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Emotional healing: divorce, learning, & growing

Our marriage was not good. We did almost nothing together or as a family. We had very different definitions of fun. I am very loyal and family oriented, and he, well, isn’t. There’s so much more and worse. And, I’m not going to make this about blame, because that takes all my power away. I am responsible for staying, I am responsible for my choices in marrying him, and I am responsible for finally leaving and growing from all of the pain. Through my healing, I see I was co-dependent in covering up for him over and over. In total vain I tried to control the marriage and relationship to make it work. I was not perfect, of course. Finally ending my marriage was so hard; and, the best thing for me and my girls. It was the impetus for me diving in deep, facing my old traumas, and healing myself.

To heal requires forgiveness, or as I prefer to say letting go. Letting go of the anger, resentment, and bitterness of who I wanted and had hoped my husband would be, but wasn’t, who I had hoped we would be together and as a family, but never were. What is the point of hating a pine tree for being a pine tree and not a great live oak?! He is who he is, and I have compassion for him. He is a terribly broken man who suffers and tries to hide in alcohol and more. I so wanted to save him…. now, of course, I know I cannot save anyone, it is up to them to save themselves. I am incredibly and profoundly grateful for the learning, growing, and healing that has come from the pain. I am also deeply to my core grateful for my two sweet, kind, loving, smart girls.

Key learnings from my emotional healing:

We attract where we are. This was a huge driver for me to let go of the anger and hurt. Given that I was with a very angry man for over a decade, I sure didn’t want to attract more of this! At some point in the healing process I realized it was pointless and a waste of my time to carry around the anger. And, most importantly, that it only was harming me and my girls. So, I choose to let it go. I continually choose to let go every day over and over again! The choosing gets less frequent as time goes on and I actually start to feel forgiveness too. But, it is a choice. And, I choose, and choose, and choose to let go for me and my girls.

Fear is controlling, and controlling stems from fear. The reality is that the only thing I can control is my response to a situation. I consciously work to replace fear with curiosity: why is this happening, what can I learn from it, what are other alternatives.

Believe in myself, know that I have great worth, and am lovable. (I won’t lie, this is really embarrassing for me to write about publicly!) Throughout my healing process I uncovered some deep unconscious negative core beliefs that were negatively controlling my life. As it was for so many people, my childhood was not picture-perfect, and from it I had developed the belief that I was not good-enough, which led me to a broken man and marriage. In seeking love I attempted to be perfect, believing if I were perfect I then would be lovable. I accomplished a lot with this negative core belief driving me hard, but at great pain and suffering for me. When we know we are worthy, we don’t allow toxic abuse in our lives.

Be vulnerable and speak my truth. Speaking my truth in relationships is my biggest take away from all of my work. I must (respectfully) speak my truth in order to meaningfully and truly connect with another. If I would have spoken my truth in my marriage, well, we likely would never have been married, or maybe it would have been different... hard to know. There was so much that was not acceptable for me; that didn’t work with my values and vision in life. But, I was afraid that to speak my truth and set boundaries could end the relationship. And, yes, it likely would have. But, the reality is by not speaking my truth I was blocking any possibility of a healthy relationship that aligns with my values. I am learning to honor myself, my values, and my vision.

Reality is based on perceptions and beliefs from our past, pre-installed programming in our minds, and generational perceptions. What a big one. When you change your thoughts you change your life. No matter what happens to you, it is all perception (John DeMartini). So, I can choose to see my marriage ending and subsequent job loss as disastrous, but that is disempowering and that does not work for me. So, I choose to see that these are great opportunities and transformational events. It is what I decide that determines my destiny, and I am grateful for it.

It isn’t about me. It is typical for us to always think things are about us, but they often are not. Challenge the perception that it is all about you. Reframe and ask: what are a few other ways I can think about the situation that means nothing about me and will be more empowering. With my ex, the abuse was about his deep-seated wounds and traumas. He truly couldn’t do any better. And, that does not make it acceptable, or okay.

It is all about shared values and vision. Values and vision pulls us out of past programming, having a clear picture of what I am moving toward, a new and different future.

Transcend the hurt, pain, and disappointment by learning the lessons they teach. Ask why, and take responsibility. I am completely responsible for my life and my choices. I chose to marry him, I chose to stay, and finally I chose to leave. I needed to ask myself why I allowed myself to be emotionally abused to learn, grow, and heal, to love and believe in myself enough to never repeat it all. If nothing changes, then the future will resemble the past… We must be curious as to why what happened did, and take responsibility for our own lives. Staying in a victim mindset only perpetuates our suffering; it only hurts me. Where attention goes, energy flows. I choose to put my energy in healing, love, gratitude, and in serving others. That is what brings me joy.

Emotional healing is a critical step in healing autoimmune and other health issues. I didn’t understand how much the toxicity of the relationship was poisoning my health and life until I let it go. It is amazing how when we finally let go and allow ourselves to believe in god/spirit/universe to have our back that we can then move forward in our healing to good health and happiness. This helps me serve myself and others in their healing.

I love this quote by Henry Ford: “Whether you believe it is impossible or possible, either way you are right”!

And, as my favorite woman of all time said: “I did then what I knew to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou

That is it! When we know better, we do better. All this to say, to advance in life, we must learn from our mistakes and experiences and GROW. And, that I am doing!

So, here I am profoundly grateful that the disappointment and pain of my marriage brought me to deep healing and emotional intelligence, to understanding that loving, valuing, and believing in myself is the solution. Along this healing journey I was also laid off from my job. At first, I was in a complete panic as I am the only financial support for my girls. But then I made a very deliberate decision to embrace the situation as an opportunity for finding more meaningful and fulfilling work, and realized this also was a great opportunity for me to learn and grow and change direction. Truly believing in myself and endless possibilities was an amazing breakthrough for me.

Great healing resources:

Bonnie Kelly: book True to Your Core, materials, and videos

Christine Hassler’s book Expectation Hangover, blogs, and podcasts

Sean Croxton for short daily doses of inspiration from his Quote of the Day podcasts

The Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu & the Dalai Lama

Kelly McGonigal: The Neuroscience of Self-Compassion

The Three Laws of Performance, by Steve Zaffron & Dave Logan

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Energy healing, Veritas Wellness, Sarah Lascano

Taoist acupuncture, an ancient form of Chinese acupuncture

Horseback Riding (or hiking) and communing with nature

Yoga & breathing – lots and lots of breathing


Practicing gratitude daily: at a minimum before bed and upon waking in the morning

Devona Bell is a holistic health coach with over two decades of professional experience in building regenerative local and regional food and farming systems, with a focus on the nexus of food/health/nutrition, and sustainable natural resource management in the U.S. and internationally. She has worked in, lived in, and visited 40 countries and speaks English, French, and some Russian. Devona and her two girls are on their way to Montana.

© devonabell 2017

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