By Karen McMahon
It wasn’t supposed to be this way! How do you find your way toward acceptance?
When a marriage crumbles, no one rejoices. The dream of happily ever after dies with struggle on the part of both husband and wife. One might fight hard, another might shut down, or avoid and seek comfort elsewhere. Often the realization that the marriage is over comes to each party at different times. Sometimes when one person is done fighting for the marriage, the other awakens and realizing the severity of the situation decides to make an effort only to find it is too late for their partner.
The beginning of most divorces are fraught with anger, fear, pain, guilt, blame, frustration and many other painful emotions. It is a slow process and there is always pain. Much as we wish, there is no fast forward button. In fact the process itself is the journey of healing from raw to ready to move on. In time, we do heal and begin to accept our new reality and ever so slowly live into it.
The challenge is to accept the process of grieving which requires us to honor our broken heart and unrealized dreams by being compassionate, patient and loving toward ourselves. We each deal with our grief in different ways, on different schedules. Some quietly withdrawing; others openly sharing and engaging with others. The key is to accept the stage of grief while choosing to not reside permanently in it.
When does healthy grieving turn into a resistance that locks us in hurt, anger and despair? How can we know if we are experiencing the pain of grieving or have chosen to create a new life of endless suffering?
The answer lies in our progress. Understanding the stages of grieving is critical to being able to ascertain if we are stuck or moving (even if barely perceptible). No one can determine this but us. We know how we have navigated challenges in our life. Are we a quick mover…like the wind? Or slow and steady…like the earth? Or are we like the earth until we ‘know’ and then rapidly switch blowing through quickly to the other side? There is no judgment here; no right or wrong, it’s just our pace and only we know it.
The first stage of grieving is shock and denial and it makes sense that we resist what is happening when it seems that all efforts have failed and our marriage has come to the beginning of the end. Then comes anger as realization sets in and we feel wronged, cheated, unwilling to accept that this is what it has come to.
As we move further through our grief we begin to bargain with our spouse, with God, with ourselves; living in a desperate place of “if only’s” and “what ifs” often blaming ourselves or our spouse. Suddenly we may find ourselves back in denial or anger. This too in perfectly normal as grieving is not a linear process but more like a pendulum that ultimately slows and steadies, all in due time.
Following bargaining is depression as we begin to accept that this is what it is and we are so sad and broken hearted. Then again, swinging back to denial, anger or bargaining. Depression is followed by acceptance.
Having a good day is a sign of acceptance. Beginning to live your life in your new circumstances and finding bits of joy is acceptance. Creating new ways of living in our new reality is acceptance.
If you have been struggling for a while and see no signs of acceptance, you may be choosing to suffer. There may be comfort in holding on to a past that no longer exists or living in a story about being a victim and blaming your ex for ruining your life. As much as you are suffering, it may be preferable to the uncertainty and unknown of starting over. There are many reasons why we get stuck in a place that does not allow us to live and grow. If you find yourself there, a divorce coach can help guide you back to yourself and figuring out what your new life might look like and how to begin creating it.
Getting your focus off the rear view mirror. When you can accept that your life has changed and he or she has moved on and things are and will always be different going forward, you begin to look at your present and the possibilities of a new future. You have stepped into the reality of your present life and can now begin to craft a today and tomorrow that expresses who you are and how you desire to live your life.
Our team of coaches at JBD is passionate about helping men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups and divorce. We work together with you to open the possibility that your current relationship challenges can lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience. Together we create a path to clarity. Find out if Coaching is right for you, and accept my gift of one FREE session.