Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Effects of Divorce on Self-Esteem

Below is an article I wrote years ago when I started healing from the demise of my first marriage. Because I think self-esteem is a huge issue for people suffering with intrusive thoughts and OCD, I decided to share it here. Moreover, divorce is terrible for even mentally stable people. It is even more of a challenge when you're emotionally compromised, so I found it relevant. If you have anything to share about the effects of divorce on self-esteem or mental illness, please do so in the comments section. 

Car that says "Just Divorced"
Photo courtesy of user Electron on Wikimedia Commons
A lot can be lost in the process of divorce and not all of them are material things. Divorce can do a number on your self-esteem. You may feel like a failure. You might fear that you can’t make it on your own. Maybe you've been emotionally abused for so long that you find it hard to look at yourself in a positive light. On the other hand, you may find that your self-esteem is getting a boost after your divorce and that you are now seeing yourself in a better way. Whatever the case may be for a given individuals, divorce can definitely be the cause behind changes in your self-esteem.

A lot of the emotional baggage that comes with getting a divorce is packed long before you take the trip to court. Tension, frustration, anger, guilt, resentment, fear and a boatload of other emotions can build up for months or even years before you take the plunge. This makes it hard to have good self-esteem. Even after the divorce is final, it is hard to unload all of the problems that led you down that path.

Divorce is often coupled with a sense of failure. Many people go into marriage thinking that it is going to last forever and that their spouse will stay with them through everything, “until death do you part.” When things don’t turn out quite as you expected, it may be difficult to shake the feeling that there may have been something you could have done to save your marriage or that it failed because of something you did. This can certainly be a blow to your self-esteem. You may even feel like you will never have a successful relationship again. Unfortunately, the only way to regain your self-esteem is to fight through your feelings of inadequacy and prove to yourself that just because you may have a failed marriage under your belt, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a successful one in the future. Furthermore, just because your ex may not have loving feelings about you does not mean that you are not worthy and deserving of love.

Maybe you got lucky and divorce made you feel like a million bucks. Sometimes a bad marriage can make people feel like they can’t make it on their own. This is often because of things that a cruel spouse might choose to say or the effects of co-dependency. Fortunately, most people can make it on their own, financially and emotionally. When a person gets out of a bad relationship and finds personal success, on any level, that can cause a huge boost of self-confidence and be a balm for damaged self-esteem.


We know that divorce often has an effect on self-esteem, what is important is attempting to reverse that effect, if it is a negative one or take advantage of it, if it is a positive one. A failed marriage is a hard thing to work past, but loads of people do it every day, so we know that it is possible. It is even possible to have a better life now that your marriage is over. There is nothing better for a divorced person’s self-esteem than discovering that there is life past divorce and that it has the potential to be fantastic.