If there is one thing that divorce will guarantee, it is that your emotions will get a serious workout.
From fear and sadness to relief and joy, you will no doubt ride the emotional rollercoaster for a while before coming out the other side.
So what should you expect?
Irrespective of who initiated the divorce and the intricacies of your unique story, the overwhelming initial emotion is often fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of uncertainty, fear of making the decision, fear for your children and so on. The list is truly endless and of course, fear can be a crippling emotion that triggers behaviours which we may not be proud of further down the line. Being aware that you are experiencing fear may serve you well. Asking yourself if your actions are coming from a place of fear and if they are, questioning if they are advisable, is also a good practise.
Sadness, distress and grief are very common. You did not get married expecting to divorce and so, it is the end of something. Grief is your body's way of saying goodbye, of giving you time to heal, to regroup and to gain perspective. Grief cannot be rushed or ignored. This is an emotion you need to sit with. You need to allow it to take its time, safe in the knowledge that this is a natural and healthy emotion which protects you and prepares you for your future.
Anger, rage, incredulity, frustration, hatred. All incredibly powerful emotions that you will feel at points. Maybe the answer with these destructive emotions is to acknowledge them and let them go? Holding onto these is exhausting and damaging to you (not to your ex). Moving on from these feelings is necessary and rewarding.
Guilt is a big one. Guilt that your marriage has ended, guilt that you have caused pain and upset, guilt that you didn't make it all work out OK. Is it worth asking yourself what guilt is adding to your life? Does it change anything? Does it make you feel better? Or does it cause you to do things or behave in ways you do not understand or recognise in yourself? Deal with your guilt in a way that works for you, maybe apologise, maybe seek therapy, maybe address the source in some other way but knock down your wall of guilt and move on, it serves nobody and nothing.
Other emotions which will no doubt surface at some point in the process, are envy, defensiveness, despondency, lack of self-belief, overwhelm, anxiety, shame, jealousy, demotivation, loneliness, boredness, and exhaustion. There are many more.
The emotional smorgasbord is extensive and varied. That is all perfectly normal and in fact, how strange would it be if you did not experience these feelings?
Nevertheless, knowing that 99.99% of all people going through a divorce will share your emotions at some point may help. You are perfectly normal and healthy.
The emotions discussed so far are all quite negative and so it's important to highlight that as your divorce draws to a close (earlier for a lucky few), your emotional experience will alter and you may start to feel free, grateful, calm and dare I say happy again.
This is your opportunity for a different future, so, you might experience curiosity, creativity, bravery and excitement for the future. Your confidence will grow and you will start to become creative and passionate about your new beginning.
This is the light at the end of the tunnel and you will get there!
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