“Is it okay for me to feel this excited?” she asked, suddenly a little nervous.
“Yes,” I replied.
She looked unsure. “But… I’m getting a divorce. Shouldn’t I be just sad and upset?”
This conversation took place with a client recently. She had contacted me soon after her husband said that he wanted to end their marriage. She was shocked.
The first time she came to see me she was in a state of shock; feeling like the bottom had fallen out of her world. We worked over the coming weeks for her to accept the situation, gather herself and start to move forward gently into a new life.
A couple of months on, she was feeling better. The communication with her ex was going as well as could be expected. She was looking forward to living in a new flat, even though the prospect of moving out of their marital home felt stomach-churning. She was thinking about changing jobs. And she had several admirers courting her. She was enjoying flirting again.
She was in the middle of talking about a date that she was looking forward to, when she stopped mid-sentence, looked at me and asked nervously, ‘”Is it okay for me to be this excited?”
I see this a lot, especially from female clients. They worry that it’s unseemly to feel good about life when they are getting a divorce. If you find yourself worrying about that, you are not alone. The reason is this – the notion that divorce is a failure is so deeply rooted in our cultural mythology that people feel obliged to feel bad. They feel guilty about having positive emotions and experiences while getting a divorce.
The truth is that there will be plenty of opportunity to have negative emotions in the divorce process! So when you find yourself feeling excited about life, about starting over, about your newfound freedom – grab those moments with both hands and relish them like there’s no tomorrow. Talk about them with friends who will be supportive of your ‘unseemly’ excitement.
One of the keys to negotiating the divorce process in a healthy way is choosing which friends and family members you rely on for support. This is one of the issues I discuss in ‘First Steps to Dating After Divorce’.
Vena Ramphal is a romance and relationship mentor, teaching people how to create fulfilling love and sex lives. She has coached people through divorce since January 2008. You can view Vena’s website here, and catch her on Twitter at @VenaRamphal.