Know You Are Not Alone

You’re divorcing and, well, you feel like you’re alone even though family and friends tell you “you’re not alone”. Sure, around 50% of married couples end up divorcing, so statistically these people are right – you’re not alone. But, still, it feels as if you’re alone and guess what, that is a normal feeling.

Divorcing is a personal journey for you as much as it is for your family. And, this journey is different depending on whether the breakup was mutual or depending on who made the decision to break up. The good news, and there is good news, is that the divorce process, while difficult, is a part of your life, a journey, that you will get past if you allow yourself to do so. So, grieve away, allow yourself to be angry or sad, go a little crazy, but remember you will eventually need to accept the process and move on. And, accepting this journey is likely where you may need some help.

Psychology Today, and other online sites, lists various stages that someone likely goes through when a relationship ends. These stages may not come to you in any particular order, you may not experience all of the stages, or you may go in and out of a particular stage more than once. The point is, that, like the stages when grieving the death of a loved one, you will experience different stages of emotions while healing from the break up. It’s a process you may not be able to do or want to do by yourself. Remember, you are not alone. There are many people suffering like you are and have made the decision to seek help to close this chapter of your life and move on.

For many, perhaps like yourself, the thought of asking for emotional help is extremely difficult. Quite frankly, you may find it easier to deal with the tangible things – the finances, the house, the debt. But, it may be difficult to do these things effectively if you are not taking care of your emotions too. You may feel as though you can handle the divorce process on your own, or that people will pass judgment on you for not only getting divorced, but for seeking emotional support to assist you in the process. Don’t worry about what others may say or do. Take the steps you need to make you healthy and happy again. The important thing for you to remember is that every single divorce is unique and different, just as you are unique and different from everyone else.

And, because you are unique, you will emotionally handle the divorce differently from other family members or friends who have also experienced divorce. I believe every individual going through separation and divorce could use a little emotional support from an expert. I believe all of us need those reassurances that we are going to be okay. It’s easier to see that on paper, when looking at the assets to be distributed or creating a parenting schedule. It’s more difficult to understand that you are going to be okay, perhaps even better than okay, but certainly better than you were in your marriage. Validation of who you are and what you are feeling is so important when a relationship you’ve been in ends.

Therapists are great at what they do. They can suggest other community organizations who may be able to assist you; not only are there individuals going through similar experiences, there are groups of individuals meeting on a regular basis who are also going through similar experiences. There are also specific organizations designed to address not only the emotional side of separation, but the financial and legal side as well.

Yes, eventually, you will probably need to consult with an attorney; but there are some other steps you can take to learn about the process, begin to take control of your life, and empower yourself to make educated decisions as you move through your separation and divorce.

There are several divorce groups that meet at varying times for a structured 13-week workshop. These are facilitated groups but address various phases of the process, including the emotional and financial aspects of separation and divorce. And during the 13-week period you will also likely learn useful information about parenting your children as a single parent. The website is divorcecare.org.

The greater Charlotte-Metropolitan area offers several meet ups designed as divorce support groups. When I did a quick search, I found over 10 different meet up groups focusing on people going through separation and divorce. Try googling divorce support meet ups Charlotte, NC.

Group activities may not be your thing; but they serve a great purpose and are usually less expensive than individual therapy. However, know that money spent for a few sessions with a therapist to help yourself is always money well spent. It’s money you are investing in yourself. If you’re worthwhile, it’s worthwhile. It really is that simple. And, nowadays, many insurance providers cover therapy. For those carriers that do not have insurance, a therapist may be willing to charge a reduced rate or you may be able to file it against your insurance deductible and benefit that way. Regardless, taking the step to see a therapist should be looked at as a brave, smart decision, and not as a sign of weakness or insecurity.

While lawyers are very good at discussing the law, most of us do not also hold a degree in counseling. What we do, however, is seek relationships with counselors who are good at what they do. And, lawyers are not shy about suggesting therapy to clients, and you should not be shy about seeking therapy. Remember, therapy will likely not be for the rest of your life, which is what a lot of people fear; but you and your therapist will work together recognizing counseling sessions are unique to you. A good therapist knows when to let go and be available to you on an “as needs basis”. Don’t be afraid to ask your attorney for suggestions. Although my hope is to empower you to make decisions as you work through the legal issues surrounding your separation and divorce, I am not educated in the best way to handle the emotional nuances that you are also experiencing.

The emotional side of separation and divorce is extremely difficult for most people, if not everyone, to manage. Know you are not alone; but you are unique and your situation differs from everyone else’s separation and divorce. Take the steps you need to ensure that you will live the rest of your life in a physically and emotionally healthy way.

- Deb Dilman

Deb is a family law attorney in Charlotte, NC.

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