Divorce is rated right up there with the hugest stressor of losing a spouse. Even if you are the one who has made the decision to leave, it can still be exceptionally stressful. When there are children involved, it is not simply the loss of a life partner that you are dealing with, and this is exceptionally challenging when there is acrimony.
Despite the pain and hardship of divorce, I really do believe that it is possible to create a good life afterwards and that you needn’t die alongside with your marriage that has ended. I know that it may seem beyond belief that your life could ever be happy again, but it’s not only probable, but it’s absolutely possible…..if you make some conscious decisions and active commitments.
Here are some tips I would like to share that may assist you in your process towards healing from divorce and moving on towards creating a good life:
- Accept what is. Once the decision has been made to divorce, the sooner you reach the place of accepting your new reality, the sooner you can move on from your pain. Acceptance is a conscious process. By not accepting, you dedicate energy to something that you have no ability to change, and you need this energy in order to focus on moving on from your pain. Acceptance begins with simply repeating to yourself, often, “I am getting divorced”
- Let go of the picture of how you thought your life was going to be. For as long as you attach to the old picture and ideal of how you thought your life would turn out (white picket fence with 2,5 children), you will view yourself as a failure. Additionally, being attached to that old picture limits future possibility for yourself. This is a hard one, because divorce is ultimately the death of dreams we had for ourselves. By letting go of the old picture, we allow for magic and possibility in the future.
- Allow yourself to feel, without judgement. We live in an emotion phobic society – this means that many people find emotion scary. The truth is, all emotions want is to be acknowledged and felt. So-called negative emotions such as grief and anger only become problematic when you become stuck there. If you find yourself persistently angry or depressed…..this is the time to ask for help in the form of a therapist or counsellor. There are also many free meditation resources available on the Internet to assist you with processing emotion.
- Drop the karmic revenge fantasies. When one feels wronged by a spouse, it is only natural to want some form of justice. So many scorned spouses hinge their happiness on the day that “the wheel turns” or karma comes to bite. I strongly advise against this. Why? Attaching your happiness to a single event that may or may not happen doesn’t serve you. By focusing on the other person’s karma, you are cheating yourself out of your maximum focus on creating a good life for yourself. Creating a good life takes energy, commitment and focus – don’t cheat yourself out of this by focusing on your ex receiving a does of his/her own.
- Focus on what you CAN control. Make a list of everything that’s bothering you. Then, divide the list into things you can control and things that are beyond your control. Then, make an action plan for the things you can control. Do not dedicate energy to things that are beyond control.
When you are in the thick of your divorce, this may seem impossible. I have been there…..and this is advice I took for myself…..and today I am a whole, healed, happy, fulfilled ex divorcee who has moved on to create a fabulous life. I did it…and so can you!
Stacey Lewis is the founder of www.thedivorcesource.co.za and the author of Divorce 101:Survive and Thrive (available September 2016). She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org