The most life sucking, debilitating, and destructive emotion we face in relation to divorce is shame. As Carl Jung said “Shame is a soul eating emotion”. When mixed in with all the other heavy feelings from divorce, it can do more damage than anything we experience from the outside, including the vicious blows and attacks of our ex. Shame hides underneath our more visible emotions, like anger and sadness, completely inconspicuous but driving our actions and sabotaging our decision making.
Learning to identify shame and properly deal with it is the most useful skill we need to learn if we want to make divorce decisions that will serve us well on the long run, and want to ensure a happier and healthier future for ourselves.
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?
Emotional resilience refers to one's ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises. More resilient people adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties, while less resilient people have a harder time with stress and life changes.
Emotional resilience is not something we either have or don’t have, although some of us are born with a little more of it than others. It is a trait we can develop and strengthen or ignore and atrophy. Just like almost anything in life, the energy and effort we put into practicing it will determine the results we get. Divorce, with its heightened overall stress level and constant crises is definitely an opportunity to grow our emotional resilience and as a result create a better chance for happiness and contentment than ever before.
Divorce is one of the most shame, blame, and guilt producing event in life. Doesn’t really matter if we are the one leaving or being left, it affects our sense of worth like nothing else. We question everything we believed and thought about ourselves, our abilities, characters, and choices. Even if we are blaming our ex for it all, deep down we are filled with shame. The more we try to run from it, the more it will hunt us. The more we try to cover it up with anger the more damage it will do in us and ultimately in everyone around us.
There is only one way to battle the shame and guilt we feel for leaving or being left, and to stop the endless blame cycle: learning and practicing self-compassion.
As they say, the problem with pain is that it hurts. The even bigger problem with emotional pain is that we will do everything not to feel it. We try to get away from it, resist it at all cost, medicate it, anesthetize it. We stuff it, numb it, try to drink it away, shop it away, or binge-watch it away. As a result, we don’t heal or grow, and in the process of trying to run from it we sabotage our entire lives.
There are even more problems with divorce pain because of the added elements of anger, resentment, and fear. It is much easier to stay angry than to admit we are heartbroken and sad underneath. It is easier to worry ourselves to death about our future than to grieve our losses. We prefer pretty much anything, even other uncomfortable emotions before we choose to face our pain.
We all heard that rebounds are bad for us. That we are not supposed to be in a brand new relationship right after another one just ended or ending. That it's not fair to the other person, or even to ourselves, it won't end well, and we should be smarter and more mature than even thinking about getting into one. We all know this in our heads. But when all we feel is the pain, anger, and fear of divorce, and all we hear is the voices that tell us that we are not good enough, and nobody will ever love us again, it is hard to resist the temptation of new love and excitement if it comes along, or even to seek it out for ourselves. The possibility of some good feelings and fun is just too much for our troubled souls to pass on.
How do we know if a rebound is really a rebound? Is there a specific time when it's not a rebound anymore? Does it feel different than other romantic relationships? Are there any circumstances when it can be beneficial for us?
So much of our time during divorce is spent either worrying about the future or regretting the past that we forget to spend time in the space where we actually have some power: the present moment. And many times even when we are in the present, we create a "false moment" by escaping into survival mechanisms and we numb ourselves senseless.
We hear a lot these days about the importance of "staying in the moment" but as we all discovered it by now, it is much easier said than done. Especially if our current moment is something we just want to escape, no matter the price. So how can we convince ourselves to stay in it despite all the pain, sadness, and fear we are experiencing?
Divorce is hard enough and stressful enough on any given day, adding all the extra weight of the Holidays to it can seem completely unbearable. Just thinking about extended family visits, mandatory Holiday parties and all the cooking and shopping we don't have time, energy, or money for, can suck out the last bit of spirit we have left in us.
This time of the year can get extra complicated and emotionally overwhelming if young children are involved in the divorce. If this is their first year of separated households we need to do everything in our power to provide as much emotional support and guidance as humanly possible. And pray hard for the rest.
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