The Powerful Emotions of Divorce
August 20, 2020
If this is your first major loss, as divorce often is, the intensity of the emotions may take you by surprise. There isn’t much in life that prepares us for the divorce journey.
Many people think only of the legal aspects when considering divorce. How hard can that be? You file the papers, wait the allotted time, the judge signs the final orders, and you’re done, right? Sort of. It may seem like a legal process with some emotional components, but in actuality, divorce is much more an emotional experience with some legal aspects to it.
The Two Big Ones: Grief and Anger
Grief and anger are two powerful emotions present throughout the divorce process. They will show up intermittently throughout. In the beginning, one or the other will be stronger. Thankfully, they don’t show up with equal intensity at the same time. Working through the emotions to a healthy completion is important. The collaborative process assists, rather than exasperates such working.
Woven in and around anger and grief, depending on circumstances, are other major emotions such as loneliness, guilt, rejection, anxiety, shame, and fear, making for a difficult emotional soup. Working through these emotions brings relief. It can also bring discouragement when you find yourself looping back through emotions you thought you’d left behind. There is a dance or orchestration between emotions as healing takes place. It is not a linear process.
Emotions as Guides
Ultimately, in order to move on with our lives, we need to disengage from our former partner and our former life. Our emotions are both our guides and our gauge as to how we’re doing at this. We can’t handle experiencing all of the emotions at one time, so our psyche chooses the strongest emotion in any given moment to concentrate on. When that emotion is at a manageable level, it will move on to the next one that needs attention. They play off of each other throughout the divorce process, intensifying and calming as you work through them or as situations change.
Honor yourself as you turn your attention inward—your emotions need your attention now. You will honor yourself by acknowledging that this is happening, by knowing your needs and tending to them. It is not selfish to take care of yourself.
Anger, grief, your self-worth, and how much you’ve disengaged from your former partner and are creating your new life are all linked together. This offers a good gauge for progress in your process. It is unfortunate but true that you just have to be with your emotions for a time. They do eventually settle. Having a collaborative facilitator involved in your process helps you understand what is normal, how to present your best self, and offers support as you navigate this very difficult time in your life.
By Jeannine Lee
Collaborative Divorce Facilitator