June 1st, 2014 · how to cope with depression
In How to Cope with Depression after Divorce, 1, I explored some of the healing that can emerge from post-divorce depression; I continue that exploration here.
Here are some additional factors relevant to post-divorce depression, namely, the shadow and the Self.
Divorce often highlights aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to acknowledge. I speak from personal experience, but I also know it’s the experience of many.
Psychology journalist and writer on relationship issues, Maggie Scarf, tells us:
It is a fact of marital reality, well known to experts in the field, that those qualities cited by intimate partners as having first attracted them to each other are usually the same ones that are identified as sources of conflict later in the relationship.
It’s quite true that often we react to the qualities in partners in this manner, and those reactions to the Other can become very charged when we’re dealing with relationship breakdown. A question that might often be a gateway to self-knowledge in this circumstance might be this:
Answering this question can take us deeply into our own reality.
Example. Jim is a rational, pragmatic and matter of fact guy. He married Cara, a very energetic, lively woman, who responds to situations with deep feeling. When Jim met Cara, he was utterly beguiled and captivated. “There’s so much life in her!” he told friends. Something in him yearned to share that, to have it in himself, to meet his life with it.
Fast forward 15 years. Jim and Cara, married, have been through much. Jim was downsized from his role as a middle manager in an IT firm. The couple endured 18 difficult months where he was out of work. The couple had two children, the second of whom experienced ADHD and learning disabilities. In attempting to meet the challenges in their lives, Jim and Cara often found themselves in conflict situations. Typically Cara responded with intense expression of feeling, while Jim, feeling out of his depth, responded rationally and pragmatically, which Cara experienced as cold and unfeeling.
With time, the gulf between them grew insurmountable. When intimacy died, Cara and Jim agreed to go their separate ways. While acknowledging the necessity of their parting, Jim finds himself feeling as if part of himself has died.
In seeking how to cope with depression after a divorce, it may be essential to accept and honour the parts of ourselves that were in the relationship, but that we couldn’t acknowledge. To do so may be painful, but it may be essential for healing in our lives, and to enable us to continue our journey towards wholeness.
Divorce as Honouring the Self
CG Jung referred to our psychic wholeness as persons as “The Self”. The Self is bigger and more inclusive than the ego, the conscious part of us that regularly runs the show in our lives. The Self has many aspects that we have yet to explore and acknowledge. After a divorce, it can be essential to affirm many of these aspects of ourselves that have come to the fore in marriage, and in marital breakdown. This can be essential for working through our feelings, getting beyond divorce-related depression, and moving forward into a fuller experience of life. Often depth psychotherapy such as Jungian therapy is of invaluable assistance.
PHOTO: © woodleywonderworks ; Daniel Lobo
© 2014 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)