If you are feeling a lot of guilt over things that occurred within your marriage or find yourself pointing all the blame inward after the divorce, you may be wondering if you are normal. Post-divorce guilt can range from occasional thoughts and doubts about things that occurred during the marriage to intense self-blame and thoughts of guilt that can stand in the way of moving forward to a happier life.
In fact, if you are feeling intense guilt you may feel as if you don't even deserve to be happy. After all, your actions or possibly lack of action led to the divorce and created misery for your ex and yourself, right? Why would you deserve to find someone wonderful and move on to another happy relationship?
If you find the guilt, regret, and self-blame interrupting your daily life, you are completely normal. Donít think that no one else has ever felt this way and that you are some freak of nature dwelling on a broken relationship.
Many others have experienced post divorce guilt. In fact, the majority of new divorcees feel at least some degree of guilt in the short term. It is allowing that guilt to lock you in the past so you do not move forward that is unhealthy.
So, what do you do to move beyond the guilt and put the past behind you? This can be extremely difficult, especially if you have to continually see your ex in order to care for and share children. The following strategies have worked for many others and may be the key for you as well.
Purchase a journal and start writing in it at least once a day, or whenever the guilty thoughts start interfering with your daily life. The goal is to get to the root causes of the guilt. What is it specifically that makes you feel guilty?
It will be extremely painful to write anything from the relationship where you feel you did something wrong. This is especially true if what you feel guilty over was the cause of the divorce, such as the case where you had an extramarital affair and your spouse could not forgive you and wanted a divorce.
Those feelings are painful, but if you don't get them out and face them, the guilt is only going to intensify. Eventually you will stop thinking about the guilt, but it will still be within you and it will interfere with your ability to move forward and be genuinely happy.
Writing out your guilty thoughts will eventually lead to deep revelations. You will discover not only the root causes of the guilt but other emotions that may surprise you.
A Safe Place to Talk
Talking through the guilt is also a great idea, but you have to find someone whom you feel safe with to talk about your innermost thoughts. Find someone who can provide comfort as well as sound advice. This should be someone who can be objective about your divorce and help you really work through the problem, rather than just telling you what they think you want to hear.
If you don't know someone in your personal life that you feel comfortable going to for this type of conversation, consider a therapist or a coach. Working through the guilty feelings is absolutely crucial if you are to learn from your mistakes and lead a happy life in the future. Feeling guilty is a sign that there is a lesson to be learned from the event that happened Ė so consider that guilt is a gift of learning.
© Vanaja Ghose 2010