An important thing to remember when going through a divorce is that feelings serve a purpose but are not fact. Feelings are based on our inner reality while facts are shared observations over time.
It may be impossible to completely separate thought from emotion but humans can see things subjectively (emotion) and objectively (mind). It is an amazing ability.
Your inner, subjective reality is based on history, culture, education, beliefs, and environment. It is a long nerve that holds all the experiences, remembered or not, of your life. If something touches on a memory that is attached to this nerve, the feelings associated with the memory are felt in the present moment.
Objective and Subjective Wings
To look at things objectively, we step away from our history and emotions to look at something as if it is happening to anyone. Objectively, we see things in a larger context that includes ourself, the environment, other people, and their perspectives.
You can think of the subjective and objective points of view as the two wings of a bird. Both are necessary for flight, and to be effective they must flap together. The art of being human includes accepting and coordinating the two points of view.
However, at different times throughout a divorce you may feel like a bird that has flown into a window and is stunned. You may not be able to fly, or fly very far, for awhile.
When you are stunned, it is difficult to think objectively. The blankety-blank window wasn’t even supposed to be there, but it was, and there are a couple things you can do to help yourself.
Two Ways to Help Yourself
FIRST, allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, without judgment. Fear, anger, grief, jealousy, and resentment are all OK. Feelings that go unfelt have a habit of popping up somewhere else and you end up playing Whack-a-Mole with them for years to come.
Whether your feelings are a perfect storm or a slow drizzle, they are reflecting not only your current situation but similar situations you’ve had in the past. Those feelings, however, are not facts. Feeling like everything has fallen apart does not mean it has. Feeling unloveable does not make it true. Having guilty feelings does not make everything your fault.
The SECOND helpful thing is to remind yourself of your competencies, values, and strengths. These are facts that you can draw on. They are available to you even when they are not felt. If necessary, write them down and keep the list handy.
For example, having persistence, a ready sense of humor, skill with numbers and organization, and the courage to be honest are all assets you can count on to help you through. They deserve just as much weight in your mind as the thought of everything falling apart.
Doing Well Enough
Your feelings are indicative of your inner landscape and need to be acknowledged. Your strengths are the facts of your outer landscape, the way you function in the world. In order to navigate either landscape effectively, both must be accepted.
Divorce is a bumpy ride. You can expect sadness and happiness, anxiety and relief, being energized and having no energy at all. By accepting feelings and emotions without judgment, and relying on your values, talents, and skills you will navigate through the turbulence well-enough.