Overflowing With Divorce Emotions?
Divorce can breed a range of emotions. For some partners, they may feel shame that the marriage failed, shame that they were unfaithful, shame that they were unkind, shame that they weren’t stronger. Some people feel depressed and angry. Some feel anxious about the unknown. How will they manage living alone? Finances? Dating…again? Now?
These are very normal reactions yet because they may be experienced collectively, it may feel very intense, frightening, anxiety-producing, like popcorn kernels exploding. The important concept to consider is that when the popcorn settles, it is quite tasty. Sure, there may be some spillover. What can you do with the excess? You are in charge of what to do with the spillover, whether to collect, eat or discard.
With time, your reactions can calm and life can be good albeit different. During the process, you don’t have to like it. As the following poem depicts:
Divorce I Do Not Like You.
Not At All.
But I will learn to live with you.
Now that you have intruded into my life.
You are powerful.
Your stormy winds have bruised and buffeted me.
But you will never defeat me.
I will face you, lean into you,
Storm back at you, and find my own strength.
I will mend, and change, and grow,
And reshape my life.
Until one day,
You will be a memory with which I can live,
And I will taste of joy again.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD is well known for delineating 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This is applicable whether a physical death or the death of a marriage. How the stages are experienced and the sequence are unique to each individual but it is helpful to understand they are part of the process.
This is the stage when you tend to feel numb. It helps you handle the shock of the end of your marriage and is nature’s way to help you pace your feelings when you may feel overwhelmed.
Depression is anger turned inward, so anger is important for healing. Feeling anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger may seem never ending but the more you acknowledge it, the more it will fade in time.
This is when you may feel guilt and remorse and blame yourself. If only you had done X. If only you had said Y. By perseverating on what you think you could have done differently, you are stuck in the past.
As you feel depressed, though, you are actually focusing on the present. You feel emptiness because you realize you have lost something, whether or not you wanted the divorce. There is a missing piece and you wonder if you can go on. It is a quiet time for healing.
You eventually learn to accept your new reality even if you do not like it. You learn to accept your divorce. It is time to develop your interests and begin to socialize.
Grief expert David Kessler describes a sixth stage of grief in his book Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. He describes meaning as a process to “transform grief into a more peaceful and hopeful experience”.
It is important to remember that healing is possible.