Finding Peace in the Midst of Divorce: How to Heal After a Breakup

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how to heal after a breakup

It's the New Year! Now what?

Post by Liesel Darby, Divorce Coach & Mediator

The New Year is all about starting fresh, starting over, moving forward. Unless you happen to have a giant shiny red REFRESH button to hit on January 1, some intentional pondering must happen before any changes are made. If you are somewhere in the divorce process (considering divorce, in the thick of it, or post-divorce), a fresh start can look very inviting.

Visualizing this clean slate and getting specific in the details ("I really want to get new bed linens in cheery yellow." "I want to stop being sick every time I see my ex with his new girlfriend." "I am going to sign up for Samba classes.”) is a great way to allow your imagination to play a bit, try things on for size.

Hold up. Go back to the ex and his girlfriend. How do you go about dealing with this icky vision? A break up is hard enough without this visual!

This is like a giant roadblock right in the middle of your highway to a fresh start. It stretches all the way across the road, so you can't go around it. It's 100 feet high, so no going over it. There is a hole in the middle, just your size, but you will have to leave all your baggage behind if you want to squeeze through.

This baggage is heavy and contains hurt, bitterness, and anger. You have been schlepping it around all this time and have gotten used to it, but now you realize you must set it down in order to move forward.

How to Heal After a Breakup

So, how do you do this?

The answer is FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness is something that only you can do. This sounds lovely in theory, but you don't want to hear it right now. That would mean that he gets away with the very thing that is fueling your righteousness. Or does it?

My own experience with this process led me to find a way to put down that baggage and heal after my husband cheated on me, which led to our divorce.

An Exercise to Help You Heal

Here's what I did: As I went on a walk, I deliberately made myself think of three things about my ex I was grateful for, and then I visualized a small red Valentine-y heart traveling from my heart to his. All I was ever able to come up with for the three things were:

  1. I was grateful he was breathing;
  2. I was grateful he didn't drink himself to death while partying, and
  3. I was grateful he had his job so he could pay me spousal support. 

I just kept repeating these positive thoughts, and I was eventually able to send him four hearts. I call it a "heart blip." This small exercise enabled me to let go of the anger, bitterness, and hurt in a way that was astonishing to me.

The reality is that you cannot be in a state of gratitude and be angry, bitter, or hurt. It is not possible. Although I wish I could say I was able to expand my list, these three things were enough to move me into healing mode. It took a couple of months of doing this as part of my daily self care practice, but it worked.

Free Yourself with Forgiveness

Forgiveness truly is freeing for YOU. It is not for the other person; they won't even know you've done it unless you tell them or you suddenly start acting in ways that puzzle them (you might smile or say hello and mean it). 

I did tell my ex that I forgave him (as a birthday present), and he seemed to sincerely appreciate it. As a result, we are able to have civilized conversations when in the same room, which benefits everyone.

He married the girlfriend, and I don't care anymore. I don't follow them on social media. I focus on what feels good to me.

That's the greatest gift to myself I could give, a true act of self love. I have been moving forward ever since, and now, this New Year, I am only focused on envisioning things like cheery yellow sheets, a wonderful new job, and Samba lessons.

Forgiveness Creates Space to Move Forward

Whether you are currently considering divorce mediation as an option to resolve your differences or already immersed in the process, approaching the mediation table with a mindset of forgiveness can prove immensely advantageous. By letting go of past hurts and grievances, you create a space that fosters mutual understanding and paves the way for a future that benefits all parties involved. Holding onto grudges and seeking revenge only hinders the progress of moving forward. Embracing forgiveness not only lightens the emotional burden but also opens up a realm of new possibilities and positive outcomes.

Start Where You Are

If forgiveness feels like too much to ask for at this moment, then finding acceptance of the current circumstances can be the next best step to getting off the emotional rollercoaster. Acceptance plays a pivotal role when it comes to healing, allowing us to break free from the shackles of hurt and pain, and enabling us to move on towards a brighter future. It may take some time to fully embrace acceptance, but once we do, it becomes easier to eventually transition into forgiveness.

When facing challenges on our own, support groups can serve as an invaluable resource. These groups provide a sense of community and guidance, offering a safe space to share experiences and receive support from individuals who are going through similar situations. Through these connections, we find solace in knowing that we are not alone in navigating the hardships that come with a broken heart. Participating in a supportive community can really help to rebuild self esteem.

As we embark on a new year, let us embrace the journey of healing and fresh starts, knowing that we have the strength and support to overcome any obstacles that come our way.


Frequently Asked Questions About the Healing After a Breakup

1. How long does it take to heal after a breakup?

There is no predetermined timeline for healing after a break up, as each individual's journey is inherently unique. The time it takes to heal can vary greatly from person to person. While some individuals may find closure and move forward relatively swiftly, others may require a more extended period to process and navigate through their emotions. It's important to grant yourself the necessary time and space to heal and recover at a pace that feels most comfortable and authentic to you.

