The first week after you’ve decided to divorce may well feel like an eternity.
You’ve got all the emotional maelstrom going on, plus the realisation that there are a lot of practical things to get your head round. So you’ll be somewhere on the delightful spectrum that ranges from completely emotionally crippled to freezing out emotions as much as possible in attempt to try to move forward.
Try as you might to work out how to move forward, you may find you’re hampered by any of the following emotions and questions:
Frequently people become overwhelmed by cold fear when they know they are going to have to get through a divorce and face the future alone. There are plenty of areas of potential panic: am I doing the right thing/ how am I going to live on my own/ afford to live/ bring up the kids/ live without the kids/ live without him/her/ tell my folks/ afford a lawyer/ get rid of this troublesome ex/ feel safe/ get over this/ manage to do anything???? Whatever your panic is, if you have it, take a deep breath and let it ride itself out. You’ll get through it and you’ll get answers, and long term, you’ll be ok. If you’ve got a burning question, just ask. Email us, get a professional on board, jump on the forum, call your mates – someone will be able to help.
You may feel very protective over your children, your family, your friends, your money or your things. If your divorce is at all adversarial (and even an “amicable divorce” rarely does what it says on the tin) you’ll most likely feel a strong sense of wanting to pull what’s yours close to you. Unfortunately after sharing a life, you don’t always get to keep everything you feel is yours – whether it’s stuff, property, friendships – and (except in very extreme circumstances) you will always have to share the kids. Understand that there are no winners in divorce, and you’ll just have to negotiate your way through. Most people come out of a divorce worse off than they were – IN THE SHORT TERM. Long term, it’s up to you how you rebuild your life.
A strong sense of failure
Most people at some point will feel a sense of failure that their marriage hasn’t lasted. It’s natural, whatever your circumstances. The feeling may keep coming back, even years later. . If you got married in the first place then no doubt you value marriage as an institution and feel sad or ashamed that it has come to an end. It’s fine to recognise that, but you also have to try to not be overly full of self recrimination – easier said than done admittedly, but ultimately we all make mistakes and the best way forward is to try and learn from them. Eventually you will come to accept your situation, even if not straight away. It is the end of a marriage, a time of change, and an opportunity to become wiser and create a new future.
Of course the other biggies are anger, depression, denial, bargaining… these are well documented and to read more about them you can go to “The Five Stages of Divorce”.
On the plus side, you may have some good feelings too
… and if you do, hold onto them. Maybe even write them on post-its and stick them on your fridge/ computer monitor/ diary. How about some of these:
“There is always something to look forward to.”
“I’m free to choose a new life for myself.”
“It’s a relief to be out of this relationship”
“Everything gets easier with time.”
“We’ve made a decision!”
“This is a positive step forward.”
“There are thousands and thousands of other people who have gone on to live a brilliant life after divorce.”
As well as the emotional onslaught, you will also be aware of practical things you’ll need to get your head round including: what has to happen to proceed with a divorce ( the legal process), what to do about the kids if you have them, setting up a new household and dealing with finances. It will help to read up about them and there are links on this website and plenty of other resources too. But also do take advantage of professionals and other people who’ve been through it to find out about the process. Nothing quite beats the human touch.
Lucy Davis is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and a TV Producer. She divorced 7 years ago. She is a passionate advocate for exploring the potential for change and creativity that can result from the trauma of divorce.