Considering a separation or divorce from a partner is one of the most daunting and painful experiences we can encounter. After all, our dreams and hopes of a happy life with a caring loving partner have just been thrown out of the window.
It takes a brave person to walk away from a long-term relationship. So many of us stay knowing it is not really right for us. We may debate staying because of children or because of the financial dependence on a relationship. We may also stay because we are a creature of habit and feel that having someone at home is better than being alone. But deep down your heart is telling you, this is just not working out anymore.
When the decision has been made you can be thrown into a battle against the very person you have loved all of these years. But if you are one of the lucky ones and you can maintain a respect for one another then the pains of divorce can at least be slightly eased.
Experiences of divorce
1, You may initially feel an intense fear because the person you have dedicated your life to has gone. You will feel a rollercoaster of emotions over the coming months such as heartache, grief, denial, anger, regret, guilt, shame, self-blame, nostalgia and eventually acceptance. Try not to fight these emotions they are all part of the process. The feelings come in waves, acknowledge them and they pass. Eventually the waves are less severe and less frequent.
2, You may lose friends, especially those who came initially through your partner. Make sure at this time you have the people who love you around you and that can see things from your side.
3, You have to go through a painful business transaction of who gets what. This is hard to do when you are feeling so many emotions. You might feel too weak to fight for what is yours. Take your time and deal with things as and when you can. Do not feel pressured by your partner, especially if it is them that initiated the separation.
4, Be prepared for unrecognisable behaviour. I have heard this so many times. “ I do not recognise them anymore”. Sometimes the person who once loved you can turn into an ogre. They treat you like an enemy; the separation can turn into an ugly legal battle where any love and respect for the other seems to just disappear. This is a sad situation to find oneself in, but do your best to protect yourself from them at this stage and try not to enter into big arguments, which can spiral things further out of control.
5, Be prepared to feel sorry for yourself. The pain of divorce can leave you feeling very wounded. It is easy to slip into feeling sorry for yourself, why me? I don´t deserve this. It’s ok to feel sorry for yourself for a while; after all you have been through the mill. Eventually with time you will pick yourself back up and put one foot in front of the other.
6, You will feel lonely. Almost everybody I know who does not go immediately into another relationship talks of times of feeling lonely. This is normal, your life has changed. The person you used to talk to or whom you went to for support is not there anymore. It is ok to feel lonely at times, but it is important to not let loneliness eat away at you. There is a danger that this can lead to isolation and depression, so try to have consistent social contact.
7, Don´t throw yourself straight into another relationship. It is easy to throw yourself straight into a new relationship whilst you lick your wounds. But is this really healthy? We need time to mourn, reflect and work on ourselves. You want your next relationship to start from a healthy place. Realise that you are responsible for your happiness and don´t put that responsibility straight on to somebody else’s shoulders.
8, Know that time heals. This is an opportunity to focus on you. Take the time to do the things that maybe you didn´t do whilst in your relationship, take up new hobbies, maybe change your job, get out and meet new people. All these things help you to create a new way of life whilst you heal.
9, Finally when time has passed we have an opportunity to assess what we have learnt from our relationship. We learn so much from our experiences, where we could have been better, what type of person we are better suited to and what we want from our future relationships.
As they all say time really does heal. There is no set time to grieve your divorce, do it your way and in your time. Be gentle on yourself and focus on what is most important….YOU.