You don't need to hold it all in to be strong.
"A good cry lightens the heart." — Yiddish proverb
I think that has to do with the overwhelming nature of divorce: Time crunches, money crunches, fears about the future, etc. When I was going through my divorce, I was sometimes afraid to do any reflecting for fear of obsessing about the wrong things and really breaking down.
I was afraid that facing all of my losses might cause tears that would never stop.
During a divorce, especially a divorce at midlife, the tears come more easily because of things we've lost or things we're trying hard to make work in spite of what seems like a catastrophe.
Many mornings after waking up way too early, I would stay in bed and start going over a whole litany of things I was worried, sad, and frustrated about. And even though I tried not to use the over-worked phrase, "stressed out," that's exactly what I was — stretched too thin, out of time, out of money, out of good humor. Mostly, I was bone-shaking, heart-wrenching miserable.
So, what's the solution? Here’s one thing that worked for me: I would make myself get out of bed, go into the kitchen, and start the coffee.
I often just sat down on a stool by the island and said to myself, "I'll do what I can, the best I can, and then not worry. I'll remember that people are more important than things, and that if I could give every single person I love everything I would like, and could make all of this divorce stuff go away, that still wouldn't guarantee happiness for me or for anyone else. I’m only responsible for my actions right this moment."
And above all, I also gave myself permission to cry.
I would sometimes get in the car and go out to some private place and sob and scream until I couldn't do it anymore. (And honestly, crying hard is exhausting!) I would let myself cry when I needed to, and then I'd remember that I have the choice to be happy about this day rather than worried. I have the choice to shine or to whine. I have the choice to use this challenging season of my life to discover and embrace the new beginning that it is … or to continue to be miserable. To use another overworked phrase, "That's a no-brainer."
So, cry it out when you need to. Feel the clean relief it brings. Feel the release of pent-up frustrations and worries and sadness. Appreciate the clean slate before you. Then spend time rebuilding and laughing and, yes, even dancing as often as you can.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance ...” — Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
To check out more resources about dealing with the sadness of divorce, go to www.midlifedivorcerecovery.com.
This article was originally published at Midlife Divorce Recovery. Reprinted with permission from the author.