Anytime a relationship changes, its boundaries change. As one of our main relationships is coming to an end or at the very least, morphing into a much less significant one during divorce, it is important that we stay conscious about our own changing boundaries and aware of the ones our ex is putting up.
Boundaries are like fences around a physical property, securing the good inside and keeping the unwanted out. Defining clearly where our responsibilities end and someone else’s begin. Without clear boundaries life gets confusing. Without clear boundaries during divorce, divorce gets really confusing.
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.
Detachment from our ex is a long and often times bumpy process. It has more to do with our emotional and mental state than with time alone. Some people never fully detach from their ex even years or decades after the divorce. If we are still angry or overly sad about it, if we still blame him or her for ruining our lives, if we still wish it was different, then we are still very much attached to them, and have absolutely no chance for developing a new and satisfying life for ourselves.
Detachment can be a conscious and self-driven process so it is very much up to us to stay attached and let them affect our lives for much longer than necessary or intentionally detach from them layer by layer. The less attached we are to our ex the less power we give them over our feelings, thoughts, lives, and future, and the more in control we are going to have in these areas. If they are leaving our lives we need to be sure they are leaving our thoughts and feelings too. And the later two are absolutely under our own control.
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.
Self care is knowing our needs and taking care of them. Ourselves. Not expecting someone else to do it for us.
Some of us have a hard time with this generally and it can get extremely challenging during divorce.
Self care sounds selfish and divorce already feels selfish. No matter which side we are on, the one leaving or the one being left, either feeling selfish, or resenting selfish. If we are doing the leaving, the guilt produced by it is already telling us that we are self-centered people so taking care of ourselves seems like heaping more shame on. If we are being left, the naturally comforting role for us is being the martyr, and we all know, martyrs don't have needs, and even if they do, they can be sacrificed.
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