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 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.
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?
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