Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in 2020 on DivorceTown.com, and was written by Stephanie Robins at Alpharetta Family Therapy, LLC.
Breaking up is hard to do but breaking up from a divorce can be devastating. No one plans to get divorced. Many never thought they ever would be. There are times when one person wants the divorce, and the other does not.
When one is blindsided by their spouse’s decision, so many emotions can emerge. The thought of not being married to the person they made a life commitment with is, in an instant, broken into millions of little pieces. Feelings range from disbelief and shock to anger, sadness, and resentment. When your life’s hopes and dreams are ripped from you, it is hard to see a different future from what you had always imagined.
Many friends and family will tell you that you are strong and you can handle this. However, inside, you may feel like you are crumbling. It is like a death, your loved one is gone, but you can still see them and often must interact with them.
You may have all sorts of thoughts of uncertainty. Some people will grasp to hold on to anything to keep their soon to be ex in their life. You may question and come up with all sorts of reasons for the downfall of your marriage. You blame your ex-spouse, or you blame yourself. Feelings of guilt, failure, and rejection can be very consuming. So, how can one move forward to the next chapter when you do not even have the energy to turn to the next page?
Seek Support from Others:
Sometimes moving forward when being stuck requires help. This is a time to connect with others. Friends, family and support groups are a great place to start. You may also consider seeking a professional therapist for their help.
The Past Is History – The Future is Forward:
You cannot move forward if always looking back. You might have tendencies to hold on to the past, as your past is your history and has shaped you to be the person today. However, focusing too much on the past will cause you to be closed off from being open to new positive experiences or memories.
Consider Getting Back Into The Dating Game:
It may take some time, but you will likely feel ready to date sooner or later. Three years post-divorce is the average time most people agree it takes to finally feel at the point of acceptance. But no one can tell you when you are ready. You may desire to have another relationship in the future. You might be scared of getting back into the dating scene after many years “off the market”. If you were married many years ago, dating was completely different than today.
Now online dating has become a new way of meeting someone. It can be very confusing and hard to navigate at first. Enlist a friend who can help guide you through the process of finding the best dating site for you, to help you develop an outstanding profile summary, to take great photos of you, and to help you select who would be an ideal match for you.
Remember You are Not Alone:
When divorce is fresh, it feels lonely. You may even feel like the only one ever to go through your particular situation. Believe me, you are not! Get out and meet new people. Try new things. Go on that vacation you have always wanted. Learn a new hobby.
Isolating yourself can lead to depression. You have an opportunity to create a new you! Create someone amazing!
It Takes Time:
Moving forward takes time and courage. You may not believe you can, or you may not have the energy just yet to take the big step. With time, you will move forward, even if you attempt to resist it. It’s best to embrace your new life wherever possible.
The Art of Letting Go:
Holding onto grudges and resentments has no value. It just makes you feel more miserable or stuck. You will feel freer if you let go. It is much easier and takes less mental effort/energy than it does to hold on. You may have to ask yourself why you are resistant to letting go. Is it because you are frightened of the future? You may feel that your life and marriage was a lie, or you are determined to continue to be a victim instead of a victor. Reflect on your resistance. Be honest with yourself. You will find great insight into your motives and behavior. Self-reflection can bring about positive changes.
Power of Positivity:
Be aware of your negative thoughts.During this time, you may feel it is easier to think negatively about, well, everything. Change that mindset. See the good in things. Even if it’s something small. It will become easier and easier to see the good in people and situations the more you practice it. This positive thinking will help you move forward quicker than if you think negatively.
Write A Letter to Your Ex and Do Not Send:
Sometimes we need closure, need answers, and need to vent. Writing a letter or an email and getting your feelings out will be cathartic. You can write every little grievance you had with your ex. You can apologize for your shortcomings that may have contributed to the end of the marriage. Get it all out of your head and down on paper. Remember to refrain from sending it to your Ex. Possibly consider burning it (safely of course). That could be the start of something beautiful.
Seek Help From A Professional:
Sometimes you try everything to move forward but feel paralyzed, lost, confused, or scared. If you are falling into more profound sadness or unable to manage feelings of tension, worries, or anxieties, you might want to see a therapist. In therapy, you will learn coping skills and tools to manage your stress and emotions. You will have support and encouragement, so you do not have to feel that you are navigating it all alone. You will be empowered to move forward with the new tools that you learn. There are so many benefits to seeking therapy.
You have all that it takes. You are stronger than you think you are. Your past does not have to define your tomorrow.