Going through a divorce is much like going through a tornado. First, we’re in the eye of the storm. Everything around us is pure chaos. We want to run, but we can’t move. Then, a gust of wind picks us up, and before we know it, we don’t know which way is up anymore.
A divorce will change your entire life even if you’re the instigator. Extracting someone from the tapestry of your life who has been an intricate part of it for so long is difficult, complicated, and emotionally gutting.
Sure, we all experience grief, loss, and, ultimately, divorce in our own privately miserable way. And yet, the emotional stages of divorce are pretty much the same for everyone.
1. Denial — Everything Is Fine
Denial is the first of five emotional stages of divorce. It’s one of the most potent coping mechanisms our minds have at their disposal. And let me tell you, my mind really utilized its ability to pretend that nothing is wrong.
We may think that our relationship is just going through a phase. It will blow over sooner or later, right? Alternatively, you may already have a distant relationship with your partner.
Therefore, a divorce won’t even change your life as much as other people keep telling you it will, right? It’s just a legal hoop to jump through! You’re practically divorced already; it’s no big deal.
Oh, how wrong you are.
2. Anger — It’s Bashing Time
After we finally stop pretending that nothing is happening around us comes the anger phase. It’s when both parties play the blame game. We accuse the other (to their face or behind their back) of various atrocities.
During the anger phase, we’re fueled by strong emotions. Rage burns deep within us because we’re watching years of hard work go down the drain. When I was going through my divorce, I blamed my ex for everything.
The divorce wasn’t my fault. I did my best, but my partner didn’t even try. What’s more, everything that went wrong after the divorce was also their fault. I was so angry I half expected to see steam coming out of my ears!
If you ask me, anger was the most cathartic phase, even if it was somewhat violent. Don’t worry; you’ll deflate soon, and then comes the dreaded bargaining.
3. Bargaining — I’ll Give It Another Go
When we finally accept that a change is coming, we’re willing to do whatever it takes to stop it. Change is scary, and divorce is a horrifying prospect that, in our minds, leads to nothing but loneliness. So we’ll do anything to stop it.
When I was going through a divorce, during the bargaining stage, I was ready to do anything it took so that I didn’t end up growing old and dying alone.
4. Depression — What’s the Point?
The penultimate stage of my divorce was depression. I often refer to it with the famous quote, “The night is dark and full of terrors.”
When we hit this stage, we hit the lowest emotional point — we understand what’s happening, know we can’t stop it, and are trying to deal with the bucketload of consequences. Debilitating sadness and despair will probably be your best friends during this phase (even if you don’t want them to be).
When depression hits, or better yet, before it hits, seek help from your friends or find a counselor or a therapist that you can talk to.
5. Acceptance — Let It Go; Let It Go!
Finally, the last stage is acceptance. And I’m talking about full emotional acceptance of the change the divorce brought into your life. In other words, you’ll accept the reality of the situation and learn to move on and make the best of your life (no matter what it looks like).
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have lingering feelings of resentment, anger, sadness, or bitterness. But those will be few and far apart until they become nothing but a bad memory.
A Faw Parting Words
Going through the emotional stages of divorce feels like going through a neverending nightmare. Everything might seem hopeless now, but if you made the choice to get a divorce so you’d be able to move on and heal, trust in your decisions.
It does get better! As long as you have a good support system and someone to reach out to, divorce won’t be able to bring you down.