When divorce hurts

How To Survive The Pain Of Divorce (Even When It Feels Unbearable).
Yes, it’s going to hurt … but you can be happy on the other side of it.

To put it plainly, divorce feels like death.

And it feels like death because it is a death, of sorts. The life you had (and the relationship you shared with your spouse in that life) are gone forever. Along with the fantasy of the future you once dreamed about together. 

The “you,” you once knew, is gone too.

And while you may see glimpses of her in the mirror, once your marriage officially ends, you can never go back to being that exact same woman. The person you’ll become moving ahead is a new version of you. She may look the same, but something inside has changed forever and that is the very definition of a death.  

Good, bad, or ugly — if you see the end of your marriage fast approaching, it’s wise to know what’s about to come next.

Like all deaths, divorce leaves a mark. For most people, it affects your health, productivity, emotional well-being and in some cases, even your life expectancy. Here are a few facts to consider, during divorce:
Anxiety and fear about the future skyrockets.

Your risk of alcohol addiction rises (this is especially true for divorced men).

Your risk of developing clinical depression also rises (this is especially true for women)

Your productivity drops at work by as much as 75 percent, putting you at greater risk for termination/probation

Along with countless other challenges like: insomnia, weight gain/loss, digestive problems and a weakened immune system

As you consider the fate of your own marriage, remember that giving up because you’re unhappy in this moment may not be the right answer.

Being spontaneous with a decision this serious isn’t wise. 
Have you gone to therapy or worked with a coach to see if you can work through your differences with support? If it’s not possible to go to counseling with your spouse, research shows that even one person in therapy can make a difference on the outcome of the marriage. So if you want to stay and work it out, it’s not necessarily hopeless.

And, at least, entering into a breakup of this magnitude, you’ll know you personally did all you could to make the marriage work. That is the only way to move into divorce with the least amount of regret.


Argh! Where did I go?

