Divorce hovers at the top of the list of life's most stressful events. Within a divorce, one can encounter prolonged mental anguish and suffering while going through the relationship breakup, legal proceedings, co-parenting, adjusting to life as a single person, and considering new relationships.
A divorced person may feel the impact of divorce on finances, social life, physical and mental health, place of residence, and almost any other area of life, leaving him or her to feel a variety of emotions including anger, sadness, frustration, and hopelessness.
Like the death of a loved one, loss of a job, a health crisis, imprisonment, and other major stressors, one who faces this life-altering event may often find comfort and help in healing by talking to others and finding support to make it through.
Talking to others, sharing thoughts and feelings, and seeking wisdom from those who are understanding is very reassuring and helpful, which is why support groups and online forums are a popular resource for divorcing people. Sharing with others can help validate feelings and allow those in need of help to not to feel alone in their experience or emotions, which can be empowering and offer a much-needed sense of hope.
Divorced people may be especially attracted to these options because they feel guilty or ashamed about discussing all of their issues with friends and family, preferring to talk to others who have experienced similar situations and have judgment-free advice to share.
Many online options exist to help people in all phases of divorce to answer questions and find support. Forums, chat groups, and networks have formed to discuss specific target topics like blended families, alienated parents, victims of abuse and infidelity, single parents, and much more.
- Cassidy, a woman seeking solidarity in an infidelity forum, shared: Joining this group has given me a sense of support in an otherwise alienating situation. It is my safe place when I feel like I have none. You go through feeling so alone, and when you find a group like ours, you realize just how many people are with you.
- Ayelora, a member of a blended family group, stated: It's a place where people think and feel like me. I come here because it's a place to air out my frustrations and get feedback, as well as support.
- Jen, seeking support for step-parenting, added: My group makes me realize I'm not alone. We can encourage, agree, or disagree. We can hold someone up in a dark time and can help celebrate triumphs. I have to say being a stepmom is the hardest thing I've ever taken on, and this group gives me the strength to carry on!
- Tracy, a participant in an alienated parent group, pointed out one of the potential downfalls of continually exposing oneself to the frustrations and sad stories of others: Sometimes, if I am very down, the group can make me feel sadder.
Feelings of depression through exposure to other peoples' problems, receiving bad advice, or seeking legal information from unqualified sources can cause more problems than before. Often, individuals who seek support may be in a fragile mental state and desperate for answers. Well-meaning strangers may offer information that could lead a distressed divorcee astray.
If you're interested in seeking online support to assist you through your divorce, consider these points to get the most out of the experience:
Take advice from strangers and non-experts with a grain of salt.
Most of the people you will encounter wish to help and may have great advice to share; but, some situations require professional intervention. If you hear legal or financial advice or have a question pertaining to psychiatric needs, you may be well-served to get a second opinion or do more research before acting on any advice.
Avoid drama and in-fighting in groups with minimal structure or supervision.
As in any group with multiple members, some people seek drama and do not get along with others. A group with limited involvement from a moderator may breed disrespect between members or leave room for bullying, and who needs more trouble in their life when already dealing with divorce?
Access support in a safe environment.
Bullies aren't the only ones who sometimes stalk online forums. Some troublemaking exes have been known to infiltrate groups to gather information to use in court. Make sure that wherever you unload your frustrations is truly a safe zone!
Pace yourself, especially if you feel yourself becoming more down about your situation.
Support should help you feel inspired, hopeful, or offer a realistic idea of what to expect. Although many aspects of divorce are very negative, focusing on an excessive amount of negativity can dim your outlook and hinder the progress of healing. Take a break, if need be, or re-focus your interactions on other topics if you feel yourself becoming more depressed.
Don’t go through divorce alone! There are so many others who have either been through what you are currently experiencing, or who are walking the journey right beside you. Finding a quality community can make all the difference in feeling heard, supported, and on the road to healing.