Divorced

Divorce is a traumatic, life-altering experience that forces huge changes in a person's life. No one that enters into the sacred union of marriage envisions that it will end in profound disappointment. As such, it has likely come as the result of a very long and difficult personal decision.

Regardless of who is at fault or what the circumstances are, divorce causes overwhelming emotional turmoil, uncertainty, and pain. This is because it not only represents the loss of your marriage, but also the loss of companionship and shared experiences; of intellectual, religious, social, financial and emotional support; and of shared hopes, plans and dreams. Suddenly you find that everything in your life, including your identity, is disrupted. You find yourself dealing with issues and responsibilities you once shared with your spouse, alone and you may even face social stigma. This may cause you to doubt your self-worth and bring forth negative questions like: Can I cope? Will I find someone else? Will I end up alone?

While some people are more profoundly affected by divorce than others, healing from it and re-building your life afterward is challenging and takes time, no matter how resilient a person you are.Yet, even in the midst of this emotional crisis, there is an opportunity to learn and develop, and to become a wiser, more steadfast person.Try to consider it a time for sowing the seeds of new growth. Your goal should be to emerge on the other side of this trial knowing yourself better, and feeling stronger. To this end, you will need to nurture your self-belief; to open up to new experiences and ways of looking at things; and to pro-activelybuild yourself a new life as a means to 'moving on'.

Below are our top 10 points of advice on how this may be achieved:

 

1. Give yourself permission to feel

  • Emotions are natural, whether they are negative or positive. Recognize that it is normal to go through good and bad periods and to feel many intense and conflicting emotions. Holding in these feelings or trying to convince yourself you are fine when you are not is not healthy and will only prolong the healing process.
  • Cry when you need to. Express your fears, sadness, anxiety, exhaustion, frustration, and confusion and know that the pain will lessen over time. However, avoid destructive behaviour and activities when trying to deal with your feelings. Don't allow them to cause you to seek revenge, play the victim or become abusive toward your spouse. It is best to find someone trusted to talk to about your feelings.

 

  • Remember that moving on is the end goal.  What we do with the emotions we are feeling plays a big role in the quality of life we experience. Expressing your feelings will liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative as this will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from moving forward.

 

2. Allow yourself time to grieve your losses & be patient

  • Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and the grief and sadness of divorce can be overwhelming.Grief is a transformational process that allows you to feel the full weight of the situation, but also allows for healing to begin.This is a very individual process, so don't compare your progress with others. Rather, allow yourself the time you need to rectify the emotional wounds. It is better that you deal with any associated issues now, than that they show up and affect your life down the line.

 

  • Rebuilding your life is a work in progress, so you will need to nurture patience. However, keep in mind that while grief has no time-frame, life does. Clarify to yourself whether it is your marriage that you are mourning; what you thought marriage would be; or whether it is fear that holds you hostage? Develop positive psychological mechanism that will allow you to identify and focus on the positive aspects of your life, and you as an individual. This will strengthen your hope and expectation for the future and allow you to move forward to become a positive, happy, and productive member of society.

 

3. Develop a support system & don't isolate yourself

  • It is important to reach out to positive and trusted family and friends who will be happy to provide you with emotional support and be there when you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to. Ask for help. Women give so much, yet are often too proud to ask for help. Support from people who value, energize and inspire you is critical to healing and will make you feel less alone with your pain. Seek out other people who understand what you are going through such as in a divorce recovery group in your community.

 

  • Even if it is difficult for you to talk to others, or you feel like being alone, don't allow yourself to become isolated as this can raise your stress levels, reduce your concentration, and become generally detrimental to your well-being. Some time alone is good for everyone, but don't overdo it. Accept the offers to go to lunch with your friends; take a day and go out window shopping or sightseeing and spend time with family and friends.

 

  • Some people get stuck in the pain of divorce, and may experience depression. If this is the case, it is imperative that you seek professional help from your family doctor or a counsellor. Don't try to carry your burden alone.

 

  • In this modern age, divorce has become far more commonplace.While in certain communities, it still carries a social stigma, there are many more people who have experienced what you are going through, and are living your lifestyle, than you might expect. There is absolutely nothing for you to be embarrassed or ashamed of. It might be helpful to seek out and socialise with others you can relate to and who will empathise with you.

