After divorce, it is common to experience feelings of shame. That shame could arise from multiple sources, including feeling that you let your spouse or children down or because you are worried about what others may think of you.
Regardless of the reason underlying it, shame resulting from divorce can result in you making decisions that may not be to your benefit, decisions you base on emotion rather than logic. So, if you are experiencing feelings of shame due to your divorce, you may want to consider taking steps to alleviate it. Here are a few ideas to get started.
1. Seek professional help.
Divorce is traumatic. It can also bring to the surface past trauma. Therefore, your first order of business should be to find a mental health professional to support you emotionally during this time. It may be one person or more than one person. Sometimes, depending on your needs, it is necessary to have both a therapist and a psychiatrist who can also prescribe medication.
Not only can a mental health professional provide you with the emotional support you need, but this individual can also keep your legal fees down. How? By being a sounding board for your emotional issues and a source of guidance for you. That way, you will have little incentive to take such matters to your attorney, whose job is to lawyer for you.
Although the right attorney will exhibit compassion and be able to empathize with your situation, their primary purpose in your divorce is to represent your interests as they pertain to your case. A lawyer is also generally not a trained mental health professional. Consequently, you do not want to direct your valuable resources to an individual who may not be best suited to support you emotionally.
2. Forgive yourself.
Individuals going through a divorce often blame themselves for circumstances within their control and even those beyond it. The problem with self-blame is that, at some point, it doesn’t do anyone, especially the person engaging in the behavior, any good.
If you blame yourself for your divorce, figure out why you are and then see what lessons you can glean from it. Again, a mental health professional can assist, helping you to eventually move forward.
3. Forgive others.
In the same vein, forgiving others is also critical for moving on with your life after a divorce. When you continually blame others, the one who suffers the most or at all is you. Blaming others for circumstances within and outside their control will do nothing to change the past.
The best part of a divorce is the fresh start it can afford you. However, that fresh start will not be within reach until you can let go of the emotions that do not serve you. If you have difficulty with this step in your healing, a mental health professional can likewise assist.
4. Practice gratitude.
A positive mindset, especially following a divorce, is worth its weight in gold. However, that gold has to begin with you. Meaning, your ability to recognize the gifts you already have, despite any challenging situations which may have served to conceal them in the present.
If you are having trouble identifying those aspects of your life which used to bring you joy, set a pen to paper. Consider devoting time to sitting in a quiet space and thinking about what you have from before your divorce or as a result of it. As discussed earlier, opportunity is one result of divorce to be thankful for, as are many others, including children if you have them, a special pet, a friend, or a relative.
Make your list, visualize it, then say thank you for it. You may be surprised at how empowering saying thanks can be. Sometimes it is in the simplest moments that beauty exists.
5. Find your tribe.
Especially after a divorce and flying solo, you may need some extra support that you may not have previously. So first, acknowledge those areas and then seek out the help you need.
That help can come from multiple places: a mental health professional, clergy, family, friends, and your community. So use your voice and never feel ashamed for asking for even the tiniest bit of help because a little bit can go a long way. Those ways can include a ride home for your children, babysitting, advice about a résumé, or anything you believe will make your life easier today or in the future.
As you will discover, most people will be more than happy to lend a hand. But be sure not to forget to do the same for others whenever you are able. Being a part of a tribe means contributing. This, too, can be most gratifying and boost your self-esteem if it is lacking.
6. Accept what you cannot change.
Some situations are just beyond control, but the key is recognizing that. Acceptance is freeing. Letting go and then moving forward is a way to nod to the past without holding onto it and remaining stagnated.
Remember, acceptance is not failure. Instead, it is a sign of your growth.
7. Look toward the future.
Stop what you are doing and give yourself a hand because you have already come this far. You got through your divorce — the divorce planning, the demands placed on you during the divorce process, and the immediate aftermath of your divorce.
Now comes the fun part, which is rebuilding. It will not be easy, that I can pretty much promise. Nothing of value usually is.
That said, there is joy in hard work and seeing the fruits of your labor. Whether it is redecorating your existing space post-divorce, moving to a new home and making it your own, starting a nest egg, returning to school, revisiting your career goals, or becoming a positive co-parent, your post-divorce life is now within reach. The only question left is when you will take that first step to grab for it?
Find a Seattle family lawyer to help you let go of divorce shame and move forward.
At Elise Buie Family Law Group, our team of compassionate and empathetic family law attorneys knows how critical having a positive mindset is when preparing for a divorce, during the divorce process, and once the dust settles. That is why, in addition to our legal services, we offer copious resources about how to build your best life post-divorce. Among them are co-parenting education, estate planning, and blended families. Contact us at our Seattle office today.