STARTING OVER AFTER DIVORCE
Keeping a personal journal through your divorce process is one of the healthiest things you can do.
Scientific studies have consistently shown that the process of committing our deepest thoughts to paper is the start of the healing process. James Pennebaker, one of America’s most distinguished research psychologists, says that the simple act of expressing your thoughts and feelings about emotionally challenging experiences on paper is proven to speed your recovery and improve your mental and physical health. His findings are published in his book Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovery From Trauma and Emotional Upheaval.
Divorcees who have embraced journaling as therapy report setting aside a specific time each day, often later in the evening when the house is quiet and they are unlikely to be interrupted.
Some write while sipping tea or wine; some have classical music (Bach is preferred) playing softly in the background, and some enjoy writing with a scented candle burning.
Many combine all three in their writing ritual. Somehow, as the anguish, despair, frustration and fear pour out of their hearts and onto the page, they find themselves lightened. Over time, an interesting thing happens. The story starts naturally to change.
First they change perspective. Instead of seeing themselves as the victim of the divorce, they consider if they could have instigated it. Instead of seeing divorce as the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, they start to see that it could be a blessed relief from a relationship that had run its course.
Some women we have talked to say they found they were repeating the same story night after night and they made a conscious decision to change their story. If you are journaling and want to change your story, resolve that for the rest of the month, you will write about one new thing each night that has nothing to do with divorce. You may spend a half hour writing about what an inspiration Maggie Smith is in Downton Abbey. You may talk about a hummingbird that stopped by your backyard feeder, or a perfectly accessorized outfit you saw in a store window on your way home. Write about a country you want to visit, a picture you want to paint, a perfect romance you want to have.
By pushing your mind to new ideas and igniting your imagination, you may find your new story spills over your pages and into your new life. The next time a friend asks how you are doing, you may be able to share that you have started to make a quilt, something you always wanted to do, or that you have purchased a little puppy.