 

4. Maintain a positive attitude

  • Perhaps the most important action is not to beat yourself up over getting divorced. Viewing yourself as a failure is self-destructive and will not help your situation. Forgive yourself and get rid of negative thoughts and language such as “my life is over" and "I've lost everything" - recognize that such assertions are factually untrue. This can change the way you physically feel. • Instead, focus on the positives in your life and look forward to what is to come with trust and hope in something better. This is essential to moving on and to remaining open to the possibilities.

 

5. Lean on your faith

  • During this time of intense upheaval and pain, individuals with faith will find it a source of huge comfort and support for them. You can rely on the fact that you have the strength to pass through this test based on your belief that God does not burden a soul with more than they can bear.  For a while it may seem like you take two steps forward and one back. However, as hard as it may be for you to believe right now, one day your marriage will just be something you did once.

 

  • In your quest to heal the emotional and psychological wounds inflicted by your divorce, the positive psychological attitudes of patience and gratitude are crucial. Spend time in contemplation of life concentrating on the blessings and grace you have, and continue to receive in your life. This will help you to always look on the brighter side of things.

 

6. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally

  • Some of the emotions that accompany divorce can cause stress and anxiety that interferes with your ability to function in your everyday life and leaves you physically and psychologically vulnerable. Healthy habits easily fall by the wayside. You may find that you are not eating or that you are gorging on junk foods. Exercise may be harder to fit in and sleep may be elusive. It's now more important than ever to take care of yourself and learn to relax.

 

  • Stay as active as possible by keeping a regular exercise routine as this is one of the best ways to help your emotions to return to normal. Exercise raises serotonin in your brain and helps fight depression. A brisk walk in the park will do you a world of good.

 

  • Make time each day to nurture yourself emotionally. Schedule time for activities you find calming and soothing. Go for a leisurely walk to take in the marvels of nature, listen to some music, contemplate life, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage or take up an old hobby. Be sure to eat healthy and nutritious food, and put effort into living a lifestyle that respects your body and promotes feelings of self-worth.

 

7. Let go of things that are beyond your control & don't make hasty decisions

  • No one has any control over the feelings and actions of another person. Let go of trying to control any aspect of what your spouse may feel; what actions they will take; or what you think the outcome should be and learn to accept whatever might happen.

 

  • Give yourself a break. You are living through a highly stressful situation, so try not to make any major decisions in the first few months after a divorce. If you can, wait until you're feeling less emotional so that you can think things through thoroughly, weigh all your options and make better decisions.

 

  • Stick to a routine. The disruption caused by divorce will affect almost every area of your life amplifying feelings of stress, uncertainty, and chaos. Getting back to a regular routine can provide a comforting sense of structure and normality.

 

8. Keep your children's welfare in focus

  • The most important gift you can give your children is to take care of yourself. Only then can you take care of them properly. If you're a single working parent do all you can to make sure you find the best caretakers for your children. You will derive peace of mind when this is in place.

 

  • You have a responsibility to your children to do everything in your power to keep their relationship with both parents warm, loving and civil. Remember to laugh and play them and ensure that your emotional state does not adversely affect them.

 

  • Endeavour to understand yourself better through reflection and introspection before trying to find a new partner, and keep your children at the forefront of your mind when making this decision.

 

9. Nurture your intellectual and spiritual well-being

  • If you can manage to step outside your own problems, the potential for growth during this period of hardship is phenomenal. A divorce is a beginning as well as an end. Although you may no longer be one half of a couple, you are still one hundred per cent the person you always were. Find that person again. Take the opportunity to explore new interests and activities, and to challenge yourself. Re-discover what makes you excited to get out of bed every day. The more new activities you participate in the more your identity as a single person will form, and the less you will dwell on the past.

 

  • Make a list of what you can do to achieve your dreams and aspirations and be pro-active about achieving them.Learn to create little victories for yourself and build on them aiming to accomplish one little thing each day that can show progress in a particular area of your life. Take a class; go back and finish your degree or get another degree; share your knowledge with others; or take up voluntary work. Intellectual and spiritual stimulation will help broaden your horizons.

 

10. Understand, forgive and move on

  • In order to fully accept a divorce and move on from it, you need to understand what happened; to understand how the choices you made affected the relationship in order to learn from your mistakes. You'll need to be honest and objective with yourself. Are you in control of your feelings, or are they in control of you? Try to look inward and acknowledge your responsibility for the problems that led to divorce.

 

  • Try not to dwell on who is to blame or beat yourself up over your mistakes. As you look back on the relationship, you have an opportunity to learn more about yourself, how you relate to others, and the problems you need to work on. Forgive yourself and your spouse and don't allow the issues from this marriage to follow you into a new relationship.