Divorce is one of the hardest and most painful life change we will ever experience. It can be so full of negativity, hurt, and hostility that finding anything positive in this agonizing, confusing mess can be super challenging or downright impossible. Entering the Thanksgiving season during or after divorce usually doesn’t help to put us into a grateful mindset. We might be alone the first time for the holidays, without our children, family, or friends, wondering how we will even survive this time of the year. Divorce depression always rises during the “happiest season”. It’s hard to find happiness in the midst of the pain, or anything to be thankful for when our life is falling apart.
I recently came upon a survey that asked divorced or divorcing people to name three things they are grateful for that happened specifically due to the end of the relationship, regardless of whether they made the decision to end it or their ex did. The answers blew my mind away. They were all amazing things. Life giving, growth producing, character refining, incredible blessings. Nobody seemed to have trouble coming up with three specific, separate things to be grateful for, and nobody said “not one” or “nothing” or even “I don’t have to spend the holidays with my in-laws” (which might be a totally legit thing to be grateful for).
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.
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.
To withstand means to remain undamaged or unaffected by, to offer strong resistance to someone or something.
To remain undamaged or unaffected by the vicious attacks of our ex when he or she is attacking our character, our past actions, our ability to parent, and our right to have the finances and property we are entitled to. To offer strong resistance to him or her and not to bend over and just take whatever the overwhelming current is trying to make us swallow.
In other words how to stay not just strong but intact and stable under the tremendous pressure of these cruel blows, accusations, and threats? When the very intent of them is to brake us and make us weak and give up.
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