Get Through Divorce and Come out Stronger Karen Walpole
Getting through a divorce challenges even the strongest individual. Over half of the marriages in the United States end in a divorce, but a divorcee often feels alone during and after the divorce proceedings. Marriage is part of our identity, just like being a parent, a sibling, or son or, daughter is. Losing a part of yourself is always tough. When someone dies, everyone comes together to support you as you deal with the loss and change in your life. People know how to support someone grieving such a loss. While good friends and family try to stand by you after a divorce, the situation is more complicated.
When you marry someone, you also marry their family and friends. When a divorce happens, you may lose some or all of these other people., The longer the marriage lasted, the heavier loss can be. Friends you made after you were married don’t know how to act. Some may try to stay supportive of both of you, but others will “side” with one or the other. Sorting that all out takes time and is painful.
Besides the reduced emotional support, internal turmoil makes getting through divorce difficult. Although the marriage failed, you were used to your routine, and there were probably things that did work in the relationship. Being suddenly totally alone or alone with your children, is a dramatic change. Changes are challenging for everyone, even if the change is for the good. Remind yourself that you are grieving, and you will get through the grieving period.
Although attitudes have changed over the past 40 years or so, some still think divorce is a kind of failure. Your own internal conversation can condemn you, particularly if you were brought up in a religion that doesn’t condone divorce. Even though the divorce may be the best thing for everyone, it’s hard to dismiss feelings of personal inadequacy. You may also feel uncomfortable with how angry you feel at your spouse and the friends who avoid you because of the divorce. Women have been taught to “be nice” so letting yourself be angry can feel wrong.
Working with a therapist, and joining any local support group can help, but there are a few other steps you can take on your own. Feel your loss deeply for a specific period of time every day, and then try to put it “on a shelf”. So much of emotional turmoil is caused by fighting what you should naturally feel. For the rest of the day, distract yourself. Distracting doesn’t actually mean avoiding your feelings. Instead, it means you live in the present moment. The emotional pain isn’t gone. It’s just not being experienced at the moment. Concentrate on your work. Add a new hobby or take a class. Making a new friend or two, who know nothing about your past, can start to put things in perspective for you.
Taking care of yourself, and replenishing the emotional energy within, are so important. Were there things you liked to do before marrying your spouse, that you stopped doing? Maybe there was something he or she didn’t like to do so you stopped, too. Resuming an activity you loved can be both freeing and confirming. Explore who you are without your spouse. Once you get through divorce, you may find talents and aspects of your personality that you didn’t know you had. Divorce is an end but it is also a beginning.