There are lot of things that I keep to myself. A lot of aspects of divorce that I just don’t mention even though most of my close friends and readers are aware of the last 3 years of hell that I and my daughter, Elf Princess, have been through. But let’s set all that aside for a minute, because right now I want to talk about how Divorce has affected me as a person and a woman.
I think there ought to be a new designation for post-divorce women and men, especially those who had a marriage break apart due to infidelity on the other spouse’s part. We’re talking affairs that were over a year or decades even. I think I’ll call it Post Divorce Stress Disorder, or PDSD for short.
And since there is no handbook that covers PDSD, I’ll let you in on the changes you can expect to see in yourself or in your loved one after they suffer that kind of infidelity followed up by a horrific divorce that may or may not be over.
- You may notice panic attacks followed by shortness of breath, screaming in pain, and an incessant desire to beat on pillows. This is a natural progression in the 5 Stages of Grief Cycle. Your best bet is to just be there for them and hold their hand. Put a comforting arm around them and assure them that this too will pass.
- You may notice that you or your loved one start analyzing relationships around you. In the first 2 or 3 months after the “big reveal” ((or finding out about the infidelity)), you will see every relationship around you as doomed. Even those you know are the “perfect” couple. Every look, every glance. Doomed. Won’t last another six months. And if you give voice to these fears, your friendship with them probably won’t. So keep it to yourself.
- You may notice that you or your loved one go from being sane and friendly to being jealous. They’ll know it’s silly. They are very conscious of the changes that they are going through. They can’t help it. They are probably extremely introspective right now dwelling on the “why did they (the other person in their former relationship) do this to me?” or the “what did I do to deserve it?” questions. But regardless, if they so much as hear of a conversation between their new partner ((Assuming they have moved on with their lives successfully and are in a new relationship.)) and a member of the opposite sex, they’ll experience spikes of jealousy and fear that seem very large at the moment. Refer to number 2.
What you need to do is remind them that this is a side effect of PDSD. There is no way past this but through it. And it will continue on an ever increasing slope until the healing is complete. But hiding it from their new partner is a very bad idea. Be open. Be honest and be willing to accept that it is a feeling based solely on anxiety and fear.
- You may notice that you or your loved one are no longer willing to maintain serious relationships with the opposite gender. Especially if you are in a new relationship. But this is a side effect of PDSD as well. It stems, I believe, from the belief that infidelity is somehow ‘catching’. Which it’s not. Take a deep breath, look at those friends you are now pushing away and realize that they only want to help you through this horrible and painful time in your life. You need them. Which brings us to number 5.
- You may notice that you or your loved one are less willing to accept help than ever before. This is a self-defense response that while understandable is illogical. Pushing people away from the belief that you somehow need to “fix it yourself”, “get over this”, “suck it up, cupcake”, or some other idiotic notion that they are all out to get you will net you absolutely nothing. The best way to combat this is to say yes to every other offer of help ((Use rational thought here and don’t accept robberies, beat downs, etc.)).
Refuse those offers you are 100% sure you can do on your own as long as you don’t get that dropping feeling in your stomach. IF you do get that feeling, this is panic and anxiety. You should avoid these situations and instead change your answer of “no, I don’t need help” to “Hi, I’m a complete stranger who just had my heart ripped out and my life shredded, so could you help me by…..”.
With these 5 signs enumerated, it is my personal experience and belief that you can successfully overcome most any situation Post Divorce. Remember PDSD is a real side effect of infidelity and divorce and if left untreated can lead to bitterness, reclusiveness, and other self-destructive behaviors. The first step is admitting you have PDSD.
But you can overcome it. I did. I am.
Keep your chin up. You’ll be fine.
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