It Takes A Village
by Deirdre Shaffer
I poled a few of my clients and friends, wondering what it was that most helped them to survive the transition and pain of separation and divorce. It’s one thing to know the clinical aspects of the journey but I wanted to hear from a perspective of memory and personal growth exactly what it was that helped each person move forward.
Across the board, in all walks of life, there were some consistent practices that are worth mentioning:
Many people in divorce recovery found that sharing their situation (despite the difficulty in taking that step) elicited caring from others. Family, friends, and coworkers offered connection, support, and comfort. Others mentioned that they benefited from joining community organizations like a church, club, or volunteer group. Several reported that building friendships with other single people was a great source of empathy and recreation that helped to ease lonely times.
TRYING NEW THINGS
For many newly single people, facing fears and learning new skills leads to feelings of self-empowerment. One woman noted that getting a handle on her finances helped. Another said that learning to use a drill was fun and allowed her to decorate with no complaints about holes in the walls! For a divorced community leader, Meet Ups were a way to pursue hobbies while meeting new people. A newly separated female began taking art lessons, while a divorced male began running competitively after years of a more sedentary lifestyle. Both found joy in these pursuits.
SETTING GOALS AND TIMELINES
Among the goals identified by a separated female are: selling the house, finalizing the divorce, taking care of the children, and expanding her business. A middle- aged male finds that keeping a list of his daily, weekly, and monthly tasks keeps him focused and allows him to track his progress as he checks an item off of his list.
Many people interviewed mentioned that their faith was a source of strength and hope during their divorce. Others mentioned that their struggle led them to rediscover a spiritual tradition in which they had not been actively participating prior to divorce. Every person poled reported that their divorce has led them to a spiritual practice that remains an important part of their life.
From yoga to running, biking to walking, tennis to hiking, all but one client stated that physical exercise improved their mood and helped them feel better about themselves.
Many of the people who were asked said they felt like they achieved a big milestone when they stopped focusing on what their ex was doing, saying, thinking, and feeling. And began focusing on their own feelings and choices.
THOUGHT CHANGING QUOTES
There’s a quote in the book “A Course in Miracles”……”the definition of a miracle is simply a change in perspective.” This was true for the most well adjusted of the people I poled. The following quotes were helpful reminders:
“Let Go, Let God”
“Everything works out in the end; if it hasn’t worked out, it isn’t the end”
“God will provide you with what you need when you need it”
“His choices are his. My choices are mine”
“Forgiving doesn’t mean I condone what she did”
Thanks to those who shared their experiences and for showing that, to heal, it really does take a village.