There’s nothing clean or easy about divorce. Whether it’s a mutual decision, or one of you wants out, there’s no such thing as a simple divorce. It always leaves behind a mess with lots of complications. And while these complications can appear in a variety of forms – including financial and legal – it’s the emotional fallout that’s most devastating.
The Emotional Impact of a Divorce
A divorce, particularly a turbulent one, often instigates feelings of failure and disappointment. It can shatter the dream of a “happily ever after,” making you question your choices and judge your perceived shortcomings. But it’s crucial to remember that divorce is not a symbol of personal failure or inadequacy. It’s the end of a relationship that did not work out for various reasons.
You can’t adequately heal without first acknowledging what you’re feeling and accepting those emotions. It won’t be easy – in fact, you’ll find it extremely uncomfortable – but that’s the road you have to traverse in the months following a divorce. The sooner you do it, the better.
4 Tips for Healing After Divorce
The healing process after a divorce is complicated. Let’s explore some different tips and techniques for working through this messy situation.
Process Your Grief
Some people never take the time to grieve after a divorce and it slows down their ability to move in a healthy direction. And, to be honest, it’s easy to put off this kind of grief.
“One reason grieving through a divorce can be complicated is that – unlike grief after a death – both people are still physically present, but the relationship is gone,” writes Melissa Porrey LPC. “This type of loss is called ambiguous loss. It may feel as though grieving is not appropriate or necessary because divorce is initiated by one or both people intentionally, grief is normal and necessary any time there is loss.”
If you’re experiencing ambiguous grief, it’s important that you pay attention to your feelings. Stop pushing emotions to the side and start focusing on the feelings that you’re facing. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to experience spurts of anger. It’s even okay to feel a sense of jealousy over the fact that your former partner may eventually be someone else’s.
The point is to unpack it, rather than stashing it away in the “attic” of your mind. (You may need the help of a counselor or therapist to do this.)
Embrace a New Version of You
People often talk about their lives in terms of “chapters.” But the problem with chapters is that they’re too closely related and interwoven. You may find it more helpful to think in terms of your new “book.” The cover is closed on the last book and now you’re writing a brand new book independent from the past one.
There are plenty of ways to embrace a new version of yourself without losing your core identity. For example, if you took on your ex-spouse’s last name for marriage, you might want to change your legal name back to your previous name. (Or you might want to come up with a new name altogether.) Taking steps like this can make a big difference!
Build Your Support Network
In addition to getting some professional help, you should also be mindful of building up a supportive network of friends and family. These are people you trust and love. They can provide comfort and validation in the midst of confusion.
It’s also helpful to join support groups or online communities. There is a certain comfort in sharing and listening to the experiences of those who are going through a similar situation. Joining divorce support groups or online communities can provide a safe, non-judgmental space for you to express your feelings, seek advice, and learn from others’ experiences.
These groups can help you realize that you’re not alone in your struggle and that there are others who have successfully navigated the choppy waters of a messy divorce and come out stronger on the other side.
Care for Your Physical Health
There’s a solid connection between your physical health and your mental health. By prioritizing your physical health through regular exercise and good nutrition, you can put your mind in a better place. This makes it easier to heal and move on.
Give Yourself a Fresh Start
You deserve a fresh start – but fresh starts don’t materialize on their own. It’s up to you to put yourself in a position where you can heal and move on. Hopefully, this article has provided you with a few practical steps you can take in the coming weeks and months to rediscover a healthy version of yourself!