Here, she chats to psychologist Jacqui Manning about managing emotional pain and what to do when you’re faced with plan B.
When someone comes to see you and tell you that they’re going through a divorce, what’s the first piece of advice you give them?
To express some of their pain, to talk to me – that’s their space to be completely honest and open. Often times people hold back, even in the therapy space. To really look at the support they’ve got around them and identify it might not be family – a lot of people are in cities without family networks around. Because often that despondency and pain can lead you to think you’re all alone.
To know that you will get through this. To reach out, to ask for help. In the therapy space, I often go back to parental relationships and trauma bonds that people might have grown up with because that’s often where relationship issues come from. I believe that people come together in relationships partly to heal some of that childhood wounding we’ve all had – no matter how nice our parents were.
To work out why you were attracted to that person so that they can look to heal from that and grieve for the person in inside of them and what they’re currently dealing with. Encouraging them to grieve is a really important step because without that you’re not really fully able to pass through it.
Do you have expectations that people should pass through that grief at any certain period of time?
It’s so personal and it’s so dependent on other things they’ve experienced. I think our culture expects that with grief of many kinds, whether it’s death, loss, separation to get back on our feet. But the thing is with grief, it’s not linear. It’s not time-based. You can be hit three years later with emotions as big as the ones you experienced in the beginning and that’s normal. The pathway of grief I often liken to waves. Sometimes the waves feel like big tidal waves that feel like you’re really drowning and sometimes they’re really gentle and sometimes you can have a mix in the same day. To really know that there’s a physiological experience of grief as well – so sometimes people think they’re going crazy or really sick or something like that. Grief can do that to your body: give you chest pains, or a bad stomach or stop you sleeping. And that’s really normal. It’s not to be pathologised because grief is grief.
You can hear their full chat via episode one of Divorce Story below...