The Road to Divorce Recovery

by Kim Johnson

Separation, Divorce and Your Emotions

Separation and divorce are some of the most difficult experiences one may encounter.  Everyone will react differently to divorce yet there are some common emotions that occur at one point or another.  The stages of dealing with this issue can be much like those we experience when someone we love passes away.  Recognizing that there are normal responses in this situation can help you understand yourself better and help you journey through the stages.  It doesn’t take the negative feelings away but will enable you to eventually move forward toward healing and hope. 

Denial 

This is when you have a difficult time believing what is happening to you. You may refuse to accept that the relationship is over and struggle with trying to find solutions to the marital problems. You might spend time believing that if you do or say the right thing your spouse will come home. There is a feeling that you have no control over the destiny of your marriage. You might be convinced that divorce is not the solution to the marital problems.

Shock

This stage may make you feel panic, rage, numbness or like you are going crazy. You might swing between despair that your marriage is over and hope that it will be restored. It can seem impossible to cope with these feelings.  There will be some common fears when thinking about your future alone and you will wonder how you are going to survive your divorce.  In this stage you will wonder if you will ever find love again; question whether or not the pain ever end; and even wonder if you will feel this way the rest of your life.

Rollercoaster

In this stage it seems you can’t settle your feelings and thoughts.   Your emotions will swing from being hopeful to feeling utter despair.  In an effort to understand what is happening you may try to intellectualize the situation believing this will make the pain go away or that it will somehow make sense.  The imagination may run wild and you will question what you could have done to make this happen or make your spouse stop loving you.  You may even wonder if your entire marriage was a lie.  There is a lot of mental re-hashing during this period. You will fill as if you can’t control your thinking and find yourself obsessed with the failure of your marriage. Depression is a danger at this stage and you may cry at the drop of a hat.

Bargaining 

If you are still holding onto the hope that your marriage will be restored, in this stage you will try to change anything about yourself or do anything to get your spouse to return. The important thing to understand during this stage is that you can’t control the thoughts, desires or actions of another human being.

Letting Go

During this stage you will finally realize that the marriage is over, that there is nothing you can do or say to change that. You will be able to understand the issues and take responsibility for your part (however large or small) in the breakdown of the marriage. You will begin to feel a sense of liberation and some hope for the future.

Acceptance 

This is the stage when the pain will disappear.  The obsessive thoughts will be gone and the unfulfilled need to heal your marriage will have vanished.  You will actually begin to feel as if you can have a fulfilling life. Looking ahead and not behind, you can finally make plans and follow through with them.  Opening up to the idea of finding new interests, this is a period of growth where you will discover that you have strengths and talents and can go forward in spite of the fear you feel. The pain gives way to hope and you discover that there is life after divorce.