Many factors determine the quality of life after divorce…things like the amount of time that has elapsed since separating, the circumstances that led to the divorce and whether emotional issues have been addressed. Of course, many people can find great happiness after divorce. Yet, others still hold onto lingering anger and sadness.
There is one type of individual who, even years after the divorce, still lives with a particularly heavy heart, unique from just the typical residue of divorce trauma.
Meet our fictional, “David.” Here is his profile:
1) There came a time when David feverishly wanted a divorce from his wife, “Linda,”
2) Years later, he has not found the fulfillment or relief that he thought the divorce would bring, and
3) Deep inside, David suspects that getting divorced was a mistake, but he will not acknowledge this fact.
The third element is the root of David’s immense sadness. Unacknowledged regret is a powerful undercurrent in one’s life. Running away from the reality that he may have made a “tragic mistake,” can cause a toxic emotional environment within.
It is understandable that David would seek to avoid facing up to this. Recognizing that the pain and anguish caused from the divorce may have been in vain and that there have been few if any benefits to the divorce, perhaps only new problems with different faces -- this is a tough pill to swallow. So, David subconsciously chooses not to face it, and spends a great deal of internal energy constantly patching the hole of denial.
While David’s subconscious seeks to avoid the pain of admitting regret, these emotions nevertheless do not disappear. They take hold and manifest themselves in other areas of his life. Certainly, the onset of illness and chronic conditions can result when such powerful emotions are suppressed. Destructive behavior, anger issues, emotional paralysis; are all classic signs as well.
It is often the case that those in David’s position will ironically project disproportionate amount of anger and blame toward the former spouse in order to avoid facing their own emotions. David lashes out at Linda, who in turn lashes back, which then in David’s mind, gives validation to his often misguided blame. It’s a cycle that allows David to stay in denial and avoid owning up to his role in the conflicts. It simply digs a deeper hole.
David may avoid facing regret because he knows it is the first step toward healing. He may not want to heal, because his inner, subconscious suffering is punishment for his mistakes. He may not feel deserving of healing and moving forward. So, he stays in the stagnated energy of unacknowledged regret and deep-seeded pain.
Yes, regret over hurting others, especially those people one loves the most, seems too great to handle or ever overcome. Some people fear that if they acknowledge this regret, they may “lose it,” become suicidal or at the least, completely dysfunctional. Often, people in these situations subconsciously feel beyond redemption.
If one feels undeserving of healing, then focusing on becoming a whole person again in order to be there for loved ones, or to help others, is a real and potentially powerful motivation. Finding meaning in the experience of what happened and helping others on their journeys can serve as inspiration to come to terms with these emotions as well. While these concepts may seem unrealistic or simply too idealistic to someone who is teetering in the painful place between denial and acknowledgment, rest assured, liberation from this awful emotional place is possible as well.
Once regret is acknowledged, the road to healing can begin. The moments after “owning up” are profound and raw, yet this is just the beginning of the healing process. These sensations eventually, with work, subside and make room for energetic rebirth and transformation. On the road to healing, attempts to make amends with others may not always succeed. However, the emotional cleansing that goes along with the process is meaningful, leading to positive changes in one’s life as well as the lives of those who have been harmed, even if they themselves will not recognize it.
What seems like an insurmountable burden is actually an opportunity for growth. It is worth noting that one’s subconscious guilt and regret is often inflated. That is, there is simply no crystal ball to predict what would have, or could have been. What may seem like a tragic, unilateral mistake may actually have been the wiser course after all. These are mysteries of life and one should not underestimate the concept of “this must have been meant to be, otherwise it would not have been.”
Taking small steps can help. Acknowledging a smaller, less daunting mistake, is actually good practice for preparing to own up to one’s role in more profound decisions.
The bottom line is – in order to heal and move forward with life and overcome this regret, it must first be acknowledged. Everyone deserves happiness and fulfillment. Working with a professional in facing these emotions can help with the impact and the process of turning one’s life from a state of denial, stagnation and darkness to one of growth and learning, and finally to understanding, peace and light.
Lisa Clare is a Motivational Coach, Author and Speaker with a passion for Reinvention. Formerly a matrimonial attorney with 18 years legal experience (15 years in family law), Lisa Clare is trained as a Certified Professional Life Coach and Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Today, Lisa coaches individuals, couples and groups in various forms of reinvention. For those who want a New You State of Mind (tm), whether in the realm of relationship repair, divorce recovery, wellness and balance, general motivation, or a combination of these, Lisa’s expertise and her inspiring techniques can help you gain clarity, build momentum and develop lasting fulfillment. www.NewYouStateofMind.com