Getting Past Separation & Divorce.

Getting Past Separation & Divorce.

You're Not Going Crazy- The 5 Stages of Grief
Preparing Your Mind To Heal
Becoming 'Unstuck': The 3 Step Process 

The very 1st thing that needs to be addressed, is understanding the grieving process. We often feel all of these emotions after a divorce or separation, and not being aware of what you’re going through can add to the frustration of feeling like you aren’t moving forward. While it’s true we all go through grief in a unique way, it’s recognized that most people share in the way they handle loss. The stages are not set in stone. You might not go through every stage. You might not go through them in order, and you may go back and forth through any of them at any given time. This 5 stage format is only to provide context to understand what you are feeling.

You're Not Going Crazy- The 5 Stages of Grief


Denial- Is the refusal to accept the facts of the situation, either consciously or unconsciously. The feelings in this stage of denial often protect and help you from feeling too many emotions at one time. This stage gives you a little time to adjust to the way things are now going to be. It is a part of your body's defense that is built up to allow you to cope with extreme loss. You may keep yourself busy, act as though nothing has changed, continually tell yourself and others you feel fine, etc.


Anger- Anger is more of a ‘state’ than a ‘stage’ a stage is often a phase that leads to another phase or ultimately the end result. Anger is a state in the grieving process where the circumstances or conditions of the situation are such that anger might be the easiest response. There are times in the grieving process where you may feel frustrated, trapped, and hurt.  It is common to have those churning emotions surface and be directed toward someone or something. When pain dominates the feelings, it is natural to look for someone to blame. Being angry is a way of releasing energy, of protesting a loss that does not make sense or seem fair. Even though deep down you understand that anger is not logical or justified, emotions are rarely logical so have grace with yourself. This typically happens after you stop denying the loss and the reality of the situation sets in. This phase can leave feeling betrayed, being upset at that person, wanting them to feel the anguish you feel, being upset they seem unaffected by the situation, which is oftentimes not true. Being argumentative because you’re resenting that person, or blaming them for everything.


Bargaining- The third stage, bargaining, follows the anger stage very naturally. The normal reaction to the helplessness and vulnerability that comes through loss is an attempt to regain control. It can be bargaining to change the outcome, which comes in the form of trying to explain how things could have been done differently or better. The bargain struck is not one that could be maintained. It’s more about trying to regain control by identifying what ‘could have’ or ‘should have’ been done to handle the situation more effectively. Spiritually, it could come in the form of bargaining with God about ‘if he just took the pain away’, or “fixed” the broken relationship or the fate of the situation. Bargaining to change the timing is also a part of this step, a person will postpone telling people, or trying to eliminate habits, or try things with the hope of being granted more time, by temporary suspension of the inevitable outcome. If no bargain can be reached, you might move quickly to stage 4 – depression.


Depression- During the fourth stage, depression, you come to the certainty and reality of the situation. You almost become frozen in your tracks. Up to this point, sadness reigns, but you are typically able to muster the energy to maneuver – to deny, to have anger, or to bargain. In stage four, there appears to be nothing that can be done to alter the inevitable outcome. You come to a place where you don’t have the energy to fight anymore.  Depression may feel as if it will last forever. It is important to understand that this is not a sign of a mental illness; rather it is a very natural response to circumstances beyond control. You are not going crazy; you are going through a natural phase.


Acceptance - Acceptance does not mean that you feel good or right about the situation. You may never feel OK about it. This stage is about accepting the fact that a new reality cannot be changed. It is about seeing how the new reality will impact life and relationships. Acceptance also does not mean forgetfulness. Acceptance does not mean that you slip back into denial. Acceptance means embracing the present – both good and bad – in order to shape the future. It does not mean that you no longer can think about it. This is you taking ownership of yourself and your actions and accepting the responsibility of what will be necessary for you to heal and move forward.

Preparing Your Mind To Heal

Now that you have a better understanding of the cycle you may be going through, it’s time to address those feelings of being “stuck.” It is very normal to feel as though you just can’t get past the grief. You start to feel like you are carrying around emotional baggage you can’t get rid of. Before we get into how to get “unstuck” you must put yourself in a better state of mind here are 3 tips:
 
First, listen to your Lord. Often when we are hurt or upset, we want to take matters into our own hands especially during times where we are emotionally bruised. The wonderful thing about God is He outlines exactly what we need to do several times in His scriptures. All those solutions point to being patient, returning to Him for guidance, and not taking matters into your own hands. He is the All Seer, All Knower of All things. Seek help through patience and prayer (2:45), and asking your Lord to guide through this unchartered territory and that you become content with accepting His decree. When you start trying to control a situation you have NO control over it becomes very exhausting and creates a pattern that becomes hard to move away from. More often than not, trying to take control ends up making the situation worse. It’s better for you to submit to God’s guidance and allow Him to do the hard work.
 
