Break-up & Loss

How to remain sane during a divorce

Divorce can be painful, stressful and guilt-inducing. Here are some tips on remaining sane when you're in the process of breaking up your relationship
man and woman hands on the table

In a model world, we would live a perfectly smooth, model life – joyful childhood, loving spouse, understanding in-laws, well-behaved, high-potential children, minimally ailing old age, and a painless death.

Yet, that no-blemish, perfect model is conveyor belt, machine-made stuff. It’s a mirage.

Life is handcrafted and I wish I had recognised that in the lead-up to the divorce and during the divorce.

When you handcraft a thing, there are dents and cracks, and sometimes, the thing crumbles.

When you handcraft a thing, there are dents and cracks, and sometimes, the thing crumbles.

In the middle of our hardship, it’s hard to see that these things happen in all lives. No one escapes.

Sometimes, you hammer it out and sometimes you glue it in. Sometimes, you start all over again with acceptance and patience.

Steps to stay sane during a divorce

The first requirement to retaining your sanity in the wake of a divorce is to remember that. Of these, the starting point is the calm acceptance of the fact that you are headed for a divorce.

Second is not to consider yourself a failure, because a feeling of failure would lead you to reject yourself and your strength. It leads to shame, anger and depression. In a culture where perfection is who and what you are born to, and the milestones you have crossed, marriage being one of those, a fall has become a symbol of failure.

That is not so.

‘The world breaks everyone,’ wrote Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms, ‘and afterward some are strong in the broken places.’

Third, you can learn from remorse, and can let go, but guilt can pull you down. Aniket went through terrible guilt for years after his marriage broke up due to his extramarital relationship. Yet, you need to learn from the mistake and make the effort to move on.

divorce creative

Related reading: My fiancée taught me to move on

Take a deep breath

Fourth, take deep, calming breaths when anxiety suffocates you. Take a pen and a piece of paper and do a mind map. Place divorce in the centre. Branch out into the things that must be done.

List the next step for each of these branches. Don’t dwell on the outcome. Remember one rule; focus on what’s healthy for you and your children.

Remember one rule; focus on what’s healthy for you and your children.

Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. It can help you set the fears aside.

Fifth, do not compare yourself with others. Not to another’s stable marriage, nor to a bigger or lower alimony. Even if you do not do this sort of comparison, you still need to watch out for the undercurrent in the subconscious.

breakup and loss

Related reading: Have you fallen into the comparison trap?

Sometimes it’s only in your mind

Sixth, deep pain can hit you during religious events. These events are times of happy hungama, and it can hurt that divorced women are not made a part of them, or are relegated to a later number in the queue of blessings. My belief is that events based on such exclusion are not worth our time. Watch the pain and let go. Sometimes though, the trouble, as my mom has rightly said, was in my mind; the others weren’t excluding me.

Seventh, you don’t need to feel out of place when conversations regarding marriages or relationships take place. In fact, I realise my perspective of these has improved since my divorce – I now view these as an outsider, and I find more friends confiding in me with greater ease.

Eighth, give yourself not just the right, but the responsibility to have a good time, to let yourself forget the pain and sorrow and guilt for a while at least – even when your heart is breaking, even when you hit a new low…

It’s OK to laugh and to cry

And ninth, when you can see your children suffer, give them the experiences that they enjoy. Let them know that it’s all right to laugh, to have a cup cake, to take a trip to the beach, the zoo, or a movie.

Tenth, man or woman, if you feel like a good cry, do it. It helped me a lot. Treat it as a medicine, and as a right. If the cry session makes you feel weaker, it’s because culture demands that you express your emotions with a stiff upper lip, which I’ve come to view as pointless. Overcoming this cultural conditioning benefits you immensely.

Open up to friends and to yourself

Eleventh, open your soul to a few good friends or family. Sometimes, it’s easy to open up with an understanding stranger. In buses and hospital waiting rooms, I’ve experienced strangers sharing their trauma. Each such instance is a moment of release and lightens your burden.

Twelfth, feel your suffering. 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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