How To Look On The Bright Side When Everything Seems Dark During Divorce

If you're anywhere in the divorce process, from just considering it to being in the throes of litigation to it finally being finalized, you may be feeling less than great, to say the least. Chances are, somebody may have told you things like “It's all going to be okay” or “just look on the bright side” or other cliches in a well-intended attempt to make you feel better.

Whether you are the one who has instigated the divorce or the one who received the news; regardless of your gender; no matter if  you have been married for six months or sixty years, one time or ten times; whether this is putting an end to an awful period in your life or one of the best…. It still involves a great amount of change.  And where there is change, the natural human reaction is generally the same as the more familiar formula of stages of grief (that do not always occur in order): denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

Even if you have never reached out to a counselor or therapist this is probably a good time to do so. It is important to acknowledge and recognize where you are emotionally and to take care of your mental health the same way as you would take care of any other medical condition.

Human beings are amazingly adaptive, but we also viscerally fear change. The two concepts are not antithetical. Somewhere in the base of your “lizard brain” – that primitive part of your brain whose main if not only job is to keep you SAFE – when change occurs, it sends out “fight or flight” signals. This part of your brain says, “Change means Other. Other means Unknown. And Unknown means Potentially Dangerous.”  But then the rest of your brain has the opportunity to kick in, and respond to those signals. To recognize that change is often good. And even change that isn't unto itself may not be exactly what you'd ideally want, there are still unintended but amazing outcomes and effects. Like communities pulling together after a natural disaster.

You don't need to adopt a Pollyanna attitude and say, “Yes this depression and fighting and turmoil are wonderful!” in order to have an optimistic outlook. You may have heard the saying “Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain” (Vivian Greene, 2006). In a year from now, two years, ten years… you will look back on this time, and you will see how far you have come. Even if you have regrets, or even if you remember the feeelings of pain you are going through now, you will also see what you have learned from it all. How you have grown, and changed.