Divorce: Is what I’m feeling normal?

Karen BigmanBlog, Divorce Process

I often get asked by my clients if it’s normal to be feeling the way they are feeling. Anger, guilt, sadness, shame, whatever the emotion, they are concerned that there must be something wrong with them which is causing such pain.

For the record, there is no ‘normal’, every person brings their own history to a relationship and with it their own version of interpreting each situation. You may be angry at your spouse for wanting a divorce, someone else may be relieved and happy they didn’t have to make the move  since their spouse made it for them.

From personal and professional experience as a Divorce Coach, I will tell you that while there is no normal, there’s definitely a vast array of strong feelings that are associated with divorce that you may not have experienced before.

One of the strongest emotions people are confused about is grief. Why am I grieving, no one died? In essence, the end of a significant relationship can be likened to a death. It’s the loss of a life imagined, a loss of dreams, of routines and rituals, of extended relationships, of a family as you knew it.

The most important thing to note is that grief is a process-just like divorce is a process. You can’t magically wave a wand and wake up one day feeling great again. Some schools of thought-namely Kubler-Ross model, say that you have to experience 5 stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) before you can finish grieving. These stages are not necessarily linear.

Whatever model you experience, it’s critical that you experience it. These emotions need to pass through you for you to be able to move forward with your life. Bottling them up and denying them their rightful process will only serve to hold you back. You will likely shut down and close yourself off to any possible relationships in the future.

The only normal, is your normal. If you accept that there will be some rocky times ahead and that life will settle in the future, that your ‘normal for now’ is a roller coaster and that your likely to move to rolling hills down the line, you’ll be more patient with yourself and go along for the ride. Once you’ve been through it, you’ll have a brand new normal-something to look forward to!