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Doubt can be a nasty little nudge or catapult one into despair during and after a divorce. If you ask any divorced person whether they ever doubted their decision to get divorced, many will say yes. Why do we have doubts about divorce after making one of the most impactful decisions of our lives, and what’s the best way to deal with it so that we can continue on the healing journey and not get pulled down into a well of negativity?
When going through my own divorce healing journey, I coined the terms “Hiccup Effect” and “Reverse Hiccups.” The Hiccup Effect means feeling doubtful about the divorce and often is realized after the divorce has been finalized. Because there are so many emotions associated with the death of a marriage, it is natural to have doubts, so the first thing to realize when you have the “hiccups” is that it is normal to experience the feelings. Remember that while feelings can be painful or even devastating, they are usually temporary and will resolve with self-work through the healing process.
“Hiccups” are usually caused by fear or loneliness, even when you know in your heart that the decision to divorce was soundly made; in other words, when you thoroughly contemplated the divorce and knew it was the “right” thing to do to live your best and highest life. These feelings need to be explored when experiencing “hiccups” to determine the next steps, and professional help is a great place to start if one doesn’t know how to explore feeling origins and learn how to get past them.
“Hiccups” are often experienced during difficult times, such as when one gets sick or needs help in some way – and the spouse is no longer there to comfort, take care of you or ease a burden. It is important to be mindful that these feelings are the body’s and soul’s way of “shedding” – getting rid of people and things that no longer serve us. Recognize the feelings, sit with them, explore their origins, and let them go. You can try some physical release exercises to help, but if you feel you are slipping into a victim mindset or worse (becoming depressed, not wanting to go out or eat or sleep, abusing substances, etc.), please seek professional help.
“Reverse Hiccups” are when the former spouse has “hiccups” dealing with their new existence outside of the marriage and projects their challenges onto you, which can affect your healing process. Their feelings might be conveyed by calling, texting, emailing, running into each other or even something that is said to the children (which should NEVER be done, by the way – keep them entirely out of how you feel about the former spouse and only speak well of their other parent so they too can heal).
The other spouse may use blaming, shaming, and even attempted manipulation as coping mechanisms to bring you down, too, so it is essential not to react. You may need to step back before responding and even set some boundaries. If you are subject to reverse hiccups, realize first that, like you, the former spouse is transitioning as well, and their feelings are valid.
Four tips to help you get through hiccups
Some people may experience the Hiccup Effect and realize that they did make a mistake in getting a divorce — and this is what doing intense personal work is all about. Divorce should never be taken lightly, as a marriage takes hard work and needs attention to survive and thrive. It is imperative to see if the relationship can be healed before jumping into the divorce process, as with anything that involves an extensive choice.
But if the divorce is past and the feelings of doubt are strong, it is necessary to work on the self first to determine whether the doubt is genuine or comes from some other emotion, like fear – and many fears can materialize upon divorce. Professional help may be required to discover the origin of the feelings before approaching the former spouse to dive into whether they feel the same, and to plan where to go from there.
Here are some tips to help you get through “hiccups:”
1. Write down your feelings
Include what you feel needs to be let go. Make sure to focus on what you have and express gratitude. For example, if you feel lonely having someone to share what had been a tough day, instead focus on your bravery for leaving an unhappy marriage and how it allows you to create a new life in which you will find joy.
2. Physical release exercises
Imagine you are throwing any negative feelings away, out of your system. You can take your hands behind your head, imagine the feeling you want to release and then throw your hands over your head and expunge them. Repeat as many times as needed, and do it for each successive feeling.
You can also do a physical release by writing your feelings down on paper and sending them off somehow (burying them, crumbling and throwing them away, etc.).
3. Reach out to your support network
Those who love and support you can help you cheer up, especially with laughter. It is imperative to make sure that the people who are part of this network are the “right” people – those who love and support you and, most importantly, allow you to make your own choices. It is possible for those who love you to try and steer you into a specific direction, telling you what you should or should not do – these are not truly supportive people and may need to be let go.
If you do not have the right people in your network, you can do a few things: sign up for classes, events or groups that do things that interest you. The people you meet there will likely share your passion. So take a dance or martial arts class, participate in a group sport, join a beach cleanup or volunteer group, learn how to sail/ski/surf or speak another language — whatever sounds fun so long as you get OUT of the house to do it.
You can also join one of the many divorce support groups you will find live and online – but the caveat here is to make sure they do not allow negative commentary such as former spouse-bashing: stay away from anything negative that might bring your spirits down and stall your healing process.
4. Move your body
Exercise, walk, do yoga, etc. These good-for-us actions release endorphins and help us to feel better naturally. Try to do this both alone and with others. It is good to have alone time when you are healing, especially in nature, as it allows us to think, experience feelings and recognize how strong we are in being alone.
It is also great to move your body with others, and it will make you feel good to take a walk or kayak around the lake with a friend or loved one. If you don’t have anyone with whom to do this join a group where you will meet others who are interested in the same fun ways to move the body – or pick something you can learn that sounds fun.
Taking the steps to heal and committing to focus on the self after divorce is necessary. Remember that it is natural to question choices, especially when they are game-changers! Getting past the “hiccups” makes moving forward and recovering from divorce easier – and more fun!