Important but Painful Realizations about Divorce

MAN-DIVORCE

Important but Painful Realizations about Divorce

Are you going through an unexpected divorce? This can be a devastating experience. Whether it’s being constantly reminded of your spouse or having trouble adjusting to single life, lots of people have made these important but painful realizations about divorce and come out the other end stronger. Though this advice may sound hollow or cliché, it may be exactly what you need to hear to help you get back on the road to independence, recovery and contentment.

Just remember that following a divorce should be a period of grieving. But things can only improve over time. In the beginning it can be an emotional roller coaster. But once things level out you do feel a little bit better every day. If you have children with your ex, you are going to have to get used to the situation. Don’t let seeing them again open old wounds. Find a healthy way to interact. Put on your best face and move forward. Find healthy ways to help yourself heal and feel better; exercise, meditation, or talking to a good friend are all good ways. Alcohol, junk food and locking yourself up for months at a time, not so much.

You’re going to be okay. This is a mantra for a lot of divorced people. But if you repeat it to yourself enough times, have enough talks with friends, cry, and reconnect with yourself, though the pain is immense in the beginning, you start to know that your happiness doesn’t begin or end with a divorce. It begins or ends with you, who you are, who you choose to be and the choices you make. Realize how better off you are without that person in your life. Is this the kind of relationship you want? Of course not. You need someone who is loving, supportive, appreciative and who will be there for you no matter what. And if you are reading this it’s obvious your ex wasn’t that person.

You can view it as the end of a marriage. Or you can view it as a new beginning. If someone tells you they are there for you to talk, believe them and use them. It will really help you. Gather your network around you. You need all the support you can get. When people tell you their sorry, understand that they are on your side. They don’t know what to say exactly. But they want to comfort you. If they say this, believe them. For more advice read, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser.

Science Helps with Breakups

heartbreak

Science Helps with Breakups

We’ve all been there: the week in sweat pants, balled up tissues on the couch, a book of bad poetry in our lap, gallons of empty ice cream cartons all around (wine bottles too) and tearful moments wondering how you’ll ever get over the loss. Breakups are one of the most painful moments in life. Certainly wallowing in misery is not one the most healthful thing you can do. Reflection on the other hand can help the healing process along. That’s according to one study published in the in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. The difference between helpful reflection and wallowing is the point of your ruminations. How long has it taken place? Are your thoughts severe? If you are reliving moments over and over again, just making yourself sick then it’s time to stop and shake yourself out of this funk. If you are looking at it in a somewhat detached manner, to see where mistakes were made, learning about yourself and vowing to do better in the future, congratulations; you are truly helping to facilitate your own healing, and making sure your future endeavors in the realm of love will not be fraught with misfortune and peril.

Graduate student Grace Larson at Northwestern University conducted the study. She found that a period of asking one’s self questions and deep reflection as she told NPR, “…helped them develop a stronger sense of who they were as single people.” But this isn’t the only science-backed method to employ after a breakup. In fact, there is a rather impressive body of evidence on how to recover. We say we have a physical ache in our hearts and that’s literally true, according to one 2011 study. Participants underwent brain scans while gazing upon a photo of their ex and suffering a breakup. Neurologists found that the same areas where pain is received lit up when the person was longing for their lost love. Another study suggested Tylenol might help relieve such pain. A breakup affects you in other ways physically too, not just being heartsick. When people are in a long-term relationship their biological rhythms synch up. When you break up with someone and are living alone your heart rate, sleep pattern, appetite and even your body temperature is out of sync and must readjust. That means post-breakup, instead of letting yourself go you should go out of your way to take good care of yourself.

