All week long I have been talking to people about letting go after (or during!) divorce.
What holds people back.
What makes it so hard.
Why they cannot seem to move on with their lives.
Two things emerged time and again.
Some people are just at that place. The situation is new. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to matter who has made the decision to divorce – the grief exists just the same.
Divorce is the death of a dream. The dream of a lifelong partnership with someone you love and who loves you.
Of course you feel conflicted. Of course you feel sad. Even in a relationship you are happy to get out of, you will still have some mixed feelings.
The feelings you have are real. No one wants to be with someone that doesn’t love them the way they deserve to be loved. Even if the break up is unexpected on your part and you are deeply hurt, would you really prefer to stay with that person with this new reality? No.
What you would prefer is for things to go back to how they used to be. Or at least, how you thought they were.
It’s that thought that is causing you sadness.
And if you are the one that decided to leave? You will likely still feel that sense of loss. You got married to that person for a reason. And that reason proved to be untrue.
Death of the dream.
This is a stage of healing, the first stage. If this is where you are, honor it! Don’t wallow but give yourself and the marriage the respect you deserve for feeling let down.
You put your all into it – no one likes to invest everything they’ve got and have no ROI!
Let yourself accept the fact that it didn’t work out. The marriage did not fulfill what you had hoped that it would.
Once you accept what is, you will have a much better chance to move on to what will be.
Lack of boundaries.
Here’s where things get a little dicey.
Boundaries with yourself.
Looking at old photos. Reminiscing. Ruminating about what could’ve, should’ve been done. Continued texting, emailing, phone conversations, dinner/coffee.
You are letting yourself stay rooted in the past.
You can say it’s about the kids. Or that you’re trying to support him/her. That you want a friendly divorce. Or that you think maybe this time it will work if you try, yet again.
This is you letting yourself stay focused on what you think you’ve lost. You are trying to drive into your future using your rear view mirror as your guidance system. No wonder you keep crashing!
When you feel tempted to call, text, meet, respond, reminisce – STOP! Do something else. Call someone. Remember why the relationship ended. Focus on your future. Catch yourself when this happens and have a plan.
Don’t let yourself set aside your own boundaries!
Catching yourself when this happens and having a plan to short-circuit the thought process will eventually turn into catching yourself before it even goes down that road.
Boundaries with your ex.
Of course you have the essentials that you will need to talk about: kids, property settlement and so on. It needs to end there.
Here’s the thing:
Even if you want to help them, or stay friends, or they just really piss you off, every time you re-engage you let your boundary down.
It’s time to think about you, what you need, and what it’s going to take to heal.
Imagine you have a deep cut on your arm. What do you do? You bandage it, or perhaps even stitch and bandage it.
You need to create a barrier so the wound can heal. You need to keep out the germs. You need to protect the area so it won’t hurt so much.
What’s going to happen if you take the bandage off? What’s going to happen if you let someone poke the wound with a stick? What if someone you genuinely care about asks you to help them something difficult, which you know will make the wound start bleeding again?
You must take care of your emotional body the same way you would take care of your physical body. You wouldn’t allow someone to rip off your bandage and poke you! You wouldn’t even agree to help someone you care about if it means you will reinjure yourself.
Exercising your right to say no is simply you protecting yourself from harm.
Ignoring your wound and willingly participating in activity that will not only cause you further harm but perhaps open you up to infection and deeper scarring is madness!
I can’t help it.
Yes. You can.
You are in a habit of letting yourself think a certain way. You are in a habit of allowing other people to disrespect your boundaries.
This is tough stuff to admit to ourselves. It’s even tougher to break the habit and bring in a new way of thinking and behaving.
Telling yourself that you can’t help it is a way to allow yourself to sit in the victim role. Ugh! Who wants to think of themselves as a victim? Sooo disempowering!
Take control of your own mind! No one can control that but you.
I’m not saying it’s easy. New habits take practice. Repeated practice. You won’t be perfect at it. You will mess it up.
You will also get back up, dust yourself off, and move on.
P.S. Did you get everything you needed from this article? No? Maybe it’s time for a little more.
My goal is to meet you where you are and walk with you until you’re ready to set out again. A little strategy goes a long way. Let’s set up a mini-strategy session to get you started!
And don’t forget to grab your FREE Divorce Survival Kit before you go!