According to court statistics more divorces are filed in January than any other month of the year. The reasons are probably manifold from wanting a new start in the new year, saving on taxes for the previous year, to not disturbing the children’s holiday season. In most cases the one who files has been preparing for it a long time mentally and emotionally while the other might feel completely shocked or ambushed by it. Either side we find ourselves at the beginning of the divorce, we all want to go into it as prepared as possible, otherwise we will be easily taken advantage of.
Lots of us enter the divorce process with extremely unrealistic expectations, mostly when it comes to our ex spouse. Naively believing he or she will not hurt us deliberately in the process. Realistically we need to prepare for the opposite. Most of the time whatever we think he or she would never do to hurt us is exactly what he or she does in the heat of the divorce. It is hard to imagine beforehand how vicious the divorce can become and how uncharacteristically our ex can behave. What is even harder to imagine how uncharacteristically we will behave and how little it will take to turn us into our worst self.
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.
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.
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?
Divorce is extremely draining. It takes up so much of our mental, emotional and even physical energy. It is important we find ways to recharge our batteries in these areas and take good care of ourselves. Otherwise we can come to the end of our endurance pretty quickly.
It is easy to understand and see when we are running on low energy in any of these areas. We know well when we are physically exhausted and simply need more sleep. Getting it is probably the harder part. We can tell when we are low on mental energy and can't even remember the 3 things we stopped for at the grocery store. We can also tell when our emotional reserves are drained and we lose it over the cat.
But what exactly is relational energy and how can we tell if we are having enough of the good kind?
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.
It is easy to get the false impression from outside that people make quick and light divorce decisions all the time, but the truth is, most people struggle deeply and quietly for a long time before deciding. Making a decision to divorce is an extremely guilt and shame producing process and many of us go through it alone, or without any significant mental and emotional help or support.
Just thinking about the possibility of divorce hits our shame core the deepest, telling us that we have failed, we are not enough of a man or woman who could make marriage work. We just don’t have it in us, we don’t quite measure up. We always had this suspicion about ourselves, but now if we divorce we will have evidence. It will be official. We will be second class citizens. Less than we should be.
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Nuggets of insights and bits of advice from a Divorce Coach
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