Divorce is a traumatic event. It undermines your sense of who you are, your belief about your safety and security, and your understanding about love, family, relationship, commitment, and certainty. The world as you have come to know and live it turns upside down. To understand this more closely, let’s examine what happens within you when you become divorced. Go back to the day of your wedding.
What were your thoughts? What were your beliefs about relationships, men, yourself as a partner, marriage, family, and so on? Commonly held beliefs are: “Marriage is forever”; “My marriage vows were sacred”; “Until death us do part”; and “As long we as we both shall live.” Your devotion to these phrases and beliefs began in childhood and, as for most women, became a part of the thoughts that defined your reality as you grew older. Many women grow up imagining a future in which they would be married to one person forever; that they would be honor-bound by their marital vows; and that they would live a life that was, realistically speaking, “happily ever after.” The impact of having to dissolve the images that have been a permanent fixture within and the psychic glue of your entire life may cause you to become disoriented, frightened, lost, and very confused. You may lose your psychological bearings and no longer seem to know who you are, what is important to you, and what you want from life. You are not overreacting to the pain of divorce-it is real and large. The trauma of divorce has seriously altered many of the fundamental ways that women have been used to thinking about themselves and their lives. This means that it is important to realize that moving ahead will take time and thoughtful rebuilding both inside yourself and in your external, day-to-day life. It will require that you regroup, rethink, and rebuild. This is challenging, yet assuredly possible. With the new knowledge that divorce is a traumatic event that affects the core of who you are psychologically, comes the realization that rebuilding must also occur at a deep level. Based on well-developed psychology models, you can create a road map to help navigate you through this transformation.
Other articles by Karen Kahn Wilson, Ed, D.