Divorce Really REALLY Hurts!
Lucy Davis talks about the pain of divorce. The pain might not feel normal, but it is. And it does go away. Honestly!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by feelings of sadness or anger, you’re not alone. Divorce hits some of us like a ten tonne truck. The pain can be overwhelming at times and very physical.
“The two days after we decided to separate were like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I have never felt such crippling sadness. I cried and cried and cried. I couldn’t eat anything. Sleep was a blessing although I couldn’t sleep til late and I woke up really early. When my friend saw me two days later, she was shocked at how I looked. She frogmarched me to a cafe where I had my first square meal in two days.” Cora, 36
If you feel like this, hang on in there. It will get better, honest! Try to remember a time before in your life when something was really awful and remember how bad it seemed. Now, think about how much less painful it is now. It will be like this for you one day when it comes to your divorce.
It is ok to be sad
One of the things I remember being very surprised at was the degree to which the sadness persisted. I just wanted to snap myself out of it and get on with life. I felt like I was wallowing in my own misery and I was tired of it. Yet waves and waves of sadness kept coming. A good friend of mine said to me, “you know, you must just allow yourself to feel. All your feelings are valid. Just be kind to yourself and tell yourself it’s OK to be sad.” Now in my recovery days, that advice sounds obvious to me but at the time it really helped to be allowed to feel sad, not just for a week or two but for as long as I needed, when I needed.
Talking to friends or people who are understanding helps
My friend was worth her weight in gold during the most painful period of my divorce and if you’ve got a good sympathetic friend who talks good sense, then I suggest you seek him or her out and use them as a sounding board for whenever you’re feeling blue. Likewise, other divorcees can help:
“I didn’t want to discuss my divorce with many people when I left my wife. I felt like a bit of a sod about it all, although I knew I had tried for a long time to do my best to make it work. It was a crap time and I was on my own in a rented flat. When I talked to it about a workmate who was also divorcing, it was great. She knew what I was on about and it made me feel a lot better.” David, 41
Don’t beat yourself up about it
Friends and other divorcees can help you avoid a common pitfall while you’re in the deepest doldrums: beating yourself up. When we’re sad, we tend to feed our sadness with all the fuel possible… remembering the good times, feeling hard done by, playing music that makes you cry, raking over the past, feeding feelings of guilt, what-ifs, recriminations – none of this is helpful. It’s human nature to do it though! Try to let go of the temptation to make yourself feel worse – that is after all what you’re doing.
While it is good to reflect on what went wrong and what you could have done differently, don’t then keep replaying this over and over again. Try to live in the present as much as possible, taking one day at a time. Also remember that your situation is what it is, and it is NOT what could have been. Everyone has gone through life doing the best they can – it’s just that sometimes people’s best falls far short of what makes them and others happy.
Think about the things in your life and your day that are good
I know, that kind of philosophical outlook is easier said than done when you are full of anger and sadness and hostility. So find your own thoughts that make you feel better. Think about something that’s good in your life today and hold onto that. Can you make people laugh? Are you in a job? Do you have kids you love? Do you have a valuable friendship? Lucky pants? Nice weather? No matter how small it is, something in your life is good today.
Ways to ease the pain
If the pain is too dreadful and you are finding it overwhelming, consider counselling or therapy. Just one session can make a difference and there are ways to access free therapy or at discounted rates if you are on a lower income. Otherwise, paying for therapy is very worthwhile if you can afford it.
Another way of getting your feelings out without costing you a penny is to write them down. Keep a notebook for scribbling down your feelings. If you keep a diary over a few months you will even be able to see your amazing progress from the devastation at the outset to the gradual restoration of your life and perspective. But even if you just write stuff down on a scrap of paper in the moment, that can be enormously helpful.
And just remember…..YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS
Finally, remind yourself that this is a moment in time and YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS. The Divorce Club is testimony to the fact that recovery is possible for everyone. The hundreds and thousands of people who have been through divorce who are fine now will all tell you that it gets easier. It takes time, but one day you’ll crack a joke about it with friends and realise that it’s not as bad as all that any more. Until then, you’ve got us and lots of brilliant resources to help you smile and give you some advice.
Lucy Davis is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and a TV Producer. She divorced 7 years ago. She is a passionate advocate for exploring the potential for change and creativity that can result from the trauma of divorce.