How to Emotionally Recover from a Divorce
Even the most amicable of divorces can take a toll on your emotional well-being. The feeling of being rejected and hurt, on top of the stress that naturally comes along with making a huge life change, can be overwhelming. At the end of the actual divorce process, you are likely to still feel sad, hurt, and unsure of how to move forward. Here’s how to emotionally recover from a divorce:
1. Acknowledge that the loss is real.
Going through a divorce is not unlike a loved one dying. When someone in your life dies, there is, at least, a sense of finality. This is not always the case with a divorce. You need to take the time to let yourself feel that you have lost someone. You have lost a partner. Even if the relationship was ultimately doomed, you are still allowed to feel the loss of that relationship and to mourn that loss. Be willing to face reality and to be honest with yourself about your feelings.
2. Understand that the pain is normal.
It might not make you feel any better to know that other people have gone through the exact same thing and that the pain you are feeling is completely normal, but it can be reassuring to know that the pain you are feeling is real and that you are not simply dredging up feelings for yourself to experience over and over again. In acknowledging that the emotional pain is normal, you can use this pain to help you move forward and start your new life.
3. Understand that things will get better.
They might not get better right away and you might not even notice the improvement in your life until you look back (three or thirteen months down the line) and realize how much better you feel. It is easy to feel like you will almost always be this sad or hurt, but in reality, in a couple of months, you will have settled into your new life and, if you have allowed yourself, will be able to move on. Understanding that things will get better can help you start on your road to emotionally recover from a divorce.
4. Use your pain as a motivator.
The last thing you want to do is simply sit around and wallow in your pain. While it is alright to wallow sometimes, if that is all you do, you are never going to feel better. What you can do, though, is invest your pain in bettering yourself and moving on. Use it to motivate yourself to become a better person, to reach out and help others that might be in pain, and to find others who are in your same situation so you can grow and improve together. You can also use this time to become who you want to be. A divorce is a fresh start and a good reminder to not repeat old behavioral patterns that contributed to your divorce.
5. Allow yourself time to heal.
Getting a divorce is sort of like breaking your arm. You won’t reasonably expect a broken arm to heal overnight, would you? Just like a broken bone, a broken heart takes time to heal. It might take longer than a broken bone, but it will heal. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to expect yourself to be perfectly happy or perfectly recovered just a few days or weeks after a divorce. A divorce can completely upend your life and do a huge amount of damage to your emotional stability. Healing that kind of damage takes time.
6. Do your grieving right now.
Many people put off their grieving, pretending that they do not need to grieve or that they are not sad. Months or years down the road, however, feelings start to burst out of them (usually in a destructive way) because the original grief was not dealt with. If you do not deal with the emotions you are feeling, they will build up inside you until you can no longer control them. Trying to cordon off your negative feelings is impossible. You will usually pen up your positive feelings too if you don’t take time to grieve. Ultimately, grieving can help you find peace and accepting your new position in life can open up a world of possibilities.
7. Learn to forgive.
Whether the decision to get divorced was mutual, or the other party decided they wanted it, or you decided it was the right choice for you, there will obviously be enough hurt feelings and blame to go around. Forgiving not just the other person for anything they might have said or done that hurt you, but also yourself, is integral to emotionally recovering from a divorce. If you do not forgive the other person and yourself, you will carry all of those negative emotions in your next relationship. You might not even be able to find another relationship because you are too busy obsessing about something you or another person did or said years and years ago.
8. Find a support system.
Your support system should be people that are willing to listen to you, not just to understand what you are saying, but to help lift you up out of your grief. You might want to join a support group, where you will be able to find acceptance and a non-judgmental approach to recovery. If you have a stable support system in your friends and family, this is even better.
9. Go one day at a time.
Thinking about feeling this way for weeks or months can be overwhelming. Just as with any kind of recovery, you have to take it one day at a time. Face each day as it comes. Don’t obsess about how you are going to feel next week. Instead, work on how you feel this week, day by day. You have to surmount each obstacle as it arrives, instead of worrying about it when it will pop up.
How to emotionally recover from a divorce is person-dependent, but these tips will help. If you find you are having a difficult time coping with your divorce, contact Cope Better Therapy for additional support.