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Parenting in the Rain, Episode 27, How to Heal and Move on After Divorce

Are you a parent worried about your child through your divorce? Here’s a link to my s Free Parent Class http://jackieflynnconsulting.com/parentingthroughdivorce 

In This Episode:  

It’s important to identify the emotional pain by naming the feelings.

Dr. Siegel says “When we can name it, we can tame it!”.  This is so true. 

Common feelings are feelings of betrayal, fear, guilt, hope, anger, regret, etc…  Recognizing and accepting the feelings that surface, release their grip on you. 

Also, it is important to recognize your belief systems that have been put into place through it all.  Some painful ones that I hear in my practice is “I am unlovable.” “I should’ve done something earlier.” “I am a bad person.” and such.  If those are coming up for you, therapy may be the best option to help you heal. 

When we experience trauma, our brain functions differently.  It can change so many things in our lives.  Divorce is no different.  If left unprocessed in a healthy way, one my feel anxiety when connecting with new people such as dating.  Perhaps feeling clingy, untrusting, or even standoffish and unable to accept the other’s compliments.  

For parents, unprocessed trauma could reduce their capacity to be fully present with their kiddos and cause them to feel “numb” to things that they previously enjoyed.  It could cause them to be irritable or to have a shorter fuse with their kiddos.  And, for many it just feels like they are stuck, destined to feel that way forever.  Trauma distorts time.

It’s important to seek support not only to help you grieve the loss of the dreams you had when you got married, but also to help you reprocess the trauma, so that you don’t repeat the same situation with someone new as you delve into a new relationship.  

Some people grieve, then find someone new, while others find someone new then feel those feelings.  Now, I’ll bet you can imagine which one has the best results.  That’s why it’s recommended for people that are newly divorced not to dive right into a new relationship.  The excitement of a new relationship can disguise the pain for a while.  But, after the newness wears off, then it can surface. It can leave people with new relationship challenges.  

Also, jumping in too soon after divorce can complicate the adjustment process for the children too.  Some people have a big worry of not being able to financially support themselves without someone else, so getting in a relationship right out of divorce is part of their freedom plan. Unfortunately, relationships that exists as a financial stability piece can dissolve and be more destructive than ever.  So it’s super important to heal first, and then move on after you are in a healthier spot, emotionally and financially.  

 

After your divorce, be sure to take time to decompress.  Engage in an activity that makes you feel good, other than dating or partying.  Something that ignites your feeling of self again: volunteering, exercise, connecting with friends, painting… Only you know what does this.  Movement can do amazing things for your emotional state.  

Identify and connect with your support system.  Friends, family, therapist, etc.  the reason why this helps is because we are wired as social beings.  This means, we have an innate need to feel heard, cared about, … in the heart and mind of someone else.  <3

After divorce, this can be especially important since relationship ruptured can leave one feeling unheard, unloved, uncared about.  

Since our bodies are a system, when a trauma happens such as with some divorces, it can affect our sleep patterns, tolerance levels, digestive system, emotional regulation (some people experience depressive and anxiety symptoms).  With therapy, people can organize it all in your brain, heal the hurts and position themselves with a much healthier capacity to adjust and enjoy your new start, which can then help your kiddos ultimately to move on.  

Just like the flight attendant says to put on your own oxygen mask before you do your child’s, be sure to oxygenate yourself during this time so that you can be there for your kiddos.  

With friends and family, notice the amount of time that you engage in “Divorce” talk.  If it’s too much, pull back and seek out a therapist for individual or group support.  Let your previous relationship be your teacher. 

What “ruts” do you want to get out of? What would you like for the future? What are some deal breakers with future relationships?  

Some relationships end as a result, or at least partially because of emotional abuse.  This is tough for some to grasp since there aren’t any physical marks, but there are certainly emotional scars.  This involves a regular pattern of verbal assault, such as threatening, bullying, constant criticism, or more subtle approaches such as intimidation, shaming, humiliation, control, manipulation, etc… 

Emotional abuse is used to control and suppress the other person.  

 

A lot of time it can result out of childhood wounds and insecurities that the abuser experienced and didn’t heal from in their own life.  This reminds me of the quote “HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE”.  Along the way, healthy coping mechanisms weren’t put into place.  This could leave them with a hunger for control and power as a result of their unprocessed anger, hurt, fear and feelings of powerlessness, those more vulnerable feelings.  That’s one of the reasons why you should heal yourself through this, so that you can be healthy enough to parent in a healthy way for your kiddos. 

Allow yourself to grieve if you are feeling the pain of divorce.  Allow yourself to feel the feelings in a supported, safe way.   One thing that can be incredibly helpful is to write and / or create some type of artwork.  

The power of expression is amazing. I use expressive art therapy in my work in almost every session with my clients, regardless of age.  

Journaling can be really helpful.  Research tells us that it cannot only help at the moment with regulating the body’s physiological response such as blood pressure, heart rate, and it can help people sleep more sound, but it can also help in the long term with huge physical and emotional benefits.  For this, you can just by a journal (it doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive) and just write what comes to mind, thereby releasing it from your mind body and soul.

It is also helpful to write a letter to yourself from someone that you love and that cares about you, such as a family member or a trusted friend. This one was shared with me from a dear friend that went through a divorce herself.   It can be so very healing.  It’s cathartic and can help people heal enough to move on in a healthy way.  

From a neuroscience perspective, the power of telling our story through a narrative can organize it in our brain, in the hippocampus, where it would otherwise be left fragmented and unprocessed.  This can lead to chaos, whereas the narrative can heal.  

Remember that there is an “after” this time.  So, intentionally focus on creating a better future for you and your kiddos.  Remember, you and your kiddos can still be a happy family even after all of this.  So play with them, show your interest in your children, and connect with them in a way that lets them know that you care about them and that they are important to you.  Remember, their belief system is forming during this time too.  

Also, allow your child to grieve and process through this divorce in a healthy way.  It can be tough for kids if some things aren’t in place.  

I have an online course on this, Parenting through Divorce: 7 Key Strategies To Nurture Your Child’s Emotional Healthy Before, During And After Divorce.  It’s one of my Parent With Intention courses.  If you want check that out, just visit jackieflynnconsulting.com/parentthroughdivorce   I have almost 50 brief videos in the course that incorporates much of what I share with the parents that I work with in my private practice and as a parent coach as a Divorce Recovery Specialist