Hitting rock bottom in your marriage that ultimately leads to divorce definitely creates an emotional wound that could leave you scarred for life. And the trauma that goes along with that, both for you and your kids, seems to be unbearable. But know that everything’s going to be okay… in time.
So should you immediately dive into another new relationship after divorce to make up for the failed one? Definitely, NO. If deep, deep down in your heart, you’re still hoping to find that one true love, then be patient.
After Divorce – Healing the Wounds
Let’s say you’re dancing vigorously. You’ve put all your energy into perfecting those dance moves and fancy footwork that you accidentally twisted your foot causing a very painful ankle sprain that you can barely move. Can you still afford to dance immediately right after getting a sprain? You would probably wait for a couple of days or weeks for your ankle to heal and recuperate before you can actually dance again.
In a way, the same applies to divorce. You first need to heal your emotional wounds brought about by your previous marriage before you can even welcome the thought of engaging in another relationship.
How long does healing take?
Experts say that it can take two years to heal after divorce. Regardless of time, whether it should take you shorter or even longer than two years, take all the time you need until you reach that phase of acceptance.
Going through a divorce and the time after that can be a tumultuous time for you. You are going through an emotional roller coaster ride that you simply cannot afford to ignore. Otherwise, leaving an open wound and trying to bury it with just about any distraction or nuisance you can find to temporarily alleviate or hide the pain, will only make matters worse. (It’s just like hiding the dirt under the carpet. You all know too well that you will have to deal with that dirt sooner or later.) Now the wound becomes deeply embedded that it makes it even harder for you to heal it, unless you take it in your heart to take your time and let your wound take its course and let it heal naturally.
First step? Acknowledge your emotions. Work through them. Then deal with them one by one.
The only way to overcome fear is to face it. But sometimes we are too afraid to face our emotions because we don’t want to go through the discomfort of going through them. Unfortunately, it’s the only way out.
Identifying your emotions
It is therefore important for you to understand what certain emotions may arise after divorce. Being aware of the emotional process you’re going through allows for a speedy emotional recovery.
Grief – The 5 Stages
It’s perfectly normal to feel sad even after divorce. A relationship ended. All hopes and plans you once shared have now turned into ruins. Of course you have every right to feel sad. So do not deprive yourself of feeling sad and pretend like everything is okay when it’s not okay. There are 5 stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It’s important that you’re aware of these stages to help you make the best decisions possible.
In the first stage, you’re in denial of what’s happening. Basically, you’re still seeing that chance that everything could be worked out. Second comes anger. Little by little, things aren’t moving the way you would have wanted it to so you become angry at yourself, at the other person, or at the situation. You become bitter. Third, you begin to bargain. Is there still something you could do to save the relationship? What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to compromise? Then realizing nothing of this works, you enter into a state of depression. You feel hopeless. There is nothing you can do to make things work; feels like it’s the end of the world. The pain is just unbearable. Until you move on to the last stage, acceptance. You finally learn to accept that there’s nothing else you can do but to move on. You can’t just wallow in pain and tears forever. You simply have to move on.
Loss of self-worth and fear of rejection
You begin to analyze again and again, what you could have done wrong along the way? Is there something wrong with you? Perhaps, you’re the one to blame that’s why it didn’t work out. And so the fear of rejection sets in. The past rejection issues start to crop up from the dead. Maybe there really is something wrong with you because your relationships don’t work out. You begin to question yourself. You begin to lose your worth and self-esteem. You become your own worst critic of yourself. There is fear of rejection or fear of not being able to find someone who will care for you.
The feeling of guilt or shame is not an unusual thing for someone going through a divorce. You might have set some personal expectations. You may have had an idea of a family happy ever after but fairy tales don’t happen to everyone. Or you might be living in a society where the cultural norm is to preserve the marriage no matter what. Whether you have deviated from your own personal ideals or that of the society’s, either way, the feeling of guilt or shame can be devastating.
Stress and anxiety leading to lack of sleep and work inefficiency
All this whirlpool of emotions can really be daunting and it’s but normal for stress and anxiety to set in. When this happens, you become easily irritated. You lose your focus at work. You have difficulty get some quality sleep at night. And everything just seems to become so disorganized.
Dealing with your emotions
Now that you have acknowledged the different emotional stages associated with divorce, the next step is to fight resistance. In other words, do not resist feeling what you’re feeling. Emotions are neither good or bad. They simply are emotions. They come and go. So don’t judge your emotions. Just let them flow through you. It’s absolutely normal. People who have gone through the same situation as yours have felt the same way too. So you’re not the only one. You are not alone. Now may be the time to look for a support group. Seeing and hearing others who are in your position may put your situation in focus and make you feel less stressed. DivorceCare groups may be a place to start.
It is very crucial in this process that while you don’t judge your emotions, you also have to use this time to work on your self-worth. Dedicate time to yourself and only to yourself. While it’s understandable that you’re going through a chaotic phase in your life, it’s not fair to everyone around you nor to yourself to just let inefficiency take its toll and let your emotions get the best of you. Being able to understand your emotions empowers you to be in control of your emotions rather than your emotions controlling you.
So give yourself a break. Take some time off from work. Go some place where you can replenish your energy and slowly put back the pieces of yourself together. It’s hard…but it can be done.
Are you currently going through these emotional stages? One way of acknowledging your emotions is by expressing how you feel. We’re here to listen!