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Divorce: processing the emotions
September 26, 2011 | By:

In the second of a two-part article on divorce, Charlotte Friedman offers comfort. However bleak you feel, she says, there is light at the end of the tunnel

Divorce_Processing the emotionsLast week, I wrote about the bewilderment and confusion that accompanies divorce. “Although you think you will always feel like this and that it has gone on forever,” I concluded, “it won’t and it hasn’t.” And that’s where I want to pick up today. However, I don’t want to give the impression that the journey back to wellbeing is entirely easy.

You will hear friends say that it is time for you to ‘move on’ or ‘get over it’. Well, it isn’t. It is only time when you say it is. You will cry yourself a river until there are no more tears left and one day you will wake up and not want to cry any more.

There will come a day when you may have a two-minute glimpse of feeling happy, only to have it disappear again. It will then come back again, this time for longer.

You will feel that you have failed and then you won’t. You will feel guilty and then you won’t, and you will feel left out and then you won’t. You will see your marriage as so good, you don’t know why it needed to end; and then you will slowly see things were not so good and that you endured a lot.

Divorce may be an end but, whichever way you look at it, it is also a new beginning. That is a cliché but like many bon mots it is true. You may feel an enormous amount of fear thinking about an unplanned-for future and gradually, as you start to inhabit that future in the present, you will see that there are opportunities that are open to you that would never have been available before. It is a chance to start developing again and forging new links and relationships and to do some of those things that being married stopped you doing.

A few years down the line from divorce, it is rare to find someone mourning and still full of anger. Just as a fever subsides, so does the intensity of your emotions. People do survive. Not just basically but really. They develop new relationships, new friends, new joys. They laugh and they make plans. So how do they get there?

Firstly, there is a time element involved. Pain does subside with time. You need to get used to your new status and that doesn’t happen overnight.

Don’t fight your emotions, thinking that you shouldn’t feel that way. You may not want to feel as upset as you are, but it is completely and utterly normal. Fighting it will just add to your exhaustion. Allow yourself to cry or howl if you want to. It will enable you to process what has happened and move through it.

There isn’t an emotion you feel, connected with your divorce, that countless others have not felt too. Don’t feel bad talking about it. Anyone who is shocked or traumatised by anything needs to keep on talking about it until they feel they have talked about it enough. You will know when you have moved through these phases.

And don’t be frightened to really look at and explore how you feel. You may need to talk to a professional about it. The more you process it, the quicker your recovery. You wouldn’t expect someone who was bereaved to snap out of it, and nor should you. Nobody ever drowned by wallowing.

Of course, put a brave face on for the outside world if you can. But behind closed doors and with your friends, remember you need to catch up with an event that may have been imposed on you, and catching up takes time. Your partner may seem happy because, if he or she has left you. they have had much more time to get used to the idea. You will be starting that journey only when you have been left. Catching up is a long-distance run, not a sprint.

Finally, there is a lot of advice and information on the net about divorce – and you are one of many who has had this experience – but your divorce is yours and you will be ready to shed its effects only when you say so.

Further advice Divorce Support Group