After the Divorce – Coping With The Changes

divorcenew-300x200By Cathy Neville, LPC

Change comes fast and frequent after divorce, but you can survive it.
You can come out stronger with a solid future and valuable lessons learned.
Your Pain is Real
Your relationship is over. The life you expected to have is gone, and it hurts. The life that lies ahead doesn’t make sense — yet.
Grief after a divorce is normal and appropriate. Developing a new, secure outlook will come through healthy, productive grieving and emotional awareness.

· Feel your feelings! Hiding from them will only prolong your suffering. Stuffing your pain will only thwart your efforts to “get over it” or “move on”.

· Avoid “numbing out” with drugs, alcohol, sex, or food. Unhealthy choices do not assist healthy recovery. The grief will only persist, compounded by self-destruction.

· Don’t cheat yourself out of the growth that comes with the grieving process. Do more than mask the pain, regret, and sadness accompanying divorce; express your feelings and actually recover.

· Allow acceptance and adjustment to take place so that you can let go and begin again.

You Need Your People!
You need a compassionate circle of listeners. You need a like-minded group who gets your pain, or a trustworthy counselor who can encourage you to take the next steps. You need support.
Support is crucial. To get through this, seek positive, constructive help.

· Unfortunately, the break-up of your relationship may have left some holes in your support network. Seek out new friendships and community connections sooner rather than later.

· Engage people, share your situation, and openly receive the help of those who offer their support without criticism or judgment.

· When you are supported, you can better support your children and engage your former spouse respectfully and productively when the need arises.

Your Life is Your Own
You are more than someone’s ex. You are more than a single parent. You are more than divorced. You are on the edge of something fresh and new. It can be frightening. And it can be good.
Self-care is necessary and stabilizing. Use the fear and uncertainty you may feel as motivation. Take time to look closely at your life, goals, and hopes for the future.

· Examine your life’s routines. It may be helpful to maintain your personal care regimen, household schedules, exercise programs, or religious practices. They may provide structure and normalcy amid the changes you must make. Keep what works for you and throw out the rest.

· Meet your needs practically and emotionally. Set goals for your career. Investigate ways to improve your health. Set aside time regularly to touch base with your kids. Make major decisions only as you feel emotionally well and ready to do so.

· Expand your horizons with new hobbies, activities, or social situations. You now have the opportunity to pursue gardening, golf, travel, or rock-climbing if you want to. You are no longer limited by your former relationship. Diving into something new can be energizing. Get out there. Spend less time dwelling on the past.

You Can Learn From This
You can emerge stronger and better. You don’t have to suffer. If sadness slips into depression or refuses to subside, it may be time to call a counselor or therapist.
Be honest with yourself, if you need more help, it’s okay.
A therapist can help you search through your feelings, explore any obstacles, and help you learn from your past to prepare for future relationships.
If you are well supported, you can eventually get above the empty feelings.
You can climb atop the current pile of highs and lows.
From there, you will see the bigger picture and take off through clearer air.

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