Going through a divorce shatters you. Just the mere fact that the person you fell in love with and married is the same person you can’t live with any longer is enough to traumatize you. You and your former partner once stood in front of your loved ones and promised to stand by each other through thick and thin. Promises have been broken and love doesn’t exist anymore. Those are some hard-hitting facts and feelings to process.
You are beginning to wonder if this person was ever your soulmate in the first place. Whatever the reason for your divorce, the painful feelings and the divorce proceedings can take a toll on your mental health. In fact, the Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale indicates that divorce is the second highest stressor for humans, second only to the death of a spouse. That’s why we are here to help you get through this traumatic time.
To find out more about how to stay sane while going through a divorce, we reached out to counseling psychologist Namrata Sharma (Masters in Applied Psychology), who is a mental health and SRHR advocate and specializes in offering counseling for toxic relationships, trauma, grief, relationship issues, gender-based and domestic violence.
She says, “The first thing you have to do after a divorce is to find a support group. Your support group can be your friends and family or just any support group on the internet. You shouldn’t isolate yourself during such difficult times.”
11 Ways To Stay Sane While Going Through A Divorce
In a model world, we would live a perfectly smooth life – joyful childhood, loving spouse, understanding in-laws, well-behaved, high-potential children, minimally ailing old age, and painless death. Yet, that no-blemish, perfect model is a conveyor belt, machine-made stuff. It’s a mirage. In real life, you will face hardships and you will fall down umpteen times. It’s how you pick yourself up and deal with the breakup healing process that matters. Listed below are some helpful tips on how best you can deal with the grief and trauma of going through a divorce:
1. Accept the divorce
Namrata says, “There can be several reasons for a divorce. Whatever your reason, you have to accept it. Your spouse cheated on you? Accept it. They said they don’t love you anymore? Accept it and try to heal from it. Only when you accept the reason behind the divorce, will you be able to accept the divorce itself.”
Acceptance is going to be the hardest part and it’s also the first requirement to retain your sanity in the wake of a divorce. Remember that the divorce has happened. Nothing you do is going to change this fact. Your former partner has agreed to it as well and you are heading toward a new life.
Take a deep breath and accept it all. Accept the negative feelings, hurt, resentment, hostility, and other emotions you have for your former partner. But don’t act on those negative emotions or let them guide your behavior.
Related Reading: What Is Divorce And Why Do People Get Divorced?
2. Don’t act on your negative emotions
Following on from the previous point, your thoughts may wander as you grieve the loss of your marriage. You may want to refrain from acting on your unsteady emotions for the time being. The great Dalai Lama said that destructive emotions blind us. You cannot move ahead with a black cloth tied to your eyes, can you? You just have to understand that it’s normal to feel these intense emotions.
Here are some things to keep your negative feelings under control:
- Have a good cry
- Understand that you have no other option but to grieve you loss and push through this challenging time
- Cope with divorce by spending time with yourself
- Spend time doing the things you love. Read, paint, write, go to the gym, and travel around
- Don’t isolate yourself or blame yourself for the separation and divorce
3. Don’t let love turn into hate
Namrata says, “It’s natural to hate the person who has shown you both happy and miserable times. Don’t let hatred consume you. This won’t just affect your future relationship (if you choose to have an amicable one) with them but it will also ruin their relationship with your children (if any). If you spew hatred against your former partner in front of your children, it will negatively impact their opinion of the parent as well.”
You fell in love with this person, married them, and had children with them. However, with the passage of time, the two of you realized you are not happy together. Perhaps you felt loveless stuck in a loveless marriage or there were instances of infidelity and deception. Or maybe both. You fell out of love after infidelity but tried to make this marriage work for the sake of children. However, you couldn’t do it beyond a point.
Irrespective of the reason behind your divorce, don’t forget that this person is the father/mother of your child. This doesn’t mean you have to suppress your anger either. You’re going through a divorce. There’s no doubt you are angry and feel sad. But don’t let this anger and sadness turn into hatred. Harboring resentment against your former spouse is only going to make it harder for you to put this life event in the rearview and move forward.
Related Reading: How To Rebuild Life After Divorce: Handling Kids, Money, Dating, And Self-Love
4. Vengeance is not the answer
Revenge can never pay the way to a peaceful life. The urge to put your former spouse through the same hurt and pain they caused you can be extremely strong, especially when the wounds are still fresh. But you need to stop and ask yourself, what purpose is it going to serve?
