The Normal Stages of Divorce and How to Ease Past Them with Mindfulness

The Normal Stages of Divorce and How to Ease Past Them with Mindfulness

By Dr. Scott Silverman
Published March 19, 2017

Divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences one goes through in life. Some of the stages you may go through are:

Denial: This is when you wake up in the middle of the night and forget about all that is going on, and then it hits you like a ton of bricks that your life is in upheaval. At times throughout the day you forget and even have visions of a reconciliation or good times past. Or someone asks how you’re doing and you simply reply “fine.” This defense mechanism is normal and just your mind’s way of protecting you from becoming emotionally overwhelmed. However, as a long term solution denial will prevent you from moving on and you must face reality to move to the next stage.

Anger: This is the stage that doubles as blame. It’s all my husband’s or wife’s fault and if it’s not theirs maybe it’s actually my fault for marrying them in the first place. The lazy partner I still have won’t even pay attention to the house falling apart anymore or won’t even discuss finances for the divorce. This is the stage where we often let out our pent up emotions after we move past denial. Understand that often beneath the anger lies the real issue. This could be fear, uncertainty, frustration and sadness. Remember, your emotions are real and acceptable, but it’s your behavioral reactions that can cause more trouble.

Bargaining: Sometimes when there is infidelity or one spouse initiates the divorce, they or the other spouse may try to bargain back into the relationship. “I’m so sorry for cheating, I will do whatever it takes to repair the damage” or “I’m so sorry I don’t love you anymore, you can have the house.” There is a lot of guilt in this stage but let’s not forget that the underlying unhappiness is still there. That’s why many people try again and get back together so they can decrease anger and denial and, although maybe stay unhappy, at least live a predictable life.

Depression: Often during divorce underlying our anger is a depressed state. This is where we lie in bed a lot and don’t feel happy anymore. Negative thoughts such as “how will I survive financially” or “I’m a lousy parent to my children” are hitting you most of the day. We may seek therapy, take medication or do whatever it takes to try to survive. It’s crucial to have a support system of friends, professional help and people in similar situations.

Acceptance: Finally, the day comes where our divorce does not consume every thought and moment of our lives. Yes, the thoughts, anger and depressed feelings pop up but not nearly as much. This is the stage where we say, “hey, I have a new and exciting life ahead of me”. You may even go on Match. com or to a bar with friends and have some hope. You have now learned to accept the situation you are in. Although you may still be having normal feelings of sadness or regret you are able to live with them. You are able to live your life.

So now that you know the stages of divorce, if you are stuck in anger, there is a wonderful way you can learn to help yourself through this.

Let’s say you are listening to your spouse’s voice give you yet another set of lies. You feel your temperature rise, adrenaline begin to make your heart pound, and your body instinctively prepare for a fight. STOP! Take a deep breath letting your lungs fill completely with oxygen filled air. Listen to the silence calm your voice, simply observing your reactions. You just used mindfulness meditation to find inner tranquility during a difficult moment.

What is mindfulness meditation?

Jon Kabat-Zinn describes Mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Being mindful is being open to our experiences, pleasant or unpleasant, without ruminating or rejecting. Instead of trying to escape our feelings we learn how to be present with whatever is happening. We begin to understand how our minds operate and see ourselves in entirety.

Mindfulness is proven to reduce stress, emotional pain and pain intensity, as well as help us self-regulate our emotions.

How and where can you learn or practice mindfulness meditation?

There are many books available such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction by Jon Kabat-Zinn. If you would like to become involved in a more experiential setting, I offer Divorce Support Groups that incorporate mindfulness or mindfulness-based stress reduction workshops. This is in addition to individual divorce counseling.

Contact the Author

Dr. Scott Silverman
150 Broadhollow Road, Suite 310
Melville, NY. 11747
(516) 428-4429
[email protected]
www.therapylongisland.com

Tomorrow Is A Long Time

Tomorrow is a Long Time

By Carl Palatnik
Published February 1, 2017

Tomorrow Is A Long Time is one of Bob Dylan’s earliest songs about love and loss.  In it, he describes a profound feeling of loneliness.  He knows life goes on irrespective of what might have happened to him.  He doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring, but he realizes he will now be facing things alone.  When he looks at his reflection in the water, it reminds him that his lover is no longer there.  He misses hearing her voice, he misses hearing her footsteps walking alongside him and he misses hearing her pounding heart lying next to him in bed.

Have you experienced feelings of loneliness?  What other emotional issues have you had to face?  Did you do something or did somerthing happen that helped you deal with or overcome these feelings?  Did something positive come out of your experience that others might be able to learn or benefit from?  If you think your story might be helpful someone, please send it to us at [email protected] for publication consideration in the Making Lemonade diary.

If you have other suggestions for the Making Lemonade diary, please also let us know.

Below are Dylan’s lyrics to “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”:

If today was not an endless highway
If tonight was not a crooked trail
If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all
Yes and only if my own true love was waitin’
And if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin’
Yes, only if she was lyin’ by me
Then I’d lie in my bed once again

I can’t see my reflection in the waters
I can’t speak the sounds that show no pain
I can’t hear the echo of my footsteps
Or remember the sound of my own name
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin’
And if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin’
Yes and only if she was lyin’ by me
Then I’d lie in my bed once again

There’s beauty in the silver, singin’ river
There’s beauty in the sunrise in the sky
But none of these and nothing else can touch the beauty
That I remember in my true love’s eyes
Yes and only if my own true love was waitin’
I could hear her heart a softly poundin’
Yes and only if she was lyin’ by me
Then I’d lie in my bed once again

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