Deconstructing Divorce: Understanding What Happened

It’s natural to try to make sense of things.  As time passes your perspective on your relationship will shift like quicksand.  One day you may look at the past through rose colored lenses and the next as if through a black veil.  It’s all OK.   No doubt, years from now, your view will be different from what it is today.  But what is for you this moment is your truth. Allow it to be just as it is.

If you have been keeping a journal, you have the opportunity to go back through the years and read (in your own words) how you viewed your marriage.  This can be quite an eye-opening experience.  I have kept a journal since I was 13.  Nothing prepared me for the shock of reading entries from almost 15 years ago.  Life, with its distractions of work and raising a family, had obliterated any negative thoughts and feelings I felt. I knew there had been challenges.  When the children left, and it was just the two of us, those became more obvious.

If you have not been keeping a journal, you may find it helpful to talk to friends and family and ask them what they noticed about you (your level of happiness, stress, anxiety, depression, etc.). They will probably be quite candid, once they know you are open to hearing their thoughts; so, be careful.  If you are not ready don’t ask.  You may never want to go back and deconstruct things.  We are all different.  There’s no one right way of processing your break-up.

I find it validating and emotionally satisfying to understand as much as I can.  When I look back and see cracks, or fissures, that I had been ignoring it makes my decision easier to assimilate. If everything I read in my journal was peachy I would wonder if I had taken leave of my senses.

You may prefer to accept life as it is now and move on.  Great, whatever makes you feel better. The only right way is the right way for you right now.  It doesn’t matter what works for someone else.

You may choose one of the above and change your mind later.  It really is OK.  Life is a process. None of us is stagnating.  We’re all in a state of flux and growth, even if it doesn’t feel that way. The dissolution of a relationship is an enormous shift on all levels, so being as accepting and gentle with yourself as you can be, and taking the time to let the emotional fallout settle, is a prerequisite for moving forward.

You may also notice your tolerance for deconstructing your divorce changes depending on your mood.  One day you want to understand what led up to this life-changing event, and the next you would rather eat dirt.  Allow yourself the luxury of honoring where you are.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  You are free to think and feel whatever is right for you, even if it contradicts something you thought or felt 10 seconds earlier.  The minute you allow yourself this emotional latitude and flexibility the sooner buried material will float into your conscious awareness.  A dream fragment, a fragrance, or a photograph might send a cascade of previously unconscious reveries flowing, and suddenly you have an epiphany.  It is impossible to predict what will catalyze inner leaps into a deeper understanding of what happened, so you can’t plan for it, or fabricate it.  However, the more open and attentive you can be the more likely you will make connections.

As you get stronger and more grounded in your new life your unconscious mind will need to filter less and less.  At some point, not only will the past make sense, you will see how it paved the way for a better present. By cultivating faith in yourself, and working to patiently trust the process, you fertilize the ground of your future happiness.

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

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Nicole Urdang

Nicole S. Urdang, M.S., NCC, DHM is a Holistic Psychotherapist in Buffalo, NY. She holds a New York state license in mental health counseling and a doctorate in homeopathic medicine from the British Institute of Homeopathy.