Divorce is an experience that brings many emotions with it, from positive emotions like relief to feelings such as anger and sadness. However, there are other feelings that can pop up in a divorce no matter how the relationship ended, such as guilt and shame.
While feeling shame and guilt about your divorce is very common, it’s not very productive. In fact, these feelings can even complicate the divorce process if you allow them to overwhelm you. If you are struggling with these feelings during or after your divorce, here are some things you can try to move past them.
Show Yourself Some Forgiveness
First, you need to forgive yourself. Whether you did something wrong in the relationship that contributed to the divorce or not, you cannot heal from your guilt until you are able to forgive yourself.
Self-forgiveness may sound easy, but it is often quite difficult. Many people tend to forgive other people faster than they let themselves off the hook, and divorce is not an exception. Accept that you cannot change the past, but you can stop yourself from making the same mistakes again going forward.
Another way you can begin to show yourself forgiveness is by acknowledging that sometimes, relationships hit a point and need to end. People change, priorities evolve, circumstances change, and you and your spouse may have changed, too. The lifelong promise you gave to your spouse when you got married was made in a different place and time. Despite what you may have wanted, things in life simply end sometimes.
Accept That Guilt Won’t Change Anything
As much as you may want to still be in your marriage or have a chance to fix things that caused the marriage to fail, feeling guilty about it won’t change anything that happened in the past. Guilt, in many ways, is a product that comes from living in the past, and when it happens, it can hold you prisoner there. It’s tough to move forward when you are always looking back.
Dedicate some time to thinking about your future, as hard as this may be in the beginning. When you accept that guilt has no place in your future, you’ll start to break free from its hold on you in the present.
Get Back to Your Values
Reconnect with your core values. This way, you’re not just laboring through guilt, which isn’t an emotion people are meant to always carry with them. If, for example, you have always enjoyed donating your time or money to causes, don’t pull back from those efforts now. Remind yourself of who you usually are and who you really want to be. When your life is filled with positives, it becomes harder for those negatives to take up space.
Reach Out for Help
Friends and family may be just the people you need to talk to about your guilt. However, if you find that this isn’t really helping, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. A therapist can help you by providing a third-party point of view on your situation. In addition, your sessions will be completely private, which may help you open up more about what is weighing you down. It can be hard to be honest with even the most well-meaning friends and family about certain things, so having a therapist as a neutral, private outlet can really be beneficial to you.
Guilt and shame are pretty common in a divorce, so if you are feeling either or both of these emotions, you are certainly not alone. Use the tips above to help you move past these emotional roadblocks and into your post-divorce future.