Stuck In the Past
Another way of getting stuck is by clinging to positive feelings or events. If you've blocked everything except your happy memories of the relationship, you might be afraid to move on -- afraid that nothing will compare to the past. Recognizing and accepting this fear as normal is the first step to creating a world full of new experiences. You also need to allow plenty of room for the grieving process before you can trust there's a new world full of opportunity waiting for you.
Getting free from the hold the past has on you doesn't mean you have to forget the good times (or the bad). Remembering can serve some very important purposes. Remembering can occupy your mind with pleasant thoughts for a much needed "vacation from pain," and most important, it can generate learning that will serve you in the future.
One key to letting go of past hurt is to focus on meeting your own needs in the present. Keep reminding yourself that forgiveness is a process, and it might be a longer one than you'd like. Have you forgiven yourself? Most of us in the process of divorce or its aftermath find it more difficult to forgive ourselves than to forgive our partners.
Being able to let go of negative feelings toward others is highly dependent on your ability to let go of negative feelings toward yourself. When you've developed the ability to let go of your own past mistakes and to acknowledge your humanness, it's almost magical how effortless it becomes to let go of the mistakes of others.
- Write the following affirmation on a piece of paper and place it where you'll see it upon awakening each day: "I am now ready and willing to release, let go, and forgive myself for any contribution I have made to the ending of my relationship."
- Write down what you have difficulty forgiving yourself for. Now look at what you've written, noticing how you judge yourself, and make a conscious effort to understand and forgive yourself.
- Light a candle and say the following words as you look into its flame: "I release you,(ex-spouse's name), into the light, and I do this for my highest good and yours."
Pamela D. Blair is a counselor and therapist in general practice who specializes in divorce recovery and relationship issues. She is the director of the Divorce Resource Network in Hawthorne, NY, and publishes a newsletter called "Surviving Divorce." She can be reached at PamBlair@aol.com.
Divorce Magazine provides advice and support for those coping with separation, divorce, and remarriage. For more tips and stories, visit www.DivorceMagazine.com.