You have a piece of paper that says you are divorced. Finances, property, kids have all been hammered out. You are now free to live your own life.
However, for some reason it still feels like you’re emotionally tied to your former spouse. The fighting, frustrations, disappointments have continued. It’s the same old same old. You thought that getting divorced would stop all this, and now you see it hasn’t. What is going on?
Simple: you have not achieved the Emotional Divorce… yet. I say yet because although challenging and painful to do, it can be accomplished. The main requirement is to look within. This is where the Emotional Divorce is accomplished.
After my divorce, I was still angry, frustrated, and resentful. The same problems I had in the marriage were still happening in my post-divorce life. I felt captive, not free. It was when I decided to look inward that the seeds of the Emotional Divorce were planted, and then my emotional freedom began to grow.
All I can say is, it was hard and painful. Sometimes I really did not like what I saw about myself, which was the most difficult to undertake. However, I made a commitment, dialed up my courage, and kept on going.
Here are three key steps you can take to start the process of achieving an Emotional Divorce:
3 Steps to Take to Achieve an Emotional Divorce
Reflecting is looking back, not going back into your past. There is a distinct difference between these two ways. Reflecting is firmly rooted in today as an observer, reviewing your past. Reflecting is not thinking about your past and reliving it. Reflecting is to stand back from the emotions, feelings, and judgments in order to discern or recognize the facts in order to develop a new perspective. To reflect is to look for the truth and acknowledge things about yourself or others that are difficult to admit. Reflection brings clarity, understanding, and balance. It also involves an element of inner resolution in order to step forward in your life.
While reflecting back on my marriage, I played a movie in my head, pretending I was sitting in a theater seat. I saw on the big screen two needy people, one who was silent (my ex) and one who was vocal in anger (me). It became clear how we each reacted and acted through the lens of our neediness, creating an unhappy marriage.
If you are thinking I am to blame, belittling, or being defensive in any way, that is not it. It is not punishment. Accountability is all about taking ownership of your thinking, feelings, and actions. It a nonjudgmental look at how you internally operate and then making a choice to do something about it. You come with your belief systems, experiences, and viewpoint. You created your viewpoint, your triggers, basically your reality. Accountability is you see it, you own it, you choose, you act.
After I got divorced, I looked to my former husband to step in and help with picking up the kids after work. He was closer, I was farther away. He rarely came through when we were married, and yet I kept thinking and expecting it to change. I experienced the same feelings of anger and resent. I finally stopped blaming my ex and took ownership of my part in it. I was the one with all those unrealistic expectations, beliefs, anger, resentment — I owned that. I chose to accept that I needed to change, not him. I felt freer for the first time in a long time.
This is all about steps or movement, better known as doing something. An action is the result of your thinking and feeling. You think, you feel, you act. Taking the same external action step when something isn’t working and expecting a different outcome is self-sabotage at its best. New and different action is required to get the result that you desire. Consider new action as a way of solidifying your new and different perspective, which paves the way to your Emotional Divorce.
After I took ownership of my thinking, I took different external action steps with my former husband. I stopped asking him to pick up the kids from day care and asked other people instead. New action. I decided to put an end to waiting to be reimbursed for his portion of day care, gymnastics, karate, etc. I informed all those places to set up separate billing for each of us. LOTS of new action. The feeling of freedom began to soar.
An Emotional Divorce is an important piece of the entire divorce process. It gives you emotional freedom from your emotional pain and problems. Basically, they don’t change, you change. It is the springboard in creating the new and happy you.
Sharon Roth-Lichtenfeld is a BFA and Certified Professional Life Coach (CPC), and yes, she was divorced once. She knows the struggles, the pain, the new joy, and new life that you can have. Sharon assists individuals in building the internal emotional divorce to gain emotional freedom. Visit www.goodgriefcoaching.com to learn more.