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Are You in the Reality Phase After Divorce?

By Donna McGoff February 28, 2023 Family

If you’ve been reading about The Road Through Recovery after divorce, it is an easy, sensible way to pinpoint exactly where we are “stuck” or “in pain.” There are five phases within it. It is a cycle of feelings we experience in the divorce recovery process. This post is about the last phase, Reality.

Here’s an infographic of the Road.

The Road Through Recovery Thus Far

If you missed any of the previous posts on the phases. Here is a little about them:


You may be stuck in the Rejection phase if you don’t accept the reality of your life as it is now. Refusing to accept the “here and now” means not allowing the feelings you need to cope with in order to begin the healing process.


The second phase, Resentment, simply means that although you let the conflicting feelings come in and you experience them, you have trouble handling them in a responsive manner. It is easy to fall into the trap of victimhood.


Renegotiation is the third phase whereby you want to replay the past so that there is a different outcome. Although, the past is gone and you can’t change it, you may be stuck in the “What if” or “If only” mindset.

Focusing on what you could have done in the past takes away the potential for the future. You can’t change the past, but you are the creator of choices and decisions you make for the future.


Remorse is the fourth phase. You may be stuck here if you find yourself less outgoing and withdraw into yourself. The good news is that you are beginning to accept “what is.” You find yourself taking some time for personal reflection and soul searching. This is healthy. It only becomes unhealthy if you spend more time than is necessary in this space of emotions. It is the precursor to the last phase, Reality.

Let’s Get Real

The Reality phase is the last phase on the Road Through Recovery. During this phase, you acknowledge and accept the reality of your situation. You may still feel pain and loss, but you can live with it now. You may still visit the other phases, but the episodes are less in frequent and intense. No longer do those feelings totally consume you so that there is no space for moving forward.

In this phase, you are ready to extend your arms out and embrace the readiness to move on. Regret and remorse may still be lingering, but you can now see the light at the end of the tunnel with hopeful eyes. It’s not that you are fully recovered and healed from the past, but there is enough space within to change your reality without.

You are ready and have made the decision to embrace a new beginning. There may still be some fear of the unknown but you accept your life as it is now, and you want to begin to create a new, purposeful life going forward.

Here’s an Example

Barbara was a widow for five years and fell head over heels in love with Troy, in spite of all the “red flags” that were waving before her eyes. He was 52 years old and had never been married. They got married and lived together for 12 years.

Deep down, Barbara was not surprised as the marriage started to unravel. She tried her hardest to make the marriage work, but Troy was nowhere near as enthusiastic as she was. He was not able to adjust to married life after being on his own for all those years. Finally, he filed for divorce.

Troy decided that since he had many good years left, he wanted to either spend them with someone else or enjoy the freedom of being single as he had for so many years before marrying Barbara.

Although Barbara visited a few of the earlier phases, she finally steps in the REALITY phase. She has already seen the reality of the situation as it is and accepts it rather quickly. As I wrote in an earlier article, some may not go through all the phases, and Barbara is one example.

Being financially secure, she also has an edge up on many other women who need to make a lifestyle change after divorce. The burden of finances is obviously not an issue for her as it is for so many others.

Barbara’s Reality Steps

  • Willingness to take her share of the responsibility for the breakdown of the marriage and forgive herself.
  • Letting go of past resentments; because in doing so, she is making room for the new life she is about to create.
  • Acknowledging the fear factor, while getting ready to reconnect with herself and rediscover her strengths, talents, and passion going forward.

As a result of this major change in her life, many things have changed for Barbara. Life is not what it was, but she is ready to make the transition out of staying “stuck“ in the past. She is looking forward to an awesome future of her own design.

Just as Barbara did, once we accept the reality of our situation, we are ready for the next step in divorce recovery, Reconnecting with Self. Some of our roles and identity have changed as a result of our divorce. It is a time of self-care and self-examination in getting reacquainted with who we are now. Barbara begins that work as she passes through The Road Through Recovery.

Are You in the Reality Phase?

If this phase on the Road Through Recovery resonates with you, I encourage you to take the REALITY SURVEY. If some of the statements ring true for you, the pages after the survey offer ideas and suggestions you can implement right now.

Learning to change your thinking and focusing on the positive aspects of your situation will help you to move forward. Creating the right action steps to take right now will empower you to take back control over your life.

If you want to discover how to create a more purposeful life after divorce, please watch this free webinar and learn three strategies that will help you to create a more purposeful life you would love living.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Does the Reality phase in divorce recovery resonate with you at this time? Are you ready to make a bold move? What action step can you take right now with what you have?

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Sometimes there is no two sides to a break down of a marriage, regarding the taking responsibility comment . I left an abusive marriage . I know I did everything I could to save it for myself, my children and grandchildren. I’m much happier out of it and more confident without the daily abuse .

Donna McGoff

It sounds like you sure took responsibility for where you were. You realized that cursing, rehearsing, and nursing the situation was not for you. You didn’t play the “victim”. You are strong, you are to be admired, and you have stepped into your power.


Wow! How timely is this article for me! I have recently started on a new journey by myself without my spouse after 41 years of marriage since January 2022. Putting myself first and finding myself is scary and challenging AND exciting!!! I am 64 years old on the cusp of Re-inventing, Re-creating and renewing myself!! I am not about to retire or expire!! However, having said all the above, there are moments (many) of guilt, doubts and sadness but if I seize those shadows and intentionally swear at them (?$((! iT) I move forward and onwards!!! Take care of yourself first and remember when you are happy, everyone else will follow suit!!

Donna McGoff

So happy to hear that you have such a positive attitude, an effective way of thinking, and a forward-moving perspective.When you have those three, you are halfway there. Sounds like you have moved past the Road Through Recovery. Enjoy the journey of self discovery and the new, purposeful life that awaits you now!

Anne Turner

I’m so stuck in resentment. I also feel sad at all those years when I was used and manipulated. He has needed to take testosterone replacement for the last 16years and it’s turned him into a manipulative competitive untrustworthy monster in my opinion. Hate feeling like this

Donna McGoff

Hello Anne,
The good news is that you know exactly where you are stuck on the Road Through Recovery. There really is only good news because now you can take this resentment and transform it.

It seems that you know where there is a block to the flow and creates the “contraction” inside of you every time you think about that person.

So how do you transcend this feeling deep inside of you? You can start by separating the deed from the doer or the person from the behavior. It’s not that you forgive the behavior because it is a fact that you have been hurt and manipulated.

What you can do is change your perspective regarding the person. By doing so, you can release some of this contractive feelings about the person. Your goal is learn what you need to do so that this person and the way you are feeling no longer has control over you and your life.

It no longer controls you, you control it. That is where your freedom and power lay.

The Author

Donna McGoff is the founder of Living Above The Ordinary. She holds a Master’s degree in human development, counseling, and family studies and is a certified life coach specializing in divorce recovery. Donna’s passion is helping women move beyond divorce empowering them to embrace a new beginning creating a new, purposeful life.

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