Recovery from Divorce-Induced Crazy Feelings
by Neil S. Grossman, Ph.D.

It has been said that divorce makes sane people act crazy. This is because the dynamics (pressures) of a divorce push normal emotions to the extreme. A divorce is expected to create issues of separation and loss in people. Also, we realize that the expectations we had in the beginning of the relationship will not be fulfilled and we become disappointed. The anger and rage that results push us to act competitively, which if strong enough, may become adversarial. We can look at each of these emotions, how they become extreme, and how to cope with them:

  1. Separation causes anxiety that, in the extreme, may become panic. The panic dissipates when we have faith in our future and ourselves, i.e., when we believe we are able to take care of our future and ourselves.
  2. Loss causes sadness that, in the extreme, may become depression. The depression is reduced when we do grief work.
  3. Unfulfilled expectations lead to disappointment that may become betrayal and rage. Forgiveness is the antidote for betrayal and rage. This releases the anger and our feeling of being victimized, allowing us to be able to leave behind the rage that keeps us connected and tied to our ex-spouse.
  4. Competition with our ex-spouse leads us to focus on our self-interest and involves a self-protection, which can become greed. This will dissipate when we find value in the other aspects of our life.
  5. If the competition becomes adversarial, this leads to suspicion that in its extreme may become paranoia. We can put aside the suspicion as we develop trust that, although the marriage is ending, the couple can cooperate with each other in the areas of their mutual interests - the well being of their children. Thus, we trust our ex-spouse to do the "right thing" in relation to the children.

These ideas are derived from the writing of Howard Yahm, N.Y., N.Y.

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