I vacillated between crying and being paralyzed by fear. I had no appetite, I was in fight or flight mode All. The. Time. I had so many questions–how would I survive financially when it was all done? What would happen to my kids? How would I be able to start over? How does the process work? How can I afford an attorney–and do I even need one? All these questions eventually are answered as your divorce progresses. Learning to sit with the discomfort of not having the answers yet is the real challenge.
>Exhaustion and Overwhelm. This is not a process for the faint of heart. You will be constantly looking for paperwork. You will be documenting everything that has to do with your kids. You will be utterly overwhelmed by all the moving parts, dates, timelines, documents, and schedules you will have to keep track of. You will have to make decisions that you never thought you would have to make with a partner, let alone on your own. You will be tired, girl. Recognize this early on and take steps to combat it right away. Self care is particularly important throughout this process, but especially in this stage. You are no good to your kids or yourself if you don’t take time to unwind and get some rest.
>Processing your anger. This is a necessary part of your healing. What does that look like? Here are some tips to help you process anger:
- Notice. Take a deep breath and pause for a moment.
- Name it. Say to yourself, “I’m angry because…”
- Check in with yourself about it. Is it warranted, or are you blowing things out of proportion?
- Reframe. What lesson is your anger teaching you? What triggered you in the first place? If you can identify that, you can identify the area in which you need to heal.
- Talk it out. When you are ready, talk about your anger in a constructive way with a divorce coach, therapist, or friend.
>Grief and loneliness. It is normal to grieve the life you thought you had. When you divorce, in addition to the loss of your partner, you have to come to grips with the reality that your life will not be as you thought it would. You will potentially not get as much time with your kids. Your financial situation may change. Sometimes, you will feel lonely. Recognizing that you can be alone without feeling lonely is critical. If you have kids, you will be spending more time alone [while your kids are with your ex] and will have to learn to manage the feelings you will have. If you are truly feeling lonely, you should seek help from a therapist or divorce coach to navigate those feelings. Look for meaningful connections. Call a friend to go for a walk, walk by yourself in nature, or spend time with your pet,
>Experience, perspective, and understanding. Being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel is important to your healing. Your experience will allow you to tackle obstacles with ease.. Your perspective will allow you to see the bigger picture. Your understanding will bring you a sense of peace and contentment that in the beginning, you thought you might never have again.
In all, the path to your recovery is personal. You might feel stuck some days and like a powerhouse on others. Your goal is to feel empowered and in charge more often than not. Taking charge of your own recovery from your divorce is an important first step to the amazing life you have ahead of you.
Check out my guide on 7 Ways to Rebuild Your Confidence During Divorce, with real, practical tips on how to start taking control of your story and create the life you have been dreaming about!