Thoughts on Healing & Recovery
Recovery from Wife Abandonment Syndrome and an unanticipated divorce is hard work.
You may be struggling to make sense of what happened and stuck in a whirlpool of misery, bad feelings and obsessive thoughts. You may have no interest in anything, food tastes like cardboard and all you want to do is sleep.
Your friends and family may be wanting you to move on already, but you’re still stuck in the thick of it. Don’t blame them - no one can understand unless they have lived it. Recovery takes time. But we understand and have posted here some thoughts, taken from Runaway Husbands, that may help you. You will find much more to aid in your recovery in the book.
Here’s a description of the stages that you can expect to go through during your recovery process from Wife Abandonment Syndrome. Take a look and plot where you think you are at this moment.
- Tsunami – The first hit when you're informed out-of-the-blue that the marriage is over. You're drowning and go into shock.
- Tornado – Your thoughts are spinning wildly as you try to come up with some desperate plan to make this not be happening or at least to understand it. It's a crazy and dangerous time – you're not in your right mind.
- Thunderstorm – You feel besieged, raw and fearful and don't know when the next thunderbolt will strike. Your emotions ricochet wildly from anger (lightning), to grief (rain), to fear (wind).
- Ice Storm – Life feels hard, cold, unrecognizable and unforgiving. You've lost your footing, there is no future and time slows way down. You're frozen, just trying to make it through every day, and you wonder if you'll ever feel normal again.
- Fog – Your interior world is still grey but the feeling's not as intense. Although you've grown profoundly tired of struggling with your emotions, your mind is slowly starting to function again.
- Sun Shower – The world has started to thaw and regain some color as you begin to see-saw between bad days and good.
- Early Spring – Although the traces of winter and all you've suffered are still very present, new opportunities have started to bud as you feel your life gearing up for change.
- Temperate Summer Day – You've made the transition into your new life and look to the future with anticipation, armed with all you've learned about how to create your happiness.
Dealing With Obsessive Thoughts
Every woman who is subjected to Wife Abandonment Syndrome becomes deeply destabilized for some period of time. Many are tormented by relentless thoughts as they struggle to make sense of what happened, such as:
- Obsessing about how this happened – what you did wrong in the marriage, whether your husband said anything in the past to hint about the devastation to come, where he really was that time he said he was on a business trip, etc.
- Obsessing about how to hurt him back – fantasies of revenge, the perfect withering remark you would like to say to him or his girlfriend, ways to hurt him in court, etc.
- Obsessing about insecurities in the future – how to afford to stay in the house, what if he doesn't contribute to a child's medical bills, how to face old age when you'd always expected to be with him.
These obsessive thoughts can steal away nights and nights of sleep and torment you every waking moment. Try as you might, in the early days you can't escape them. Here are some ways to sweep your mind clean of those disturbing thoughts:
Keep your mind occupied with other things as much as possible. Talk on the phone, keep the radio on, drag yourself out to a movie, fill up long lonely Saturday nights doing a jigsaw puzzle (you'll spend hours looking for the man with the blue hat!). You just need to survive until the passage of time can heal.
Schedule a dedicated worry-time every day. Decide that you will do intensive worrying from 7pm to 7:30pm every day and try to limit your obsessing to those times.
Sweep your mind clean – literally! Imagine that your mind is a dusty room, but you've just hired Dolores, a perky tiny cleaning lady armed with a miniature broom. When you realize that you’re obsessing, close your eyes and tell her, "Sweep, sweep, sweep!" Imagine her hopping up from her stool and getting to work, sweeping your mind clean of those debilitating thoughts. Sweep those thoughts out your ear – you don't need them!
In an effort to validate leaving, departing husbands often devise nonsensical excuses and re-write the past, reversing statements that they had previously made. This greatly confuses their wives, often causing them to feel like they are losing their minds.
This form of manipulation is called Gaslighting and refers to a 1944 Ingrid Bergman film, Gaslight, in which in which the devious husband of the delicate heroine flickers the gaslights every evening as part of a plan of psychological torture designed to delude her into believing that she has gone mad.
Departing husbands often confuse and destabilize their wives by making claims that are contrary to what they used to state during the marriage. For example, the man who used to say that his wife was "the rock of his life" now says, "I never really loved you". Women are forced to question their own memories and are at a loss to know what to believe – it's almost impossible to accept that their husbands are just out-and-out lying to strengthen their positions.