A divorce in the best circumstances should be discussed for a long time before it happens. Seeking counseling, trying new ways to communicate, or a trial separation should all take place before the couple agrees that their marriage is over. Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, so joining a support group to help deal with the emotions in the aftermath, as well as counseling and mediation, can all make a divorce less painful for both spouses and their children. Although this is the way it should happen, in reality it usually doesn’t. One of the partners often falls in love with someone else. They feel so strongly that this person is their soul mate that they divorce their spouse, leave their home and their children to begin a new life with this new love. Debating the new love or how it happened, or even considering the marriage may have been dead for years and was just lingering are all possibilities, but the person left still grieves and mourns the end of their marriage.
This is a letter from one of my closest confidantes who is now six months from being the one left behind. This confidante had no idea this was coming their way, nor did they ever expect their marriage to end. This is their latest letter to me and six months have passed since they split.
Good morning, Mary Jo!
I met with my former spouse again last night after several weeks of only short phone conversations and I tried so hard not to let my emotions get out of hand, but I succeeded only partly. No touching on their part, only a brief pat on the shoulder when they left. In between, we discussed some of the legal things which need to be done now, but then I couldn't help but talk again about all the pain and the hurt I still feel inside because of the incomprehensible actions and ask again, "Why?” I long so much for the acknowledgement of my pain, my emotions, and to show some feelings maybe by saying something like, "I'm sorry and I hope you will feel better soon," and giving me a hug. But they refuse any sign of remorse or feeling toward me. "We talked about this a hundred times already."
I experienced two sleepless nights again. I need my energy to organize my papers for the tax return, for the divorce procedure, and for preparing my move. Instead, I feel sick to my heart and stomach and endlessly tired. I went to the opera last week. I heard a great concert last night after this meeting, but nothing seems to get through to my inner core. Six months have passed and I feel like it was yesterday. My head is still full of questions such as, “Where are they now?” and “What are they doing together?” I have lost so much of my social life, and I am sure the new partner triumphs when they show up at places where I use to stand at their side. Does my partner enjoy sex with the new person more than they did with me? Yes, I am sure they do. I am a prisoner of my thoughts. How will I ever learn to let go of my spouse and my marriage? Thank you, for listening.
My close confidante is actually right where they should be in the healing process of a divorce they didn’t want. There are a few things though, that may help with emotional healing for the next year and onward.
1. Make sure you are talking to a counselor to help you navigate your feelings. Venting to your friends, parents, and children is not helpful and can actually isolate you. Children can be emotionally damaged when parents talk badly about an ex, so confide in a counselor and one or two close friends.
2. Exercise and make it part of your daily life. Exercise helps motivate you when you feel too fatigued to go on, and it also restores your body image. If you cannot exercise by yourself, ask a good friend to walk, run, or go to the gym with you.
3. Join at least one support group or a like-minded group. This will help you minimize your aloneness and it will also get you out into the community.
4. Minimize meeting up with your ex as much as possible. The more you engage with your ex, the more difficult it can be moving on.
5. Continue enjoying the events you used to. You may not “feel” the same enjoyment at the same deep level, but eventually you will.
Going on with a new life you never wanted or chose is painful. More painful yet is being stuck in your life when it really doesn’t feel like yours anymore. Many times, the partner left feels revengeful, and although this is a common feeling (don’t beat yourself up for feeling it), you have to eventually give up on that too. Before you give up on that feeling though, remember…the best revenge is becoming the best version of you. This includes taking care of your emotional/spiritual health, your children’s health, and your physical health. You will make it, even though your heart may be breaking. You are strong, you will survive, and you will continue to grow, change and love again. –Mary Jo Rapini
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