For some people, divorce is the first major emotional trauma they will experience in life and trying to find a way through it can be a difficult and extremely painful process. As well as the personal unhappiness is brings, the break-up of a marriage can cause financial and domestic upheaval that may not be resolved for months if not years.
It is important, therefore, that everyone who goes through a divorce has some way of venting their feelings and frustrations. Many people are lucky enough to have supportive friends or relatives to turn to, but even the most sympathetic, understanding confidants can’t be relied upon to supply a broad shoulder 24/7 for months on end.
A lot of people find it difficult to discuss emotions, whether or not they have friends and family willing to listen. Men are particularly shy of unburdening themselves, especially with other men, and instead play the macho role and bottle up their true feelings. This isn’t very healthy and can impede the recovery process.
In a previous blog, I explained how keeping a notepad and pen beside the bed was a useful way to deal with sleeplessness – a common side effect of divorce. Instead of tossing and turning, worrying about what the future holds and playing out in your head all the things you’d like to do or say to your ex, writing down your inner thoughts can help to clear your mind and ease yourself into sleep.
But writing doesn’t have to be confined to the terrors of the night: keeping a “divorce diary” can be hugely beneficial to those who find it hard to verbalise their fears, grief and uncertainty or who are reluctant to lean too heavily on friends and relatives. You can rant, within the pages of a private journal, as lengthily and as vituperatively as you want without running the risk of boring or offending anyone.
The loss people feel when they divorce often transmutes into regrets over relatively small things – the absence of someone to help with the weekly shopping or to chew over with the latest instalment of The Apprentice. A friend of a friend, whose partner died a few months ago, said one of the things she missed was not having to readjust the driver’s seat when she got into the car each morning.
These are things that confidants may be happy to hear about, but are sometimes best written down, for your eyes only.
If you are perceived as the “guilty” party, finding sympathetic ears might not be as easy as if you’re seen as being “sinned” against. So, again, keeping a diary is a good way to get your feelings off your chest without having to subject your nearest and dearest to agonised outpourings of emotion, which may not elicit the response you want to hear.
Whatever your circumstances, writing can be cathartic. Not only that, by keeping a regular log of the divorce process, you can gauge – on reading it back – how far you’ve come. When you’re in a seemingly never-ending tunnel of blackness, it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint when the light at the other end first started to filter through. A diary can enable you to see, retrospectively, that however deep your pain, you have travelled a whole lot further than you ever imagined possible.