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Surfing the Sea of Chaos that Comes with Divorce

02 Jan

Question:

Hi, Bellaruth! [Ed. Note: BR’s name is spelled Belleruth and pronounced Bell-rooth’ - there is no middle syllable in there]

I am 40 and just asked for a divorce from my husband of 1.5 years. We've known each other for 15.... we were better friends than husband and wife, and he has put me through a lot of stress during the time we were married (I was basically responsible for everything; he felt he only needed to be responsible to his job and sleeping at night!). He is extremely narcissistic.

While I am relieved that this part of the "journey" is over, I also feel like my life is topsy-turvy right now (even though I am the one who asked for the divorce). What would you recommend for me to find some peace and calm, as I get through this transition of "readjustment"?

Thank you!

Lisa

Hi, Lisa!

Yes, it’s still a big loss, no matter who asked for the divorce.  There’s grief for what might have been and the loss of your dreams for this relationship, no matter how feasible they were.  Your expectations, plans and hopes have come undone, and there’s nothing in their place right now.  After all, being half of a pair, even an unsatisfactory one, can provide the illusion of safety and protection against our garden variety fears, loneliness and existential angst, can it not?  And of course you’ve also lost your old, pre-marriage friendship with this man, which was probably a source of stability and satisfaction for years.

There are certainly some things you can do to find peace and calm in the chaos, but I’d also encourage you to surf the chaos, too - to just be with it - because there’s a lot of creative possibilities churning around in that cauldron, and you don’t want to prematurely short-circuit this challenging but productive time by trying to ‘fix it’ too fast. 

I’d suggest mindfulness meditation for exploring your inner life at this time and for learning to just be with yourself and all the crazy ups and downs.  It’s such a good practice, and it can yield, not just better tolerance for the roller coaster, but great emotional and spiritual growth that goes way beyond that.  We have a lot of wonderful mindfulness teachers on our list: of course there’s the sublime Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Guided Mindfulness Meditation, Bodhipaksa’s Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness and Love or his Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction audio would also be excellent; or if you prefer a woman’s voice, there’s Tara Brach’s wonderful Meditations for Emotional Healing.

And for when you want more of a ‘free ride’ that costs you less effort than  practicing mindfulness, there’s guided imagery that will carry you out of the chaos, straight to your calm center.  For this, I’d recommend General WellnessRelaxation and Wellness, Self-Confidence or Healing Trauma of my titles; Emmett Miller’s Accepting Change and Moving On; or Steve Gurgevich’s Relax Rx. I’d just pick one or two to start with and take it from there.  

But do try to remember that this will be an unsettled time for you, no matter what.  The same survival instinct that guided you out of this energy-sapping marriage will help you through this time too.  Be patient, pay attention, and do what you can to learn from this powerful period in your life.

All best,

Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award