How to Navigate Divorce Recovery
Undergoing a Divorce can be overwhelming and traumatic. The momentous task of navigating emotional struggles as well as practical arrangements such as custody, finances, and asset division, etc. can take every ounce of your strength and then some. It is important in such a situation to remember that though feelings are strong right now, you will eventually move past it all.
Gender and Personality Considerations
Generally, it is more difficult for women in midlife than it is for men in midlife to recover and heal from a divorce. While men tend to cope with pain by distracting themselves with work, women tend to spend comparatively more time grieving. Due to self-esteem connected to physical appearance, concerns about having to be alone for the rest of their lives come up more for women than men.
Personality traits of assertiveness and self-efficacy foster lower depression levels. Divorce is harsher for those whose primary focus has been as a homemaker as it becomes a question of redefining identity as well as occupation.
Going through divorce recovery may bring a period of mood swings, anger, feelings of rejection and helplessness, pain, or depression. Social withdrawal, changes in sleep and appetite, crying spells, difficulty focusing, and a lack of interest in daily activities indicate depression.
Adjustment often takes up to two years, with loneliness and negative feelings peaking at 18 months – around the time the relief of the divorce has worn off. Typically, by the third year, men and women enter new relationships. However unresolved guilt, trauma, and grief can remain present if it is not addressed.
During a divorce, childhood issues of emotional and/or physical abandonment can resurface, especially if they have not been addressed and resolved in the past. These childhood traumas add to the current emotional turmoil of the divorce. In order to break old negative patterns, heal, and emerge strong and healthy, it is essential to deal with any buried feelings of abandonment and betrayal.
Take an example of divorced spouses shifting into a platonic friendship that continues to enable a parent-child relationship dynamic that existed in their failing marriage. In such a scenario one individual is cast in a move care-giving role, while the other individual is needier and wants to receive the care.
This couple has not worked through their negative pattern, nor the childhood wounds that fostered this pattern. They must commit to the work for their own personal growth, and to safeguard against the dysfunctional pattern showing up in potential new relationships.
Divorce Recovery Tips
Allowing yourself to mourn and feel your feelings is essential to moving forward. At the same time, the balance of not dwelling on the negative feelings or letting them engulf you is equally important. It is critical to be able to acknowledge to yourself that you are sad, angry, or jealous, to allow yourself to feel the impact completely, and then to release it rather than getting sucked into the story of it.
Self-care involves concrete action that feels enjoyable and increases serotonin. One example is a woman who poured her emotion into fiction writing emotionally charged fiction books and became a successful author.
Here are some concrete steps you can take towards self-care. If you are struggling, professional divorce recovery counseling is recommended as it can be an excellent resource of support through the recovery process.
- Commit to regular exercise (this can be a 10-minute walk daily to start with).
- Surround yourself with a positive support system, and don’t isolate.
- Establish and firmly follow your communication boundaries with your ex.
- Treat yourself with kindness and compassion 100% of the time.
- Pick up a hobby/ interest or join a class and show up even if you don’t feel like.
- Read a self-recovery book or do a self-recovery workbook.
- Find a therapist who specializes in healing after a divorce and commit to therapy.