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Just Seperated

Why divorce hurts? (And 5 proven ways to heal)

Why divorce hurts? (And 5 proven ways to heal)

As I speak to numerous men and women who have been through a divorce, a shared experience that they have all had jumps out at me. Each and every one of them, whether they were the ones who initiated the divorce or the ones who were left behind, has gone through a period of deep, numbing and all-engulfing pain. For some, the periods were shorter, but the soul-crushing, intolerable and insufferable pain was there. Indisputably and unquestionably.

When divorce is, in most cases, a way out of unhappiness and potentially a start over, why is it so debilitating?

 

Why does it hurt so much after a divorce?

  • An enormous sense of loss: Rashmi Sen (name changed) separated from her husband mutually in 2014 on the grounds of incompatibility. Theirs was a love marriage of over 9 years where distrust, familial incompatibility, lack of trust and philandering eventually led to the separation. Even though it was Rashmi who initiated a divorce, she says, “It’s still a loss of someone you loved and maybe still love or at least deeply care about. It’s a loss of the vision, hopes, and dreams that you had for your life.”
  • Inexplicable anger: One of the women interviewed said that she never wanted the divorce. And as a result, she experiences periods of anger at everything and everyone. She has withdrawn from friends and family and has isolated herself in an attempt to self-protect. In cases like these, you may feel as though all the years you committed to your marriage, the sacrifices you made, the adjustments you did, the goals you gave up on to prioritize the marriage was a long-winded futile attempt. There is not only a sense of loss but anger at the loss of time and opportunity.
  • Shattering of the future you planned: When in a marriage, we live in the present and the future. There are constant thoughts of where we, as a couple will be 5, 10 or 20 years down the road. With divorce, any future the two of you had planned is gone; you have to start from scratch and learn to build a future for one after a divorce, and that can be traumatic. One of the newly divorced individuals said it was easy to get stuck in the present or the past, ruminating over what went wrong and how they are feeling “right now” instead of looking forward. That is why some find it hard to get past the pain of having to let go of the future and start over again.
  • Breaking up of a family: With a divorce, one loses an intact family. If we have children, we all work hard at creating a “perfect” family. So, with a divorce, a lot of emotional pain goes into accepting that the picture of a “perfect family” was a farce. When a family falls apart, we are made more aware of the work and energy that will go into building a new and different one with new dynamics. We have to not only take into consideration our own pain and fears we have to focus on doing what is in the best interest of our children who’ve suffered through the entire breakup.
  • A sense of failure: Marriage is still considered one of the most important milestones and benchmarks of an individual’s personal success. A natural corollary is that divorce is viewed as a colossal failure in Indian society. Add to that a heightened personal awareness that it takes two people to make or break a marriage and what you get is an inescapable sense of guilt and failure. One of the men interviewed mentioned that admitting to ourselves that we made mistakes can leave us feeling vulnerable and riddled with guilt. Especially if there was third party involvement.

 

How do you move forward?

There is no doubt that recovering from a divorce is difficult, painful and sometimes even lonely. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here is the advice from individuals who have been through it all and emerged stronger and kinder.

  • Forgive yourself: Whatever was your mistake, whatever was your flaw… Seek forgiveness from the most important person: YOURSELF. Forgiving yourself wholeheartedly is the first step towards moving forward.
  • But learn the lessons: Forgiving doesn’t mean turning a blind eye on your mistakes or finding rational justifications for them. It means accepting and owning them. And most importantly reflecting on them to see the lessons you learned. A failure is total only when you fail to learn the lesson. Turns out this adage holds true for marriage too.
  • Give yourself time: Snehal Mehta (name changed) came out of an abusive marriage, and the divorce was equally messy and long-drawn. She said that she took nearly a decade to heal herself, to gradually rebuild her completely shattered self-esteem (from the abuse) and most importantly start believing in love again. But she was patient through it all.
  • Find your safe confidant: It’s crucial for recovery to find someone you can confide in without the fear of being judged or the fear of that information getting used against you. It’s important to have someone who can gently help you see things from a fresh perspective. So don’t shy away from seeking professional help if the need be.
  • Decide: The most important of it all is an unshakable decision to move forward. There will be days when you wake up and feel like each day is a huge mountain to climb. And there may be days you don’t have the strength or the courage to move forward. But decide to move forward anyway.

Divorce is painful, especially when kids are involved. But always remember if you find yourself in a dark place, you may feel you are buried. But it could very well be that you are planted. So bloom… You owe that to yourself.

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