Going through a divorce is one of the most agonizing experiences you’ll ever face. And when you’re going through it, you’ll yearn for answers to your nearly incessant questions:
- How can I heal my divorce heartbreak?
- Will I hurt like this forever?
- Will I ever feel normal again?
- Can I survive this?
Logically you know that others have been through divorce and survived. So, there must be a way for you to get through it too.
But emotionally, you’re not so sure you’re going to make it.
Yet you will make it.
And although the exact way for you to heal from your divorce heartbreak will be unique to you, there is a general path to follow for your healing and restoration.
The following 13 steps are the most helpful ones for finding your direction as you figure out how to heal divorce heartbreak and feel normal again.
1. Have compassion for yourself.
You can’t force, cajole or talk yourself into getting over your divorce. You have to go through it and feel the heartbreak.
It’s an exhausting process. Your ability to function physically and mentally will decrease dramatically as you wrestle with this dramatic change in your life. You may even have problems sleeping and eating.
With all the stress you’re going through, you’ll need to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. When you do, you’ll discover that you’ll slowly begin to have the energy for your healing journey.
2. Allow yourself to grieve.
One of the aspects of divorce that most people are surprised by is the intensity and depth of grief they experience.
There are so many things both large and small that you lose when you divorce. So, it makes sense that you will feel bad about saying goodbye to them.
Allow yourself to grieve and let out all the disappointment and sadness about your divorce instead of bottling it up or trying to rationalize it away. It’s OK to cry – a lot. In fact, it’s probably necessary for your healing.
3. Maintain as many of your routines as possible.
It can seem like divorce turns your entire world upside down. Your living situation has changed. Your responsibilities have changed. Your financial status has changed. Your marital status has changed. The list of changes goes on and on.
However, if you can keep a few of your routines unchanged, then you’ll have pockets of “normal” that you can retreat to instead of remaining caught up in the whirlwind of change.
4. Redefine the meaning of forever for yourself.
You probably took your marriage vows seriously and meant it when you said something like “until death do us part.” When you got married, you were in it forever.
However, getting divorced means that forever isn’t going to happen for this marriage.
Rather than beating yourself up because you didn’t have a fairy tale marriage that made it to the mythical destination of happily ever after, you can think about what forever meant in terms of your marriage.
Maybe it meant until the death of the marriage, or until your love died, or until your relationship ran it’s course, or something else entirely. The point is that the gentler you are about accepting the end of your marriage without unnecessarily judging yourself harshly, the easier time you have finding your unique path to healing your divorce heartbreak.
5. Don’t seek your happiness in the past.
Part of getting over your divorce is trusting that you will feel happy again. The past is the past and you may have been very happy for the majority of your marriage, however you can’t live in the past. So, as uncomfortable as it is, going through the tumult of your emotions and the repercussions of your divorce is the only way you’ll find happiness again.
And the reason the windshield is so large and the rearview mirror is so small is because what’s happened in your past is not near as important as what’s in your future. – Joel Osteen
6. Vent to family, friends, your therapist or divorce coach.
Taking your anger, fear and upset out on your ex or yourself will just keep you trapped in the misery of your divorce instead of helping you heal.
Although, you don’t want to bottle your emotions up. You do need to express them. Just choose the appropriate people to express them to so they can help you process them.
7. Find your center and remind yourself that you are loved and lovable.
One of the most difficult thoughts that nearly everyone who divorces struggles with is wondering if they’re lovable or not.
The truth is that you are loved. Even if your ex doesn’t love you anymore, you have plenty of family and friends who do.
It’s also true that you are lovable. If you weren’t, your friends and family wouldn’t love you.
So when you struggle with thoughts of being unanchored because you aren’t married, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you are loved and lovable. Then, treat yourself with love.
8. Reaffirm your values.
When you get divorced, your whole perspective of life can shift. It’s natural to begin questioning what’s truly important to you. And when you take the time to gain clarity about what you want out of life and how you want to interact with others, you’ll begin finding your way forward toward creating a meaningful life for yourself post-divorce.
9. Stop fighting with your ex, reframe your anger and aim for indifference.
Many exes see each other as adversaries and the source of the immense pain and anger they are feeling. When you react from pain, you lash out.
Instead of remaining in the pain, you can work through it by expressing your anger in more helpful ways than arguing with your ex. When you persist in arguing, you are still controlled by the connection you have with your ex instead of letting the connection go.
You’ll know you’ve let the connection between the two of you go when you feel indifference toward your ex.
10. Take responsibility for your part.
This is a tough concept to deal with. The reason that taking responsibility for your part in the end of your marriage is important is because it allows you step out of being a victim of your divorce and allows you to become the hero in your healing story.
11. Forgive yourself and your ex – you can’t change the past.
When you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean that you approve of what they did. It just means that you’re choosing to no longer be controlled by it.
12. Envision a new life for yourself without your ex by reconnecting with your dreams
Remember how you dreamed about what you wanted for your life before you married?
Remember how you chose to put those dreams to the side for the sake of your marriage?
Well, now’s the time to dust those dreams off. See which of them still inspire you. Allow yourself to have new dreams and goals for yourself too.
When you start can imagining a new life for yourself that doesn’t include your ex, you’re truly breaking free from the heartbreak of divorce.
13. Create meaning from your losses. – can make you a better spouse in your next marriage
Being able to learn from your past so you don’t repeat it is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as you figure out how to heal divorce heartbreak.
You might discover that because of your divorce, you’re no longer a co-dependent person.
You might discover that you can be a better spouse in your next marriage.
You might discover that you’re a better parent than you ever imagined you could be.
Whatever you learn about yourself as a result of your divorce, will be gifts that you couldn’t have received otherwise. Use these gifts to make your life after divorce great.
At some point as you’re working through these 13 steps, you’ll realize that your divorce is no longer the most important thing about you. And the exact moment you realize this will be when you’ll know that you have healed from your divorce heartbreak.
Originally published on Dr.KarenFinn.com