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.
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.
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?
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.
The start of the New Year does not feel like a new page or clean slate while going through divorce. The continuum of last year's heartache, struggles, fights, and pain into the New Year is a far cry from a cheerful and optimistic way to start brand new. We are carrying over everything we have been going through because the divorce is not over yet.
It can be daunting and depressing to start the New Year with all our divorce problems. It's easy to focus on all the decisions that will have to be made and all the loss and troubles we are facing. But it is still a New Year with all its new possibilities and promises, even if we are not at the best place to see or welcome them.
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.
Divorce is scary. The unknown is so great and unpredictable (even if it's not our first divorce), it can keep us in constant fear. We can only speculate how things will go down, nothing is sure or calculable, there are so many variables at every turn, that we might feel completely overwhelmed or frozen by fear.
To feel overpowering fear sometimes and to have many specifics worries and concerns about our divorce and the future is very normal. We would not be humans if it were otherwise. Fear is a survival instict and during divorce our very survival feels at risk. The purpose of fear is to keep us alive and that's all we want during divorce, to stay alive.
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