No matter what the circumstances surrounding a divorce, there are bound to be an enormous range of emotions. Fear, rage, sadness, guilt, or even elation and liberation are all normal, and likely to shift over time, if not in a few hours from now.
At times, it can be really difficult to process these feelings with friends and family, especially if they have never experienced divorce. It may feel as if they are taking sides, or can’t be objective. They probably never really knew the full extent to which your marriage was in trouble in the first place. And quite frankly, do you want the people who knew you as a couple to know the business of your marriage? It’s also common to feel somewhat isolated from your community or even stigmatized by your divorce. These feelings can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as isolation or substance abuse.
For women, ending a marriage can come with it’s own set of challenges. Especially if there are children involved, or you have been envisioning children in your future. Alternating holidays and sharing your children with your ex-spouses new girlfriend/ boyfriend may bring up some pretty tough feelings. Women are also more likely to experience financial hardships that are a result of divorce. Naturally, this can serve as a major source of anxiety surrounding your new reality. The good news: women have a natural tendency to lean on other women for support, and that will be one of your greatest assets in these moments.
For all of these reasons, finding the right divorce support group can be the best thing that you do for yourself as you make this transition. These groups address specific themes that occur for most people in divorce:
- Grief and loss
- Loss of trust/Feeling of betrayal
- Loss of self-esteem
- Feelings of abandonment
- Accepting responsibility for your part in the failure of the marriage
- Rebuilding support networks
- How to move on?
Supportive therapy groups can be extremely useful for helping people unpack their feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Unlike individual therapy, there is a sense of community that can emerge in the group that will serve to remind you, week after week, that you are not alone — and that you do not need to be alone as you navigate your new life. Also, there is the added benefit of learning from others who are in different stages of the divorce process. You get a window into the future- or the flip slide – a reminder of how far you have come. At the very least, your presence in the group is helping others to feel a part of something. Being a support for others, in it’s own way, is actually quite healing.
Whether you are the person who asked for the divorce, or the person who is facing a divorce you didn’t see coming, it’s a major life transition. It’s painful, it’s complicated, and sometimes very messy. You owe it to yourself to make meaning out of this experience. Stay connected with those around you who truly want to support you. Use this opportunity to get back in touch with the woman you were before you were someone’s wife. Meeting new people, independent from your married life is a great way to find your way back to your truest self. Finding a group of women who can relate to what you are experiencing might be the road to get you there.
For more information about transitioning after the end of a relationship, Amy Mazur, LMSW, Chamin Ajjan Psychotherapy or the Life After Divorce Group call 917.476.9381 or CLICK HERE.