As I studied to become a divorce coach, I learned that going through divorce is not unlike experiencing the death of a loved one. Most of us experience the Kubler-Ross stages of grief – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance – in some form or another. I was glad to know I could find a solid scientific explanation for the emotions I felt. Once I experienced anger, I knew it was time for a little bargaining knowing depression would follow. How long would that last? I figured a while but I knew acceptance was coming!! It all seemed very logical.
I had found a new normal that worked for me-a new home, new friends, a new business, I felt life could only get better for me. Then I came to the realization that my dog needed to be rehomed. As a result of my divorce and all the changes in households, he had become extremely anxious and developed terrible separation anxiety. Add to that a torn ACL requiring surgery, and he was in a constant state of distress. Both of us were miserable, as were my neighbors from his incessant barking.
When clients come to me they are often desperately looking for a way out of the pain and suffering they are experiencing, a quick ‘fix’ to make things better. If we know that once we go from point A, we will definitely get to point B, we can strategize and come up with a plan putting us in control. What I know now is that the control in the divorce process is accepting that you don’t always have control and that the path is not necessarily logical and linear.
The good news is that with each setback, you become a little stronger and each set back is a little shorter. You may always be triggered but it will become less important in the scheme of things. If there’s no formula and you continue to get triggered for some time to come, how do you get through it?
- Allow yourself to feel. It’s okay to want to crawl under the covers and cry. It’s okay to want to yell at your ex and tell him how messed up your life is because of him/her. The emotions are going to come up eventually. If you fight them now, somewhere down the road they will come out.
- Find something that helps you release those emotions. Exercise (it doesn’t have to be strenuous), meditation, yoga, reading. Anything that takes you away from the place that hurts.
- Write a story of what you would like to look like at the ‘end’ of the process. What are the things you hope to let go of? What are your hopes and dreams for your daily life? For relationships? For your children? For some people a vision board works-a visual representation of what you hope for.
- Give yourself credit for any accomplishment no matter how small.
- Get some guidance from someone neutral like a Divorce Coach or a Therapist. I specifically say guidance because no one will have the answers for you. Those come from you and they will come.
I’m happy to report that my pooch is doing great living in the suburbs with extended family. He has constant company and I get regular reports. I still have moments that I miss him beyond belief. I cry through half a Kleenex box and then I stop. I remember why I did what I did. I’m proud of myself for having the courage to do what was best for both of us. My path is taking lots of twists and turns and I’m okay with that.