A question that I hear frequently is, “How will I ever trust another person after this betrayal?”
Even if I’m chatting with someone who isn’t particularly freaked out by the divorce process, they still often worry about the future. They’re rebuilding their life the way they want it to look, choosing where to live and work, what the purpose and focus of their life might be next, yet there’s a stubborn residual distaste that they can feel in their bones. “Can I ever trust someone again?”
Marriage is the most powerful attachment we can have with another human being. We trust this person with our deepest, darkest feelings - and we even let them see us without makeup! - and here they’ve hurt us so badly that either they’re leaving, or we are. What a betrayal! The stages of grief that we experience can be paralyzing! What can we do about it?
We’re not going to be able to function properly until we work through the grief and emotion. That doesn’t mean push all the negative feelings aside and ignore them. It doesn’t mean we should stay home and cry incessantly, either. But to be able to move into the next phase of your life - whether or not that means another, future relationship - we have to process the feelings of betrayal and distrust from the relationship that just ended.
Have you ever heard the saying, “People come into our lives for a reason or a season”? A great way to process some of that betrayal is to create a timeline of your life, and identify where your ex came into it, and where they are exiting. Create a “number line” like you did in first grade, and mark down - bracket - the period of your life your ex fits in.
View the time you spent with the ex as part of a fairy tale. Maybe there was no “happily ever after,” but there were some happy times, as well as some sad times. No relationship is ever totally flawed. Remember the good stuff and the bad stuff. See it as it really was.
You can also jot down the things you want to apologize for (because, admit it, you’re not perfect, either!), the things you want to forgive your ex for (even if you don’t feel like it yet), and acknowledge the times when your partner was kind, loving, or did something nice for you.
By “closing the book” and creating an end to the fairy tale, you can both experience a “happily ever after” - just not together.
Someday you may want to test the waters again. To be prepared for that, do the work now to heal for a better future!
This is only one way to deal with the distress and overwhelming emotions that come with a divorce. If you’d like an emotional first aid kit, read this article for 9 ways you can get control of your life back. You can find it here: www.thequietzonecoaching.com/anger