If you have recently gone through a divorce, you are likely experiencing a whole host of feelings. Betrayal, grief, loss, anger, sadness, loneliness, fear, and confusion are just a few. Not everyone feels the same. Sometimes, you just feel numb.
Even if the divorce was something you wanted, it will still be difficult to feel normal. The divorce brought changes into your life. You are no longer part of a couple. Or at least part of that couple. And if you have children, this difficulty is compounded. You’re not the same family that you once were.
Some people move on to other relationships quickly. It can be frightening to face life’s challenges alone and many people choose to find another partner without really dealing the loss of the old one. This presents its own difficult challenges.
It’s important to take stock after a divorce. It’s never one partner’s fault exclusively. Both spouses play a part in the dissolution of the relationship, although it might seem easier to believe that it’s the other person who is to blame. But jumping into a new relationship before working through the loss of the old one can be risky. There is often resentment, anger, and hurt left over. Unresolved, these feelings can interfere with developing true intimacy with a new person. If the new partner does something that reminds you of something that the old partner did to hurt you, you will most likely react without realizing it’s an old wound you’re feeling. This can leave the partner feeling confused and hurt as well.
In his book, You’re the One You’ve Been Waiting For, Dr. Richard Schwartz talks about the importance of recognizing the risks of having expectations that our partners can’t hope to meet. We all bring old baggage into our relationships, hoping that our partner can somehow repair our brokenness, meet unmet needs from childhood, or cherish us in ways our parents, or former spouse, did not. It’s critical that you take the time to find those old wounds and work through, and heal, the feelings and beliefs they caused. Until you do, your defense system will stay on high alert, building walls and forts around your heart to protect you from being hurt again. True intimacy will be nearly impossible to achieve.
And even if you do not look for another relationship right away, you need to grieve the loss of the old one. Support from family and friends is helpful, but sometimes they just want you to put the past behind you and move on. Although they might say it’s because they don’t want you to feel bad, often it’s because they feel helpless and they don’t want to feel bad. It’s important to remember that recovery takes as long as it takes. You will feel sad. You will feel lonely. You will feel angry. And it’s not only OK to feel these things, it’s a good thing. But you don’t have to face this alone.
Finding a good Divorce Recovery support group can help. Therapy can help. You might recover more quickly with such support. A good support group or a compassionate therapist will be able to offer you hope. And working through the pain will help you gain confidence and the ability to learn to trust again.
It’s normal to feel anxious when facing a challenging situation, such as a job interview, a tough exam, or a blind date. But if your worries and fears seem overwhelming and interfere with your daily life, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. There are many different types of anxiety disorders—and many effective treatments and self-help strategies. Once you understand your anxiety disorder, there are steps you can take to reduce your symptoms and regain control of your life.