RECOVERING FROM DIVORCE HEARTBREAK

Divorce can set us into a tailspin that we never imagined was possible. From obsessive thoughts to destructive, hopeless beliefs, the post-breakup landscape is often overwhelming and confusing. “How will I ever recover”? “Will I ever be able to love again”? “My life is ruined”. “I am too old/ugly/fat/unlovable to find love”. “Something must be wrong with me”. “I’ll never feel happy again”. These are some of the damaging messages that are most unhelpful in healing a broken heart. It’s easy to get stuck in obsession, overanalyzing, blame, revenge, denial, and despair.

When intimate connection with a spouse is lost, the process of healing our hearts and souls begins. This takes time and often requires a courageous look at how we continue to harm ourselves with thoughts and behaviors that are not serving us well. Finding new ways to cope and think can lead to acceptance and openness to living a richer and more fulfilling life.

Here are four strategies to help in the healing journey:

QUIETING THE MIND:

Through mediation and visualization, we can train our minds to release intrusive thoughts and come back to a place of serenity and grounding. Better known methods of meditation include yoga and audio meditations in which a guide’s voice offers direction. These can be found on audiobooks at the library, purchased in stores or online, or found on www.youtube.com. Especially helpful are those that include body scans as they offer an opportunity to see where we hold stress in our bodies.

Self-guided meditations involve creating a quiet space, free of interruptions, where you can close your eyes and be still. One example is to picture yourself enveloped in the unconditional love of your Higher Power and/or the people, both living and deceased, who love and support you unconditionally. Imagine that your heart is being healed by this great love, which is available to you always. A love that is constant and empowering. Another method is to visualize yourself as a child, hurt and fearful, and to speak to your younger self with wisdom and reassurance. Imagine yourself as a soothing parent speaking to your inner child with support, love, and guidance. Statements like “you are so loveable,” “all will be well,” “this is temporary,” and ” you are strong and resilient” will offer comfort and peace.

CHANGING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS:

Often, we are not cognizant of the destructive tapes that play in our heads. Our mood is directly related to out thoughts. Here are some examples of how negative vs. positive thoughts. As you read them, become aware of the feelings you have in response to the thoughts.

“I’ll never love again.” vs. “I am loveable.”

“He/she is a horrible person.” vs. “We all have struggles.”

“He/she doesn’t love me.” vs. “I am loved by many people.”

“I hate him/her.” vs. “I can choose forgiveness.”

“My life is horrible.” vs. “I am grateful for….”

“I have nothing.” vs. “I have what I need.”

What we sometimes forget is that we DO have control over our thoughts. It takes practice to form good habits in positive thinking. A useful tool is keeping a daily gratitude journal.

ACCEPTING OUR FEELINGS

Feelings are not right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. Rather than fighting our emotions, we need to allow them to run their course. That means having a good cry, allowing anger, and feeling fear. These are emotions that can be uncomfortable and unwanted but they must be felt in order to arrive at our destination (wherever that is)! Permit them to exist, honor them, and release them. And remember that feelings are temporary. They ALWAYS run their course.

LOVINGKINDNESS

Perhaps the most important (and sometimes one of the last) tasks in healing our broken hearts is the practice of lovingkindness toward ourselves and the person who has harmed us. The objective is to “let go” with grace, acceptance, and wishes of goodness and happiness. Directed at yourself, the message is, “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.” When directed at the person who has hurt you, the message is, “May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.” Although these statements may seem utterly impossible when your heart is broken by betrayal and hurt, try it anyhow. You may find that these are the words that will allow the miracle of healing to occur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deirdre Shaffer

Deirdre Hally Shaffer, LCSW is a graduate of Siena College (BSW) and Rutgers University (MSW). With almost 30 years of professional experience woking with individuals and couples in transition, she maintains a private practice in Doylestown PA. Her specialties include relationship enhancement, divorce recovery, anxiety and mood disorders, co-parenting, PTSD, and grief counseling.

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