Divorce is not a bad word. Yet, the word “divorce” when spoken out loud usually causes some type of negative reaction whether visible or internal. For people amid a divorce, one negative reaction or feeling experienced is often shame. Shame is powerful, but also unproductive and, at times, paralyzing.
It’s common to feel shame
I have met with hundreds of people over the years who are stuck in divorce shame. I recall one woman who came in for a consultation after being separated from her husband for well over a year. Although she knew that she did not want to be married to her husband any longer, she had not taken any affirmative action to end the marriage or engage in a divorce process. As we were finishing up the consultation, she shared with me that she had been seeing a counselor since the separation and much time spent in therapy related to the shame she felt. She told me that she had felt so ashamed to be getting divorced for the second time in her life and that the shame was so powerful that she needed professional help to work through it. She expressed that she was grateful for her counselor and that, after a year in therapy, she felt like she was in a better place to make decisions and plan for her life going forward.
Divorce doesn’t mean failure
Divorce happens. People who get divorced are not failures. They are people – people who have or are experiencing one of the most difficult times in their lives. They are entitled to second chances, a hand-up and compassion. If you are going through a divorce, resist the temptation to blame or criticize yourself. If someone in your life is going through a divorce, extend a bit more understanding and grace.
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