5 Tips for Coping with the Emotional Rollercoaster of Divorce
Tip #1 - Allow yourself the time and space to grieve
Divorce is ranked as the second most stressful life event, second only to the death of a spouse. We are relational creatures by nature and the loss of that bond with our partner can be extremely dysregulating and even traumatic for some, especially if you weren’t the one who initiated the divorce. It’s a time when everything you thought you knew is called into question and you are faced with an incredible amount of uncertainty. The intensity of emotions is at an all-time high and it may feel like you’ve lost all control. It’s important to name this stage for what it is though – grief, then you can start to make sense of what it is that you’re feeling. It’s the death of your marriage, of your family as you knew it and of the hopes, plans, and dreams you had for your future. Recognizing that you are grieving and allowing yourself the time and space to do so is imperative. Carving out time for yourself where it is safe to feel everything that needs to come up and not judging yourself for the experience. If at all possible, I’d also recommend you avoid making any big decisions during this phase. Wait for example before jumping to lawyers and let the dust settle. It’s hard to think clearly and finding the right support is crucial. There are countless options to choose from –support groups, mental health professionals, divorce coaches. Prioritizing and investing in your emotional healing journey now can save you unnecessary suffering down the road.
Tip #2 - Never give up
There are going to be moments when it all seems too much. When the intensity of the pain and uncertainty feels unbearable. When it feels like all you can do just to get out of bed in the morning. In these moments I need you to remind yourself that this pain is temporary. That you’ve survived 100% of your worst days so far and that you will survive this one too. Healing isn’t linear… one day you may feel empowered and on top of the world and the next you are back to crying yourself to sleep. We can be so hard on ourselves in these moments but I’m asking you to treat yourself with the same love and compassion you would your closest friend. Reminding yourself that you are safe, you are loved, you are valued, and you are so much more than enough. Prioritize self-care, recognize that there will be bad days, don’t judge yourself for it and know that the sun will rise again tomorrow.
Tip #3 - Accept what is, in order to let go of what was
It’s hard to move forward until you’ve made peace with where you’re at now. One exercise I encourage is to try writing out your divorce story, a completely unfiltered account of your separation. Letting all the anger, the pain, the heartache pour onto the page. We hold so much in and it’s helpful to find a creative outlet to express yourself. If journaling doesn’t resonate with you maybe try art or some form of movement to tell your story. It’s often actually the meaning we make of our breakup and not the divorce itself that’s the most upsetting. What do you notice that you’ve made this mean about you personally? That you’re a failure, that you’re not enough, that you’re not loveable? I encourage you to start to question the validity of any of these hurtful determinations you’ve made about yourself and begin actively reconnecting with the truth of who you know yourself to be. Accepting what is also involves recognizing your part in the breakdown of the relationship. This is tough though and must be done gently to avoid falling into shame. The only way to reclaim your power is to learn from the past and make changes moving forward so that you don’t repeat the same painful patterns in future relationships. We can all accept responsibility on some level, even if only a small percent – maybe you self-abandoned in your relationship, maybe you ignored your intuition or didn’t set appropriate boundaries. Ultimately, it’s about shifting your focus from blame and shame to perspective and power.
Tip #4 - Embrace this as an opportunity
It’s so easy to lose ourselves in all the many roles we play in life. It can be scary and disorienting leaving a marriage and realizing that you don’t even know who you are without that relationship because its defined so much of who you now know yourself to be. What if this is actually an incredible opportunity in disguise though? Your wakeup call. A chance to build a life even better than the one you ever imagined. A chance to learn about yourself, to confront the painful things from your past that you’ve been running away from, to release them, so that you can show up more authentically moving forward and with greater peace of mind. If you have children and are now divvying up parenting time, this may be the first time in a while that you’ve even had the opportunity to focus on yourself for any significant period. Use this time wisely - to heal, to process your emotions, to start connecting again with the things that light you up and bring you joy, to honor yourself as an individual. Try new things, step out of your comfort zone, whatever you do just keep moving.
Tip #5 - Let your future guide you
The past has a sneaky way of keeping a hold on us. The best way to break free of that is to start creating a vision of your future so strong that it can’t help but pull you forward. Something to serve as your North Star, to guide you through challenging times. I suggest starting with just a few minutes every day. Find a quiet place to sit and visual the person you want to become. Really connect with her. What is she up to in her life? What does she look like? How does she walk through the world? And most importantly how does she feel? Embrace her strength, her power, her determination. As this daily practice becomes more routine it starts to get easier to incorporate it into your daily life and to draw strength from it when needed. Anytime you are struggling or feeling indecisive you can take a moment and ask yourself “what would my future self do in this situation?”. The answer often is suddenly clear. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy though. It may be uncomfortable and outside of your current comfort zone but you can’t wait until you feel ready to take that next best step because that time may never come. It’s about learning to take intentional steps forward in integrity with the future you want to create and the values you hold.
I hope these 5 Tips help you cope with the emotional rollercoaster of your breakup or divorce. Keep in mind, this is the end of a chapter, not the end of your story. You get to write the rest and if you are willing to do the inner work, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. And remember, if you'd like support through your own divorce I'm here. If you'd like to learn more about my 1:1 Conscious Uncoupling Coaching Packages, reach out and let's book a free 30min call to see if it's a good fit for you!