Coping with a divorce is difficult - make sure you are talking to the right people for support.
I cringe whenever someone tries to comfort their friend who is going through a heart-wrenching divorce by lying to them. Even though the lie is told with love and without malice, it's still destructive. Without meaning to, these people are undermining their friend's chances of quickly healing from their divorce.
These people are telling their BFFs that it just takes time to heal from divorce. It doesn't sound all that bad, but it's the same as telling someone with an appendix ready to burst that it will just take time before the pain in their abdomen stops—completely inappropriate and potentially life-threatening.
Divorce is one of the most disruptive life events anyone can go through. It takes effort to get your life back in order. Although many choose to go it alone as they heal from a failed marriage, working with a divorce professional who is skilled at identifying and resolving divorce wounds can help you heal more completely.
Helping professionals who specialize in divorce can guide the complete healing of your divorce wounds because there's usually more to a divorce wound than at first appears.
One of the divorce wounds that appears rather quickly are relationship habits. Maybe you had the habit of taking care of your ex-spouse so they didn't have to do things like pay the bills or care for the kids in the middle of the night when they got sick. You might have even cared for your ex-spouse to the point where you scheduled all of their medical appointments and you ran all the family errands.
This über-caretaker relationship habit is one of the easiest to spot when a couple separates. The initial symptoms of this divorce wound are that the spouse who was taken care of will either feel completely lost or be asking their ex for help to accomplish the tasks they're not used to doing. The tricky part of healing this divorce wound is preventing the hidden wounds appearing later sometimes years later.
One of my former clients was an über-caretaker. When she and her ex separated, her relationship habit was brought to light because he kept asking her about financial details he had not had to deal with during their marriage. She told me her initial reaction was to help him understand what was going on financially without giving it a second thought. Then she got mad. First, she got mad at him for asking for her help instead of figuring it out for himself. Then, she got mad at herself for helping him!
Rather than seek help to heal her divorce wound, she chose to go it alone. She worked on developing boundaries with her ex and successfully dealt with the initial symptoms of her divorce wound.
After their divorce was final, she started dating. It wasn't too long before she was in a new relationship. At first everything was wonderful, as it usually is with a new relationship. But before too long her relationship-habit divorce wound started appearing. She found herself automatically doing things for her new partner that she used to do for her ex. In fact, her new relationship started to feel a lot like her failed marriage. It was when these hidden symptoms started appearing that she chose to work with me.
With our work together, she came face-to-face with her relationship habit and changed it. She was willing to put in the work and listen to the guidance of a divorce professional. The result for her is that she no longer feels the need to be the über-caretaker in any of her relationships. Her divorce wound is completely healed.
The need for concerted effort to heal even the initial symptoms of a divorce wound are exactly why your BFFs attempts to comfort you with the lie that time heals all wounds is so destructive. If all you did was wait for things to be better, at best you'll feel exactly the same a year from now. The more realistic result would be that you would wind up a bitter, resentful person. Using time to heal your divorce wounds is the only way you'll truly be able to move on.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Which of your divorce wounds have you been waiting on time to heal for you?
Believe it or not, denial is actually a helpful state — in the beginning. It keeps you from feeling or experiencing too much at once, but over time denial can become a way of waiting for time to heal you instead of putting in the effort it really takes. If you recognize that you have a divorce wound that you've not dealt with yet, chances are you're ready to deal with it now.
Is self-treating your best option?
Once you know you're ready to tackle one of your divorce wounds, seriously consider whether you want to go it alone. Many divorce wounds have initial and hidden symptoms. It's the hidden ones that no one can identify without the help of someone else.
Uncertain whether self-treating is your best option?
Then schedule some time to talk with a divorce professional—someone who can help you identify whether or not your divorce wounds have hidden symptoms that you're not yet aware of.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you're ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.