I like one-liners and powerful words to succinctly convey my philosophies on divorce:
“Evolve, don’t dissolve.”
“Hating isn’t healing.”
My advice has been met with somewhat hostile resistance from those who are still enduring the pain of separation or divorce. And, I understand that. And, I’ve been there. And, I was still able to do all of the above. But, it’s not easy.
Even “one day at a time” can seem like an overwhelming goal when you’re drowning in sadness or overtaken by anger. Sometimes it’s better to take things moment by moment.
Here’s a process that proved helpful when I found myself in the downward spiral of Breakup Emotions:
1. Pause. Interrupt your crazy thoughts (which are responsible for your crazy feelings). Tune into your breath and notice physical sensations such as your feet in your shoes, hands on the steering wheel, shirt against your skin, etc. In short: get out of your mind and into your body. This will give you some space and perspective.
2. Recognize the Past. The event you are dwelling on is over and done with (even if it only happened five seconds ago). You can’t change it, but you can let it change you. The question is: do you want to change for the better, or worse?
3. Employ compassion. Realize the fact that people who hurt others often do so because they themselves are hurting. You know your ex, and you know his demons. Use this information to understand (not excuse) his actions. See him as a misguided child instead of a sinister monster, and realize the sadness of the situation.
4. Forgive. You stepped away from your emotions. You realize that you can’t change what’s been done and you understand why things happened the way they did. Now it’s time to offer forgiveness (even if it wasn’t requested). It wasn’t really about you anyway. Choose to forgive and leave the wrongdoing in the past. Choose to forgive and let him own the repercussions of his karma (and trust this will happen naturally- there’s no need for you to control/oversee the process). Choose to forgive and set yourself free to move on from the incident.
5. Accept what is. Focus on what you have to work with in the present moment. Express gratitude for whatever you can appreciate at this time (bonus points if you can thank him in this process!). Square your shoulders and pat yourself on the back for being strong enough to get through the steps above. Now, with a little more confidence, take another step forward into your new life.
Sounds easy enough, right? There’s just one catch: You might have to do this several times a day (or even several times an hour at first). But don’t get discouraged. After you’ve done all the thinking, you only have to breathe and remind yourself of what you already know. It goes pretty quickly, and each time you get a little bit stronger (as opposed to nurturing bitterness and becoming hardened as a result).
Healthy healing takes dedication and practice. It’s a time-consuming effort which requires vulnerability and painful growth. But is that so bad? The process is much like getting a degree, climbing the corporate ladder and being a mom. The hard work pays off. And when you once again achieve happy wholeness (which you will), you can start telling others how simple it is to let go.