“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” – Mary Shelley.
Change can be positive or negative. Everyone will experience it, and everyone grows from it. Divorce and separation are very big changes. For some, it is an upheaval of life itself, and of personal identity. For others, it may be welcome relief. Moving forward after a big change can be difficult, even if positive. While nothing can replace trusted professional care, some tips can help the mind process the change.
Control. Divorce and all the processes that go with it can make you feel helpless, lacking control. Other times, it opens up the world to a dizzying abundance of newfound control. When you feel helpless, being aware that you still have control over many portions of your life has benefits. Take the time to reflect on the control you retain. You likely made short and long term plans about the future with a spouse. Recognize that you still maintain control over that planning. Make new plans and start small. What to eat for dinner, which TV show to watch, and where you’ll go on a weekend can all allow for momentary escape from the rigors of dealing with big change.
If you feel like you are overwhelmed, take time to self-care. The beauty of self-care is that it can be almost anything, as long as it replaces the overwhelming thoughts and feelings with things that make you feel comfort and happiness. While studies have shown that exercise increases happiness, if you aren’t the gym type but more of a weekend movie marathon type, then make some plans and grab some popcorn. The important thing is not overdoing it. Routine and feelings of normalcy are just as important as a day of self-care and break from routine. Change is an ongoing process, so do not be alarmed if it takes time.
Having a support group can work wonders. Friends, family, professionals all count. Change is not unique, and the feelings associated with divorce are very likely being felt by others who are or have been in the process. It may be intimidating to open yourself up, but once that trust is established, sharing your feelings and having them acknowledged is very helpful. And it need not be negative either! If you are finally out of an unhappy marriage, new energy and new hobbies, and the friends that come with them, are ways to get support and reinforce the feeling that you did the right thing.
Change affects each of us differently. Some deal with it better than others. This is true in divorce as well. There is no magic panacea for curing the emotions and feelings associated with divorce. The first step in progress is often acknowledging that while this change is new, it is not the first time you’ve dealt with big change.