I have a secret for you. Divorce drama is an illusion. And the day-to-day drama we get stuck in during divorce is because we haven’t been able to break ourselves away from drama’s hold on us.
It can be hard to admit, but the reason there is so much drama throughout the process is because our frame of mind during the complicated divorce process is ruled by reactive emotions, rather than by the logic the process deserves. We can’t help it—it’s like an atomic bomb went off and we are in survival mode, doing whatever we can to make it from one day to the next. It’s no wonder we wake up every morning exhausted, having to prepare for the next argument, the next threat, the next pounding stress headache.
This mindset is why we’re stuck. We get reduced to thinking of things as just living from one day to the next because our emotions and survival mode have made us think that there is no other way. This is why we get pissed if we hear the ex-to-be has started to date again, or when we become upset if they threaten that we’ll never see the children again, or start to panic, doubting our ability to do this alone and getting through it without going insane.
Those are reactions to the end of the marriage, and those reactive feelings mold our decisions going forward, as we try to work through the legal/financial/logistical/emotional shitshow. What we should be doing is put those reactive feels from the marriage’s failure aside, and approach this new stage—the divorce process—with the proactive feelings that you need.
But that drama and those stuck feelings are merely our emotional reactions. And those reactions can be changed by us.
Exercise: Getting Unstuck from the Day-to-Day Drama
When you’re already feeling awful because you’re trying to navigate through the overwhelm and the hard feelings, that quick reaction tends to be an emotional reaction. And when you react emotionally, there’s no time to step back, take a deep breath, and figure out a more logical and calm solution that you deserve.
Learning how to shift your mindset to think react logically is a lifeline journey. But today, let’s start the process with this simple exercise! The only requirement is that you are COMPLETELY HONEST with yourself when you go through the steps.
- List what’s making you feel like crap today.
- List what’s made you feel like crap in the past week.
- List what’s made you feel like crap in the past month.
- List what’s make you feel like crap since the split started.
- I’m feeling bad today because my there is just too much to do
- This past week, I found out my ex-to-be is dating again
- This month I visited with a lawyer and found out her retainer fee. I’m freaking out because I don’t know how I’ll afford it
- I’m just so confused and angry and heart-broken. I feel like I’m to blame for the divorce
Now comes the fun part. For each reason you have written down, you will counter that feeling with something that you can control. And to hold yourself accountable, you will give yourself a time frame to accomplish it. Take a look at the examples for inspiration!
- There is a lot to do, but I haven’t bothered to write a list. What I am going to do is write a to-do list of the things I really need to do today. It’s not everything. Then tomorrow, I am going to do the same. And then I am going to look at a month-long calendar and prioritize what really needs to be done. And I will ask for help and reach out for advice within the next week. I don’t have to feel overwhelmed because I don’t have to go through this alone.
- I’m sad that my ex is dating again, but I need to remember that I deserve to be with someone who treats me right and doesn’t make me feel bad, which they did. I instead will direct that sadness into energy for myself–in the next two days, I am going to find a Meet-up group I really like and I am going to one of their events by next week. This week-end, I am going to treat myself to a movie that I want to see—something my ex-to-be would never have gone to but I can go enjoy it by myself.
- Although I am freaked out by the lawyer’s fee, I have options. If she’s a good lawyer and I trust her, I will research what options I have to come up with the money. If it’s still out of the ballpark, I will research legal clinics and pro-bono places this weekend and see what other reasonably-priced legal representation is there.
I feel horrible about the divorce and I need someone to talk to. Tomorrow I am going to search for a therapist and I will make an appointment next week. Tonight after dinner, I am going to see what healing and books are available on Amazon to buy that can make me feel better. Next week, I will find an online support group where I can share my story in a non-judgmental platform.
The Game Plan
Now it’s your turn! Don’t be afraid to play around with this exercise and search your options. You’ll surprise yourself with the amount of creativity and knowledge you already have to start making yourself feel better.
So much of the drama we experience daily is a result of how we react outside influences. You alone have the power to choose how you react. And when you make those smart choices of reacting with kindness and logic, the easier it will be to glide from day-to-day and not be held prisoner with drama that you think is out of your control.