Divorcing is hard. We are not only divorcing a person, but our dreams of the future with them, maybe their friends, definitely our way of life. We lose the day in and day out routines and habits we had established with that person. I plan, he shops. I cook, he cleans the kitchen. I take care of scheduling all the doctors’ appointments, he fixes the leaky sink. Then divorce happens and you manage to get through it, just one foot in front of the other, keeping your head low and trying as much as possible not to really think about it, what it means, what’s ahead. And you get through that and think you are out of the woods. You start to get on with the business of living again once the major storm has passed. We can all take a vacation from our everyday for a while, deal with the crisis, keep swimming. And then the major crisis is over, your sink or swim is over, and it is now time for you to get on with your life. And low and behold, one day you look around and find yourself writing out the shopping list as usual. That is your habit. Happens every Sunday. Same piece of paper, same pen. You look in the cupboards and the fridge to see what is missing, what you are running low on. What Mexican dish should you make on Tuesday this week, you ask yourself. And you place the paper as usual on the counter and start to walk away and it hits you. Hold on! Now what! Making the list is no longer enough. That other person who used to come by, pick up the list and go get the groceries is no longer there. You had been in crisis mode, and your mind and body prepared and survived through your fight and flight responses. But now that the immediate crisis and danger is somewhat over, low and behold muscle memory kicks in and your old habits and routines have surfaced yet again. This is great when you have skipped a week of exercise and can still remember the routine. This works out well when you end up at a party and remember all the dance moves from Micheal Jackson’s Thriller. This works out when you don’t even have to consciously think about which toner, moisturizer or make-up product goes on first then second then third and so on. It’s automatic. A no brainer. Your mind wonders as you blindlessly go through each step. But now it hits you. I need to now pick up that list and go get the groceries, pick out the items, pay for them, lug them to the car and up the steps to the house. I now need to unpack them. Those dishes from last night’s supper are now my responsibility to do. Things have changed. We expect the big ones. Him not being there are night. You noticed you are no longer tripping over his shoes in the front hall. So it hits you. The habits and routines have changed. No more watching SNL together every Saturday night. No more monthly dinners with friends. No more hearing about what happens at his job. You’ll now never know what happened when their version 3.0 of their software was launched. You’ll never know whether Mary from accounting ended up having a boy or a girl. So many changes! Not just the big ones. The little ones we never even imagined. We knew we would have to get used to our new home. We knew the bank account would now be in just your name. You knew there was no longer going to be a plus one when you are invited somewhere. What you didn’t realize was all the other habits and routines you had gotten so used to that they were automatic and unconscious from having done them day in and day out for years. And the biggest one you didn’t realize was going to change because the last time it did, it happened slowly over time as if through osmosis? That biggest change was that YOU would now need to change. Or rather change back. Or rather change back and then evolve into the you after the divorce. Your personality is now changing all over again.
 You took for granted that you would continue to be you. Not so fast. We are made up of the experiences and influences of others. So there is something else that we are divorcing: Our version of ourselves when we were married and when we were with that person. Everyone brings out different aspects of our personalities. Sometimes we take on their catch phrases, opinions, likes, dislikes, habits. When people tell you about something they bought, you say “Awesome” because he always did. You buy blue shirts even though your favorite colour is pink because he liked the way it looked on you. You listened to Bon Jovi every time you got in the car because that was his favorite band. But now? Now the sound of the word Awesome reminds you of him. So now what is your go to word when someone shows you something new? Now that blue shirt reminds you of him and you feel a need to change the shirt and get a pink one. Now when Bon Jovi comes on the radio you immediately change the station and find a country station because you remember way back when that you love country music. And he didn’t. And so you stopped listening to it. Looking at the grocery list on the table you now realize that you have to get the groceries. But guess what? Guess what you also get to do. You also get to re-meet yourself. You get to rediscover YOU! Your likes and dislikes. Your catch phrases. Your favorite music. And you may even discover that your tastes have changed. Change is constant. However, things don’t change all the time. And when they do we need to know how to navigate it, how to ride the wave, how to come out the other side and look at each change and think “Does this change feel right, awkward, rejuvenating?” Am I successfully changing all the old habits and routines with new ones or ones that I used to have before I got married? You may feel like you are free falling. And for the most part, you are. You do not feel grounded. You are not stable. You are now a work in progress. We always are, but up until this point, growing up, we made all of those small changes to our lives and personality slowly and repeated them over and over again until we were stable in ourselves and in our lives. Now, we are like a teenager all over again. What are my catch phrases? What are my opinions? What friends do I want in my life? What direction and goals am I striving for? All new. All exciting. All scary. Here’s the good news: You can do this! Because you did it before, back when you were a kid, when you were a teenager, back when you started your first job. You reinvented yourself and got to know yourself in those situations and you will again. One baby step at a time. Sometimes laughing and loving it. Sometimes kicking and screaming. You can do this! Change is hard, it’s constant, and it is sometimes unpredictable. But we all can navigate those changes and learn to be ok. What would make it easier though? Faster? Not doing it alone and understanding what needs to be involved in those changes, what emotions we may have when change happens and we are riding the wave to acceptance. What signs to look out for when we get stuck in that wave.
Whether you are having to rediscover yourself after a divorce or losing a spouse to illness or even getting used to retirement or the empty nest syndrome, it helps to not do it alone and to talk it through and to have someone teach and guide you through the stages of change. Someone to help you get to acceptance without getting stuck in anger or depression. And someone that can help you brainstorm all the little ways your life has to now change as you start a new chapter. From crisis mode to smooth sailing. You can do this!
Audrey Greenberg B.A. psych, M.Ed, is a change management master training specialist and counselor who specializes in helping people plan for, navigate, and emotionally survive and ultimately thrive from the changes in their personal and professional lives. From personality changes, relationship changes, attitude changes, behavioural changes to how to handle all the changes involved in divorce, marriage, illness, retirement, grief, weight loss, etc. She is also the owner of Patchkey: a life coaching, counseling, and soft skill development company that helps individuals and companies learn new soft skills. For more information, she can be reached at (514) 778-1058, patchkey.audrey@gmail.com; http://www.patchkey.com