The 7 Emotional Phases of Divorce

by Debbie Burgin

Divorce, though often an ugly process, isn’t always an emotional death sentence, and regardless of who we are, or what we do, we all go through the same emotional turmoil to varying degrees when it comes to divorce.At first, going through the divorce process feels as though you’ve taken a size 12 steel toe to the gut (that feeling goes away, trust me).

But there are typically 7 emotional phases that we go through; The first phase is Shock.

Most times, especially when infidelity is the cause of the divorce, the first reaction by the ‘innocent’ party is shock. The impulse is to do absolutely nothing. Yet.

The second phase is Anger. Once you get over the shock of being emotionally discarded, anger sets in. The brain at this time, tries to come up with a way of paying back.

In this phase, the anger was so intense for me, that I just couldn’t do it. Payback had to wait until I could think more clearly. Find a way to get rid of the anger. I took up kick boxing, which worked wonders. I brought a picture of my ex to class, and taped it to the heavy bag. I punched and kicked the living daylights atta’ that thing, and MAN!…What an awesome feeling! Not to mention the rush I got watching everyone else in the class kicking and punching him. 🙂

The third phase is Betrayal. Feelings of “how could he do this to me? After all we’ve been through…” are very common. Every woman that I’ve spoken with regarding this topic, admits to having a generous dose of betrayal for breakfast, lunch and dinner during her divorce.

The fourth phase is Sadness and Feelings of Loss. You’ll mourn for happier days. Days when your emotional security was intact. It’s perfectly alright to mourn for the loss of these things, but also good to realize that those days are gone, and that you’re going to make new happy memories without him.

The fifth phase? Apprehension. Especially for women. Stay at home moms in particular. Now that he’s gone, can you do this on your own? How are you going to be able to pay the bills? How are you going to feed the kids? Are you able to get a job? You’ve been out of the work force for xx years now, and who’s going to hire you? Very common, and all legitimate concerns. But they don’t have to be a huge deal.

Sit down, take a deep breath, grab a java, make a few lists. What can you do? Write them down. Now, what can you do (legally), that someone would be willing to pay for? Think about the possibility of starting your own business as opposed to hitting the pavement in the jobsearch jungle.

The sixth phase is Self Pity. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? What’s wrong with me? Go through this phase quickly. Then squash it. Stuff happens. Your duty now is not to worsen your emotional situation. Work through the self pity. Talk to a friend, but don’t whine about it too often, or you’ll find in a short time, that your friends don’t return your calls. I just had a friend go through that, but she realized what it was about her that was keeping the people that she called friends from calling her back. She’s changed it. (We’re having coffee this morning :).

And last but definitely not least is Revenge 🙂 This was a fun phase for me. I’m not saying that revenge is always a good thing, but when someone’s done you wrong, sometimes it’s necessary. If you’re feeling a bit vengeful toward your ex (or soon to be ‘ex’), remember not to physically hurt anyone.

I’ve told you that I maxxed out his credit card a couple of times, and there’s always the other type of revenge…the revenge that he doesn’t even realize that you’ve got on him :). It makes you feel better, more easily able to move on, and you haven’t harmed anyone physically (though in the Anger stage, that’s probably all you think about).

There’s no limit on the time that it takes you to go through these phases. Take your time, but once you’ve done them, DON’T GO BACK. When it’s done, it’s done. Live your life. Move on. You’ll feel a thousand times better than you did at the beginning. Martinis for Everyone!

About the Author

Debbie Burgin is a divorced mother of 3, who owns two businesses, and believes that life actually gets better after divorce.

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