What are some of the common feelings when experiencing a shock divorce?
My name is Adèle and I am a Divorce Angel. I remember the first four days after my husband left. They were brutal. At 02:30 am I was on my third glass of wine and hadn’t eaten in three days. I had been in my pyjamas for 36 hours straight and had chain-smoked 40 cigarettes (and I’m not even a smoker!). There was a pile of laundry on the couch waiting to be ironed and used tissues everywhere. The house was in absolute chaos and I didn’t feel like doing anything. I wasn’t answering my phone or talking to my family or anyone else. I had a vision of being found dead of a broken heart at the age of 85, still wearing my pyjamas, with no love or man in my life. The only time I left the house, I was so distracted, I almost drove into a wall. I thought that if I could convert my emotional pain into physical pain, I could take a pill for it. How bizarre my thoughts were! The reality is that I was in despair. I felt completely out of control. For someone who is usually organised and structured, this was a very new feeling.
Nothing helped and I remember thinking, “Why the hell is this happening to me?” I had read 27 books on breaking up in two weeks. I had spoken to two therapists. I had spoken to a counsellor. I listened to music. I listened to a personal development CD. I spoke to friends. Nothing helped. I was going crazy. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. The pain felt unbearable, I just wanted to feel normal again.
If this sounds familiar to you or you can relate in any way, welcome to the club. You are completely normal and you will be okay. Here are some completely normal responses to divorce:
• Numbness – numbness can be physical, emotional, or both. The numbness
• lasts for different periods of time for different people.
• Disrupted sleep patterns – not being able to sleep or sleeping too much is
• completely normal.
• Changing eating habits – it’s normal to have almost no appetite or a need to
• eat nonstop, or both, alternately.
• Rollercoaster of emotional energy – extreme ups and downs. As a direct result
• of these emotional highs and lows, you may feel emotionally and physically
• Depression – feeling low and depressed is normal.
• Despair, desolation and desperation.
• Reduced concentration.
• Feeling hopeless.
• Feeling helpless.
• Feeling strong anger or rage.
• Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
• Exhibiting a change in personality.
• Losing interest in most activities.
• Experiencing a change in sleeping or eating habits.
• Performing poorly at work.
You will feel low for the first few weeks, even months. That’s normal. After that, you’ll start to feel more like your old self. You’ll start to rationalise things and you’ll begin to work out what to do next. This is a turning point, and it means you’re thinking about your future. The pain will still be there, but it will become easier to bear and you’ll find many things you can do to work through the pain and speed up your recovery.
You may feel it tempting to keep busy and avoid being alone. However, if you want to heal, the KEY is to FACE your emotions and process them. I know this may sound like a frightening idea. I remember thinking that my own sadness and grief would swallow me whole. What I did realise after a few days was that every single emotion had another emotion underneath it, almost like there were layers of emotions which
needed to be peeled off. My job was to simply move through each emotion, find the boundary or ending of
the layer and move onto the next emotional layer. There was actually a natural ending to each emotion but only when I truly experienced and acknowledged the preceding emotion. When you resist your emotions and avoid being with them by indulging in Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactics, you prolong the healing cycle
You will consequently have no say about how much time your healing will take or what will happen.