I often see women who are at an emotional low after their relationship has ended. Confidence and self-esteem take a hit, usually after a lot of second guessing oneself and feelings of guilt and failure. A core part of therapy is learning to build up self-confidence and to start loving yourself again. This is your safe space to examine what happened and hopefully learn from it.
It is also really helpful to find support from other people who have been through divorce and I often suggest that my divorced clients read a blog written by a colleague of mine, Jackie Pilossoph. Jackie is the creator of the wonderful divorce blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. It is an inspirational, uplifting and often humorous site that aims to help men and women through divorce.
I am re-posting here one of Jackie’s recent blogs that talks about lack of self-love after divorce and why it is important to learn to love yourself.
Divorce Advice and Tough Love for Woman with Lack of Self-Love – by Jackie Pilossoph
I received a comment from a blog post I wrote a long time ago called “Anger is for losers,” and I have to say, the comment broke my heart. Wait till you read this, and wait till you hear the divorce advice I have for this woman, who fortunately isn’t angry anymore, but whose low self-esteem and utter lack of self-love is so very sad, I wanted to cry.
Comment in response to my blog post, “Anger is for losers:”
Anger isn’t for losers. Acting out–stalking, harassing and other illegal stuff is for losers. Anger is simply an emotional response to hurt. It’s okay to be angry. Some people take longer for the hurt to heal than others–and that’s okay too. It helps if you have good friends and family to help you through it. What also helps? Having open and honest communication with the person who hurt you.
Also, I have let go of my anger and I can tell you that my life did not get better. It seems to get worse and worse. I feel trapped… like maybe I deserve to be mistreated by everyone around me.
Being picked up and then thrown down has damaged my ability to trust men. My self-worth and esteem has been taken to astounding lows. I feel like no one could ever love someone like me. I still hurt even as the anger has subsided. I guess some wounds can’t be healed or soothed.
Let me start by saying I agree with your statement, “Anger isn’t for losers.” I wrote the blog, “Anger is for Losers” a long time ago, and what I realize is, it should have been called “Not letting go of Anger is for Losers.”
It is normal, actually healthy to be angry over a divorce. But, losers, in my opinion, are people who can never let that anger go, even years after the divorce. They hold onto it forever. It defines them. The guy who can’t say hello to his ex-wife several years after the divorce, the woman who still talks ill of her ex-husband to her children a decade later. It drives me nuts.
All that said, the part of what you wrote that was so upsetting to me (the heartbreak) was the rest of your comment, beginning with “my life did not get better.”
First of all, please ask yourself why, because you must know why. What or who is preventing your life from getting better?
My next question is, why do you feel like you deserve to be mistreated by everyone around you? Who has done this to your self-esteem? Surely you aren’t going to let ONE person (who I’m assuming, though I could be wrong–left you and divorced you) cause you to think you don’t deserve to be treated well by others, right? He’s ONE man. ONE man.
I am urging you to start loving yourself. Don’t you deserve to be loved? Of course you do! No one is perfect and if you happen to be looking back at your relationship and blaming yourself for things, STOP! Of course you probably did some things you wish you could take back, or you wish you’d have treated your ex differently at times. We all feel that way. But no one is perfect and to be healthy and happy, we need to forgive ourselves. All we can do is strive to be better in the future and not make the same mistake.
Self-love is probably the most important aspect of having a better life after divorce. So, engage in behaviors that facilitate self love. If you have kids, be the best mother you can be. If you have a job, don’t just do it, do it really, really well. If you have a passion, a hobby, enjoy it! And lastly, engage in acts of giving and kindness. In addition to the beneficiary, kind acts always make us feel better about ourselves. That’s the gift we are get for ourselves by helping others.
Self love is also gained by surrounding yourself with good, kind people; those you want to be like. Disassociate yourself from people who make you feel bad about yourself. Go to therapy. Talk to your family or your best friend and try to figure out why you are letting ONE MAN define who you are.
It’s great that your anger has subsided, but be smart now. Get to the root of why your self-esteem and self worth are at “astounding lows.” It takes courage to let yourself see it and to change it. It’s not easy, but it’s time to get tough.
“I guess some wounds can’t be healed or soothed,” you say. I disagree. YOU have the power to heal and soothe them in certain ways. No one else does. Time helps, but you have to help yourself, too. Get up off the ground and start living your life!!! What are you waiting for? There are millions and millions of opportunities out there.
The thing is, I got a comment from you probably during a really, really low moment in your life. I know nothing about you, what your situation is, and what happened in your past. Whatever it was, I’m sure it is gut-wrenchingly sad and difficult and I’m sorry for that.
What I do know is, there are certain things you can control and certain things you can’t. Don’t worry about the latter. Focus on changes you can make to be happier, move on from the past, and go out and grab the life you really want, and the life that makes you happy!
This takes guts. Cry at times if you want to, and grieve when you need to, but please, please, please, start living and enjoying your life! So many people have been where you are. Some end up happy and some can’t let go of mistakes and the past, and therefore really are never happy again. The choice is in your power!
I am wishing you all the best and big hugs.
Jackie Pilossoph is also a regular Huffington Post divorce blogger, as well as reporter and weekly columnist for Sun-Times Media. Additionally, Pilossoph, who holds a Masters degree in journalism is the author of her divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. To read more of Jackie’s blog posts visit DivorcedGirlSmiling.com
Image by Gabriela Ferreira