COPING WITH DIVORCE
When any relationship breaks down irretrievably it becomes very difficult to let go.World over the breakdown of a relationship can cause havoc in peoples life even though it is not the most discussed issue everywhere.
A divorce or separation is often so painful that a lot of mechanisms may come into play to help us deal with them .Though some of them look wonderful yet what they do is basically hide the pain that is difficult to bear and which continues to linger.We could tell ourselves a lot of lies that ‘it is over’but is it?
A solution commonly found between partners is to move apart physically.It could be a temporary shift to a parents or a friends home, or it could be moving to a different location ,like taking different apartments or moving cities.It could also mean staying away from common friends hoping that the ties that bind them would break.However it is a fantasy.The only thing that distancing does is create an illusion that the couple will not feel the pain of the breakup.The couple may delete mails,tear photographs,withdraw from friends and relatives , disengage from commonly enjoyed activities expecting that if they hide long enough the pain would not appear,yet reality may show up anywhere, anytime wherever we may hide.Distance may also lead to social isolation,loss of other good relationships,reduced fun activities and eventually sadness and loneliness.Here the suffering gets prolonged even though the idea was to escape it.
Some people move into another relationship quickly to save themselves from the pain of letting go.They cling on to a new relationship hoping that this one would be good enough to distract them from the pain of the former.Alas in holding on so tightly they may miss the cracks in this relationship and avoid dealing with them,fearing another loss. it’s only when the cracks become too wide to cement,that the pain of the previous relationship as well as the challenges in the current relationship come crashing in.It may be so overwhelming that it could leave the person devastated and perplexed.
It is ironical that sometimes a part of us wants to move on and yet a part hangs on.At an individual level this dichotomy is self destructive.So they may tell themselves and others that they want to move on but secretly hope that some magic would happen.They hope that what has never worked might work one day.Often the underlying thought is that if they try harder,wait longer,they behave in a better manner,as they did when they were children,they may just be rewarded.So part of them stalks the other person,keeps tabs on their activities,pretends to be fine with things,hopes to have a ‘good friendship’,tries to keep a cordial atmosphere’often ignoring the pain they experience in every such pretend interaction.They ignore ‘how they feel’ to how they should behave, even though the other person has moved on,or has no plans to get back.In fact there is a chance that their ex partner could still be devaluing and hurtful to them.Here the painful reality of the moment is ignorned and “happy” memories from the past or “fantasies’ of the future (as envisioned perhaps by the couple together) may keep the hopes alive,for years.
What it does however,is that it again postpones grief,gives a false hope and years go by stuck to a non-working relationship and other better ones are never explored.Eventually reality catches up one day and the grief pours in not just because of the loss of the relationship but of all the lost years and opportunities.
Detachment is a state where we want to believe that nothing matters.We often hear of people wandering in life with no social connections.So statements like “nothing matters”,”just take life as it comes”,”I am not bothered”,”I just don’t care anymore”may cover up the grief.We all know that it dosen’t matter only once we are dead but while we live we all experience emotions.This detached stance just pushes people away and people will never get to meet the real living person underneath.One may go through life trying to deaden our feelings and live a deadened life without forming deep relationships.Unfortunately it also invites people to hurt us because’ nothing matters’.So the person may live a life of detachment with no real relationships ,lonely and unhappy.
A disturbing outcome could be depression. Plagued with say critical thoughts about how they made the wrong choice, how they could have handled it better, how it was their fault, the person may blame himself constantly and as a result become depressed and unhappy. This debilitating mechanism of self attack can lead to consistent sadness and the person may suffer for many years unable to come out of this self imposed dungeon, terrified of entering a new relationship.
Denial could color one’s view about the situation. Sometimes the loss is so painful that people may deny the reality. It is not unheard of that when we lose a loved one to death the first reaction is disbelief. Even in other relationships people may hang on because they do not want to accept the reality. Who wouldn’t like to make friends with fantasy?
So, even if one partner continues to have extra marital affairs, or has already exited the relationship, the other might want to believe it to be untrue because the reality is too painful. Consequently many years go by and nothing changes. The latter may keep hoping that reality would not show up but when it does it leaves him/her devastated.
What we miss is that there are feelings involved. It is these mixed emotions and perceptions about our partner which are the most difficult to accept. We may deny them detach or distance but but it does not take us away from the fact that we may need to face them, deal with them, and set ourselves free before we can pick up our life again
A person whose partner abandoned them may not be willing to look at the feelings of love and happiness they spent together nor at the angry feelings towards the partner for abandoning them.
They may choose to deny and in more ways than one end up punishing themselves. Once they can face all the mixed feelings they may be able to accept the truth and move on without needing to change any behavior in their life.