Though divorces do not necessarily have to be messy, for the most part, they can be quite painful for one or both parties involved. Once the dust has settled and the deed is done however, it helps to accept what has happened for starters and maybe even move on when you’re ready.
After going through a divorce however there are certain feelings and emotions that you need to actively process and let go of. You can process your feelings with a professional counsellor or therapist. Alternatively you could strive to do so yourself.
7 Things to Process and Put Away Post Divorce
We’re going to list and elaborate on seven things you could give some attention to post divorce and proceed to let go of when ready. Of course this does not mean you do so in the listed order. It just means when you can, when you feel ready, it would be healthy to! Here they are.
It is only natural to feel anger and resentment. This is particularly so if you were the one who got walked out on and the decision was sort of landed on you. Alternatively you might feel anger and resentment towards yourself. Either way, feel it, experience it but do not let it consume you. Focus on future joys and possibilities instead of looking over your shoulder with resentment and anger.
Oh this one is hard as it is complicated. Giving up on the love you had for someone can often be a long and slow process. This is true even if they have hurt you in some way. For your own good, it is however to divert those intimate emotions elsewhere. In this case preferably to yourself if not a hobby activity or even a pet. It also helps to process and put down the love you have for an ex-partner before you proceed to engage emotionally with someone else.
The love between you and your ex might very well survive and take a different form with different boundaries. It is the love you used to share that you would be wise to gently let go of.
Trinkets and Other Stuff
We often hold on to trinkets and things from our past relationships long after they are over. The old photos in the attic, a wedding ring maybe, a card from when you were young or a napkin with a note from your first date. Sweet as all these things may be, with the relationship and the bond you had not in the picture these might just get in the way.
It helps to either put them aside or discard them in any way you seem fit when you’re ready. Make a ritual of it if it helps!
Letting go of whose fault the divorce was and who could have been better is important. This is just a mental back and forth you could potentially have indefinitely. This is one of the things it helps to stop a little more actively than the others mentioned. Stop with the; who did what soon as you can and you’ll be happier for it. If you must mull over what happened, turn that ‘who did what’ into a ‘you did what’? The ‘you’ in question being yourself.
On the flip side, it also helps to let go of the feeling that you are responsible for someone. This is tricky as you will always want to look out for someone you cared about. That being said from an emotional health perspective, it makes sense to free yourself of the feeling that you are still responsible for an ex partners physical, financial or emotional wellbeing. This is important particularly in the early days post-divorce.
If you feel you want to pick things up a year or two down the line, there are ways to and that is another discussion to be had. For now however, understand you are no longer responsible unless you have legal obligations like child support which it makes sense to follow through on.
Just as you aren’t responsible for your ex, they aren’t responsible for you. It is important to stop expecting the kind of treatment and attention you were privy to prior to your divorce. Things will change and they might change a lot. Lowering your expectations down to nothing only save you from further pain and emotional suffering.
Last but not least, any kind of heart break is sad. Divorce can be a lot of heartbreak with added legalities and stress. This could really turn your world upside down however it is important to make an active effort to process the grief and put it away when you can.
Letting go of the things above eventually will help you heal, grow and move on with your life in a healthy way. If you feel it’s hard to do on your own that is normal. Those in Palo Alto can give us a shout for post-divorce therapy, couple counselling and help with depression among other things.
If you’re not situated close by but know you could use the support, there are therapists the world over who can help you work through you emotions in a healthy and holistic manner. All you need to do is get out there and find them!
Azizeh E. Rezaiyan is a therapist with over two decades of experience with individuals and couples alike. Possessing a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, among other qualifications. Her areas of specialty include marriage counseling, sex therapy and therapy for male depression to name a few.