How to Let Go of Emotions During The Divorce Process

01
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What Does "Letting Go" Mean?

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According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, "Letting go can be as simple as recycling or giving away old clothing. It can be as radical as leaving a long-standing marriage or friendship and changing one’s entire lifestyle. Whichever it is, it is always going to be somewhat painful. I mention this because the feeling of loss that accompanies any type of letting go is perfectly normal, and should not be confused. If one expects no pain, then when the pain of separation and letting go and abandonment hit, many people turn away rather than move forward boldly."

When in the throws of emotional pain, "letting go" can be an abstract concept that is hard to grasp. When going through my divorce I heard and read a lot about detachment and moving and all I read seemed fine and dandy. The only problem? No one bothered to tell me exactly how one "lets go" or "moves on" when suffering debilitating emotional pain.

This article is an attempt to give you what I so desperately needed during that time in my life. It is a guide of sorts that will help you get through the "letting go" process while also dealing with the negative emotions that accompany a divorce.

It is about building a new path for your life that is not influenced by the pain of a broken marriage or the anger and resentment toward a spouse who has left. Dreams, hopes and fears are led by beliefs. We marry with the belief that it is going to last forever. We build dreams for a future with another person based on our belief that, that person will not let us down.

Moving forward and detaching during the divorce process means we have to come to terms with the fact that the dreams and hopes we had are now based on self-defeating beliefs. I hear from a lot of clients such things as, "he should not have cheated" or, "she made a vow and promised to stay." These are thoughts or beliefs that keep us stuck in a situation we no longer have any control over.

They also create more conflict during a time when we need to be dealing with the "here and now" instead of our belief that the marriage should not be coming to an end. "Letting go" during the divorce process not only helps us focus on protecting our legal rights, it helps us rid ourselves of old dreams and hopes so we can start building new dreams and hopes for the future. We replace old beliefs with new beliefs!

02
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Letting Go With Love

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If you are the one who made the choice to leave the marriage it is important to remember the love you once felt for your spouse. Although you feel the marriage is over, no longer fulfills your needs you should strive to transition from married to single with compassion for the one you are leaving behind. Any transition is easier to make if it is done with compassion, kindness and love.

If you are the spouse who has been left, letting go with love will be more of a challenge. I'm not suggesting you not set boundaries with the bad behavior of the spouse who has left. I understand that it is hard to feel compassion for someone who has cheated on you. It is almost impossible to show love toward someone who is victimizing you through the Family Court System.

There will be times when you need to be assertive and set boundaries because you do have a right to be treated with respect. Whether you are the leaver or the one left behind, I suggest you always remember the old saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The easiest path to "letting go with love" is to never do to someone else what you wouldn't want someone to do to you. Keeping this idea in mind throughout the emotional and legal process of divorce will lead to less conflict and in the end a higher sense of self-respect.

It is OK to be angry, it is not OK to stay anger. It is OK to feel resentment, it is not OK to stay resentful. If you need to set boundaries and exert your rights during the divorce process do so kindly and gently.

03
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Letting Go of Toxic Anger

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"Anger is a powerful and sometimes frightening emotion. It's also a beneficial one if it's not allowed to harden into resentment or used as a battering ram to punish or abuse people." Melody Beattie

The key to being able to use anger productively and in a beneficial way depends on how we react when feeling angry. The healthy way to react when angry is to become assertive. The unhealthy way to react is to become aggressive.

Being assertive when angry means you are able to express your needs and get those needs met without hurting others. I can hear you now, "wait a minute, my need is for him/her to stay in the marriage." And if that is what you are thinking then let me clear it up for you. When I talk of "needs" I am talking of those needs that are within your control. You don't have any control over whether or not your spouse chooses the marriage but you do have control over other issues and how you will be treated, how marital assets will be split and your co-parenting relationship with your ex.

Being assertive doesn't mean stomping your feet and digging in until you get your way. Your marriage is over, the need to keep your spouse in the marriage can lead to the unhealthy form of anger...aggression. Aggressive anger becomes pushy and demanding with no regard to what the other person feels they need or want.

Aggressive anger keeps you stuck, assertive anger helps you move forward with your life after divorce. If you are using your anger to get back at or punish your ex, you will be the one to pay in the end. If you are using your anger to make sure you are taken care of emotionally and legally during the process of divorce, you will reap the rewards of behaving in a healthy manner.

Whether it is divorce, the loss of a job, or the behaviors of a friend, things are going to happen in life that cause us anger. You have no control over the behaviors of others but you do have control over the way you respond to their behaviors. Controlling your anger and responding in an assertive way is the difference between your pain being short-term pain or long-term pain.

04
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Letting Go of The Victim Role

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I'll share a bit of personal information to make my point of how damaging it is to play the victim. My ex husband wanted a divorce, I didn't. I didn't fight him though because one of my long held beliefs about life has always been, "who wants to be with someone who doesn't want to be with them."

