The final stage
This last part of your emotional journey begins with very small changes in your daily life. You begin to feel whole again. You begin to notice small acts of kindness. You start to be grateful and thankful for the love and support of friends and family who have journeyed with you. Perhaps it is time to thank them and apologise for any unintentional behaviour in times of stress.
Your parents and siblings will be happy that you are beginning to heal as you visibly spend more time looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past. But some or even all of these emotions may return from time to time. Be prepared for special moments of vulnerability such as wedding anniversaries, birthdays, exams, Christmas or holidays. Try to arrange something with a friend. These occasions may be memorable but less painful after the first anniversary.
If you have not had a close relationship with your children or have not been able to see them, you may be able to get even closer. Even though there may have been some time without contact, they are still your children. They still love you. As a mother, consider what is best for the child: Should your child have permission to love both parents? Are you doing what is best for them?
Accommodating this separation
The pain and all the other emotions you have felt on your journey are real and should be respected. You have 'accommodated' this separation. You have found a place for it. You have found a way to continue. The pain and hurt are still there but are usually in their place and under control.
This could be a new start with fresh possibilities and different skills as you adjust to your new life. You don't know how long it will take. Don't be rushed by others who think you should be going faster. You will know if you are ready to move on. You will also know if you are going too slow.
The end of the divorce process
There's the legal divorce, your Decree Nisi and your Decree Absolute. And then there's the emotional divorce which can take much longer. The divorce process comes to an end when you have negotiated this inner journey with yourself. When you recognise your own strengths and weaknesses. When you can look back and recognise the person you used to be. And you are happy being the person you are.
Read more in our Moving on section.
Love like you have never been hurt.
Dance like nobody's watching
And sing like nobody's listening.
Finding it hard to heal?
Although it may be difficult to imagine now, as you heal and grow stronger, you may be able to give more love than before. In return and when your heart is open, you could be loved again. If this journey is a little too strenuous, here are some healing exercises to help.
The Healing Diary:
Some people find it helpful to start a diary. This can be in any form and should always be kept secret and in a safe place. By facing your hurt and expressing your feelings in your diary, this can prove be a great aid in the healing process. Perhaps you could start by jotting down negative emotions on the left hand side page and positive ones on the right. You could write down your fears and ways you think that these can be overcome. Always respond to a negative entry with a positive one. In time, there will be more optimistic feelings than negative and this will be reflected as you read back through your diary. When looking back over these entries after a few weeks or even days, you could notice quite a change in how you are feeling and how you deal with these emotions.
As you aim to complete the healing process, you could try writing a letter to your partner expressing some of the emotions you have experienced. This is just an exercise and should be written in your diary, not to be actually sent. Imagine that everything you write is heard and understood the way you want it to be. You could copy the first few words of each line to lead you into your own thoughts or devise your own. Try to include some of the emotions you have seen on the emotional rollercoaster.
The following is an example:
I am writing this letter to you, as I need you to know how much I am hurting. I need you to share this incredible pain so that we can forgive each other and accept what has happened in our relationship.
I feel angry.
I feel angry because ...... you left me like this.
I feel so angry when ...... I know you are with someone else.
I don't like ...... feeling this weak.
I wish ..... we could talk.
I feel sad.
I feel sad because ..... the children are so miserable.
I feel sad when ..... I think how we loved each other for so long.
I don't like ..... myself like this.
I wish ..... we could be kind to each other.
I feel afraid.
I feel afraid because ..... this doesn't feel real.
I feel afraid when ..... I think of the future without you.
I don't like ..... being without you.
I wish ..... we could start again.
I am sorry.
I am sorry because ...... I didn't notice your hurt.
I am sorry when ...... I think of how I didn't show my love.
I don't like ..... what has happened to us.
I wish ..... you still loved me.
Please help me to let go and move on. I need your help.
Now you can take charge of how you want to be treated. You are not dependent on the other for how you feel. Pretend that you are your partner and write the reply you would wish to receive. The one you deserve to receive. Full of understanding and love. Full of everything you need to feel whole again.
Thank you for telling me how you are feeling.
Please try to forgive me, as I never planned to hurt you.
I really did love you and want you to believe this.
I am sorry for how I have treated you.
You do not deserve this. I will try to make things easier for you. You deserve to be loved and to be happy again.
Time to forgive
Now it is back to you to respond. Show that you can forgive and be thankful for being understood.
Thank you ..... for saying you used to love me. That means a lot.
I am grateful for ...... the time we shared.
I do forgive you ..... for leaving me, for not loving me.
I deserve ..... to find love again and I will be open to it if it comes again.
I will let go .... and move on.
I know it will be a difficult journey. But I know that time is a healer and, with time, I shall be happy again.
Suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear;
To hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates
Shelley Prometheus Unbound 1820
Forgiveness does not weaken you
It is important to remember that this 'forgiveness' does not weaken you. It actually gives you strength. (You may have seen the astonishing programmes about forgiveness re the troubles in Northern Ireland.) You consciously decide to stop harbouring resentment and begin to feel gentler when thinking about your spouse.
Sadness in place of anger
You could now tend to feel sadness instead of anger. You understand what has happened but now you are deciding to stand back. You have less to say about the subject and you are no longer waiting for anything to happen. You don't have that feeling in the pit of your stomach. You are not afraid and you feel free to move on.
Do something to mark how you feel
Kiss a wedding photo. Plant a tree or a bush. Visit one of your favourite places.
Throw a party and say thanks to all your friends for helping you on this journey.
Make a parachute jump. You have got through it. There may be some bad days ahead but you have coped and you always will. You are not superhuman but you are strong. Look forward to new opportunities.
Look well to this day. For it is life, the very best of life. In its brief course lie all the realities and truths of existence, The joy of growth, the splendour of action, The glory of power. For yesterday is but a memory And tomorrow is but a vision. But today, if well lived makes every yesterday A memory of happiness and every tomorrow A vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day. Anon