I am sad for my children, less for myself.
Although their experiences vary, their thoughts and feelings are often universal, just expressed differently. I can empathize. My divorce, much like the ones I help others transition through, was an emotional roller coaster despite being the initiator.
I find that whether or not you initiate the divorce, a divorce changes you in many ways — big and small, good and bad. The transition is far from easy, but if you give yourself the time, energy, and self-care needed to get through it, you will be better for it.
Therapy includes exploration into each person's beliefs about divorce in general and their divorce in particular.
At the very least, we explore how they feel and think to how they believe their divorce will be for them and what they want it to look like in the end.
When I ask clients what surprised them the most about their divorce, it is the surprises that tripped them up the most and gave them "pause". Here are 10 surprises I've experienced along the way:
1. I sacrificed so much.
It was a hard lesson to learn, but I have learned it well.
2. I am sad for my children, less for myself.
We no longer have an intact family, as it once was. I realize I cannot fix that and that really bothers me.
3. I questioned my judgment.
As I examine my own life and changes in the midst of my divorce, I realize he (soon to be ex) has come undone and it is difficult at times to watch. I am challenged by his behaviors. I am reminded that I chose this person.
That makes me question my judgment. I wonder, did he change that much or did I? What happened?
4. My childhood was influential.
I wasn't aware of the significant impact my upbringing had on my marriage, my decisions, and my values. I was surprised by this revelation. I used to ask, why did I do that? But now things make more sense to me.
5. Divorce was much harder than I had anticipated.
I don't even know what that means, only that it feels much harder than I thought.
6. I felt gratitude.
I have always been independent. Maybe that's been part of the problem. I thought I could do this all on my own. However, I found myself relying more on my family and friends than I had anticipated. I am glad I did that. I am much more grateful for them than I was in the past.
7. I had many more lonely nights than I thought I would have.
I thought the feelings of freedom would be there right from the start. But they were not and that blindsided me.
8. I felt like a failure for a very long time.
I am glad I am moving away from that feeling.
9. Divorce takes a toll on everyone.
I thought because I initiated the divorce, it would be less emotional and I would be able to move on faster. That didn't happen!
10. Moving on takes time.
I had this idea that after several months, I would be "over it" and moved on. It's not that easy. Some days I feel like I'm in the same place.
Despite the ups and downs that people experience going through a divorce, hope for a better future is the "light at the end of the tunnel".
I have great hope for the people that I help. It is this same hope that I work hard to impart on them so they too can believe that in the end, it will be ok, even if in the moment they do not feel that to be true.
Sharing their own personal story, no matter how difficult, provides an invaluable opportunity to dig a little deeper and encourages growth and transformation post-divorce. But I also recognize that everyone has their own personal journey through divorce.
It takes time for people to come to terms with their divorce, accept and believe in my hope for them as well as having hope for themselves for the future. I get that and I hope you do as well. Good luck on your journey and know it gets better.
This article was originally published at kristindavin.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.