Facing your fears

Divorce is one of the highest stress-related events a person can go through. Only the death of a spouse or child rank higher. Having experienced extreme loss only a few times in my life, I didn’t know what to think of the physical pain that gripped my chest, my shortness of breath when I walked my dog, my inability to think clearly when someone talked too fast or too loud, and the metallic taste in my mouth.

I also suffered from what I can only describe as a noise in my head, which were my fears crowding in on me. Fear of being alone. Fear of not finding a job. Fear of the unknown. Fear of growing old without my husband. Fear of divorce. Fear of lawyers. Fear of being considered a failure.

There were so many worries crowding out all good and rational thinking, that simply fighting off my negative thoughts took all my energy. People were so full of advice, some good and some awful. The noise in my head (my fears) drowned out their words. I literally lived one minute at a time, waiting for the day to end so that I could find relief in sleep.

So, was my reaction normal? Having spoken to others in my situation, yes. That acute physical pain is real. The fears are normal. You just have to ride through this intense grieving period and concentrate only on the things you can control. Every time I took a positive step forward (like finding a job), the noise in my head lessened. We each react to stress differently. In my case, it took eight months before my head cleared again. It had taken that long to sort out my fears and confront them.

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