Once your body has readjusted, it’s time to take stock of your psychological state. After a breakup your sense of self and identity is in flux. Reestablishing a sense of who you are and what you want out of life is the key to moving on, experts say. Some calm reflection on the relationship is in order. But avoid dwelling upon it. Adaptation is the best route. But adapting to a new environment sans significant other is not easy. A good portion of our lives revolves around our partner. When they are gone a portion of our life goes with them. The good news is we also have a tremendous opportunity to learn from our mistakes and make plans for our future, one better suited for us. One study using brain scans likened breakup pain to cocaine withdrawal. This may be why some of us act a little bit nuts after we and our lover have split. Just ride it out. Most research finds that the first estimate of how long it takes to get over a breakup is far too long. In the aftermath, when the emotions have cleared most people feel they’ve learned something, that the experience helped them grow and made them more goal oriented. That’s according to a 2007 study. People who survive a tough breakup come out stronger in the end, find purpose in life and learn to move on their own power. What may feel like a painful extraction at first turns out to be liberating. For more pick up a copy of, Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott, JD Med.

Does your Ex make you Jealous?

jealous

Does your Ex make you Jealous?

When you’ve been together with someone you care about and you break up, it’s hard to pivot away from seeing them as yours and instead seeing them as someone you’re not associated with anymore. But that painful transition becomes compounded when your ex moves on before you’ve had a chance to fully heal. Don’t hasten through when you aren’t ready. But don’t wallow in misery either. Some people reflect on it over and over, making the heart sicker than it needs to be. Instead, let the grieving take its course but focus on healing. Stop focusing on what your ex is doing and focus on what you are doing. Learn how to let go.

Whether they are enraptured in a rebound relationship with a would-be superstar or are touring the Vegas Strip, ask yourself what it really matters what they are doing? Should your focus really be on them? If they are going out on a rebound or partying up a storm, it shouldn’t matter. And what does it really say about them? Are they really emotionally secure or are they making grand gestures to show how “over” you they are, in effect showing a deeper side of how not over you they really are? If they were so over you why would they go through all of this trouble to show that they were?

Sometimes we focus on our ex as a target for the horrible emotions a breakup puts you through. We want an outlet and hating them becomes a good one. But it can also become an obsession and take away your own power, and your life. Your goal is to rejuvenate yourself. Become the person you’ve always wanted to be. Make this a transformative experience. Learn from it so you can make your next relationship ten thousand times better than the last and you ten thousand times better than the person you were.

Sometimes you aren’t ready to accept that things are over. But that is strictly part of the grieving process. Even at its worst you know brighter days are ahead. The pain subsides little by little each day, wearing away like a season until that season is gone. Let it go naturally of its own accord. Explore where the hurt really comes from. Is your ego bruised? Was it really this person? Was there some other deep seeded thing that surfaced in this relationship? Explore the root of your jealousy and use it to find out what issues and baggage you brought to the table, how you can own those, and release them from it. Through this transformative experience, that of self-discovery, you will ultimately become free. For more advice read, How to Stop Being Jealous and Insecure: Overcome Insecurity and Relationship Jealousy by Michele Gilbert.

Having a Guy Friend Helps after a Split

guy

Having a Guy Friend Helps after a Split

What’s more painful than a breakup? Few things in life fit that description and it’s usually when you’re eyeing a casket or a terrible diagnosis. It happens more than once to most of us. Some aren’t as painful as others. There are lots that seem like a relief. Still when you’re a female there are things that can help you get over a breakup. Not just wine or a pint of Ben& Jerry’s. Having friends and family around can help a lot. What’s really helpful is having a guy friend around after a split.

Sure lots of girls want to verbally bash men. When you’re with your girlfriends go ahead and do that to your heart’s content. At least you can get all those negative emotions out of you, and feel validated when your friends do the same. But this ‘all men are pigs’ attitude may seep in.  It can then hurt your relationship with the opposite sex and when you’re ready, it may even set your dating life back. No guy wants to go out on a date with a woman who is closed and highly suspicious of him, particularly if she’s only suspicious due to his sex. What is she doing there to begin with? This closed attitude may then inhibit the next stage of your love life. Also, women are more emotional. But after the initial grieving phase, how many times can you watch the same romantic sappy comedy? How many times can you hear about the one who stole your friend’s heart and got away?

