Taking Care of Yourself Through A Divorce: Adjusting

Evaluate your relationships and make whatever life adjustments you feel are necessary. During a divorce, you might encounter many "Monday Morning Quarterbacks"... the people who feel like they need to give you advice on what you should have done differently, or those that might think you need to hear them repeatedly "bash" your soon-to-be-ex.  Perhaps there are people around you that encourage you do things that are self-destructive (like trying to set you up on a date, thinking it will ease your transition period... a definite no-no!), or maybe there are people around you that discourage you from doing things that ARE healthy (like shaming you for setting boundaries and taking time for yourself).  This self-care tip might also include letting go of friendships that were a big part of your ex's life or adapting to the changes in the friendships that were friends of the marriage.  At this point in your divorce recovery, it might be necessary for you to reevaluate your relationships and determine which ones are helpful and which ones are harmful.

Remind yourself that you still have a future.

Sometimes when our pain or discomfort during a situation is high, it can be difficult to remember what might be on the other side of the pain.  You can say this to yourself or outloud, but either way, tell yourself that you WILL have a future ahead of you, regardless of what it feels like right now.  Divorce is a process of grieving MANY losses, not just the marriage:  a loss of relationships as you knew them, a loss of extended family and in-laws (at least a change in the relationship).  It could be the loss of what you have called "home", if you are the one leaving the primary residence.  Grieving these losses free's you up to look on down the road at some point, so allow yourself to daydream about your future and what you want to see for yourself and your life.

Look at this as an opportunity for self-growth and development, and understanding of "self". 

Many times in therapy, we hear those going through a divorce trying to rush back into a relationship before they are ready (even when you think you are ready, immediately after filing for divorce is not the appropriate time for you to begin dating!)  How do we know this?  Because any time you have loss, even if it's your decision, there are many unresolved feelings to process and cope with, and unresolved feelings tend to make us unable to be "present" in our current relationships-- which means you aren't "whole" yet.  A relationship with someone who has unresolved pain and who isn't "whole" again, doesn't have a good chance of working out and isn't fair to anyone involved.  Would you want to be with someone who carries bitterness towards their soon-to-be-ex?  That will be a part of your dating relationship every day!  Or someone who is still pining after their almost-ex and still has secret hopes of getting back together or talks (or thinks) about them all of the time?  It's difficult to get to know someone if part of them is still in their old relationship.  This also starts off a relationship with secrecy and is a form of betrayal-- both to yourself and to anyone you enter a relationship with. Not a good sign for the future of that relationship-- and you don't want to go through this AGAIN, right??!! It's better to cope with it now.

Leaving a relationship means reconciling a part of you that is different.  It's important to reflect during this period and figure out what your role was in the loss of the marriage.  Were there any bits of truth in the feedback that you received from the relationship?  It' doesn't mean that you sit and stew in the negative stuff (or if there were bitter words, it doesn't mean that you take everything to heart).  It just means that you take the opportunity to see what you contributed to the relationship not working out.  Look inward and ask yourself what lessons you learned about yourself (and others) that could help you in relationships on down the road.   It truly can be a great opportunity to learn about yourself and make huge strides towards self-growth!  The most important part of this tip:  If you don't take the time to look inward and learn from the experience, you more likely to repeat the same pattern (or mistakes) over and over again.

If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, we hope that this week's blog posts have helped you in your journey towards self-care during such a difficult transition.  

Joleen Watson, MS, LMFT, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.