Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, UT. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
I’m a 30 year-old divorced father of one. It’s been a few years since my divorce and my ex-wife and I still see each other in passing. We are civil to one another for the sake of our child. I’ve tried reaching out socially and dating, but I still love my ex-wife so much I would even die for her. How can I move on from her, especially knowing she won’t let me back into her life?
Although I don’t know the specifics of your divorce, it’s apparent that this split from your wife is unwanted and painful for you. While I’d love to help you both find a way to put your family back together, I will offer some thoughts on how you can continue forward with your post-divorce life.
It’s important to recognize that you’re experiencing the natural grief that follows a major life loss. Understanding your pain in the context of grief and loss can help you move forward with your healing and move out of the despair and hopelessness you currently feel.
As you might already know, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlined five stages of grief in her classic book “On Death and Dying”. Although your wife hasn’t died, your marriage has died and you are experiencing many of the same grieving patterns common to those who have lost a loved one to death.
The stages of grieving are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. These stages aren’t always experienced in this particular order, however, most people move through these stages as they work to heal from loss.
You might find it helpful to find a counseling professional who can help you identify what type of grieving work would be the most useful to you at this time. Getting help with anger, depression, or acceptance can offer tremendous relief from the difficult reality of your divorce.
One of the biggest losses faced by those who go through an unwanted divorce is the loss of a secure base. The feelings of abandonment can create resentment and profound feelings of unfairness that can be emotionally paralyzing.
To cope with this loss, I recommend you continue to reach out socially, connect with your own family (siblings, parents, etc.), and, most importantly, become the best dad you can be. As you work to build a secure base for your child, you will feel more hopeful and positive about your own future. Your involvement and commitment in your child’s life will help alleviate some of the loss you feel.
As you work through the losses of your divorce, you will find that you will eventually be open to forming and maintaining social and romantic relationships. The current state of loss makes it difficult to care about forming other relationships. Give yourself time and permission to heal from the effects of this divorce and invest in building relationships with your child and family that will help you feel real purpose as you move forward.