What is the FOG of Divorce?
It is comprised of the Fear, Obligation, and Guilt that can strike you before, during, or sometimes even years after you go through a divorce.
How do we work through these feelings so that we can move on with our lives, successfully co-parent our children, and be fully open to what life has in store for us?
Let’s start with fear. There are lots of fears that come up during a divorce including financial fear, the fear of being alone, and the fear of judgment by others.
When you lay awake at night with your thoughts racing, those thoughts are usually projecting all of the worst case scenarios of what could happen in our situation.
Our minds naturally jump to conclusions and it is usually a conclusion that there is no evidence to support. That is why I like to think of fear as False Evidence Appearing Real.
We convince ourselves that the worst is going to happen so we allow ourselves to become stuck – afraid to move forward.
So how do we become un-stuck?
First, by being present. If we stay in the here and now, we aren’t living in the “what ifs” of the future.
What is happening today? Is it something you can control or change? How can you make the situation better today?
If it is money (or lack thereof) that is causing you fear, concentrate on what you have today. Do you have food, shelter, clothes? If so, be grateful for those things.
If you can keep on keeping on day by day and make a conscious effort to acknowledge and recognize that fact, your confidence and faith in yourself and in the future will grow.
Turn your fear into excitement and curiosity.
The physical symptoms of fear and excitement are almost identical. It’s all in the mindset.
Instead of being fearful that you will be alone after your divorce, be curious and excited about the new things that life has in store for you.
There are adventures waiting both internally and externally. That’s right, think of this time as an adventure of the soul – a time to explore who you really are. What could be more exciting than that?
Getting to know yourself will lead to conviction in your decisions. You will no longer care how others are judging you.
You can never please everyone – some people just won’t understand. That’s ok, you understand and you are pleased. Concentrate on that.
Free From Obligation
So now that we have kicked fear to the curb (or at least we are nudging it to the side slowly), let’s look at the “O” word – Obligation.
What are obligations? They are those “shoulds” and “have tos” that hang over our heads.
Divorce can bring on a whole new set of responsibilities and with those, a whole new set of obligations.
Being two parents in one, balancing your relationships with your ex-in laws, and trying to learn how to be single again can lead to a whole lot of “shoulds” and “have tos”.
But when we allow those words to take up residence in our heads, we are giving away our power. It’s like we are pretending that some invisible force is making us do these things that we don’t want to do.
How do we take back our power? We change all of those “shoulds” and “have tos” to “I choose”.
That’s right – everything is a choice. We are choosing our actions, choosing how we spend our time, choosing our responsibilities. Nobody is making us do anything – we are choosing to do it.
Of course, we may not like the consequences of choosing not to fulfill our obligations, but it is still a choice. Acknowledge that and take your power back.
Leaving Guilt Behind
The last ingredient in our FOG is Guilt.
To me, this is the most insidious because it can eat you alive if you let it.
If you left the marriage, you may feel guilty over the hurt you caused your family.
But even if you did not want the divorce, guilt can still sneak into your psyche when you start analyzing all of the things you could have done differently. The “what ifs” of the past will try to drive you crazy and keep you frozen in a painful place.
Guilt maybe the hardest of the FOG emotions to drive out.
The first step is to realize that you can’t go back. There is no time machine that will allow you to go back and do things differently. The past happened – you have to accept that.
Second, you need to have faith that everything happened the way it did for a reason. I know it’s hard, but you have to believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment and all the actions of the past led you to be right here, right now.
Lastly, look for the lesson and learn from your mistakes. You can’t change the past, but you can control your future actions and vow to never repeat those mistakes again. Wisdom is a gift, unwrap it.
Sometimes the FOG can be so thick that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. You can become disoriented and afraid to make a move in any direction.
By dealing with our fear, obligation, and guilt, the sun can begin to break through and we can begin to see the road in front of us once again.
About the Author: Nicole Witt is a Mediator, Conflict Resolution Coach, and founder of SerenityAfterDivorce.com where she helps women deal with divorce.