SURVIVING DIVORCE & BREAKUP

Most of us never plan on marrying as many times as Elizabeth Taylor did mainly because our hearts couldn’t handle the breakage and we couldn’t afford all the lavish weddings and divorce settlements but I have to admit she was one strong woman to take all those risks of love and marriage and somehow she survived them all.

When you are in the midst of all fighting, lawyer appointments, litigations and documents for everything right down to who gets the dog, it’s hard to imagine what your new normal of a peaceful life will be. If you are divorcing a narcissist it’s a whole different level of hell, but it does eventually come.

Let’s explore grief and all it’s stages….after all, this is the beginning of healing.

DENIAL/SHOCK

Everyone starts with denial or shock or even both at the same time when learning or realizing that your relationship is heading for separation or divorce. It looks different for each individual because the reasons for a pending divorce vary. It also depends on if you are the divorcer (leaver) or divorcee (leavee) as this has a huge effect on how you will deal with your denial or shock. It is common to experience both feelings at various times.

An easy example of denial and shock are when the first time you learn of your spouse’s affair (which is the #1 reason of most divorces). You may ask yourself, “is it possible?” ” when did they have time to do this?” If you have evidence of an affair you may go into shock as you reread or look over the evidence and still not quite believe it. This is the moment when the fight, flight or freeze(not want confrontation) response may kick in.

For most couples an affair is just cause to leave the relationship for separation or divorce. Even if your spouse denies the affair or gives false reasons as to why it was okay for them to cheat. This will only prolong your denial phase. If your first intuition is to leave, then it is usually correct because even with couples therapy, the breech of trust is very difficult to regain.

There is a possibility of experiencing some anxiety during this phase as well until all the incriminating facts cause you to feel angry.

ANGER

This stage of grief has a beginning but really has no end because it resurfaces many times thought out the divorce and then through your new life. Even long after the divorce is finalized. Memories will surface of the promises made, when your ex doesn’t fulfill an obligation to your children or goes totally against court orders these types of experiences will cause anger to creep back all the way to when your children become adults and the ex figures they have to get their two cents worth into an event, that same anger comes waltzing in. This is completely common and normal. (been there and done that…still happening from time to time)

The level of anger is usually stronger in the beginning phase likely due to all the reasons you have to be angry. Keep in mind it is important to project that anger in a healthy manner. Do not take it out on children, family or friends. Rather stay busy. Go to the gym or for a walk. Better yet, seek a councilor and talk it out. Remember your words have consequences. Choose them wisely.

BARGAINING

Bargaining is the stage where you might find yourself remembering how and when you fell in love with your ex spouse and how beautiful it was in the beginning years and how your ex showed their love to you in all the many sweet ways they did. You may even try to convince yourself that it can be like that again. You are likely missing the fantasy person you once knew that no longer exists.

You may have been avoiding conflict for so long and the temporary peace between you both causes thoughts of reconciliation. This is common for both parties to entertain this idea and in some cases one gets enough courage to bring it up in conversation. However, the reasons for wanting a separation or divorce in the first place still exist and can not be avoided. In order to address such problems it is crucial to get outside help such as a marriage therapist.

DEPRESSION

Depression hits everyone differently and looks different for everyone. It’s important to know how you deal with depression and if you need outside help to get through it. It’s very beneficial to talk to a professional during divorce induced depression because of the enormous loss you are enduring regardless if you are the leaver or leavee. A therapist can also help you for future relationships so you don’t make similar mistakes again.

The stage of depression during divorce is similar to that of anger…It comes and goes many times before it is over for good. Be sure to recognize it for what it is and practice lots of self love.

ACCEPTANCE

Acceptance can be different for many enduring the loss of marriage. For some it is the acceptance of a new normal. For some it is a move into a new home(not forced move). Sometimes it can be a new hair do and wardrobe, or commitment to a healthy lifestyle but for every one it is being able to release the stress and tension regarding your ex along with a little forgiveness to yourself. Eventually you will see the light at the end of the tunnel even if the final papers are not signed yet. This does not mean all of a sudden you are happy and carefree again. It simply means you have reached a level of healing and dealing with your new normal so much better.

There is absolutely no proper time line for any one to go through all the stages of grief from divorce. Don’t be shocked if you need to ‘do over’ stages. It happens. The only cure for all this pain is time. How you spend this time is entirely up to you. The day will come your ex says or does something that used to infuriate you but brings no reaction at all. That’s when you know you have done your healing and likely finished with your grieving.

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