I see many people in my practice who are either currently going through the divorce process, considering divorce, or surviving a divorce/separation. One of the questions I get asked most often is whether a client’s emotional reaction (or lack thereof) to a divorce is “normal.”
The short answer is “Yes” to any and all emotional reactions. There is no one-size fits all healing process from divorce, and even the most amicable splits are typically an emotional rollercoaster.
People often struggle to understand why they are having such a difficult time, particularly those who initiated a divorce, believe it is the best option for them, or who are extremely angry at their spouse. The thing is, a divorce is never just a split from one person. Not only is the person grieving the end of a relationship, but typically they are grieving the loss of family and/or friends, a particular lifestyle, financial security, or the impact it may be having on his/her children. This is the collateral damage people often fail to calculate, but it can be just as, or even more devastating, than the loss of the relationship itself.
Clients also struggle to understand why they may feel one emotion one day, and the polar opposite emotion the next, or even why they may entertain trying to repair the relationship when they were initially so certain that separation was the necessary choice. Again, a divorce is a complete change in someone’s life, and it can be very scary when one is faced with the reality of all that a divorce entails. Having children can also complicate this as most parents are understandably loathe to disrupt the family life of their children.
The best way to navigate the ups and downs of a divorce or separation is to simply be patient with yourself. Anticipate that your emotions and thoughts about the separation will change, sometimes on a daily basis, and allow yourself to feel all of them. Suppressing or denying your feelings about the divorce does you no favors in the long run. They will catch up to you, often during the course of a new relationship. Seek support from loving friends and family and try to find healthy ways to cope with your complicated feelings. Things will even out eventually, and you will heal if you allow yourself the space and honesty to feel whatever emotions need to be felt and processed.