While married, you may have felt anxious, angry, and triggered. But the difference in a post-divorce scenario is that you no longer have your person who will listen to your struggles.
How to Overcome Anxiety and Anger in Your Divorce Trauma
We, women, are in a season where we’re encouraged to learn how to work through anxiety and other ‘big’ feelings in a very different way than we have done before. In the past, you may have tried to work them out with the ex or become really busy distracting yourself. Maybe you pushed your post-divorce trauma deep down inside and said, “I’m not going to feel that today.”
Women are now in a time where we are being called to approach discomfort in a new and fresh way.
This morning I woke up at 5 a.m., as I sometimes do. Not because I wanted to but because I felt very anxious. I’m grateful that this isn’t common for me anymore, but it used to be the state that I lived in. I used to function in a heightened state of anxiety of being chronically triggered.
I want to teach you how to move through these moments and the steps that you can take to process anxious, angry, or triggered states of mind. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment, and it’s one of those things that you can’t afford to skip.
You need to create space to deal with it because otherwise, it will rear its ugly head again and be bigger and more painful.
How Does Anxiety Feel
What do I do when I feel anxious? First things first, I know on an intellectual level that everything I’m feeling right now is not necessarily rational. My brain no longer clicks into what is true, what is spiritually grounded, and what is the truth of who I am or the world I function in. It’s just this very loud, humming discomfort in my mind and in my body that drowns out any kind of reasonable thought.
Experiencing Flashbacks and Your Nervous System
In these moments, I’m experiencing a flashback.
Many women think flashbacks are picture images, but we’ve learned through researchers (such as Bessel Van der Kolk and his colleagues) that many times flashbacks come in the form of nervous system reactions, such as body sensations and emotions.
When you’re anxious, angry, or triggered and you’re having these flashbacks, it’s about what’s happening in the present moment. What does this flashback want me to know? What is asking to be processed right now? You’re going through several very real issues that may involve your ex violating your boundaries or tackling big stressors, such as going to court, co-parenting, or navigating difficult financial situations.
A huge chunk of what you’re experiencing is also a flashback from similar experiences you’ve had in the past. It’s a mashup of present-day struggles and old stuff.
#1 Being Aware of How You Are Feeling
As you’re moving through these flashbacks in your life after divorce, your brain is sifting and sorting what needs action now (what to do with this person, problem, or this situation in front of you) and what needs to be processed from the past.
#2 Practicing EFT Butterfly Tapping for Anxiety
This morning, the next choice I made was to do a series of butterfly taps. Now, if you’ve been around for a minute, you’ve heard me talk about this before.
How to Butterfly Tap for Anxiety:
- Close your eyes and sit or lie in a comfortable position.
- Cross your arms and place your hands on your chest. Spread out your fingers with your thumbs pointing towards your chin.
- Alternate tapping your left and right hands on your chest while breathing deeply.
We, women, know that painful experiences are stored in the body’s energy, and this left and right tapping will help stimulate whatever needs to move through you.
This is a particular technique that I love to use when I’m triggered or anxious.
This morning, I found my breath and just started tapping for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then I would pause, and I would wait a few minutes to see what came to me next, what came up in my body, what physically I was feeling, what I was thinking or noticing, and what picture images came to mind. I did this probably on and off for an hour.
#3 Identifying Anxiety Stressors
While I was using the butterfly technique for dealing with anxiety and anger, my anxiety began to unfold for me. It was a long string of memories of major health issues that caused financial stressors throughout the course of my life.
I have this old fear that health problems will make me unable to financially provide for myself.
One of the memories that came up was during my divorce when I had horrible cluster headaches. I was in and out of the emergency room, I was a single woman, and I struggled to get to work and take care of myself. I managed to do alright, but it was very scary, and it was very financially taxing. This is what was on my mind when I woke up this morning. So, I breathed, I tapped, I paused, and I allowed it to move through.
Butterfly tapping can be incredibly powerful, and it’s something you can do on your own. Some people will say that butterfly tapping needs to be overseen by a therapist, but I don’t necessarily agree.
