Whether your divorce is amicable or bitter, you are likely to feel a torrent of emotions. You were deeply in love once and never expected it to end. Your marriage was built on a lifetime of hopes and dreams, and those have come crashing down. The challenge now is the recovery from that divorce.
It’s important to go through all the emotional phases without self-judgment. These phases are necessary for your healing. Everyone heals at his or her own pace, so there is no need to rush through the process. The basic stages of divorce are:
Denial is like a protective mantle. We wear it to protect us from cruel reality. Your world may be falling apart, but you are coping by pretending everything is and will be just fine. Denial may get you through some of the harsher moments of the day or a long night, but eventually, reality demands to be faced.
When you experience anger, you are leaving the denial stage. And it is actually a healthy stage through which to move. Your world has been upended, and you are filled with fury. You find yourself blaming all the wrongs in your life on your ex. It’s all his or her fault. From world hunger to your car not starting, your ex is the reason why.
Don’t try to deny the anger. Use it instead to relieve some of the tension building up inside of you. Anger can help a great deal in the healing process.
At this point, you’ve calmed down a bit. You are seeing the big picture and don’t like it one bit. The future is looking bleak, and you don’t want to go there. So, you engage in some mental bargaining. “I will never argue with him or her again if given one more chance.” “I’ll move to the suburbs without a complaint if he or she will stay.” “I will lose 20 pounds by next month and become attractive again.”
You are ready to negotiate any deal to get your ex back. What you are actually bargaining for is to get your familiar life back. On an ironic twist of the anger phase, your ex suddenly can do no wrong in your mind. He or she is the ideal sex partner, a great companion, cook, parents, and whatever else you need.
Most people shift through the bargaining stage pretty quickly.
You are out of denial, anger didn’t help, and you are no longer making bargains. At this point, depression can become overwhelming. Reality is making it clear: life as you knew it is over. You are losing your spouse and there is no going back. Interestingly, even if you were unhappy during the marriage, the ending can be depressing for a while for the simple reason it is the loss of the familiar and something that was important to you.
When you are depressed, you may be tempted to stay in bed for days and binge on TV reruns. As with the other phases, don’t deny what you are feeling. Allow and acknowledge the depression. For a while, give your depression some free reign. It’s better than to bottle it up. However, it can be dangerous to wallow. If possible, confide in a trusted friend or family member. A trained counselor can be helpful at this stage, especially as you relive every single mistake you committed during your marriage in your mind and conclude that you are solely at fault and facing a hopeless future. Talk and vent when you need to, and cry when you feel like it.
You’ve moved through a lot of emotions during your divorce proceeding. Here is where you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Life is starting to look good again, and you are prepared to move ahead and meet your future.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you are feeling top-of-the-world. You will still feel plenty of negativity; you probably will still cry. You may feel regrets and loss. There is every chance you are still angry at your ex. But you have accepted the reality of your separation. It is truly over now, especially in your own mind. And when you do that, your recovery from that divorce will be more likely to take place.
You are now ready to face the future and all its possibilities.
It doesn’t matter whether you requested the divorce, or your ex did. A lot of your emotional divorce recovery phases will be the same. The truth is that divorce is a huge loss. By allowing yourself to feel the accompanying pain and regrets, you are preparing yourself for a better future.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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