Divorce is complicated no matter what the circumstances are, so if you don't know what to feel after divorce, you're not alone. You may find you have mixed emotions about your ex, and while you may know that the divorce was for the best, you might find that some days you hate your ex and, surprisingly, other days you miss them. Don't worry, that whirlwind of emotions is totally normal. So how do you cope with these changing emotions? We rounded up eight ways to deal with your mixed emotions about your ex after divorce.
Read on to learn how to handle your mixed emotions after a divorce.
Emotions Aren't Good or Bad
When a couple divorces, the bad times they shared may be their most recent memory, but there are times when each person feels vulnerable, lonely, or scared of the changes taking place. When this happens it's easy to think about the good times. Don’t try to push down your emotions, but allow yourself to feel all the emotional stages of divorce. Expect that you'll have your ups and downs. You have to let yourself go through the grieving process to start to feel normal again. "t’s normal and healthy to relive both good and bad moments in time when you were married. It’s an unavoidable part of the grief process," says licensed therapist Susan Pease Gadoua.
Divorce Means Change
Realize that every divorce brings change, and that's not always easy. There are times we're tempted to look back because it's easier than facing the fact that you now have to rebuild your life. Trust yourself that you can handle anything that comes along and that you made the right decision to divorce. Don’t let fear overtake your judgment.
It helps to make a list of the reasons you divorced, and the differences you and your ex had. Also, make a list of the good parts of your former relationship. Many newly divorced people are so focused on the bad that they grow resentful and hold a grudge against their ex, which makes it even harder to move on.
Sometimes you may need a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on. Don’t shy away from seeking support and validation from friends and relatives. If you feel the need, get into therapy to help you sort through your shifting emotions and the resulting stress. "Though it is possible to survive and flourish following divorce, the struggle to get there is something that nobody should have to face alone. Along with support from friends and family, people going through divorce often need counseling to handle the emotional consequences of divorce," says Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D.
Take Care of Yourself
Riding this roller coaster of emotions is taxing, so make sure you develop good self-care habits during this time. Get plenty of rest, avoid stress as much as possible, put non-essential things on the back burner for now, and eat a healthy diet.
Exercise can help improve your mood as well as reduce anxiety, so try to get in a little bit every day, whether just going for a short walk or doing yoga.
Spend Time Doing Things You Enjoy
Most people say when they went through a divorce, it was on their mind every waking moment of their day. Now that's done, take some time to do something you enjoy. This could include spending time with friends or spending quiet time alone with a good book. Let your mind concentrate on something other than the divorce when you're feeling overwhelmed.
Tell the Truth
Be honest with yourself about your feelings. Journaling can be helpful for some people undergoing a major life change. "There’s actually exciting new neuroscience showing the benefits of journaling so, while it may seem passive, it’s actually moving the pain out of your brain," Pease Gadoua says. If journaling isn't for you, then consider seeing a therapist to help you deal with your emotions. It's helpful to have a professional you can share your innermost feelings with and help you work through any lingering feelings.