Welcome to our Divorced Mom Guilt series! Please make sure you’ve read part one, Divorced Mom Guilt Intro, before you continue.
In order to let go of the feelings of guilt, you must take the time to determine its source(s). If you don’t know exactly what you feel guilty about, you can’t come up with a plan to work through it. But it can be easier said then done…if letting go of guilt was easy, no one would suffer from it!
How to Identify Divorced Mom Guilt
Now is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. Discovering exactly what’s holding you back may take a deep look into your past and present, but it’s going to be helpful, eye-opening, and very productive.
Start by Reflecting on Yourself
Self-reflection is the most important step in getting rid of mom guilt. You need time and space to truly think about nothing but your emotions and thoughts. The world is hectic and busy, with millions of distractions that can hinder your progress.
That’s why you must find a quiet, comfortable place for your self-reflection. Think about how you have handled things in the past, factors that have held you back, and what goals you hope to accomplish in the future.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What thoughts or tasks start to make you feel uncomfortable when you think about them?
- What part of the journey gets your stomach in a tight knot?
- What is causing doubt to creep in?
Pay attention to all of it and see if you can start to identify divorced mom guilt and where it may be coming from.
Journaling to Let Go of Divorced Mom Guilt
Keeping a journal can benefit your life in a number of ways. Using one to let go of guilt is no exception. Make it simple: just grab a notebook and pen you have at home. If you prefer a digital journal, open up a Word document and get to typing.
Putting your thoughts on paper can be very clarifying. It forces you to focus and organize your thought processes. It also gives you something to come back to and read later in the day or a bit down the road.
Note that journaling may take a few days before you really start to get into the deep “why” of your guilt. Most people that journal just write about the first thing that comes to mind each day. Ask yourself the questions above to try to guide the text.
Even with the questions, it may take more than one journal entry for you to get a clear picture of your guilt triggers. That’s okay. Most people that visit therapists need more than one visit to make progress. Just writing and don’t give up!
This reading of your thoughts and what’s going on in your head can help you discover underlying causes as you “read between the lines”. Give it a try and see if you find journaling helpful in this process.
Involve a Trusted Friend
If you are struggling to dig deep into your feelings and determine why you are feeling guilty, it may help to talk things out with someone. Ideally this is someone who knows you well and can guide you along the way.
Encourage them to ask probing, open-ended questions until you are able to identify divorced mom guilt sources you are struggling with.
This confidant should be as unbiased in the conversation as possible. Loved ones want to support you and let you know what a great mom you are and that you should not feel any guilt. None of that will be helpful, however, so choose someone that can reign in their own feelings in order to help you figure out yours.
Helpful Example of Divorced Mom Guilt
Let’s say you have been thinking of doing a little freelance work as a writer while also taking care of your young children (that haven’t started school yet). Consider this something you’ve done before, maybe back before you had children. However, there’s a nagging feeling of guilt stopping you from actually acting.
As you start to examine these feelings, you begin with the idea that you will take away time you could spend with your children. Thinking more about the opportunity, you realize that you have time to work while they are napping, before they wake up each morning, or after their bedtime.
Digging a little deeper, you realize that you’re actually worried about how getting back into making money and working could be perceived by those around you.
Your ex or family may feel you don’t have enough time for the kids. Neighbors may think you’re a bad mother for focusing on something other than the kids.
By facing these thoughts, you realize how silly these fears are. A divorced mom has to provide for her children, and needs to fill in the gaps of a single mom budget. Plus, if you are solely freelancing for income, you would have the added benefit of a flexible schedule!
You start to feel a little better about the whole idea, but there’s still a knot in your stomach. There is one more feeling that’s holding you back and it’s the thought that’s manifesting as guilt.
You realize that what you’re really worried about is that you won’t make it. You’ve been home for a few years and haven’t done much writing, freelance or otherwise. What if no one will give you a project to work on or publish your writing?
This right here is the real issue and the one you can now work on.
Once you’ve identified the underlying triggers of divorced mom guilt, it’s time to learn how to let it go so you can be happier and more productive. The final part of this series will discuss just that!
Read Part Three – Letting the Divorced Mom Guilt Go