“I don’t know what it is. I feel like a wreck. It’s been months since my divorce. I thought I was coping, but now I can’t stop crying. Why can’t I pull myself together??”
So many people underestimate the enormity of a divorce. The truth is, it’s right up there on the major life stressor scale, just beneath the death of a spouse. In my book, “Divorce 101: survive and thrive”, I talk about the stages of a divorce. I call the first stage of divorce “Hiroshima”, because that’s exactly what it can feel like – a nuclear rollercoaster cocktail of emotions. What is so interesting is that so many people judge themselves for feeling these so-called negative emotions. I speak to so many divorcees who say that they are scared to allow themselves to feel these emotions – they fear that if they start crying, they may never stop. I recall the early days after my own divorce – I judged myself for feeling angry and did anything that I could to distract myself from feeling sad. Actually – all that emotions need are airtime; a time and space to be attended to and befriended, instead of simply wishing them away. It’s okay to express emotions in a healthy way, to experience them and then to move through them. It becomes unhealthy when you find yourself stuck and unable to move from sadness or anger. A friend of mine put it so wisely: it’s okay to feel all of those so-called dark emotions, as long as you don’t make a campfire there.
In my own experience, I reached a point where I felt unable to overcome my sadness. I cried for days on end. I was unable to see an end to my sadness and I really believed that my divorce was the end of my story. I chose to seek professional help and I can honestly say that in my case, anti depressant medication assisted me tremendously. Prior to taking medication, anxiety and depression were my constant companions and I was unable to sleep. The medication assisted me in feeling slightly more human – like the “edge” was taken off, and I was able to sleep again. The medication, however, was not enough.
A brave friend of mine, who risked giving me some tough love,assisted me in making a conscious choice to take steps towards choosing happiness. Each day, I would consciously schedule in time for at least one activity that would lift my spirits.
Once I was feeling more human, I had the strength to really look at myself and my situation and to do the work that I needed to do in order to rebuild my life. I realised that even though I was on the receiving end of an unwanted divorce, I could control the choices I made in rebuilding my life. I felt empowered and less like a victim of a choice that was made for me.
Recovering from a divorce is hard work. I learned to allow myself to feel, but not to the point where it paralyzed me. I learned to confront my fears head-on. I learned to love myself, to forgive myself and to forgive my ex spouse. I also learned that unless I did the work, I would find myself repeating the same movie in my future. I learned to look at myself with honest eyes and to take responsibility for what was mine. I learned that just because my marriage failed, I was not a failure. I learned to believe in myself.
Divorce can be a tough journey – you don’t have to deal with it on your own. Accept support and assistance wherever possible. A good coach, therapist or mentor cannot be underestimated. Empower yourself with knowledge and try speak to those who have survived….and thrived.
Divorce does not have to be the end. It can be the catalyst to an even better new beginning….if you allow it to.
For more insights, tips and information on divorce, purchase your copy of “Divorce 101: survive and thrive”.
Available in major bookstores and Takealot.com from early September. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to order your copy.