I had been mulling the idea of divorce for many years. After I finally had enough of my ex-husband’s deceit and ended my 25 plus year marriage, I thought I’d be relieved and I was, for just about one day. Then the emotional breakdown I never expected started and kept going, until it felt like it would never end. (Someone told me they should treat the end of a marriage like a death, with flowers, casseroles, even sitting shiva or having a wake, but yet, there’s usually zip.)
The emotional aspect of divorce is entirely intertwined with real physiology. The brain is complicated and how it impacts us during the break up of a relationship is scientific and our ability to navigate through it’s length and breath is contingent on many factors, including childhood issues like abandonment. On that first day, when I made the decision to end a relationship that encompassed more than half my life, if I had been handed a special care package consisting of all of the resources I’ve since gathered over the past 16 months, I believe it would have helped. Not that I think it would have alleviated all of the painful process. But at least I would have understood it, including that there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. I’ve experienced many “ah ha moments,”navigating this journey (and still am). A few of those moments I could have done without, and probably could have avoided with more knowledge.
First of all, you are already on one of the most resourceful, helpful sites, DIVORCEDMOMS.Com. This website offers a wealth of insight from women going through all kinds of issues surrounding divorce, as well as many professionals. It became my go-to source to understand how many had transitioned through the heartache I was feeling.
I also recommend ChumpLady.com. Tracy Schorn cuts to the chase when identifying the traits of cheating, lying men (and women). You’ll read her blog (she also has a great book) and will probably experience the realization, as I did, that apparently cheaters are all connected telepathically, all doing and saying the same stupid shit when they’re deceiving.
Always suggested, but not always helpful. (Sorry American Board of Professional Psychology, there are some inadequate therapists out there). If you are fortunate in finding a therapist who is truly professional and knowledgeable, set-up therapy for you and your children.
I found and went through three therapists in nine months, (actually four if you count the hypnotherapist I went to quit smoking, but didn’t stop smoking with). The first was senile, literally couldn’t remember me from one weekly appointment to the next; the second kept trying to hug me; the third disappeared after four great sessions, never returning calls or providing receipts for any of the visits so I could file insurance claims. Just what I did not need at that point, more rejection. As a disclaimer, I have had great therapists in the past.
Get appropriate prescribed medications, whether it’s for anxiety, ongoing depression, or sleeping; see a licensed, experienced psychiatrist. They rarely do talk therapy, but can access the issues and understand the physical and emotional symptoms affecting your ability to function and address it with the right medications, for the right amount of time.
Medical doctors, such as internists, can also assist with evaluating the need for medications. I ended up in an urgent care one day, because my regular doctor didn’t have an opening for weeks and I felt desperate. The doctor in that facility rightly evaluated I was in a heightened anxiety state and needed to stop the churning going on in my brain, which was distracting and preventing me from functioning, including driving safely. (I was almost in two car accidents those first days after separating.) I now realize I should have asked for help much sooner.
Support Groups: Divorce Healing Groups, Al-Anon, Co-Dependency Groups, Women and Family Support Organizations
Family members and friends can be our best support group, but I felt this, and others have agreed, that at some point the intense feelings simply wear out the welcome in conversations with people close to us. Remember, they didn’t have the emotional investment in your ex like you, so when they’re telling you to get over it or move on, (long before it’s even feasible), they’ve gotten over it.
Your community probably offers more than you know. For instance, nearby churches typically do not require membership to attend their support groups. If addiction issues entered into the demise of your relationship or marriage, it is never too late to attend Al-Anon. Insight into my own feelings and actions, as I found in dealing with my co-dependency behavior, helped immensely in understanding all the wrong reasons I stayed with my ex, way past the point of making any sense.
By the way, your divorce attorney is never your therapist in any way, shape, or form. Every minute you use to call him/her to discuss your ex’s newest bullshit, is costing you dearly.
Very important, don’t call your ex; it only gives them another opportunity to hurt you. You are not divorcing the same person you married.
I could not eat, watch TV, hardly read, even listen to the radio in my car. What I could do, when my brain went into its frequent hyperactivity, is walk to the point that several times a day I’d grab my dog’s leash and head for the door. (After a week, my poor dog began hiding he was so tired.)
I went from being inactive to, by the end of the first month, hiking 10 to 12 miles on my days off and at least 3 to 4 miles each morning before dawn. It is true that the endorphin’s released by exercise helps. I also went back to horseback riding and dancing after 20 years, which got me out of my own head and was fun.
I am unsure if my Life Coach Lisa Brick, CPC, LA-MP, L.Ac (powerandpurpose.net) could have broken through my extreme emotional state those first few weeks, but yes, by a few months in, she would have been very helpful knowing what I know now. I tell Lisa she’s my Sherpa, taking me way past those rocky areas behind me, to the next level in my journey for clarity. It feels great to have her perspective and her assistance removing that self-defeating negative voice that’s been in my head regarding career pursuits and personal relationships.
Finally, for me, these books were incredibly helpful in understanding what I was experiencing and provided what would have cost me years and a small fortune in counseling.
The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson
Emotional Manipulators and Codependents: Understanding the Attraction by Ross Rosenberg
Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal by Vicki Stark (This book explained a lot, including why men act like assholes when they are the perpetrators of deceit.)
I recommend going into your browser and putting in the search terms you are feeling. Find the many resources locally, online, and in books that will help you understand this whole tsunami you are experiencing; seek every available resource you can to help yourself.