2. Is it normal to still feel heartbroken even months after a breakup?

Yes, it is completely normal to still feel heartbroken even months after a breakup. Healing from a broken heart takes time and can be a complex process. It's important to remember that everyone's healing journey is unique, and there is no set timeline for moving on. It's okay to experience moments of sadness and hurt as you navigate through the ups and downs of recovering from a breakup.

Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to grieve and heal at your own pace. Surround yourself with supportive people and engage in activities that bring you joy and help you move forward. Remember, healing is a gradual process, and with time, you will find yourself in a better place emotionally.

3. How can support groups help with healing?

Groups can be an invaluable resource for individuals navigating the challenging journey of a breakup. These groups offer a secure and empathetic environment where you can freely express your emotions and exchange experiences with others who are facing similar circumstances. It can be immensely reassuring to realize that you are not alone in your struggles and to receive unwavering support from individuals who genuinely comprehend the depth of what you're going through.

In these support groups, you'll find a diverse range of individuals who have gone through various aspects of breakups, whether it's the initial heartache, the process of healing, or the journey to finding oneself again. By sharing your thoughts and feelings with others, you can gain valuable insights, learn coping mechanisms, and discover new perspectives that can help you navigate this challenging time. The connections you make in these groups often extend beyond the meetings, creating a network of support that can be a lifeline during moments of doubt or loneliness.

Furthermore, these groups provide a safe space to explore the complexities of your emotions without judgment. You can openly discuss your fears, doubts, and even moments of hope, knowing that everyone present understands the rollercoaster of emotions that come with the end of a relationship. This shared understanding fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie, reminding you that you are not defined by your breakup but rather by your resilience and ability to grow from the experience.

Support groups offer more than just a listening ear. They provide a platform for personal growth, empowerment, and the opportunity to forge meaningful connections with others who are on a similar path. Whether you're seeking solace, guidance, or a sense of community, these groups can be a lifeline during the challenging journey of a breakup.

4. What are some healthy coping mechanisms post breakup?

During the healing process after a breakup, there are numerous healthy coping mechanisms that can be beneficial. One effective approach is seeking solace by spending time with good friends and confiding in supportive family members who can provide comfort and advice (even if it's just meeting at a coffee shop).

Additionally, practicing self-care activities like indulging in relaxing baths, treating oneself to favorite meals, or engaging in soothing activities such as reading or listening to music can also promote healing. Another helpful option is exploring hobbies or engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment, allowing for a positive distraction from the pain.

Support from a mental health professional can provide guidance and a safe space to navigate through negative feelings and gain insights. It is especially important to reach out to a therapist or counselor if your breakup is impacting your ability to keep up with your daily life.

Journaling is an excellent outlet for expressing and processing feelings, as it allows for self-reflection and personal growth.

Lastly, incorporating regular exercise into your routine not only promotes physical well-being but also releases endorphins that can uplift your mood and contribute to overall healing. Remember, finding what works best for you and allowing yourself ample time to heal is crucial in this journey of self-recovery.

5. Is it okay to still have contact with an ex after a breakup?

This is a personal decision that ultimately depends on the circumstances of the breakup and the individuals involved. In some cases, staying in contact with an ex can lead to closure and a healthy friendship. However, it's important to set boundaries and take time for yourself before attempting any type of communication with your ex. It's also crucial to be honest with yourself about whether or not this contact is truly beneficial for you and your healing process.

It's important to remember that every breakup is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for handling the aftermath. It's okay to feel overwhelmed, sad, angry, or confused during this time. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship. 

Once you've taken some time to heal and reflect on the relationship, you may feel ready to reach out to your ex. Before doing so, consider your intentions for wanting to reconnect. Are you genuinely interested in a friendship, or are you hoping for something more? It's important to be honest with yourself and your ex about your intentions.

If both parties are open to communication, it's crucial to establish clear boundaries. This may include limiting contact to specific topics or setting a schedule for communication. It's also important to respect each other's personal space and not pressure them into any type of reconciliation.



About Intentional Divorce Solutions

At Intentional Divorce Solutions, we're committed to guiding individuals through the complexities of divorce with an approach centered on empowered choices and respectful outcomes. Our team provides comprehensive support and expertise in several key areas:

  • Divorce Financial Planning and Analysis: Providing in-depth financial insights and strategies for a secure future post-divorce.
  • Divorce Mediation: Facilitating respectful and balanced negotiations to reach mutually beneficial resolutions.
  • Divorce Coaching: Offering personalized support and guidance to help you navigate through emotional and practical challenges of divorce.
  • Divorce Support Groups: Creating a space for sharing experiences and finding strength in community support.

Please Note: We focus on providing support and solutions in various aspects of divorce. However, we are not attorneys and do not offer legal advice.

Work With Us

If you are on the journey of divorce and seeking professional, empathetic support, we are here to assist you. Reach out to us to discover how our services can be adapted to your unique needs, empowering you to make informed decisions for respectful and positive outcomes.

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