6 Reasons You’re Struggling to Move On After Divorce

You say that you want to move on, putting the divorce behind you and getting on with your life. You claim that you want to feel better, to stop crying and start living. Perhaps you even pronounce that you’re over your ex and that you’re ready to start looking for someone new.

Yet that desired progress isn’t happening.

The life you envision isn’t unfolding and instead, you find yourself stuck. Anchored in the muck and mire of the divorce. Not a member of your old life, yet not yet fully living in your new one.

It’s easy to make excuses for why you can’t seem to move on. You’re angry, and rightfully so, that your life plan turned out to written in disappearing ink. Maybe your ex cheated, stealing your ability to trust along with your imagined future. Perhaps your bank account is anemic and all of your energy has to go to replenishing its stores. You might have endured horrible court battles that wounded you and your children. You may be adjusting to life as a single parent or a sole breadwinner.

But those are all excuses, bindings that keep you lashed to the past. After all, it’s easier to say, “I can’t move on because of (insert favorite excuse here)” rather than shouldering the responsibility of moving on by yourself.

So, here is your metaphorical slap across the face. This is the advice you’ve needed to hear, but your friends and family are too nice to say it. But I’m not your friend. I’m someone who has been there, done that and now makes the T-shirts. I’m okay with making you a little angry if it helps to make you better.

I’m also not going to tell you to “get over it.” I find that phrase insulting and shortsighted, only uttered by people who have never felt a certain depth of pain or who prefer to bury it rather than address it. But even though there are some things you don’t just “get over,” you don’t have to let them hold you back.

If you’re having trouble moving on, you’re probably doing at least one of these things wrong.

Forgiveness

My response to people encouraging me to forgive was one of indignation. How could I be expected to forgive? He deserved all of the wrath I could send his way and then some. How dare someone tell me I should let that go?

But they were right. By refusing to forgive, I wasn’t hurting him. I was hurting me. I was allowing myself to be a prisoner to his actions and allowing them to dictate my feelings. Forgiving him was a gift of peace to myself.

Forgiveness isn’t a pardon. It acknowledges the wrongs and then wraps them in compassion and acceptance. Forgiveness is an inside job, quietly accepting the apology you never received.

Forgiveness is a difficult road. But you’re worth it.

Grasping

When we lose everything, it is human nature to grasp onto whatever remains. And, often in the case of divorce, what is left is the pain. And so we hold onto that pain, claim it. Own it. Defend it. Even feed it.

That pain can become our identity. I remember how I would receive care and kindness when I was hurting, yet would be comparatively ignored when I was not. It’s tempting to stay in pain, to allow others to continuously nurture our wounded hearts.

But is that really what you want? To be the hurt one? The weak one? To be so determined to lay claim to your pain that you do allow anything or anyone else in? Releasing that pain is strangely scary. It’s willingly loosening your grip on your past and trusting that you’ll land safely.

Let go. It’s worth it.

Associations

Do you have triggers that are like a time warp to the past, pulling you back to moments of agony and anxiety? I do. In fact, I would say this has been my greatest challenge — learning to respond from the present and not from the past.

Even though some healing is passive, slowly softening with the passage of time, triggers are often more resistant. They take repeated attention and deliberate action to remediate. Triggers and associations are not inevitable; you can retrain your brain.

It takes work. But you’re worth it.

Continue to read the rest.

 

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17 thoughts on “6 Reasons You’re Struggling to Move On After Divorce

  1. Great advice, Lisa. I like to say moving on is done is small ways, a little bit each day. Until one day you notice your life has changed for the better and you’ve made that happen. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day of ‘wallowing’. It doesn’t mean you’re not getting there, slowly.

  2. Thank you, been there for three years, three months and ten days. Just messed up really big at work, did something stupid, out of character. Finally going back to therapy, and will tape this post up on my mirror. I have been feeling like a zombie, alive but dead inside. I owe it my kids, coworkers and to ME, to change things. Can’t keep living like this, thanks again for the wake up call

  3. I see my ex 2 or 3 times a week. We have a son who has autism and needs us both to work together. My ex is stepping up in a way he never did when we were together. He is turning into the man I wanted him to be. Logic tells me that all this is an indicator that being apart is good for us both. But my heart sees it as a reason to mourn further. I’ve started dreaming of him at night again. We’re less than 2 years out from the marriage. This may take awhile longer :/

  4. Thank you for this – sadly after 20 years and 2 young kids we split 3.5 years ago. He moved on quite quickly and as soon as got his girlfriend dropped our kids. He sees them now as we live 5 minutes away. I still cry daily for my marriage but also as a single parent of an autistic son and tween girl life is tough. I have no support. I do all the things Im supposed to do, exercise, hobbies, friends, family and faith but still have that huge emptiness. I keep my barriers up with men as I just cannot afford to have emotion and get hurt – not when i’m responsible for my kids. He hardly sees the kids 3-4 nights max a month if that. It’s been very difficult.

    1. That sounds extremely difficult. You have quite a bit of responsibility and little help. I am sorry that he took the easy way out of a challenging parenting task, leaving you holding it all. It’s not fair. In between the eye rolls and the tantrums, savor those moments you have with those amazing children. And find comfort that they will grow up:)

  5. I know this is a old post. I am 9 months post split and three post divorce. We were together 14 years. The last three were particularly difficult as he suffered with depression. I gave everything to try and help him. In the end he announced he was moving in with a girl he had been seeing and shattered my heart to pieces. I find the pain comes in waves. I am on anti depressants and have had counselling, my work also suffered. I am slowly getting there but still get these un expected waves of grief. Hence my post. I miss him and mom lonely.

    1. My heart goes out to you. It’s SO difficult to deal with a partner’s depression. I would expect that you feel like you gave all of yourself to him and maybe even lost yourself in the process. It’s hard accepting that you alone couldn’t fix him. Hard, and also a freeing lesson in what you can control.

      The waves of pain are totally normal. In time, they will lessen in intensity and you’ll become more confident in your ability to ride them out when they do come.

      I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself. Keep taking those baby steps forward.

      Lisa

    2. Rachel, this sounds so familiar. I am 4 months post split and 1 month post separation agreement. We were together 13 years. He had many health issues and had also been on an antidepressant. I learned about his 9 month affair from his girlfriend. He lives with her now. I too am overwhelmed with the grief and the feeling of rejection. It didn’t matter how I tried, it just wasn’t enough. I’m trying to breathe and be kind to myself, thankful for my friends and family’s support.

  6. Well I read all the posts here and your site and I am different in the sense I am a maie. I am also different in the sense I was cast away like a unwanted Christmas toy. I was abused in our relationship although she would never have realised it. I had/have 3 beautiful children who are/have turned out to be fine young people. I was a good father up until I was not needed to be there. I wast ousted from the family home, ostracised. Emotionally targeted. I was driven to a sense of mental depression and self worthlessness. I left and month’s later meet some. A rebound of sorts. And since the moment of leaving I have been cast as the devil. My children blackmailed, alienated against me. I sit for hours now on my own and mourn the life I thought I had, the fake life I thought I had. It will not break me, I vow that. My biggest hurt is not losing my partner its losing 20 yrs odd and my children due to the alienation. I know one day they will return. But who knows what will happen in the meantime. I may be six feet under by then. The heartache and pain and abuse I have been through in the last 5 years knows no bounds and it does not get easier. I am kept from my grandchildren, my own offspring. But I refuse to give in. I will build my own life and hopefully one day my children and grandchildren will come looking for me. Right now I need to look after me. Might sound selfish but up until now I put everyone first. including the pet cat.

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