“I just want to move on and I can’t,” is something I hear from many men and women during and after their divorce. I always tell people that no one can tell you how to move on, that it has to come from within. Of course, there are things you can do to help yourself begin to heal, accept, let go of anger and bitterness and move on, but honestly, truly moving on takes a long time for most people. The following is a great guest post by DGS contributor, Dr. Baruch Halevi, who offers practical advice on something specifically you can do in regards to moving on after divorce. It makes a lot of sense to me. Let me know what you think!
How To Fully & Finally Leave Your Ex & Move On by Dr. Baruch Halevi
Human beings crave rituals. Many of our rituals aren’t conscious. For instance, every morning I go through my simple waking ritual – get up, get my coffee, sit in my chair and write. I don’t necessarily plan it. I don’t have to. It just calls out to me and I go through the motions. I only realize how important it is when I’m unable to do it. Something feels missing from my day when this happens (or when the kids used the last of the coffee creamer in their cereal without telling me, which really pisses me off).
We also have a handful of really, hyper-conscious, highly choreographed, quite elaborate and deeply spiritual rituals called lifecycle events.
Take marriage and death, for instance. I’ve always been fascinated by these two highly ritualized events, both which are very spiritual, if not outright religious, especially within the most secular person’s life.
As a rabbi I have officiated at hundreds of these lifecycle events and the vast majority of them were marginally identifying Jews or minimally connected Christians. And yet, they still wanted both the formal spiritual, if not outright religious, ceremonies and rituals around their marriage or their loved one’s death.
Why? Because human beings need rituals. We need formal ways to begin something and exit it as well. Those that have opted out of formal a wedding often share their feeling of having missed an opportunity of sorts. They aren’t talking about the ice sculpture bar, the registration for gifts or uncle Charlie getting drunk (again) and groping all the female guests on the dance floor (again). They are talking about some type of psychological, emotional or spiritual formal demarcation in their life between one chapter and another, between what was and what will be.
And the few times I have officiated at a funeral where there was no body present due to complications, or there were family members not there for some reason, there is a lack of mental, emotional or spiritual closure of sorts.
The bottom line, rituals, particularly spiritual rituals, are meaningful in general, but particularly at these critical transitions in life. That is why it strikes me as not only a missed opportunity, but also a shame, that we do not have an end-of-marriage ritual. We enter into the relationship with rituals – legal, emotional and spiritual. Why shouldn’t we exit with more than the legal ritual of signing a divorce decree and walking out of the courthouse?
Moreover, divorce is a death – period. In some ways the death of a relationship is worse than the death of a loved one. At least with the death of a loved one it is black and white. They are here. They are gone. And the grieving can begin. Divorce, however, is in shades of gray. Our Ex is still alive and yet so much of what they are to us, certainly our marriage to them, is dead. It’s ironic because Ex is a Latin prefix which means, “out from.” And yet, in so many ways we are stuck to them, and have no way of mentally, emotionally and spiritually moving out from it and moving on.
This is why I work with so many of my clients who are recently, or not so recently, divorced in creating divorce rituals to help them mentally, emotionally and spiritually release themselves from the marriage. Signed divorce papers are simply not enough.
With some clients we have created letter writing ceremonies. Maybe they have anger, bitterness, even hate in their heart that needs to be expressed. So, we have them write the angriest letter imaginable and then burn it and recite words of release. For others we have created water immersion ceremonies, entering into Lake Michigan (clothing optional–I’m not there and seasonal of course). With each step in they recite something they want to let go of and with each step out they ask the Universe to bring something they want into their life.
I’ve worked with clients to create yoga rituals, meditation rituals, walking in the woods rituals, friendship circle rituals, the list goes on. The point is clear. Rituals are essential in our lives to define beginnings and endings. Without them we feel lost, and perhaps on many levels we are. However, with them we can find clarity, direction and the ability to move forward in our life yet again.
You entered into marriage with elaborate rituals. It started with your engagement ring, and included engagement parties, showers, wedding dress shopping, wedding planning, invitations, a rehearsal dinner, and of course a place of worship or somewhere else where you said vows to your Ex, lit candles (if Catholic), broke a glass (if Jewish), had your first dance, and cut your wedding cake together.
Perhaps the reason you feel trapped within your marriage, even after your divorce, or stuck within your life, even after the divorce papers have been signed, is because you didn’t have 20 opportunities like you did when you got married to define it. Signing the decree didn’t cut it.
Do you want to truly make your “ex” your Ex? Then create some new rituals, whether spiritual, emotional or physical, which will give you the opportunity to fully exit from the marriage, once and for all.
Dr. Baruch Halevi is a regular contributor for DGS. A Relationship & Life Coach, Halevi is also a motivational speaker and inspirational author. To learn more, work with him or sign up for his blog, please visit at www.Bhalevi.com.
Like this post? Check out my article, “What Getting Ripped Off Made Me Realize About Divorce Anger.”