Divorce is one of the biggest loss we might experience in life. It is number two on the list of major life stressors after the death of a loved one. Since divorce is a loss with its own grief process, we need to go through all the stages of grief in order to fully process it and find healing.
The five stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, but they do not necessary occur in this specific order. We can move back and forth between stages for a while, or wildly jump around them, or slowly crawl from one to another. They are just responses to our feelings and can last anywhere between days to months and can repeat multiple times. There are no right or wrong ways to grieve, the only important thing is that we keep moving through all of these stages, even if it feels like this is our tenth time around, and don’t get stuck in one for an unreasonably long time by falling into some of the common pitfalls of divorce.
The mention of forgiveness during or right after divorce can feel like cursing with anger. It can make our blood boil and our jaws tighten with fury when someone mentions it to us as the right and noble course of action. Just the thought of forgiving our ex for all the pain, atrocities, loss, betrayal, and hurt screams against our logical and justice thirsty minds. How could we after all he or she has done to us?
Is it really possible to come out of a hard and painful divorce and forgive the other person at the end? What about if it was all their doing, if the divorce was forced upon us against our choice? Or what if our own choice have unleashed the enmity of our ex to such extremes that we felt we experienced the wrath of a beast, rather than the person we though we knew?
Many of us hold onto this idea of once the papers are signed the divorce is over. It might be true in some rare cases, but most of the time it only signals the end of the legal issues. That alone can be a great relief for sure, but the judge’s signature has little effect on our emotional divorce. The end of that lays entirely in our own hands.
So how do we know when our divorce is truly over? How can we tell we are on the other side of it? Are there any indicators that show us we are healed and ready to move on?
There are individual differences of course, but if we can answer these six questions with an astounding yes or no (only one acceptable answer to each), we can be certain we are indeed on the other side of it.
The question most of us want the answer to is “What to do when divorce is turning my ex into his or her worst self?” The answer to that is simple, although not what we want to hear. Nothing. We have no power over anyone else but ourselves and as horrifying as it is to watch someone we have loved and lived with turn into a person we hardly recognize, fuming with hate and anger, hurting us even when there is no gain for them in it, there is nothing we can do about that. Of course, we have our lawyer handle the legal stuff and be sure we get what we deserve both financially and legally but we cannot talk sense into our ex, change their mind, or behavior.
It is painful and shocking to see someone change during the course of divorce and do things we never thought they were capable of. We stare at them and wonder if we had ever known them. But it is even more shocking when it is us, turning into our worst selves, thinking and doing things we never thought we were capable of, feeling more hate in our hearts than we can even admit to ourselves.
It is hard enough to go through divorce when it is what you chose, your necessary lesser evil, but it's even more difficult when the choice was made for you by your spouse. When you're still willing and ready to fight for your marriage, to work things out, to try harder. But your partner is not.
How on earth is it possible to walk down a path you haven't chosen for yourself? A path you feel you have been shoved to, a path you hate, but forced to stay on.
Here are five necessary steps you will have to take to travel this unwanted journey with dignity and grace.
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