I once heard that it takes 5 years for every year you were together to get over it. If that were true, I would be dead and buried and still grieving my marriage. I refuse to accept that. However, I also believe that there is no timeline for the mourning process but there are stages. Getting through each one is highly individual and sometimes, you can take 2 steps forward and ten steps back. You beat yourself up over it too. Why can’t I just move on? Why do continue to ruminate in the past? Why do I let a small setback ruin my progress? Because you are human. We tend to overthink and create storylines that may not even exist in real life. We want justice or revenge when we feel we’ve been violated. For me, I get carried away in these thoughts but never act on them. Some call it, “taking the high road”.

How long do these feelings last? As long as you let them. You are in control of your thoughts and consequently, your emotions. The reason you FEEL sad, frustrated or angry is because your mind is allowing you to THINK about the things that evoke those emotions. I’m not suggesting that you can just forget what happened to you or bury your past so deep that you no longer feel anything. Those who can do that (and your ex may be that person), lack compassion, empathy and remorse. The only way they can deal with the pain they caused is to somehow justify it to themselves, ignore it or supress so much that they never deal with it. Maybe they even run away to the other side of the country and remove themselves from anything and everything that may remind them of you and their past. They create a new life with a new person, a new car and a new home. Their life is shiny and new and different. Unfortunately, everything gets old. And what are they left with? Their true self. They must lay their head down each night, look themselves in the mirror every morning and be OK with with who is looking back.

But focusing on their progress or lack thereof, it not your responsibility. When they abandoned you, they also relinquished their right to your “unconditional” support. There was a time when you would have jumped in front of a train for them and then, when you least expected it, they drove that train through your heart.

The damage is irreparable. The hurt seems to linger endlessly. Often, it seems like the pain will be there forever. When will the suffering end?Eventually, it will start to come and go in waves. At first, the waves crash over and over and you feel as if you are drowning. Slowly, the tide will go out and you can take a deep breath. Just be prepared — it does come rolling back and sucks you in again. Learn to swim.

Your progress may be slow like mine or you may bounce back quickly. Sometimes it depends on the circumstances surrounding your situation. Did you know it was coming? Did you see the signs but chose to ignore them? Did you try to work on the issues together but failed? I think the aftermath of divorce depends greatly on the way in which it was handled. Sometimes the difference lies in the communication. In my case, it was a complete shock. There was no indication before he left, very little information (none of which made any sense at the time) and ZERO communication afterwards. This process may take a bit longer than those whose spouse actually had the decency to TRY — or at the very least, gave them some time to process the death of their relationship. Maybe they would get to skip over the “shock” phase and go directly to grief.

The point is, it’s a highly individual process. Don’t impose a time limit on yours — it will only make it worse. Not only will you continue to suffer your loss, you will add the pressure to “get over it quickly” which will only prolong the suffering. Time will pass whether you’re obsessing over it or not, so choose not to and let it be. Eventually the waves will get further and further apart leaving more room for you to breathe. At this point, I can’t tell you what’s on the horizon because I have yet to get there myself. It sounds cliche — but you have to trust the process.

Originally published at medium.com