FORGIVING, HEALING, AND LOVING AFTER DIVORCE.
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~Paul Boese
Divorce is one of the great epidemics of our society; it tears families apart and brings painful memories for years to come. You go into marriage thinking that you’ll be together forever and next thing you know, those same vows you took are broken, promises broken, and a life with big plans and dreams crumbled. It makes the divorcees wonder if there is even a small glimmer of hope for finding love again. Some recover quickly but for many it takes years to adjust to the changes.
Problems like who gets the house, the splitting of the assets come up, and let’s not forget the gruesome custody battles. Sometimes you see it coming, and sometimes it just creeps up like a nightmare. Bottom line, it’s a traumatic experience that changes you.
I was eight years old when my parents called it quits. Even though both have been remarried for over twenty years their divorce has had a great impact on my life. I had to adjust to too many changes; I moved and switched school more than any child should have to, I barely saw my dad, and grew a ton of unhealthy resentments towards both of them, for a very long time. As I got older I realized that happiness is a choice and if I wanted to be happy I needed to grieve and then forgive both of my parents in order to have a healthy life.
Mourn the Loss
Allow yourself to mourn the loss of your marriage. It doesn’t matter who called it quits, what matters is being able to move forward and starting out a new life. It’s important to give yourself time, but not too much time because it’s easy to get stuck on a feeling. So give yourself time, set time apart in your day when you’re able to mourn. Cry, scream, shout, write, do whatever needs to be done but once that time is up, you continue on with whatever needs to be accomplished that day.
Getting Past Denial
The reality that your life may never be the same is frightening to most who grieve their divorce. So thoughts like “ This isn’t really happening, things will get back to normal soon enough” or “ I’m just going through a rough time, there’s no need to file for divorce” may come up. Ask yourself, am I in denial? The sooner you accept your current reality the easier it will be to move on.
Built up Resentments
Throughout the grieving process you experience strong emotions that intensify and force you to re-evaluate your self-image. Its internal reaction that occurs whenever someone treats you unfairly, does wrong by you, leaves a powerful internal reaction. The unexpressed painful emotions that we feel built up and transform into resentments. The internalized anger can lead to abusive or self-destructive behavior. It’s important to communicate those resentments. So when thoughts like “I hate my ex “come to mind think deeper and ask yourself, “Do I really need to express my feelings towards my ex in such a negative manner?” “How is this behavior affecting my relationship with my children and people around me?” “Is this anger attractive?”
Striking a Bargain
Often, in times of desperation we tend you strike deals with people. When mourning the divorce at times the pain can get so intense that we would choose anything to go back to the way things were. “ If he/she takes me back, I promise I will change” “ If we get back together things will be different” if the thought of being alone is scarier than being in a broken marriage then your allowing fear to control your life. So when the urge of striking a bargain appears ask yourself: “What exactly am I bargaining for?” “The thought of what my marriage should have been like?” It’s important to monitor your thoughts; thoughts are very powerful and have an effect on our daily life. They can either drag you into a depressive state or get you out.
During the depression phase the reality of “my life is over” may kick in. You may feel a deep sadness over the divorce and just want to crawl up in a ball and sleep. Or you may feel restless and not sleep at all, constantly replaying all that had happened. You may cry over the fact that your marriage didn’t turn out the way you imagined it to be and sometimes even play the victim role that you had no idea who you married, just to get through the pain. Any kind of fear could reinforce you back to any of the other stages of grief. So it’s important that you have a great support system, not waste time with regret, monitor your language and thoughts, and be a strong example to the children.<