Revenge takes place in many forms when you are going through a divorce. Some of them include:
- Asking for an unreasonable amount for alimony because they put you through hell. This is acting out of resentment and as a means to get revenge on your former spouse
- Asking for sole custody of your child because your partner hurt you in irreparable ways. Why not show them you are a bigger person by agreeing to co-parent as a divorced couple
- Most people go out and beyond to trash-talk their exes. But it reflects more poorly on you than them. Avoid bad-mouthing your ex-spouse and their family
5. Do not compare yourself with others
Namrata shares, “We always have a habit of comparing our life with others’ lives. Every person’s story is different. You can’t sulk over the fact that your friend’s marriage seems amazing but yours came crashing down. This is only going to diminish your self-worth and how you value yourself.”
You may look at your friends’ married lives and wonder why happiness stopped knocking at your door. You don’t know what’s going on in their lives. You will feel like life hasn’t been fair to you and start hating life altogether. That is why you must steer clear of the comparison trap. Just focus on how to make your life better with every passing day.
Related Reading: How To Leave A Marriage Peacefully – 9 Expert Tips To Help
6. Be careful from who you take advice
When you are going through a divorce, people will say all sorts of things, trying to get you to change your mind. “Be more patient.” “Endure a little and things will change.” “Spice up things in bed and you won’t feel the need for a divorce.” If you have reached a point where you don’t want anything else but a divorce from your spouse, you must have legitimate and strong reasons for it.
Friends and family may not always understand the turmoil this marriage has put you through and hence they will resort to making such statements. Don’t take advice from them and don’t pay heed to what they have to say. Take advice from those you truly understand during this difficult time.
7. Understand that you cannot control everything
Namrata says, “You can only control yourself. The things beyond your control have to be accepted as they are. Accept the things you cannot change or control. No matter how hard you try to remain in control of the divorce process, some factors will be beyond your reach. So let the chips fall where they may and just focus on how you deal with the circumstances.” Accepting that you cannot control everything will help you dial down your stress levels and anxiety.
8. Don’t start dating immediately
Namrata says, “This is an important thing to remember if you want to stay sane while going through a divorce. Life after divorce isn’t going to be easy. You have to think twice before making any decisions regarding dating and relationships. Don’t start dating immediately. Or worse, don’t get into a serious relationship just to prove a point to your ex-spouse.”
If you get into a relationship straight after a divorce, your mind, body, and soul won’t get the time it needs to heal. With such unhealed emotional wounds and so much emotional baggage, there is no way you will be able to build a healthy relationship with someone new. It takes a lot of time to heal from a divorce. Use this time as an opportunity to grow.
9. Learn from your remorse and not regret
Many people confuse regret and remorse. Regret is a never-ending depressive cycle where the person is constantly stuck on “what ifs” and “could have been”. You need to learn from your remorse and not regret. Regret leads a person to avoid taking chances in the future. However, learning from your remorseful experiences gives you a chance to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Remorse stems from true empathy. Now that you know what it feels like to be hurt or to hurt someone, you know how important it is to steer clear of unhealthy patterns. The pain and the grieving process you’re going through have the potential to make you kinder and more empathetic toward others. Use them well.
Related Reading: Divorce Counseling: Benefits Of Pre- And Post-Divorce Therapy
10. Practice self-care
This is one of the best ways to stay sane while going through a divorce. Given that your emotions are all over the place, it’s essential to practice self-care and not let the divorce proceedings badger your self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth. Here are some things you can do to practice self-care:
- Open up to friends and family
- Go out even if it means going out alone
- Meditate and exercise regularly
- How to love yourself again? Try to get back to your normal routines. Wake up, make coffee, head out to work, come back home, have dinner, read a book, and fall asleep
- Don’t make any major decisions during this grief process
- Try to enjoy life one step at a time
- When you feel anxious, try to jot it down. Maintain a journal and pen down your deepest thoughts and feelings
- Maintain stability by joining a support group
- Try to get back to your normal routines
11. Seek professional help
The emotional wounds and trauma of divorce can be hard to work through on your own. Talk to a mental health professional. They will help you let go of that sorrow and anger in a healthy way. If you’re looking for professional help, experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.
- If you want to stay sane while going through a divorce, avoid comparing your married life to others’ married lives
- Don’t try to take revenge on your former partner. Vengeance will do more harm than good. It won’t resolve anything
- It’s okay to have a good cry. Let it all out but don’t let this negativity harbor hatred toward your ex-spouse
Make clean and calm decisions that aren’t born out of negativity and animosity. You are suffering at the moment and suffering isn’t about being the victim, rather it’s about pain. Feeling the suffering in the form of victimhood brings on anger and helplessness, and keeps you hinged to the past. That’s unhealthy and holds back your recovery. Feeling it in the form of pain helps you let go and move forward. These steps can help you stand on your physical and psychological feet sooner and stronger.
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