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How to Heal From A Divorce

Say this 5 times out loud for me: Divorce is an EVENT, not an identity.

Divorce is an event, not an identity.

For the longest time, I felt like I wore a scarlet 'D' and no one would be able to see past this

black smudge on my record. Part of it is because it felt like I failed and I must be 'defective' and the other part, it just deeply bothered me to live through an experience I swore I would never have.

Divorce is messy. Families being torn apart. Lots of emotions. Dividing your stuff. Tensions can be high. Factor in kids and, oof, it is even more difficult.

Divorce can also bring up a lot of insecurities, fears, worries...the list can go on.

I suppose it depends on the nature of the divorce. For some, it is vital the relationship ends for safety reasons, for others it is mutual, for some (like myself) it is a surprise.

Whatever the case. Divorce can be a strange mixture of relief, pain, fear, and self-doubt.

Wherever you stand in that mix, you aren't alone. My goal is to help you move from the pain into a brighter future by working through your mindset.

Healing is going to take some work. It will be uncomfortable, exposing, and at times, feel like 'a lot', but trust me, as someone who has walked through it, I promise you, the work is worth it.

To heal from a divorce, it will require you to examine yourself first, not your ex.

Trust me, it is real tempting to just blame the other person outright for everything, at first.

It is also easy to just blame yourself and go down the self-destructive path of self-loathing and insecurity.

I am not saying the divorce was your totally your fault, it is never 1000% one persons fault. But in order to prevent repeating the same problems, you have to look at the one constant in any relationship you will be in: you!

What I found to be helpful was to journal, write, audio message, whatever you prefer...everything I was feeling. good, bad, ugly, all of it.

Then, I took a look at the relationship. What worked, what didn't, and why. I thought about how I showed up in both good times and in conflict. I thought about whether or not I felt safe, valued or heard. I thought about if I created an environment that allowed my ex to feel safe, valued, and heard.

I started to focus objectively on my own patterns. Did I set clear boundaries and expectations when we were dating? Did I compromise? If so, what did that lead to? How did we approach conflict? How did I express love and respect?

In doing this, I was looking for my own patterns of behavior. Ultimately, I wanted to see how I needed to grow and evolve myself so I wouldn't repeat the same patterns in the next relationship. I needed to understand how I operated in the relationship, patterns I probably had since childhood, and why I struggled to express my needs/boundaries.

This leads to the next point...

To heal from a divorce, you need to reassess what you value and need in a relationship and hold firm to those new boundaries.

I cannot stress this enough, the love that we accept from others is often a reflection of how we view ourselves. This point may not be applicable for everyone, but for those of us that struggle with expressing ourselves and boundaries...listen up!

Those of us with low self-esteem, the tendency to people-please, and a lack of internal emotional awareness will struggle with attracting strong, healthy partners to us. Does not mean we won't, but think about it, if you don't have a strong sense of self-worth and you have a hard time expressing leave yourself wide open to being used and taken advantage of by someone who is also emotionally immature and selfish. (I understand this is hyperbolic)

In diving into the honest evaluation of how you showed up in the last might become clear to you that the issue wasn't that you were overly mean, demanding, or cruel, but maybe you never said anything. You didn't express what you needed in a way that was helpful, but only in explosive or implosive, emotion-filled moments that threw your partner for a loop (and you!). Diving into how you showed up will help you see patterns you probably have had since childhood.

Healthy relationships require healthy people OR at least two people who are on the path to healing and see with humility, the continued need to grow and shed bad habits.

So after diving into the stuff you need to work on yourself, you then have to reframe your mindset and practice expressing your needs, setting and holding boundaries, and continue down the path of healing.

Learning how to have healthy conflict, learning how to hold boundaries and respecting yourself enough to then give consequences when they aren't met are vital for a successful future relationship.

I found this stage hardest for me, only because it was working a new muscle, but overtime, it became easier and I felt more and more confident in my ability to express myself.

I looked at emotion wheels and developed a stronger sense of "what is it I am feeling and why?"

Which is another point...

To heal from a divorce, you need to understand your triggers and understand that your brain will have to rewire itself.

Here is where you do the inner child work and maybe dig into what you expect of other people in a relationship.

Are you like me and you just use generic emotions to express yourself: angry, sad, hungry, tried, happy?

You have a hard time really pinpointing what it is you are feeling so you either shut it down or overly feel it and let it consume you.

Emotions are not truth. However, they are lights on our dashboard...trying to get our attention or helping us to experience the depths of what it means to be human.

If you have a very limited emotional vocabulary like me or you are great at seeing emotions in other people but cannot identify them within yourself....get an emotions wheel and start being intentional about specifically stating what you are feeling.

Instead of "i am okay" "I am good" I am doing well", say things like, "today, I am feeling really optimistic and creative." "Right now, I feel overwhelmed and isolated" "I feel embarrassed" "Today, I am indifferent"

Labeling your emotions more specifically will cause you think more deeply about where things are stemming from and you can continue the work of understanding how you show up in relationships and boundaries you might need to set for yourself.

Breaking patterns requires our brains to have to rewire itself for new ones. Even if it is bad for us, our brain likes the safety of predictability. If you are used to always running away from conflict, not running away is going to feel so uncomfortable for awhile.

Recognize your triggers. Reframe your patterns. Rewire your brain through grace and repetition.

I threw a lot at you. This is a process. Divorce made me feel really isolated, embarrassed, and resentful. I sat in anger, fear, and sadness for a while before I dug deeper and saw the patterns from childhood, the unresolved trauma, and the lack of emotional vocabulary I had. I feel deeply, easily empathize with others, but I struggled to really express myself which made it difficult to set boundaries and state my needs.

If you are currently walking through a season of divorce, I am here for you! My heart is with you, and I promise, overtime it will get easier and you will heal.

Divorce is an event in your life. It is not your identity. Use this event to help you become a better version of yourself, so you can look back and be proud of the person you evolved into through a season of pain and difficulty.

broken paper heart on string

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