Divorce is a change that is often accompanied by great life upheaval. Sometimes it is mutual, but more often one person wants to leave, may be hurting and guilty, while the other is getting deeply hurt. When you are married, you have become part of a family and this can be a deep connection that is very painful to break.
Here are some ideas for how to cope:
- Learn how to recognize when you are blaming yourself. Although you may have contributed to the situation, a break-up is never just one person’s fault. If you realize that you are in the self-blame state of mind, try seeing the other side–what did you do that wasn’t bad and how did you try your best. Self soothing is a skill that is tremendously useful when you are hurting and/or feeling rejected.
- Understand how to cope with regrets. With hind sight you may be able to see all sorts of turning points and how you could have done better. You may replay over and over in your mind what you did and how you wish you could go back and do it differently. The point is that you can learn from mistakes, but you cannot undo what has already happened. Sometimes bad decisions/behavior are the best teachers for the future. You can harness your regret into finding ways to improve your own self esteem and your relationship skills.
- Learn how to cope with betrayal. If you have been cheated on or lied to, it is a big deal. This kind of betrayal can go deep and can stir up earlier feelings of betrayal. It is very hard to heal from betrayal but healing can happen. A first step is having outlets of support. Learn how to counter the impulse to isolate as a self protection.
- If children are involved, getting help can be a lifesaver. Learning what to say to the kids and how to say it is essential to their emotional well being and helps them adjust to the new family situation. Learning how to keep the kids out of any conflicts you have with your partner is also extremely important. Having outside the family support to cope with your anger, resentment, and frustration is a really good idea. You may be tested to your limits. It is really helpful to learn how to bring your best and most mature self forward in times of conflict and stress. If you are in a custldy baYou can also use as many ideas as are possible on self care during this time.
- Understand self care. You may be extremely busy trying to figure out where you are going to live or how you are going to make a living. You may be incredibly worried about money in addition to feeling hurt and lonely. There’s a good chance you are dealing with lawyers or mediators. If you are leaving because you choose to, you may want to, or already have, jumped into a new relationship. Self care is just what it says. A simple thing but not too easy. What can you do to take care of yourself, eat okay, get enough sleep and rest, have time by yourself or with supportive friends or others such as a divorce support group. How do you give yourself time to cope with your emotions before acting in reaction to emotions?
- Notice your self-harming or self-punishing behaviors. These can include but are not limited to: increased drinking, drugs, binge eating, avoiding sleep, immersion online in games or other internet activities, pornography, etc. Notice if others are worried about these behaviors on your behalf. It is very easy to fall into self destructive activities when you are coping with a change or a loss. Divorce can be so stressful and it is understandable that you could fall into some bad habits. Noticing is the first and very important step. Taking action to make a positive change comes next.
- Understand depression. Grief is a normal reaction to loss. There is a line between grief and depression that is sometimes not so clear. It is impossible to know how long it will take you to feel better. However, low moods that don’t let up, isolation, difficulty sleeping and eating, either too much or not enough, thoughts of not wanting to live, or a plan to take your life are important to pay attention to. This is a time to seek medical or therapy consultation to discover how to recover. If you are having thoughts of suicide it is time to get help! Talk to your doctor, a psychiatrist, or a therapist right away.
This is an incomplete list, just a beginning on this difficult life transition. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments and thanks for reading. Help is available, you are not alone.