Although I believe women can’t heal in a vacuum by themselves, you can make progress and learn how to regulate your nervous system when you need to. You can’t always wait to be with a professional.
Can you imagine if I woke up anxious this morning, didn’t have this tool or a therapy session booked, and had to wait for an appointment in order to process it? It’s not the way to really own our power and our healing. Yes, I have relied heavily over the years on healers to help guide me and to facilitate transformation, but you can also work by yourself to deal with anxiety.
#4 Using Breathing Techniques and Journaling
As well as the butterfly tapping technique, I want you to rely heavily on your breath and journaling to become grounded. In these moments when we women are anxious, angry, and triggered, we’re not steady. We have berserk energy.
When you grab a pen and a notebook and you start writing it down, your mind starts refining the energy that’s inside of you and filtering it into the page.
Now, I love combining the butterfly tap with journaling and I love to teach this technique where you tap, you journal, you pause, you tap, you journal, you pause. This will help you move through the trigger smoothly.
#5 Grounding Yourself
Part of being grounded in your post-divorce trauma is feeling connected to something steadier than yourself.
There is a frequency in nature that is very soothing. From that grounded place, it’s a lot easier to process and make sense of what’s coming up and what’s going on.
It could also be EFT tapping, cold plunging, or exercise and moving the body that helps you. A lot of times when I’m in session with clients, and we’re doing EMDR, I say, “Get up and go, take a couple of laps around the room, stretch, move, expand.”
When we’re doing energy work, this allows it to move through our body and flow more easily. When we’re processing, grounding, and releasing, we work through an emotional state and let it go like the tide comes in and goes out.
If you’re feeling anxious, angry, or triggered, try using a butterfly tap, controlling your breath, writing in your journal, moving your body, and using nature to determine what needs to be processed.
#6 Keep Moving Forward
What I figured out this morning is:
“I need to keep moving forward, even though it’s scary. This is a season of I can and I will, and I’m going to do the thing.”
Sometimes when women do this work, we may figure out, “I need to take a different action,” or “I need to set this particular boundary,” or “I need to say this thing to this person.”
Even though there is so much temptation to be very, very busy because you’re feeling a lot of anxiety and there are too many feelings and so many responsibilities on your plate, it’s important to go slowly and take exceptional care of yourself. This process will allow you to find clarity and feel confident about what action you need to take.
#7 Reevaluating Relationships
In this period of your life after divorce, you are reevaluating a lot of relationships in your circle. When you’re anxious, your ex isn’t the person to reach out to. Also, if you’re dating, the person you’re dating is probably not the person to send the text message to when you’re triggered. There may be certain circumstances where that is the case, but when we women are anxious, angry, and triggered, it is our work to process and make sense of it and come to terms with what we are feeling.
Many ways we avoid ‘doing the work’ is by going to the person we’re upset with or that has created the trigger and trying to work it out with them. This is because we’re seeking connection, clarity, and security. In divorce recovery, we crave all these things. We, women, want to be rescued by the knight in shining armor.
Connection and security are important, but you need to create those feelings inside of yourself first.
I Believe In You. You Have Got This.
You can and you must learn how to sit with a trigger and breathe and process and ground and get clear before you do (or don’t) take action.
I want to encourage you to be on a beautiful journey of discovering what tools are there for you in your life after divorce. There are so many that I’ve used over the years.
This is me empowering you to try a technique. The next time you are freaking the F out, I want you to just say to yourself, “I’m going to try what Dawn suggested.”
I believe in you. You’ve got this.
Divorce recovery coach Dawn Wiggins
...helps people crack open. Challenging the status quo, she integrates multiple modalities from EMDR to EFT tapping, journaling, homeopathy, and movement, embracing remedies that heal both the mind and body. Divorce recovery coach Dawn Wiggins is on a mission to deliver life-changing therapy in an accessible, scalable, affordable way and make waves in the world of mental health with the same enlightenment that happens in her office. Part science, part essential oils, pure magic.