Divorce: The Joy and The Agony


by Paula Susan~So you’re divorced. You have received the final decree and its official. That part of your life is over. Why then the jolt that came along with the papers? Somehow they made it all the more real.

Take a breath. Take a deep breath from way down in your belly and as you let the air out through your mouth very, very slowly, imagine that you are exhaling some of the pain that you will need to expel in order for you to pave the way for a satisfying future.

While ending a profoundly important relationship that had its ramifications in every aspect of your life, you need to prepare for the next part of your journey. It might make sense to let someone help you budget for your new financial situation. You may want to reassess your work/career life. Children, family, and friends need inclusion in this new life. And, do not neglect your physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Many want to fill the space with a new romance. It would certainly feel good to have something to look forward to, someone to fill the spot in your empty bed, someone to show you that you are still desirable.

Trust me. That could be a deadly mistake. It’s not the answer to ridding oneself of the pain from broken dreams, broken vows, and broken connections. If your divorce therapist did not teach you to sit with your pain, to honor it for its appropriateness and for the growth it will morph into, then do it now. Take this time for your healing and for self-examination. Glossing over the pain will force it to go underground and seep through into places and times where it doesn’t belong.

Besides, the most important part of this next step is for you to be with you. Give yourself a good year to really be with yourself and use some of this time to examine the ways in which you participated in the destructive dance with someone you once loved.

There is a tendency in all of us to be unconsciously drawn to the familiar. So while the next potential partner might “look” real good, make you feel all tingly and excited, it could be that old buttons are being pushed again.

The unconscious is all powerful, and until we know ourselves deeply we are at risk for becoming another casualty in the pursuit of lasting love. Many of our beliefs about ourselves and the world, as well as our expectations and our ability to trust, emanate from our early life experiences. Our early caregivers may have been damaged in their own lives, making it hard for them to healthfully love and guide. And the results live in us and shape who we are.

Did your divorce therapist help you with that? And, were you able to heal the anger and disappointment that flowed between you and your partner? The very last thing you want is to have to fight bitterness and distrust from the old relationship.

You need to grieve the loss of what was good, to say “Goodbye” to those times that will never happen again between the two of you, as well as to celebrate the opening of this new life. You will then be on your way to becoming a better partner, and to a relationship that is more likely to fit your dream of love.

When you do the work of personal repair and growth, you will be learning to understand and validate who you are in the very core of you. You will be learning how to be authentic and open to the hearts of others. You will know how to advocate for yourself from a loving, respectful place, so you are heard.

At the same time you are doing this work with yourself; make it a goal to become your own best friend. Enjoy spending time with you. Take a course in something that interests you. Volunteer in some way that fits with other challenges to your time. What you will get back is immeasurable!

Learn how to appreciate each moment by being present in that moment. As Ekart Tolle said in ‘The Power of Now’, “If you are living in the past you are living in regret. If you are living in the future, you are living in anxiety.” I say: to live fully alive, be fully aware in each moment. Read a book or take a course in Mindfulness.

The joy comes next. Anticipate it and it will come. You will be ready for it. You will be free to love, having learned the art of forgiveness for yourself. You will have come to accept who you are, which will enable you to accept another’s humanity. And, since you are not living only for that, you are enjoying what is presently in your life. When the other happens you will be ready.

It’s about embracing and learning from the agony, which makes space for the joy to come.


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About Paula Susan

Paula Susan, MSW, LCSW, Masters in Clinical Social Work & Psychology; specialist in Trauma and Relationships since 1982. In 1991, I integrated the powerfully transformative process of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Research demonstrates that it facilitates life-altering changes more efficiently and effectively than talk therapy alone. I teach skills such as communication and anxiety relief to improve connection with others. Over the decades, I’ve come to respect how much damage even small traumatic experiences inflict on our core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. I consider it a privilege to help my clients understand and change what has undermined their happiness and their relationships. I do it with warmth, integrity, humor, and profound respect for those who care about the quality of this small piece of time we have on earth.www.paulasusan.com

10 thoughts on “Divorce: The Joy and The Agony

    • Paula Susan

      It is an incredibly painful and challenging time; however, when you have some idea of what to expect and how to handle things, it makes it manageable.

      Thank you for your comment.


  1. Wanda

    I remember one of the first things I did after my divorce was belt out, “I Will Survive,” in the shower. It was actually very healing. I decided not to rush into romance and learn how to take care of myself and enjoy life for awhile. Thanks for a great blog – it can be such a difficult time in your life.

    • Paula Susan

      Thank you, Wanda for your comments. I love that song. It comes from somewhere deep inside and fills my body. We are each survivors in some way throughout a lifetime. Man it feels good and even better, it feels great when you are thriving.

      Hope you are now.



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