I became conditioned to be afraid of the mail. And the ringing phone. Even email had the ability to send my stomach plummeting down towards my feet. Because each intrusion had the potential of bringing new information about my ex husband to light.
In retrospect, the pattern was quite clear:
Stage 1 – Status Quo of Healing
Doing okay despite the major upheaval of my life. Possess a sense of confidence that I was going to be okay and that this tsunami divorce was not going to remain the defining factor of my existence. Feeling like I could handle whatever emotions my mind decided to deliver.
Stage 2 – Body Slammed
“Who was I kidding? I’m far from okay,” I would think as I learned some tidbit of new information from the external world. It could be anything from a blog post from the other wife mentioning a sweet gesture to a bill from the utility company in his name. Instantly, I travelled back to the shock and dread of the initial discovery, my mind convincing me that this new information changed something vital about my ability to heal and move on.
Stage 3 – Processing and Assimilating
After obsessively turning over the new information in my mind for several days, it began to feel less foreign and less threatening. Often, I discovered that it wasn’t really new after all, only another piece of data simply confirming what I already knew. Finally, I would file this recently learned fact alongside its brethren and start to find a sense of status quo again.
Well, that is, until the next piece of new information dropped unannounced into my lap. At which time, the cycle would begin all over again.
Healing is not linear. As new information comes to light, we have to mourn, accept and adjust all over again.
It is completely normal to experience setbacks in healing after divorce when you receive new information. Each discovery pierces the newly-formed healing skin and threatens to bring new blood to the surface. It’s a new pain upon a known wound.
Be patient with yourself and your reactions around these events. You may seem to be overreacting, but that is because you are responding to so much more than simply this one piece of information. You’re struggling to process an entire pile of garbage and the addition of one more piece can feel overwhelming and ominous.
Whenever possible, limit your exposure to new information while you’re still feeling raw. You may be curious to know what your ex is up to, but you’re often better off remaining in the dark. Set boundaries, both digital and with people in your life, to filter what information makes it through to you.
Finally, give it time. In the beginning, every new piece of data is like shot coal burning you as you take it in. In time, the coals turn to ash, still not palatable, but no longer so painful or damaging. Additionally, your confidence grows with each new exposure as you learn to trust in your ability to handle it.
And that’s what it really comes down to. We fear new information because we worry that we can’t deal with its reality. Then, we struggle with the knowledge because it feels so heavy and oppressive. Once we learn how to take only the parts we need and to discard the rest, we can remain calm and confident no matter what new information comes our way.