We got our divorce, I didn't ask for alimony or make any unreasonable demands legally. He was given liberal visitation rights with our children even though he rarely took advantage of what he was given. He also became angry, aggressively angry.

He had to be angry and point fingers at me and blame me for this, that and the other thing because he had been raised to believe that good men don't leave their families. So, instead of being able to say, "I no longer want to be married," he had to say to the world, "I had no choice, she was so bad I had to leave." That got him off the hook, when it came to being labeled a bad man BUT it also turned him into a victim and he hasn't played that role well. But have you ever known a victim who played it well?

My ex needed the approval of others and since he new leaving the marriage would get attention, he didn't want it to be attention that would reflect negatively upon him. He had to sell me out so that he could look good through and after the divorce process. He wasn't the victim though and neither was I, we were parties to a situation that was changing and nothing more.

No one needs to play the victim role in life to get the love and attention we all crave. In fact, playing the victim role will get us less of the love we so fervently desiring. Bad things happen to good people. Good people make choices that may be viewed by others as a bad choice. Regardless of what happens to us or what mistakes we feel we make, owning our ability to stand on our own two feet regardless is the only way to get what we most need out of life, love and positive attention.

The most disturbing thing I've observed about my ex since our divorce is that he is someone who stands around and watches life happen around him. He is a very passive man who lives life by going with the flow. I can look back now and see that he was this way during our marriage and nothing has changed since the divorce.

And that is who the victim is, a person who doesn't take pro-active steps to make life happen for them. Life is something that happens to them. The victim doesn't make things happen, they wait until things happen to them.

Being the "victim" of your spouse's infidelity or desire to leave the marriage is a sure fire way of missing out on all of life's possibilities. Why not choose to be the victor instead of the victim and take control of the direction your life moves in?

05
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Letting Go of The Need to Control

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When in emotional pain one might struggle to remain in control of the situation in an attempt to lessen their pain. If we are busy trying to control what is happening to us, we are not able to see what could happen to us if we were more open.

I know a woman whose husband wanted a divorce. She fought him every step of the way during the legal process of the divorce. It was her belief that marriage was forever and she would do anything in her power to keep him from breaking up their family.

Many years later this woman is still trying to control the situation based on her belief that marriage is forever. In a perfect world marriages last, that was not her world though and she can't give over control to the fact that her marriage ended.

Her ex husband has a new wife and has moved on with his life. She is now putting most of her energy into changing state divorce laws to make harder to get a divorce. She and I share the belief that divorce laws are too lenient, the difference between she and I is that for her it has become an all consuming movement. She has shifted her need to control whether or not her marriage survived to controlling the laws that allowed her husband to divorce her.

I often wonder what she would be doing with her life if she had let go of her need to control whether her husband continued to love her. Or whether or not she had control over the legal system that allowed her husband to no longer love her.

Are you trying to control what course your marriage is taking? Are you bent and determined to control how another person responds to or behaves toward you? Stop and think about what you would be doing differently with your life if you only let go of your need to control that person.

When you wake up tomorrow, let go of your need to be in control. Choose to do something that will bring enjoyment to your life. At the end of the day you won't be able to deny that you've had a better day, so much better than those days when you are trying to control and influence others.

06
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Letting Go of What You Want

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This is a big one, probably the most difficult step you will take when dealing with negative emotions during the divorce process. Letting go of what you want entails changing your own mind about such an issue as whether or not your marriage remains intact. You will be called on, during the divorce process to let go of time with your children, marital assets and much more.

We can want something so desperately that it can feel like an actual need. It is easy to confuse our wants with our needs, especially during the demise of a marriage. You are going to be called on to negotiate and compromise on the issues above. If you can't let go of what you want (need) you won't be able to focus on what is in your best interest during divorce settlement negotiations.

A mother who has been left for another woman may cringe at the thought of giving up time with her children to a cheating husband. She will fight tooth and nail to keep him from gaining shared custody or even liberal visitation.

In her mind, her children are better off with her than a cheating scoundrel. She wants her children and dismisses the idea that even though he cheated on her, this father loves and wants his children also. This mother will put what she wants above what her children want...time with their father and that is when standing up for what you want does harm to not only you but others.

Think of it this way, we don't often get what we want but if we give up the struggle, we can get something better. You may still want your marriage but if you don't give up the struggle to get what you want, you will never know what else life has to offer in it's place.

You may resent paying child support and wish to retain that money for yourself but which is more important, getting what you want or showing your children their needs are important to you, important enough that you are willing to give up a want so they can have?

You are going to sit down with divorce lawyers or mediators and come to an agreement with your spouse about how life will be dealt with once the divorce is final. Coming to an agreement that benefits all concerned isn't going to happen if you are not able to let go of some of what you "want."