Getting Your Groove Back: Tending the Emotional Garden Post Divorce

“This feels like the end. Everything we had worked hard for is now gone. My life, as I know it, is over. Divorce is the pits. I don’t know how I can move on.”

Is life over as you know it? Yes, but not in the way you may think. Let’s explore how divorce can effect one’s emotional state so that we may determine effective ways to let go of the emotional grief common to the death of a valued relationship.

Divorce is death. It is the death of your marriage. You spent time, effort, and energy to make your marriage work. It may have been a successful version of the American Dream with the 2.5 children, white picket fences, a loving puppy, or whatever commonly held perception of what the all American Family is comprised of these days. You may have sought to be June and Ward Cleaver, but ended up with Al and Peg Bundy. Married, With Children, you now find yourself picking up the pieces, trying to make sense of your emotional state as it relates to finding your post-marriage groove. If this is the case, then read on.

In tending to our emotional garden, it is imperative that we assume a somewhat self-centered focus for some time. This may sound counterproductive, in that we are often taught to be focused on other’s needs rather than our own. Self-centeredness is selfishness, right? In some cases, yes, but when it comes to healing after divorce, it is imperative you get to know you for you, to engage, or even re-engage areas of your life that brought you joy, solace, or content feeling from within. It is imperative that you assume accountability for the development and the promotion of your inner happiness.

Let’s face it, if you got divorced, there has probably been a prolonged period of time where either one or both both of you were discouraged. This would in turn increase tension, cause fighting, and leave either one or both of you with ill at ease feelings. You may have even sought therapy to assist you with working through your inner discontent, under the guise of saving or severing your relationship. In post-divorce life, you do not have another person to mirror from, and in turn, you must face your feelings head-on, as you get to know you for you, so that you may in turn one day move on from the grieving process that may have brought you to this article.

So how is it that you can find your happiness in post-divorce life?

Well, first and foremost, becoming self-focused, it is imperative that to assume accountability for your own happiness. Maybe you got married to secure your happiness. Or maybe it was another milestone, a goal to be accomplished on a long list of life-milestones by which you judge your individual success. Or, maybe the fear of loneliness got to you, and you sought marriage to secure your future from having to face another day of being alone. Either way, taking accountability for your emotional state will free you from the eternal dialogue that can hinder your emotional growth post-divorce.

When it comes to you, remember, that you are the creator of your own emotional health and/or illness. By relying on others to create your sense of security and happiness, you ultimately abdicate personal responsibility to understand your emotional state to another, much less qualified candidate for the job. Remember, the person you have chosen to be with also has this same burden and must find those nuances that make them happy. While the happiness you sought during marriage, or within your relationship may have escaped you, leading you to a period of self-reflection common post-divorce, this is not the end chapter of your life. It actually can be construed as a new beginning, a time ripe for the personal growth self-knowledge and development of a healthy sense of Self-love you can bring to the table in all future relationships.

How to Get The Groove Back:

  1. Show Gratitude – Every successful person knows that gratitude stands as the foundation for everything they have been provided in life. While it may be difficult to determine things to be grateful for post-divorce, especially if you have lost time, assets, or some sense of financial security, find something that you can be grateful for. It was most likely a lack of gratitude by one or both parties that lead to the divorce. However, this does not have to remain the case. Remember, you have just got the opportunity to get to know yourself for you, outside of the relationship, and this is a reboot of sorts, a do-over that can, and will allow you to make real and effective change in your life if let it guide your being.
  2. Schedule – The key here is to MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. Whether it is to exercise, meditate, have a cold-one with a friend, climb Half-Dome, Yoga, or Pilates, make sure you schedule it. You will be distracted by life, your emotions, and the 60,000 thoughts you have per day. Take control of your time, schedule a happiness time for you, and see what a difference feeling in control of your life can have as you learn navigate the good times, the bad times, the sad times, and the happy times of your life.2d81b071-97a5-4c5e-83f4-d5b0e0ba33a8
  3. Get to Know Thyself – The key to self-help is to get to know yourself. You cannot do this with the endless distractions that will plague you during a normal day. Make time for yourself, and get to know yourself in silence. It is during this time, that you can begin to feel aware of your emotional state, and make small shifts within as a means to promote a better sense of balance and wellbeing.
  4. Exercise – Wanting to shed the lbs. gained during marriage. During married life there is a sense of complacency. You no longer have this baggage, but you may have emotional or physical baggage left from the complacency you assumed during your married life. By making time for yourself, you can now free up the needed resources to bring back your ideal you. Visualize your best version of you, then begin the process of making that happen. This will not only kick start your Self-Love journey, but will also allow you to approach your life as a game. Make it fun. It is not a battle against a number, it is a journey towards emotional, physical, and even spiritual health. Who does not want to be their best, and there is no better time to start than now.
  5. Surround Yourself with Support – While this may run in opposition to the self-centered focus spoken of above, your team will provide you invaluable support. Remember, it is about finding your happiness again. Not relying on other’s to provide your happiness for you. List things your are passionate about. Make a bucket list if you will, plan for it, and make it happen. Bring those you love on the journey. It is nice to share time and experiences with people, even if if it is in support of your personal goals. However, realize you will need to give in order to receive. In doing this, you are not being self centered. You are actually promoting your Self-development through focused attention on what you want in life. Who knows, you may even meet new people that share in your same passion.

Divorce is complex. And while there is no one road to emotional success after divorce, this forum is interactive, and we encourage clients to post feedback, ask questions, and engage in the healing journey that the grief cycle affords us post divorce. If you have questions, please feel free to write them in the comment sections. Our team will be happy to help you find the answers.

In Getting Your Groove Back, we will explore as an open forum ways you can mitigate the emotional damage a divorce can cause within your life. While there are many roads to emotional health, our team will help you navigate them to find your sense of wellbeing post-divorce.

Dr. Tom

The Stockton Therapy Network