Divorce and Your Mental Health

By Kathy Kane, LCSW

Divorce is one of the most emotional experiences you will ever face. The process can be overwhelming. But, it need not be, if you are able to move through it with intention, hope and confidence. Your attitude can help you get through your divorce. By taking charge of the divorce process, as well as your emotions, you can regain some control over your life’s situation.

Be Informed About Divorce
Inform yourself about the divorce process. Take the time to find an attorney that fits you and who you feel has your back. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As best you can, try to treat your divorce as a business transaction; keep the emotions out of your lawyer’s office. Make sure to understand all your options before making decisions. Information is knowledge and knowledge is power!

Staying Sane Throughout the Process
Understand that you are grieving your marriage, which is normal and to be expected. You are experiencing losses you probably never expected. To help get you through this difficult time, develop a support network including friends, family, church, parenting groups, divorce groups, and/or a therapist. Self-care is mandatory!

Mind Set
A number-one coping strategy is to get yourself in a position of not wanting or needing much from your ex-spouse. The less you want from him/her, the less frustrated and helpless you will be. Realistically, if you couldn’t change your ex when you were married, the likelihood that you will change him/her now is pretty slim! Also, realize that most likely you will not ever get the vindication or apology you want or feel you deserve. Taking control of your life, getting organized, feeling supported, and making informed decisions are empowering.

Moving Forward
It’s important to give yourself the opportunity to explore and make conscious choices about the life you want to lead post-divorce. Envision what you would like life to look like when you are ready to start moving on, and think about what you need to do to get there. Your goal should be to create a better life today than the one you had before. Dreams count!

Your New Found Time
If you have children, most likely you will have to get used to sharing them. They will be spending part of the time with your ex and part with you. You cannot control what goes on when your kids are with their other parent. So you must learn to let go and stop worrying  about what is happening at the other house. You can use the time when your kids are not with you to pursue your interests and take care of yourself. Maybe now you will have the time to do things you enjoy, spend quality time with friends, or pursue a new activity or hobby.
Time for the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

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