Dear Betty: How do I get through the pain of divorce?

divorce, the three tomatoesDear Beatty,

I am going through a divorce, and even though I am relieved (most days) to be out of my marriage, I seem to be having a really hard time. I’m not sleeping well and frequently have been waking up screaming. I’ve put on a lot of weight, have little energy and most days I really don’t want to leave my apartment. What’s wrong with me? And when am I going to start to feel better?

MARION

Dear Marion,

Going through a divorce (even though you say your marriage was not a good one) is extremely painful and traumatic. It marks the end of your hopes and dreams of spending your life with someone whom you once loved and who once loved you. Most people during and after a divorce find themselves on an emotional roller coaster ride. And like a death, (divorce is a death of a relationship) people tend to go through various difficult stages that include: depression, denial, anger, blame, self-blame, why me and finally acceptance. There will be ebbs and flows.

Unfortunately there is no magic way to fast-forward this process. The symptoms you are describing are normal reactions to a painful situation. However, it is very important that you do not let yourself plummet into the depths of despair. Initially, you may need to force yourself to take a walk, join a gym, plan an outing with friends and family even though this may not be something that you really want to do. Remember the Nike commercial…..JUST DO IT! Positive actions always make us feel better.

This is a time for you to take care of yourself. I suggest that you try and do something nice for yourself every day..something that you can look forward to. It might even be a decadent cookie.That’s one cookie and not a box. Your body is stressed and needs extra sleep, regular exercise and good nutrition. If you continue to suffer from insomnia, why not try a natural remedy? And if this doesn’t help, speak to your doctor about other shot-term remedies. Give yourself permission to express your feelings to others. It’s never a good idea to keep your emotions pent up. Doing so takes its toll on our body and psyche. If you find that talking to friends and family is not sufficient, do yourself a favor and find yourself a good therapist who can help you deal with your loss but who can also support you in starting a new chapter in your life. Asking for help is always a sign of strength and not weakness.

Eventually you will need to understand what went wrong in your marriage. It is very easy to blame your partner. But those of us who have been through divorce need to take responsibility for our own part and take an honest look a the role we played in why our marriage failed. What I would not do is drown your sorrows with alcohol, drugs, including over the counter medication or food. And realistically, you must expect to have some difficult days. This is normal. There is no quick fix.

The good news is that there is life after divorce. And you should not give up hope that some day you will meet a special person and fall in love again. However, this is not the time for a new relationship. Studies show that it takes a minimum of one year to go through the mourning process. Once you do this you will be emotionally, physically and sexually available and ready for a new beginning. Rebound relationships usually don’t end well. So take this time and focus on yourself. There will be plenty of time for dating and relationships.

And finally,don’t make any major decisions until you feel that you are on an even keel. I promise you that each day will get better.

Good luck on your new journey. If I can help you in any way, just let me know.

BEATTY

Do you have a question for Beatty? Email her at BeattyCohan.msw@gmail.com

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