Divorce Starts Before the Lawyers
The process of divorce is likened to a tearing apart. Take two boards and super glue them together, then place them in a vise to increase the adherence to each other. After years together, they do not pry apart easily. Instead, the boards splinter, leaving rough edges with a good chance for deep slivers when touched. The beginnings of marriage are like the glueing of the boards and the prying apart represents the divorce. It is messy and painful.
Truth is, the pain from the actual divorce is more a reflection of the pain endured by both parties when the marriage began to break down. How did two people who were that much in love come to a place of hurt, anger, and pain?
Some divorces are more difficult than others. Adding in property, joint business ventures and custody will increase the pain, anger and hurt as well as the recovery time.
Time will be needed to grieve the end of the marriage, the notion of family, and recover from the effects of the actual divorce.
Losses and Grieving From the Divorce
The first year of the divorce is very difficult. It is known as the year of “firsts”. The first round of losses. The loss of the marriage. Loss of a partner, financial status, growing old together, family, birthdays, holidays, friends, church, job, home etc. These losses are visible and immediately tangible.
Subsequent years are not as visible and may sneak up. The body has a very good time clock memory. One may forget the anniversary of some losses, but the body does not. It’s in these moments when sadness or anger seems paramount without knowing why. It will take digging with a pickaxe and shovel to get at the root of where the heart is.
There are losses which will come up post divorce which may be a surprise. For example, putting together a piece of furniture and reading the directions “it takes two people to put together”. It is in this moment where the reality of the situation sinks in and can cause a bout of despair.
Working through grief is not a linear process and may continue for years to come in somewhat of a lesser fashion than the first year or two. Losses need to be measured. Naming and writing down the losses will help with the understanding what exactly needs to be grieved and give insight into what needs to be healed.
Loss of Energy With a Divorce
Divorce is an energy consumer. It takes more energy to deal with the marriage struggle, the divorce and aftermath than one realizes. It will affect concentration, memory, sense of self worth, physical health, and even decision making. It will affect ones spiritual, emotional and physical levels. A great visual would be a gauge which measures the level of our spiritual, emotional and physical strength. The output of the emotional level continuously maxes out. In order to meet the necessary output, the emotional needs draws from the physical and spiritual levels, eventually depleting the reserves. It will take work to level out all three components, and that takes time.
Rebalancing the body will require being intentional in daily living. Becoming self aware and intuitive with getting enough rest, exercise, proper nutrition, and reaching out to a support system.
Setting Back Recovery Time
All of these or even just one of these unhealthy choices can and will set back recovery time. One could find themselves in a situation which will mount more pain onto an already painful situation.
Moving Forward in Recovery
Practical Advice to Help Recover From Divorce
- Don’t face it alone. Friends and family can help. There’s no use in pretending you’re doing all right – everyone needs emotional support and understanding in situations such as a divorce. Even if it was what you wanted, you are still allowed to grieve.
- See your doctor. The change in marital status and the losses can have such effect on life. If you can not get out of bed, see to the necessities of life, talk to your doctor to get temporary help to be able to function throughout the day and sleep at night. You would not deny yourself the treatment of a doctor if you broke your leg. Nor would you deny yourself the use of a crutch until your leg was better. Getting help to get through the day and sleeping is no different.,
- Eat properly. Exercise. Get enough sleep. These seem like such simple things to do. But in reality, it’s tough. Remember, you are worth being healthy and getting enough sleep to make it through the next day.
- Routine. Developing a routine for the day will help to keep you on track. A specific place to put your house or car keys every day when you get home, a place to put your purse or briefcase at the end of the day, or even an alarm telling you it’s time to leave the house for work or appointments will help you get through your day.
- Remember, you are just one person. The things you were able to accomplish in marriage will not be the same things as a single person. You are one parent, you are one person. Not everything will get completed in one day. Make a list, prioritize the necessities and the extras. Realize,not everything on that list will be completed.
- Adjust your perspective. Life has started a new chapter. Looking at it through a different lense will help the healing process. If you have had to downsize from a house to an apartment, looking at is as downsizing will prolong the recovery. Seeing it as a fresh start, a new place to call home will help to reduce the risk of depression anxiety or bitterness. This one will take time.
- Rediscover yourself and create a new identity. You’re single again and that is a new role to take on and get used to. Who are you now? It’s time for rediscovery. Try a new sport, get a new hobby, go back to school.
- Re-start doing things alone. Going out to see a movie, taking care of your necessities or just going to the supermarket, is enough. You need to feel comfortable about being on your own and independent again. And that takes time, effort and persistence.
- Spend time with friends and family. Now is the time to lean on friends and family and even turn your social life around. It’s not healthy to spend all of your time at home wondering why divorce happened to you. After you mourn your marriage, is time to open up to the world again.
- Set new goals in your life. You had a life’s project in your relationship and now that project makes no sense. It’s time to set new goals in your life. What do you want to accomplish? How do you envision yourself as a happy person?
- Forgive and let go. Forgive your ex, forgive yourself and let go. It’s easier said than done of course, but forgiving your ex and yourself for the failure of the marriage may be an important part of a healing process, where you can open up to a new relationship or simply move on with your life. Remember this is a process which will take time. However, make a commitment now to forgive in the future so that everything you do will be in line with future forgiveness. Think of the layers of an onion. Each layer represents a forward movement in forgiveness.
- Journal. Journalling is very effective to help get things out of the hamster wheel of the mind and sort out what is going on in our body, mind and soul. It serves three purposes.
- To show in a tangible way what you are working through
- By naming the losses through journalling, what seemed so huge and insurmountable actually becomes smaller and provides hope where healing needs to take place. It gives the loss or pain a name.
- When you look back, you can actually see how far you have come to help to shine a light onto where you are going.
- Seek out recovery groups. Some recovery groups such as “Divorce Care” are geared to helping you understand what the body, mind, and soul are going through. Being with like minded individuals through this process will help in that “not alone” feeling as well as provide feedback to help process what you are going through.
- Seek professional help. Sometimes divorce therapy can be helpful in overcoming the anger, the guilt and depression about one’s marriage end. Therapy can be a good place to start healing.
Divorce, while it is an ending to a marriage, it is not the end of living life. You are not defined by your marital status. Eating properly, exercising, journaling, getting enough sleep, support network, therapy, all will help to set you on the right course for living life in a healthy way. It takes work. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. In time, you will come through this stronger and healthier.