Usually I work much more on the marriage counseling side, but I've been getting a lot more calls from people fresh from a divorce. They are in shock. And in so much pain. Their spouse may have wanted the divorce, not them. Now they feel shame. They feel isolated and alone. They're losing friends. They don't know what has been said.
If you're going through a divorce, know this:
Feel What You Feel
Your emotions will be all over the place, but feel what you feel. Engage it. Don't deny it. Don't stuff it.
My clients all want to stop these overwhelming emotions - because it’s painful!
But don’t. Engage those emotions because you will find that they reveal underlying beliefs.
For example, many women feel betrayed, that they were not cherished, but underneath, see they they always thought they were not loveable.
That’s information that can be used toward recovery.
Develop a support network
Not only develop a support network, but coach them how to help you.
You may feel that you no longer know who your friends are. You and your spouse had mutual friends and now they may be choosing sides. It’s going to feel awkward for everyone.
That can leave you isolated.
That’s why you want to coach your friends. You may find that many people want to help you, want to be part of a support network, but they don't know how to help. They may not have words to say, or have platitudes, or just "I'm sorry."
Sometimes, that's okay, but many people need coaching.
Usually, people don't want "fixing," which could backfire. It could seem like it’s a fix as a substitute for a real connection.
What what you need is the connection itself. You may not want to be alone. You may need empathy more than anything else.
To understand empathy, silently remind yourselves when you felt empathy. By listening, reflecting back. Be open and available.
Make a List of Things to be Forgiven
Third, start making a list of all the things that need to be forgiven. If someone had an affair, write it down. Or if a person did something else - for example, the idea of "He never really loved me." That needs to be forgiven.
Yes, it’s hard.
Yes, it’s crucial. I’ll make a separate blog about forgiveness.
You’re Not Alone
The saddest thing of all is the isolation. If you feel isolated, that only increases the shame. Make a list of people - family and friends - to reach out to.
You might be surprised at the number of people willing to connect with you. Something simple: get coffee, or shop for groceries. Hang out at your house.
Seek opportunities to connect...