Healing after divorce takes time. It also takes reflection, self-work, acceptance, peace, and so much more.
From a reader:
I My ex husband and I were together for 8 years when he told me he wasn’t happy and that he was done. I tried marriage counseling and he put no effort into it. How do I get over all of this hurt? I mean to love and care for someone for 8 years and then for them to just be done? There were no signs, it wasn’t like we fought all the time. I feel as though he is going through a mid life crisis early.
My advice for healing after divorce:
In most cases, when two people get divorced, one person wants it and the other doesn’t. I always have a hard time deciding which shoes I’d rather be in because both breaking up with someone and being the one broken up with are very very painful and difficult situations.
Here’s a benefit of being the one broken up with: Unlike the person who ended the relationship, you will never have doubt that you did the right thing, or that things might have been different had you tried harder.
In this reader’s case, she didn’t make the choice. Her husband wanted the divorce. She had no control, which means there is no self-doubt, guilt, or indecision. Now, is that easy to deal with? Absolutely not. It is brutal.
How about the person who leaves? Leaving someone can feel incredibly painful. The advantage of that? It was YOUR decision, and hopefully you are confident that you did the right thing. But leaving someone does not come without guilt possibly (even if it isn’t justified), sadness, doubt, and so many other emotions. You can leave someone and still feel anger, resentment, fear, etc.
So, whether you were left or you left someone, getting over the hurt isn’t easy, but I can tell you that you WILL get over it at some point. It takes time, patience, working on yourself, acceptance, faith, and self-love.
Here is what I want to do to help this reader begin healing after divorce. Pretend I am a psychic who is able to see into your future. And, let’s say this is what I predict for this reader:
It is five years from now. You are sitting at a kitchen table having dinner with an attractive man, who seems really happy being there. On your left ring finger is a diamond and a wedding band. The two of you are laughing. Why? Because your baby (who is sitting in a high chair next to you) has food all over his or her face and he or she is giggling. The guy gets up and cleans the baby off, and then leans over and gives you a kiss. You look very very happy.
Here’s the thing. No one knows (including me) that this will be her scenario, and I don’t even know if this is what she wants. Maybe she doesn’t want children. But my point of painting this beautiful picture of her future is that if she makes good choices, has patience and faith, she WILL have a beautiful future, and WILL get a life that is happy and that works for her. If she pictures it, it will happen.
It just takes time, and you have to go through the pain of your divorce to get to the other side (the happiness side.)
Remember that movie, The Shawshank Redemption, where Tim Robbins escapes from prison by crawling through a sewer pipe? It’s kind of like that. He had to spend 20 years digging a hole in his cell, and then he had to crawl through crap (literally) to get to freedom and ultimate happiness.
People going through a divorce might be in that hole right now. I was there several years ago. But, in healing after divorce, you will come out of it and have a future–a future, much of which you get to decide. It might be the future I just described, or it might be something else, perhaps a career you are passionate about, a new hobby that changes your life, or love and a family. The beauty of it is that your future is your choice!
If you were the one left, you didn’t have control over your spouse leaving you, but you DO have control over what happens for the rest of your life.
In closing, here is a direct answer to this reader’s question, “How do I get over all of this hurt?” and this pertains to someone who was left, or someone who made the painful, devastating decision to leave a marriage:
Healing after divorce… 5 tips:
1. Let yourself grieve. Grieve the loss. Grieve what you thought your future was going to be. Grieve him. Grieve that that happy time in your life with him is over.
2. A little self-pity is OK every now and then. Have a good cry. It feels good to feel emotional and let your painful feelings out.
3. Start talking to people–all kinds of people, to help you figure out what you want in your life moving forward. Interview people about different careers, hobbies, passions, and see if you get any ideas about what you might want to do.
4. Reflect on what you do that makes you happy. Did you have a career before marriage that you loved? A passion, something you were great at and for some reason you stopped doing it? If so, it’s never too late to start again!
5. Try to have gratitude for everything you have–not what you don’t have.
6. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, for making mistakes in the past. Look at yourself in the mirror and say “You’re doing the best you can and I love you.”
As for a future romantic relationship, it’s natural to feel scared that if you put your heart out there again you might get hurt again and you’re not sure you can take it. But, try to overcome that fear because if you put your heart out there again, some guy (maybe the guy at your kitchen table) might love and cherish you forever. Ask yourself if it’s worth the risk. You know it is, and you know that you will be completely fine because you are worthy of love and worthy of happiness.
Like this article? Check out, “Surviving Divorce: 15 Tips to Getting Through it”