There is so much to do post-divorce, from reimagining life without your spouse to helping your kids and family understand the changes, it is easy to feel both overwhelmed and excited about what lies ahead. For a long time, you might be stuck in the logistics of your post-divorce life, sorting through new school pickup schedules or work adjustments to accommodate the changes to your personal life. Or, you may be celebrating your new found “freedom” reconnecting with friends and going out more often. Therefore, you might not take the time you need to feel the emotions of your divorce and address your healing.
In this post, we provide some tips and insights on how you can prioritize your healing and recognize your authentic feelings post-divorce so that you can live a more fulfilling life. Working through these emotions also prevents you from taking your unresolved pain into your next relationship.
Make space for grieving
In my work at Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado, it seems as if only a small subset of people who go through a divorce really make time for their healing post-divorce. This results in a world where many wounded people are walking around without having sought and received the help and support they need. Many people take their unresolved issues into their next dating relationship. In fact, their reactions in future relationships are often due to the same stuff coming up in different ways and pain manifesting in a new relationship after a triggering event, based on their unresolved past.
To avoid this lingering and recurring pain, the full cycle of grief and healing should be worked through. Let emotions and reactions come up and run their course before you start dating post-divorce, and be careful not to take your emotions out on family and friends as you start to feel anger, fear, rejection, uncertainty, depression, and more. You may even have periods where you feel numb or unable to feel, and know that is normal as well. Grief has a non-linear timeline so give yourself the time you need to feel resolved about your divorce.
Choose Coping Mechanisms
Notice the coping mechanisms that come most naturally to you. Some people choose to connect with nature during grief, whereas others reach out to friends to verbally process their pain. Honor the activities (or even the stillness) that are surfacing as natural next steps in your healing process. Steps to consider in the process of grief include:
Organize: The transition from a married to a single person can be logistically overwhelming. Make lists, prioritize, and therefore carve out space for healing activities. Creating need-to-do and want-to-do lists can also be helpful as you address both life’s priorities and your own renewed interests.
Reimagine: From your living space to your career, you have the opportunity to reinvent the world you live in at this pivotal time in your life. Reflect on where you are and the vision for your future world, and define the steps it will take to get there. That could be as simple as painting your house or as extensive as going back to school to pursue a new career path. View this as an opportunity to create the life you want.
Connect: Identify the friends and family members who can not only be a sounding board but can also be a partner in your feelings, supporting your reflection and coping strategies, maybe even with some tough love as they encourage you to take next steps that can sometimes be uncomfortable. A connection can also come in the form of support groups, online forums, therapy, yoga, meditation, and more.
Reflect: Keep a journal, spend quiet time in reflection, and allow yourself some unstructured time to feel, document, and reflect on where you are and where you want to be. Try to remove distractions like your phone and television during this important time. Work some self-care into this part of your process too, taking a warm bath, reading a self-help book, or taking a long walk in nature in order to clear your mind. Revisit what you write in this journal regularly and where you want to be in one month, one year, and one decade. Note interests and hobbies you may have lost sight of during your marriage and commit to revisiting those interests. Documenting details often results in manifesting the results you want due to a higher commitment to your unique vision for your life.
At Center for Shared Insight, we recognize how hard it can be to do the work alone when it comes to truly addressing your feelings and healing from your past. We regularly work with clients who, just like you, are going through difficult changes and dealing with unresolved pain. If you can use some extra support to ensure you work through all the emotions in your divorce and live your best life possible, contact us to learn more about how our therapists can help.