Photo courtesy of Ahmed Sinan
When a marriage ends, it’s normal for both parties to feel a wide array of emotions, including: anger, anxiety, confusion, disappointment, fear, freedom, guilt, loneliness, relief and sadness. Most people go through a mourning period after a breakup or divorce, even if the relationship had turned sour. This happens due to the loss of a future that no longer exists.
Three years ago, my ex-husband and I just weren’t working as a romantic couple any longer. Deciding to divorce after ten years of marriage was a painful and difficult decision for both of us. During the time surrounding the separation and divorce, unanswered questions ate at me. How would I support my children financially? Who would I turn to for emotional support? Would I lose the close friendships I’d formed with my in-laws? How could I protect my children from feeling insecure during such an unsettling time?
Since the end of a marriage or long-term relationship is one of the most emotional hurdles that you’ll ever have to face, make it your goal just to clear this one without falling flat on your face. A little stumbling is to be expected.
- Feel the pain. Like physical pain, being mindfully aware of emotional pain is crucial and will help you overcome the worst of it much faster. Allow yourself to sit with your feelings. Give yourself permission to let the grief and sadness wash over you. Sit with your pain and really feel it. In doing so, you release the power it has over you.
- Then feel happy. Although it may not be as instantaneous or complete as you’d like, mindfully releasing your grief will make room for a degree of happiness to eke its way back in.
- Accept the change. As you begin to feel little twinges of happiness again, you’ll also want to mindfully accept this new life as your life now.
- Talk, talk, talk. Whether it’s a paid professional or a close friend, verbalizing your feelings is another great release. Speak your worries, and then let them go.
- Keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. Your life isn’t over; it’s just different. Although it may seem impossible at first, your life at the end of the grieving period may be even better than before.
Once you’ve been able to accept the changes that’ve transpired, you’ll want to focus on moving forward and living your new life to the fullest. Dr. Phil says:
- Explain to your kids what Mom and Dad’s new relationship is. They need to understand that you’re still a team, but they also need some clarity on your new roles. Don’t try to “outparent” your ex. Do you really want your children to have a bad parent? Focus on the future and begin to see your ex from your children’s point of view instead of your own.
If you don’t have kids, you’ll get to the next part faster:
- Make some time to get reacquainted with yourself. This might take quite awhile; you’ve probably been getting at least part of your self-awareness through the feedback provided to you by your significant other. Re-visit some of your old hobbies or explore something new. Let yourself be a little selfish and take the time you need to strike a harmonious balance again.
- Don’t play the blame game. Instead, focus your energy on what you can do to make your life better now. Keep your eyes facing forward and give yourself permission to be happy regardless of what has transpired in your relationship.
As a newly single person, you’re not up against the world – but you are up against two version of yourself. Whether you find happiness after divorce has nothing to do with the world around you. Dig deep, find your inner strength, and let your best self prevail.