Once divorced, I discovered many different options to recover and heal. I joined support groups, read every self-help book I could get my hands on, and even signed up for counseling. Still, divorce recovery seemed far away. I didn’t know much about the divorce recovery cycle and I continued to feel stuck and in pain for a long time.
None of the above choices seemed to work and produce the results I wanted and needed. If truth be told, I was hoping that someone or something would come along and save me.
Well, guess what? No one came and nothing did. I decided to take full responsibility for new choices and decisions moving forward.
After studying and doing some research, I came up with my own plan for divorce recovery. I call it The Road Through Recovery, and it has five phases. Implementing it into my own life helped me to break out of the vicious cycle I was stuck in.
It helped me pinpoint where I was “stuck” and “in pain” making it terribly challenging to move forward. Finding my starting point was an empowering first step forward in the divorce recovery cycle.
I found the divorce recovery cycle to be made up of five phases. Many people pass through each phase in order to process the trauma of divorce. As a result, they are ready in mind, body, and spirit to move on to rebuild a new life on their own terms. Here’s a brief description of each phase.
For some, it can take a while for our minds to adjust to the loss. Whether we feel relief or we feel loss, in this phase, we are trying to absorb and understand what had happened now that the process of divorce is over.
For many, it is unfathomable to see their life without this other person in it. When we experience the rejection phase, we are rejecting the emotional pain that comes with the loss.
We don’t want to feel the intense emotions that come with the loss. Rejection is used as a defense mechanism, as the psyche has a hard time coping with the reality of the situation and uses rejection as a protection tactic. Some may use denial of the trauma to keep from feeling the pain because not ready to handle it yet.
You may still be feeling numb as it is impossible to imagine that all the hopes, dreams, adventures, and memories you pledged to make together are gone.
In this phase, you begin to allow the intense feelings that you rejected in the first phase to finally hit. It could be fear, pain, or hurt that rushes in and fills your senses. For some, they can be stuck for a while. This is because in this phase, people are allowing what they feel and the emotions experienced to come in.
The feelings are usually extremely uncomfortable. When we first release the emotions related to loss, resentment is usually the first feeling to show up.
You should also be aware of your “triggers”. This can show up in the form of anger which may be used to mask or hide many of the emotions and pain you are experiencing. Learn to become aware of situations and words that push your emotional buttons and create that negative or uncomfortable feeling.
The uncomfortable feeling is the “trigger”. The trigger will set you off if you don’t become aware of it, and you may react in a way that you will later regret. Awareness of the trigger feeling will help you take a step back and choose a better way of handling the situation.
In this phase, you may be desperate to alleviate the pain and feel willing to do almost anything to lessen it. It is our way to try to postpone the inevitable by trying to look for ways to regain control or affect the outcome of the reality of the situation. It is the phase that gives a temporary escape from the reality; and used in a healthy way, it will give time to adjust to what is.
Don’t waste your energy. You might say to yourself, “what if” and “if only” and make up scenarios in your mind to try to make a deal. The goal is to try to go back and do it differently. Spending time and energy around what could have been gives the past the power to take away the potential for the future.
The problem is, there may have been a multitude of disappointments and unhappiness over many issues. This phase is used as a defense mechanism against the feelings of misery and pain. It aids in stalling the emotions of hurt, confusion, and sadness.
Attempts to try to stay connected after the marriage is over are counterproductive to the healing process preventing the clean break that is necessary.
You begin to look at the reality of the situation. You have let go of renegotiation because you realize it is not an option. Now, you are faced with what has happened along with where you are in the present moment.
This is a time where some will become introspective and retreat into themselves. You might become less sociable, isolate yourself, and feel a sense of emptiness.
It’s important to have a strong support system of family and friends as well as being mindful of self-care. Some try to avoid this phase as much as possible so as to not feel the terrible sadness and regret that it brings up.
Brace yourself and go through it to heal. Like the other phases you may experience, this phase is necessary to acknowledge and accept in order to heal. Taking the time to reflect on the loss is a necessary part of the healing process. These feelings and emotions need to be experienced; because otherwise, they become an albatross around your neck weighing you down.
The good news is that going through this phase is a precursor to accepting reality.
You acknowledge and accept the reality of your life as it is presently. It’s not that you don’t feel the pain of loss, but you are not resisting the reality of the situation. You no longer try to make your life something taken from the past. You have made headway down the divorce recovery road.
In this phase, you know that it’s time to move on and embrace a new beginning. By letting go of rejection, resentment, renegotiation, and remorse to the extent that you can look to the future with hopeful eyes, you are ready to move forward.
In other words, you are releasing the past enough to be able to move on from those confusing, negative feelings. They were part of the healing process at the time; but now, they no longer serve you.
Once here, you will be ready to rebuild your new life and create it on your own terms.
Do any of the phases resonate with you? If so, what action steps are you taking or have you taken to move out of that phase? Please share in the comments section.