Knowing these 3 phases of divorce recovery will help you understand exactly how long it will take.
The pain and confusion of divorce are so intense that at times, you wonder if you’ve lost your mind. At other times, you worry that this agony is just how life will be from now on.
In less tortured moments, you know you’re still sane and that life will get better. But then, you wonder when because you're not sure how much more of the misery you can take.
A quick Google will show you there are plenty of people who will willingly tell you exactly how long it will take you to get over your divorce. What you need to know is that they’re ALL WRONG.
These authorities are all wrong because they base their guidance on averages, observation, personal experience and personal bias. There’s no way any of that will be able to predict exactly how long it will take YOU to get over your divorce.
Divorce recovery is a process. You’ll get through it on a timeline that’s unique to you — not according to someone else’s.
So instead of looking for an exact time when you’ll be over your divorce, it makes more sense to look at other indications that you’re over your divorce.
How to move on after divorce is to gauge how far you’ve come and how much more you have to do. Look at your primary motivation on how to start living your life.
There are 3 different phases of motivation that people go through as they heal from their divorce:
1. The "Make the pain stop" phase.
This the is the most difficult part of divorce recovery. Living in pain and confusion is the only constant amidst the chaos of your divorce.
You struggle to figure out a way to stop hurting so much as you go through all the phases of grief. You are greatly tempted to medicate the pain away in this phase. You might ask your doctor for a prescription or you might self-medicate with food, alcohol, other mood-altering substances, and/or sex.
The biggest challenge here is to not over medicate yourself so you avoid feeling what you need to experience to actually heal so you can move on to the next phase as you fight to move on with your life after divorce.
You’ll also look for guidance from just about anyone for ideas to make the pain stop. The challenge is that not everyone you’ll be tempted to ask for help will be able to really help you. They’ll each have their own reasons for offering help which may or may not have your best interests as reason number 1.
2. The "Focus on others" phase.
As the pain starts to subside, you’ll feel numb compared to the tumultuous emotions that were besieging you in the previous phase. You’ll look outside of yourself to keep moving on.
You might start to really focus on your kids or work or your pets or even your friends. This external focus allows you to re-establish and redefine the relationships and your responsibilities that suffered the most as you were dealing with your pain.
Looking at life through this lens of connection and contribution can be extremely motivating. The challenge is that it can also lead to burnout because you’re not necessarily taking care of yourself.
3. The "Creating The Life You Want" Phase.
As much as knowing these phases will help you get a feel for how much longer you’ll be dealing with getting over your divorce, they can also make it more challenging if you’re one of those people who like to push to accomplish things.
Super-achievers will be tempted to start focusing on what they want to create in their life NOW instead of allowing themselves to thoroughly work through each of the phases.
If this is you, remember that completely recovering from a divorce is a process. You can certainly accelerate the process by focusing on the best ways to get through each phase, but not by short-circuiting or skipping any portion of one.
So allow yourself to progress through each of them with intention. As you do, you’ll find that you’ll have dealt with the pain, confusion, and outward focus to the point that you’re able to truly create an amazing life for yourself post-divorce.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach. She works with clients who are struggling with divorce and not sure how to stop the pain and move forward with their lives. You can join her anonymous newsletter group for free advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with Karen directly in her Time Trade calendar.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.