How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Your Divorce After 50
Divorce guilt comes in all sorts of mutating forms. It is normal for many of us to feel like we were somehow to blame for the divorce. Culturally, we are taught that keeping the household and marriage successful was our responsibility.
There is no consideration that making a marriage work takes two people in a partnership. And naturally, because there was a lot of pressure on us to be perfect, when the marriage unravelled, our reaction was to blame ourselves for it.
It is time to knock it off.
In Order to Stop Feeling Guilty, You Must Forgive Yourself
Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. It’s a gift that we are usually generous in giving others. Yet for some reason, we don’t give ourselves the same luxury. For some reason we think our actions, especially divorce-related ones, are somehow reprehensible. We feel like the worst people in the world for letting everybody down.
Accepting responsibility and working to avoid mistakes in the future is one thing. But constantly blaming yourself for things in the past is neither helpful nor healthy.
So why not put that energy you spend on feeling bad about the past into something better, like creating the good life you deserve?
Forgiving yourself is challenging right now because you are looking at the divorce with warped vision. You are looking at it with 20/20 hindsight, where you have the luxury of picking your past self to pieces. And that’s just not fair.
How to Embrace the Forgiveness Mindset
When a wave of guilt hits you, please remember something. Guilt is a gray looming fortress, like the Tower of London where you feel trapped. Here is the crazy part though. All the doors are unlocked, there are no guards, and there’s no reason for you to stay there. So why not leave?
The next time you are feeling guilty and are unsure of how to forgive yourself, ask yourself this one question. “How will this guilt serve me in the future?” If you are coming up with a blank, that’s the point! Guilt does not serve you, so you must forgive yourself and let go.
Guilt speaks the language of “maybe, should have, would have.” These are not action words. They are passive words that your guilt is using to make you create a false past reality that doesn’t exist. The next time you find yourself with those thoughts, nip them in the bud with compassion for yourself.
Need an example? Take a look below!
Guilt Thought: I feel guilty because maybe I should have suggested we go to couples’ therapy sooner.
The Forgiveness Mindset: We went to couples’ therapy when we thought we needed it. We did everything in our power at the time to fix it. You were brave to try it, and should not feel bad about any of that.
Guilt Thought: I feel guilty because maybe I should have brought up the fact that we weren’t communicating anymore.
The Forgiveness Mindset: It takes two people for a marriage to work and you were not responsible for both you and your husband. You did what you could with the strength you had at the time. Be proud of yourself for that.
Now it’s your turn! Write down the specific things that are making you feel guilty, then neutralize them with the compassion you deserve. Do this whenever the guilt sneaks up on you. As long as you are mindful and consistent with this practice, you can stop feeling guilty and keep the “Guilt Monster” at bay.
The road to forgiving yourself and overcoming divorce guilt can be a long one, but showing yourself much-deserved compassion will ease that journey.
Did guilt affect you during your divorce? What positive steps did you take to overcome it? Please share your stories.
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce coach, whose website “Surviving Your Split” helps readers navigate their divorce with less stress and drama, so they can move on with their lives. For your Free Divorce Warrior Survival Kit, stop by Surviving Your Split or drop Martha a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her on Facebook.