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Handling the shock of divorce and breakup, Sara Gibbons

How to Handle the Shock of Divorce or Breakup

Handling the shock of divorce can be traumatic.  Whether the breakup was sudden and unexpected or not, there are always a few surprises. ,Divorce is often an experience that rocks the very foundations of your life.

You may have been stunned by an announcement out of the blue. Perhaps you are wondering who it is that you have been living with all these years as you see changes in behaviour that is possibly out of all recognition from the person you fell in love with.

You may be overwhelmed by the depth of feelings you are now experiencing.  This can be anything from grief and guilt to anger and frustration, from utter disappointment to sheer, raw fear for the future. Or quite possibly all of these, and more, in combination.

Why is the shock of divorce so hard?

So why is it so hard to let go of the pain, impact and shock of divorce and find an equilibrium again?

One reason relates to our expectations. We didn’t say vows on our marriage day with the intention to break them or have them broken. You may have expected happily ever after? Or at least expected to be happy most of the time and for the rest you would be strong enough to handle it together? You may have expected certain behaviour. Maybe you had no idea how hard it would be to stay married in a loving relationship as circumstances changed between you and around you. You may have expected more support, understanding, compassion, flexibility, companionship etc. When we expect things to be a particular way and it doesn’t happen then we experience pain and suffering.

When we experience breakup, we are losing the familiar (and perhaps the relatively easy – at least in the short term). Instead we can feel alone and pushed out in the big wide world, often against our will, and completely out of our comfort zone. That can be scary.

We may well feel we have lost ourselves and our identity in the relationship. This can make finding ourselves and our own direction again afterwards really hard.

How do you find a way through the shock of divorce?

If you’re struggling with coming to terms with all this turmoil how do you find a way out? What can you do to not only get through each day, but move forward too?

It is helpful to start by recognising exactly what is scaring us. It is so much easier when we know what we need to face. We may have felt that life was organised, safe, settled when we were in the relationship. That we had someone to cover our back if need be. That feeling of not having to do things alone. You might just want to challenge that though. A lot of people recognise that in practice they were doing things alone in the relationship already. So there may not, in truth, be a huge change. You may also have been doing things you didn’t really want to do for the sake of the peace. Or perhaps you did them as a compromise, or because you didn’t feel you had a voice. In addition, you may recognise that you weren’t able to do what you wanted for yourself either.

What are you attached to ?

When it comes down to it the shock of divorce very often is around not knowing what’s going to happen next. Uncertainty about your world has replaced safety. Being suddenly thrust into the hairy scary unknown can causes a huge emotional response. We may have stayed in an unhappy relationship to try to keep ourselves safe. That means we don’t have to face stepping into the unknown. Yet that can send us into denial about how bad things really are and how unhappy we really are. Breakup can mean us having to face what we have been avoiding. And because we resist it, or have resisted it in the past, it is painful and distressing.

It is helpful to start by facing what is scaring us

We may also be unduly attached to things being a certain way, the way we want them to be. This is often especially true if the breakup wasn’t our choice, Divorce can cause huge amounts of suffering because it is out of our control. It is important to recognise we have no control over another human being or their reactions.  On the other hand we can have complete control over our own reactions. When we realise that then we can start to make the changes that matter, for ourselves.

When we can find it within us to get past the initial shock of divorce, and accept our situation rather than fighting what we can’t change, we are on the road to finding our peace with it all.

Put self care at the top of your list and live in the present

When we were growing up it’s unlikely we will have been shown how to embrace the unknown, to go with the flow of life, to grasp opportunities and go through open doors no matter where they might lead. We are usually taught from a place of generally keeping ourselves ‘safe’, weighing up the pros and cons, and we may well have made decisions from that place and also be aware that they haven’t really always served us. When we let go of trying to control others and situations, we can see things anew, make our own adventures, and live to the full.

As a child it’s unlikely you were shown how to deal with challenges in a healthy way

Handling the shock of divorce involves being gentle with yourself and letting go of trying to control things. When we can do that it makes it so much easier to be in the present moment.  Which is the only place where we can really live anyway! By being in the current moment we can release ourselves from the pain and distress of worrying about the future which we can’t control. It also releases us from guilt and regrets about the past which we can do nothing about now anyway. It sets us free to live in the present and to begin to find joy in simple things.

Taking baby steps involving self-care and self-respect is also a great tool. Small actions, taken consistently and every day soon add up to moving you where you want to be

More help for you

If you would like to speak to me personally about how I can help you move forward to the life you really want, then feel free to book a complimentary call here. I would be delighted to speak.

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