When you go through a divorce, you’ll find yourself in the middle of managing work, children, property settlements and co-parenting – and often, divorce guilt. It’s often not discussed, but divorce is often a great upheaval in your life, and you may find yourself suffering in the aftermath with divorce guilt. Depending on whether you initiated the divorce and how acrimonious the divorce has been, your levels of divorce guilt and pain may be different, but most people go through a grieving process, and it’s important to know that this is okay.
Divorce Guilt Is Real
In a recent situation, Kayla (not her real name), initiated a divorce from her husband. The religious group she was part of did not condone divorce, despite the fact that it had been an abusive marriage. She says she experienced terrible divorce guilt because she wanted to end the toxic relationship, and because she could see that her children would be treated differently because of her decision. The exclusion of her religious group added to the divorce guilt and pain she had already experienced.
Research has discovered that if your divorce is bitter, then the more guilt and pain you will experience. If you have children, you may feel guilty for breaking up their family. It’s common for most people to experience divorce guilt because they feel as if they’ve failed in their marriage, or that their vows have been broken. You may also experience divorce guilt and pain if your children struggle to adjust to their new normal, but rest assured that there is plenty you can do to help both you and your children heal.
While each case is different, researchers have bought together a list that may assist in overcoming divorce guilt and pain.
How To Deal With Your Divorce Guilt and Pain
Usually, professionals recommend treating the pain and guilt of divorce in the same way as grief. The first step is to recognise that there has been a loss and not try and avoid the fact that your marriage has ended. It’s normal to feel shock and denial, especially if you didn’t initiate the divorce. Even if you did, the shock of your new reality is likely to hit you at some point. However, it’s important not to remain in this stage.
The pain of divorce is normal, and accepting such a fact will help you move on faster. It is a normal way for you to realise that something needs fixing. Even if you filed for divorce, you may also be feeling grief and pain. However, you should also realise that your pain will lessen over time. As bad as you feel right now, as time continues, you will heal.
Spend your time healing. Some people prefer to sit at home and wallow in their sadness. However, turn that grief into energy! You might like to throw your efforts into your career to take up a new volunteering position. You might start training for a marathon or get that puppy you’ve always wanted. Find something that works for you. But remember, don’t feel upset if it is taking a while to heal. A broken finger can take a months to heal because of the constant use. Divorce is a major life event and a major source of stress, so give yourself plenty of time and permission to heal. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will happen eventually. Be patient with yourself in the meantime.
Don’t put off grieving. Pushing your feelings down deep inside never helps. Do not feel embarrassed at your sadness or grief. Instead, acknowledge it. Ask for help, talk to people and do things to better yourself. Feeling upset is a normal response to divorce and your body and mind needs to heal. You may not want to consider it, but forgiveness can help you move on. Instead of holding that grudge, put your energy into forgiving the person who has hurt you.
Also, begin to let go of what happened in the past. Yes, you were once in love with that person; but now it is time to move forward. Do not spend your time dwelling on what has happened in the past; instead, focus on how you can work on yourself in the future. However, avoid rebounds! A rebound relationship can end in disaster, because usually you are bringing all of your pain and grief into the next relationship. Instead, make sure you deal with the end of one relationship before you enter into another.
Our last tip is to find support. Whether it be from your mum, a professional mental health worker or a support group you found online; support can go a long way. Do not be afraid to ask for help.