Making a good adjustment to life after divorce sounds simple. First, create and use a good support network to help you release the emotional impact of your divorce. Second, redefine yourself with a new life purpose. Third, set and start pursuing new goals for your health, wealth, love and self-expression. Fourth, if you have kids, minimize the effect of divorce on your children.
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However, it almost never works that way, as is evidenced by the fact that the typical divorce recovery time takes between three and six years. The culprit is the huge ball of emotional reactions triggered by your divorce that resides in your gut and mucks up your life decisions as we try to adjust to life as a single person after years of marriage.
The issues that prevent a rapid adjustment to life after divorce are emotion-based and, as such, cannot be solved logically. All we can do is dissolve the disruptive energy they cause. For example, you got divorced and it's painful. You cannot "solve" the problem of divorce because, regardless of what you do, you are still divorced.
The pain is the problem. It is emotion-based. Providing reasons why you shouldn't feel that way only makes matters worse. However, we can "dissolve" away the pain by disclosing and discussing it with a trusted person. I call this person a "Transition Partner" or "TP."
If you hold the emotional reactions in, they fester and grow. If you disclose them to a well-meaning, but unhelpful, friend, they gather energy and grow even more. You must find a person who can be truly helpful in reducing the damaging impact of your emotional reactions to your divorce and subsequent life after divorce. But who?
When I first met my sister-in-law Kate, she had been divorced for five years. The divorce was messy and publically humiliating and she was still angry and resentful toward her ex. "Bill bashing" was a favorite sport.
Twenty-five years later, Kate's professional life had blossomed but her personal life was much the same. She had achieved national recognition for her work in school systems. However, she was still angry, bitter and resentful toward her ex. All efforts to start new relationships had fizzled, and the topic of relationships was considered "off limits."
Then, at 53, she died from cancer, a professional success but an emotional cripple. Her effort to adjust to life after divorce had not worked. But why?
Kate made the common but disastrous mistake of picking the wrong transition partner, and she paid for it dearly. By default, her best friend Jill became her de facto TP. After all, what are friends for, right? Jill joined in on the "Bill bashing" which helped Kate relive, rather relieve, the pain. This prevented Jill from providing a reliable sounding board for Kate to be heard, understood and allowed to move past her anger and resentment. The result was a 30-year life sentence of victimhood and loneliness.
So, who should Kate have chosen instead? Continue reading ...
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