It is easy for us to get lulled by the mundane aspects of everyday that we don’t even notice subtle shifts in our world. Then abruptly everything can change and all we believed to be true, suddenly isn’t anymore.
It feels like we suddenly woke up in an alternate universe; the twilight zone that comes after the hurtful words, “I want a divorce.” The term “Gray Divorce” is used for the demographic trend of an increasing divorce rate for older (“gray-haired”) couples a topic I discussed in a previous blog.
The marriage we depended on, and the spouse we counted on has pulled the rug out from under our feet. It is the same feeling when you discover an infidelity.
When you entered this marriage it was for “until death do us part” but now, suddenly, the rules have changed. You are left bewildered and confused.
There is a strong urge to understand “what went wrong” and to comprehend if it is just that SOB’s fault , or are you to blame too? It becomes a complicated interplay of balancing your emotions – guilt, sadness, betrayal, anger – while coping with the physical process of changing your relationship forever.
Dealing With Your Emotions
The first emotion, once the denial and confusion clears, is likely to be anger. When anger is dissected it becomes evident that it is the tip of the iceberg. In our previous blogs, we looked at your relationship with anger . Under the iceberg of anger are emotions that are even harder to experience and, in this case, it can be hurt, rejection, powerlessness and grief.
A sense of disbelief and betrayal that the person you have loved could suddenly not love you anymore often comes next. This can lead to a profound sense of rejection, right on the heels of more anger.
One life preserver is to recognize that relationships sometimes end, and that it does not mean you are inadequate, unlovable, a failure or that there is something wrong with you -or for that matter him. Ending an unhappy, stagnate relationship could, in fact, be the best gift you never knew you wanted.
As the anger wanes (and it does) it morphs or coexists with fear:
Let me preface this section with a few affirmations, as this advice can be hard to read: You will get through this. You are strong. You are capable. It will be ok.
You see, the fear of facing life alone and growing old alone can be overwhelming. The loss of friends that you’ve known for years, as people naturally take sides, may feel unbearable during a gray divorce.
There are also fears about financial realities and “will I make it on my own.” The prospect of the divorce negotiations can seem overwhelming, tiresome and powerless – feeling at the mercy of the respective lawyers.
Don’t get entangled in the maze of anger and fear.
This change in your circumstances may be an unforeseen derailment in your life. It could be compared to an aching tooth that has been hurting for years and now has to be extracted.
Either way life as you knew it will be different. The pledge to yourself at this juncture in your life has to be to focus on self-care and self-nurturing
It’s important that you take the time to do things for yourself, reconnect with who you are, and what you feel is important to you. As part of creating a new identity, try:
- Take an ecourse geared to helping you reinvent yourself from the inside out
- Look to the community for a sense of purpose, like volunteering
- Find a class at the local community college or art center
- Reconnect with old friend; true friends will embrace you once again
One useful activity is to construct a life story chart that looks at patterns and life history events as well as potential things you want to accomplish (a bucket list). The planning helps you to see that there is a future and much you can still accomplish and maybe now the freedom to do it.
Find your balance with our FREE 7-day guided meditations:
Dr. Ines K. Roe has been helping women in transition rediscover themselves for over 20 years. If you’ve been feeling unfulfilled, are frustrated with your sense of accomplishment in midlife, or simply need guidance on your path to holistic well being, join her ecourse.