Thanks For The Divorce!? How Gratitude Can Help You Heal

By Therapist Teresa Maples, YourTango expert

positive side of divorce

If you are in the process of divorcing, the grief can be overwhelming. So, what is the best way to deal with the seemingly never ending assaults?

The answer may surprise you. It is the attitude of gratitude. Gratitude can be like a salve applied gingerly to an open wound. It is meant to heal and protect you from the ravages of being hurt by your former spouse. A protective covering that can sooth your emotions and even give you a sense of peace.

You might be thinking, I feel so devastated, I can’t imagine feeling peace ever again! or Good riddance! I’m so glad to be done with this marriage! Both responses suggest you’re harboring resentment and anger. In both cases, you feel hurt and are grieving in your own way.

Grieving is normal and must be gone through for optimal mental health. You can allow yourself to have a reprieve from the grief by intentionally allowing yourself to focus on the things for which you are grateful.

There are many blessings to be grateful for while recovering from divorce. Some of these include: freedom from conflict with your former spouse; freedom to make your own decisions; the ability to decorate however you want; a positive model for your kids that it is not healthy to stay in a toxic marriage; the opportunity to parent your children the way you want to when they are at your house; the occasion to learn how supportive friends and family can be.

Inevitably, your children are calmer and more peaceful due to the decrease in anxiety and fighting in the home. You are free to learn what you can from the lost relationship so you don’t make the same mistakes again. These ideas are a starting place to find an attitude of gratitude and get you started.

You also have an opportunity to evaluate how you have participated in picking your former relationships. Many times there is a pattern you follow that is not evident unless you reflect and look for past patterns. These patterns, once identified, are information you can use in the future to avoid picking these same types of people.  You can be grateful for the awareness of your patterns and view it as a gift and blessing for your future life satisfaction.

Many times the grief of divorce is not about the person you are leaving, but rather the loss of the idealized family life you wanted. For lots of reasons, many people long for a “traditional marriage” with a mom, dad, and kids that live “happily ever after.” The realization that this dream will not be happening is devastating.

Turn the devastated feeling into an opportunity to be grateful for living in the reality of your life. Your eyes are open and you are aware of what is, not what you hoped it would be. Optimum mental health is the ability to stay in the present moment and hold onto reality at all costs.

Believe you can heal from your divorce. Harboring hurt, resentment and anger for long periods of time only hurt you. Your ex is not harmed at all by your resentment. So do yourself a favor and nurture an attitude of gratitude for everything – however small. You deserve to thrive as a newly single person.

More at YourTango:

How Thanksgiving can help  you overcome heartache

How to handle your mother-in-law during the holidays

 

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