In my own divorce and working with hundreds of individuals and couples one of the hardest parts of divorce is the loss of a dream, of having someone to grow old with or walking your daughter down the aisle together or even the hope or having children. (For some there is a relief that they did not have children with their ex.)
In my own relationship we had tried counseling on and off together for about six years. Neither of us we were happy. I even initially went back to get a masters degree in marriage and family therapy to save my own marriage. It did not work. At that point in my life I did not believe in divorce. I was angry and unhappy all the time which spilled over into my ability to parent and into all my other relationships moreover how I felt about myself. Yet I took years to heal from my divorce. I refused to accept it. My inability to accept the divorce only caused me further pain. I put my life on hold and stayed the victim in my own pity party place way too long.
I also did not allow myself to see the parts of the divorce that were my fault. I blamed him for everything which was not fair to either of us. Yet I also blamed myself and saw myself as a failure for mot being able to make the relationship work. the worst of both world. Ultimately my healing from the divorce involved my accepting the end of the divorce. acknowledging my part in why the marriage did not work, unentangling myself emotionally from my ex, forgiving him and wishing him well, and most importantly my own personal growth.
All these realizations and healings have come in stops and starts. Like taking one step forward and three backward and a few sideways and then a few giant steps forward.
What your divorce looks like, how you go about your healing and I hope ultimately thriving after your divorce will be different from what I did and from what others maybe even your best friend has found helpful. I hope from my personal experience and having coached thousands of men and women and hundreds of people though individual coaching and divorce recovery groups that I can support you in this process of moving through and thriving beyond your divorce.
Step 1. Accept that the divorce is real. you cannot even begin to move on or to take the practical steps you need to take until you acknowledge the reality. When working with clients. I have found that awareness no matter how painful, not hiding your head in the sand is necessary.
Acceptance is the opposite of denial, and with acceptance comes the possibility of hope. Even if you cannot now see it. Yes there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If I can support you in thriving after a divorce or break-up, give me a call.
By Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC
Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals in transforming pain into joy after divorce.
Do you remember going to the circus? I was always fascinated by the flying trapeze. I loved watching the performers swinging to and fro, so high in the air. Then effortlessly, or so it seemed, the performer leaped, almost flying from one trapeze to the next. As far as I was concerned a big leap of faith was needed to “let go.” For a brief moment the performer seemed suspended in the air neither connected to the old trapeze nor having caught the next one. The performer had to completely let go of one trapeze before grabbing the next. Likewise we need to completely let go of the past before we can move on and grab the new yet unknown and unfamiliar adventures that await us in the present and the future.
Letting go of our past is much like moving from one trapeze to the next. It is an act of faith to let go without knowing what lies ahead. Breaking up is hard. Letting go is harder. If you are still talking or thinking about your ex frequently, you have not let go. No matter how long ago the relationship ended!!! Have you ever met someone who is still bitter and angry over a past hurt in life some 10, 20, 30 or even more years later. Your life does not need to be like that.
Grieving past relationships and past hurts is necessary before the letting go can be completed. Grieving requires dealing with the hurt and the pain and a wide variety of emotions. People often move on to soon, staying in denial, not wanting to deal with the pain. You need to face the painful feelings before you can move on. The only person you hurt by not moving on is yourself. If you try to let go too soon, you stop the healing necessary to successfully move on. Also, you will most likely find yourself repeating past mistakes and dealing with similar relationship problems in the future.
So how do you know when to let go. Have you completed the grieving process or are you just in denial? To let go of the past is to accept complete responsibility for your part in what happened to bring your relationship to the point of the break up. In no case is it all someone else’s fault. Letting go requires forgiving yourself and forgiving the other person. Not for their sake but for yours.
Being stuck in this place is unfortunately fairly common. Do you really want to go out on a date with someone who spends half the evening complaining about their ex? If you feel you are stuck or not where you would like to be or if you would like support in moving through the phases of divorce or the breakup of a long term relationship, I can help as a relationship counselor specializing in divorce.
Letting go allows you to see life more clearly and more realistically. Most importantly letting go allows you to move on with your life and to be able to look forward to the future. Who knows? You might even find yourself smiling!
Until next time,
Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC