There is no doubt that going through a divorce can be brutal, and anyone who has ever been through one will tell you that emotions can be so intense, you might feel like you are going crazy! But you’re not. Here are some things that can make someone going through a divorce feel unstable, along with why you’re not, and my advice.
• Change is happening-on every level of your life.
Divorce in its very fundamental form is the taking apart of what is familiar and the undoing of life and relationships as they were. It’s not just ending a relationship with your ex. It is changing the whole context of your life. That change makes room for a new beginning, but it is vital to recognize that it is not just your marital status that is changing, it is your life as you have known it.
•The divorce process is an emotional rollercoaster.
Like any change, divorce is a process that although unique to each situation, has common characteristics. Depending on different factors such as the length of the marriage, the circumstances of the divorce, whether there are custody issues, financial issues-you can assume that going through all these changes will bring about a wide range of intense emotions. These can range from fear, anger, jealousy, depression, feelings of “going crazy” (how many ways can you find to look at your ex’s Facebook page?) The important thing to recognize is that these intense emotional feelings are not what you traded your old life for, but instead are a process that you must go through to get to the better, stable, happier place that can await you.
• It REALLY does take a village.
Your whole world has just imploded. Whether you are the one that wanted the divorce or were blindsided by your partner coming to you with this, you are going to need to assemble your emotional team. The tricky part is that in the great majority of divorces, friends and family, despite best intentions, are not able to remain neutral. And the odds of “sides” being picked increase with the difficulty of the divorce. Find your team early on
•Pick one or 2 really close trusted friends as your confidants.
You, your ex and your family don’t need to become the drama of the town. It is very tempting when you are feeling wronged and angry to want to present your truth to everyone to “prove” that you were wronged. Your butcher, the mailman and the soccer coach don’t need to hear what a jerk you soon to be ex has been. Remember discretion.
• Keep your boundaries healthy and appropriate.
Remember when you were married and you wouldn’t disclose every intimate piece of information about your life? Don’t over share now that you are becoming unmarried. Your salary, your debts, investments, your sexual habits while you were married-be careful the level of detail in which you purge yourself to others. You might feel temporarily better after dumping all the ugly on someone but people form judgements and unless on your inner emotional team, people don’t need to be privy to the intimate divorced facts any more than they were to the intimate married life facts you once had boundaries with.
• Use this time as a time of personal growth
Change is usually hard and can be scary and overwhelming. If you find yourself flooded by all the new beginnings as well as the loss that accompanies divorce, you could benefit from the help of a caring, trusted therapeutic relationship. A good therapist can help you navigate the minefields of “uncoupling” and help to normalize and stabilize the pressure cooker of feelings you are experiencing with complete confidentiality without having to worry about being judged. Ask your divorce lawyer, internist, or google therapists specializing in divorce in your area for referrals.
Debra Alper is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Chicago, specializing in relational therapy and divorce recovery. She has worked extensively since 1999 with individual clients striving to experience deeper, more meaningful relationships, couples in the midst of marital crisis around infidelity and unhappy, lonely relationships, and clients struggling to get through the emotional, and life changing hurdles of pre and post divorce. Debra received her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and her Masters in Social Work from Loyola University, Chicago. Debra can be reached through her website.
Like this article? Check out, “Dealing With Divorce? Sometimes You Just Need To Be A Little Crazy”