Second, take responsibility for how you feel. This also requires you to be completely honest about what you’re feeling.  Allow yourself to feel all the emotions. Running from the pain and frustration will NOT make it easier. You will feel like you just don’t want to have emotions, you will be frustrated and not want to ‘feel’ anymore. It’s important to sit with the pain, give yourself space, allow the emotions to surface and deal with them accordingly.
 
Third, focus on yourself, Sis. Take the focus off the other person and put it on to YOURSELF. As hard as it will be, and it will be HARD. Focus on who you want to be during and after this process and resolve how you want to act during this circumstance. You are not responsible for that person’s speech or actions, but you are responsible for how you respond to them. Being self-aware sets a standard for how you will move. If you have unfinished business with this person, normal conversations may trigger a range of emotions. Deciding what type of woman you want to be will prepare you and set boundaries on how you act or react. Resolve to heal so you can move forward without any baggage.
 

Becoming 'Unstuck': The 3 Step Process


In the grieving process you go through both anger and sadness. Anger makes you bold and step up, while sadness makes you retreat and want to isolate, when you’re grieving you are doing both things often at the same time, and that’s what’s causing you to feel stuck. Here are some ways to help you move through that feeling:
 
  1. Stop avoiding the issue, identify, and address what you are feeling. Sometimes you may avoid seeing that person, as well as people, places, or things that may connect you to that person. You say things like “it will be so weird” or “it hurts too much, and I don’t know why”. What is “it”? What will be weird? What hurts so much? Identify what the pain is that hurts. Find the words to describe what’s awful, or awkward, or so hard about the process.
Sidebar* During those times where you start blaming the other person, stop. You will need to avoid playing the blame game to arrive at the deeper issue. For example, it could be you feel the other person has just moved on like you meant nothing, so the question becomes, why does that person acting that way hurt you so much, what about this action is hurting you?
  1. Sometimes, the demise of that relationship will leave you bent out of shape because the pain, anger, or sadness rocked you to the core. In some way it manifested some deeper, uglier feelings that you have experienced and not resolved from the past. At some point it becomes your Achilles heel or a soft spot to your self- esteem or ego, that you have been able to tuck away. It is very easy to look past these insecurities when things are going well in your relationship. The person may have said or did something that triggered past insecurities or self-doubts. For most people who get stuck here they start blaming themselves, or question whether they deserved to be mistreated. You might feel like you’re not lovable, or you’re incompetent, unattractive, or uninteresting. You’ll pick apart negative feelings you subconsciously have about yourself or may have been told by someone else. You’ll know your stuck in this place because you feel vulnerable or broken, it may even be familiar to you like you’ve been here before, or it’s the same ole’ story. This is a phase you may go through especially if you have a history of abuse or neglect. If you get stuck here, not everyone does some people breeze right through this, you need to identify what it is you Need. What is it that you need to feel valuable and loveable? Do not confuse this step as what you need from that person. What do you need as a human being, to feel nourished and whole? Again I cannot stress enough, this is not about them. It’s not “I need him to apologize for or admit to.” It’s more so “I need to feel like I matter”, “ I need to feel like someone has my back.” Dig deep on this one, it will be necessary for you to articulate these qualities. They are qualities you should first work on giving yourself, rather than looking to someone else to provide.
  2. The last step is going to require you to go back to when the relationship ended, and identify what you were fighting for? What did you feel you were losing with the end of this relationship? It’s important to identify all of these ‘losses’, especially those who have trouble finishing the grieving process. Oftentimes you will miss and feel like the ‘loss’ was that person, but also identify the undeclared losses. These are typically the hopes, plans and dreams you imagined with that person. It could have been wanting to have children, or a family vacation you had been saving up for. Acknowledge what you will miss or are losing, say goodbye to them, put them to rest and let them go.

 
This final step will help with closure because ultimately grief is not just about feeling sad/bad, it’s about identifying specific losses and using those emotions to help organize your feelings in a healthy way. The most important thing to remember as just as deep wounds take time for the body to heal, so does your heart. Don't rush this process, in order to learn from it, you must move through it.