The benefit of having a male friend around is different. First, he reminds you that all hope is not lost. There are good guys out there, guys that are worth dating and being with. In the short term this thought may not be as comforting as calling all men dogs. But in the long run it will be much healthier for your psyche. The next benefit is that he isn’t interested in having a pity party. After a while your girlfriends may not either. In fact, they’ll sidle away and make excuses. Instead, he’s going to march into your room, give you a sadder story, then rip you from your cold den of solitude and make you go out, to the movies, a great restaurant, a club for a night of dancing, a bar, pool, darts and laughs or something else to forget your troubles. He’ll turn the tables on you instead of letting you wallow in misery. You’ll be able to leave that stage behind you and finally progress into the woman you are meant to be; a strong, self-loving independent woman who is ready for the next adventure of her life.

Some women, those who generally can separate sex and love, also have a little tryst with a cute male friend that they don’t want to have a long term relationship with. It validates them and helps boost self-esteem. But don’t do it if it’s a mistake, or either of you have feelings the other doesn’t reflect back. Otherwise, make sure to interact with your male friends during a breakup, too. It will help tremendously. For more advice read, The Single Woman’s Sassy Survival Guide: Letting Go & Moving On by Mandy Hale.

How to be Healthy throughout a Divorce

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How to be Healthy throughout a Divorce

It’s estimated that 40-50% of marriages end in divorce today. Though many are civil, they are all uncomfortable, draining and even painful. Then there are the problems of moving, adapting to a new financial situation, transitioning to being single again, and, for many, single parenthood. Helping children to get used to a new lifestyle is tumultuous as well. Depression, loneliness, misplaced anger, insecurity and anxiety can envelope you at this time. Lots of people let themselves go when they are going through a divorce, and wallow in these negative emotions. A recent Gallup poll found that those who are divorced scored lower on well-being measures including physical and emotional well-being. Keeping yourself healthy throughout a divorce and afterward can feel very challenging. This is especially true for women. Even after a divorce women have a higher risk of suffering from depression, making it crucial to know how to cope with negative emotions in a positive way. So how do you stay healthy throughout a divorce and in its aftermath? First, don’t wallow in isolation. Lots of people feel that they want to be alone. But then they spend too much time alone and this isolation begins to wear on them, or exacerbate their problems. Sometimes it has to do with pride. But there is no shame in reaching out for help and support. It takes a really strong person to do so actually.

Reach out to friends, family, mentors and other people who are close to you during this period. They will be there for you with open arms, advice, and comfort. Sometimes we just need someone to listen and validate how we are feeling. Let them know what form the comfort should take and they will be more than happy to oblige. It can also be beneficial to reach out to divorce support groups in your area. DivorceCare is one such group, but there are many others. When you get divorced it seems that so many priorities get in the way that your needs settle way down at the bottom of the list and hardly ever get addressed. Getting enough sleep should be a priority however. Preparing and eating healthy meals, getting enough exercise and making sure your emotional needs are met should also be on the docket and not at the bottom of the list, but near the top. You, your children, your coworkers and your family and friends are counting on you to be the best you you can be. They can’t make it without you. You are an essential part of their lives. But don’t just do it for them, do it for yourself. The healthier the lifestyle you commit to, especially during a divorce, the better off you will be and feel in the long run. Lastly, don’t perpetuate the feeling bad cycle. Everyone needs a chance to mourn. But if you are going to be sullen all the time people at first will be sympathetic, but if too much time has passed they will begin to put space between you and them. Find the positives in your life. Look for moments of joy. Laugh. Be lighthearted and find the positives in situations. Choose to be happy. It won’t be easy but it will be right. For more help with divorce recovery read, The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith by John W. James and Russell Friedman.