A little over a year ago my marriage ended. After the shock wore off, which for me lasted about 3 weeks, I did what I usually do- research.
I like instructions. I like to do lists. I like to have a plan and I didn’t seem to have any of those for dealing with the hurt and betrayal caused by my divorce. I wasn’t surprised that I got divorced. I think I saw that coming. But even so, it didn’t hurt any less.
There were plenty of books and I read a couple, but who has time to read every book! I felt overwhelmed by all the information and advice coming my way. I was angry with God, I was angry at anything “spiritual”. I didn’t want to hear another person tell me to mediate on it. I just wanted someone to take my hand and lead me out of the tunnel of darkness I found myself in. When everyone around you thinks you’re the leader, it’s hard to find someone to follow. It’s especially hard to follow when YOU THINK you’re the leader.
During my research, I came across an article written by a couple of therapists who had a program called Divorce Detox. Well right off the bat, I liked the name. It had a sense of humor and it was pretty right on. I mean we detox from toxins in our body right- why not detox the emotions.
So I checked it out. Amazing how the universe seems to deliver right what you need when you need it. They had a session starting right away and I jumped at the chance to join. It wasn’t until after jumping that I realized I was going to have to sit in a room with a bunch of people I didn’t know and spill the beans on my life, my marriage and ME! I had never done that with my friends- let alone a bunch of strangers. Vulnerability was not my strong point.
I almost backed out, out of fear of being exposed as the horrible person I felt I was.
I was amazed, instead, to find a room full of loving people who understood my pain, my hurt, my anger and who loved me, even if they didn’t “know” me. Well they sure got to know me, and I still talk to them today, a year later. They gave me the greatest gift I have ever received (except for my children). They gave me their ears and their hearts. For the first time I sat in room and didn’t feel judged, I didn’t have to impress or be smart or funny. I could just be me, and begin to find me again.
I found someone to lead me, or I should say a group to lead me. I found a to do list, I found someone who gave me some really easy straightforward steps to lead me toward the light.
I also learned that healing is a process, which takes time, and I have given myself the time. A year later I still feel sad, I still feel fear. But I have my little detox program to do, just like I detox my body, sometimes you gotta detox the mind.
Here are 5 steps to start that process. They really helped me. I’ve been getting a lot of emails from women – who like me are going through divorce so I thought I’d share.
1. Reconcile your mind and your heart
The mind and heart are often in conflict after a breakup. You may “know” intellectually that the relationship is over but this knowledge doesn’t always align with how you “feel”. This is one scenario where it’s not always best to follow your heart as this can lead you to actions you might later regret. Grounding yourself in the evidence will help you to use your brain so you can avoid saying or doing things that will ultimately hurt you further.
2. Learn how to move through grief instead of getting stuck in it
A large part of recovering from heartbreak involves grieving the loss of what you had. The death of a relationship is a powerful and painful event that can leave you feeling extremely sad and even angry. Ignoring your feelings or denying your pain will keep you stuck in the grief. In order to move through it you will need to acknowledge the depth of your loss and allow yourself the dignity of grieving what you had.
3. Distance yourself from your Ex
A breakup or divorce is different from a death in that you will not want to keep the memory alive. Removing pictures from your home and phone, unfriending your Ex on Facebook, and deleting their information from your contacts are all good places to start. You will also want to stay away from places you went together, or listening to music you shared. Distance does not make the heart grow fonder when your heart has been broken.
4. Put your self-judgments on hold
Wondering what you did wrong, how you could have done things differently, or how things could have been better, different or more in the relationship will drive you crazy. It is easy to fall into a place of self-judgment and self-criticism after your heart has been broken, but you will need to go easy on yourself in the beginning, especially during a divorce. While learning what you could have done better will be important, to heal your heartbreak you will need to practice self-compassion and be forgiving of yourself.
5. Be accountable for your part
When we are hurt by another it is easy to jump to a place of self-righteousness and blame. If your heart has been broken, you are most likely the casualty of someone else’s actions, but you don’t have to live in a victim like state. Taking some responsibility for what happened will empower you to heal, and you will feel a sense of control over how to move forward. You are only in control of yourself.
To find out more about Divorce Detox and Allison Pescosolido M.A., Andra Brosh Ph.D. and the Divorce Detox™ check out the website. The Divorce Detox™ Survival Kit is also really helpful to anyone going through divorce who wants valuable, expert advice.
Betsy Chasse is an author, mom and filmmaker. Co-Creator of the film “What The Bleep Do We Know?!” you can find out more about her at www.betsychasse.net.