Healing from Divorce

        It was on Christmas morning  that  the family gathered around the tree, and the kids were excited in opening gifts.   They were laughing  and enjoying one another.  The parents looked on with gladness to see their children happy.    Then Deidra  said to  Robert,  "I have a special gift for you."  She went to the tree and took an envelope from it  and handed it to Robert.   Inside  was  note of  filing for divorce.

Their marriage  had not been that stormy  and there were no indications that there was that much unhappiness.    It seems cruel  and sinister to  choose  such an important holiday for the family to  announce to a spouse  that a divorce is in the making.    Strangely enough,  several people have shared their experiences  about  Christmas eve  or Christmas day  being  the day of announcement.    One woman commented:  "We were on the way to our family for the Christmas holiday and he told me.   I could not believe it."    What a nightmare!

        In interviewing  people who have found themselves in his heart wrenching situation,  a number of  ideas  came forth that may be helpful for  getting through a divorce.

        First,  you need  objective help.    This begins with your lawyer.  Your heart is breaking and you would rather  cry,  but you need  someone who will  protect your interests.  You may feel like giving up everything,  but that is emotional.  You need someone who will think objectively about your interests. It will cost you money, but it is money well spent.
        At the same time, you need someone who will give you some financial counsel.  If you are a woman, the chances are you have not been interested in finances.  You may not have balanced the check book, but now you have to.   You will need a  budget,   knowledge of your financial resources,  information on retirement, and a good financial counselor can help you think of all the things needed.   The phone must be changed so you are not paying for  calls that are not yours..  The mail must be changed.  A  joint account at the bank must be  checked immediately so you are not without funds.    Credit cards must be dealt with so you are not getting  bills for  the former spouse's purchases.

        You need a spiritual advisor.    Drawing on the strength  that God gives  is important.   Lots of experiences in life  come uninvited, and divorce may be one of them.   A spiritual advisor can give help in reading  comforting passages of Scripture and  recommend  good books to read during this time.

    One person recommended:  Rebuilding  by Bruce Fisher,  and    How To survive the loss of a love, by  Colgrove.   Others are listed below.

        Second,  your family  may be a great help if they are close  by,  otherwise,  you may have lots of long distance calls.    Family members can help in visiting the lawyer with you,  asking questions you may not have considered,  being there for  a shoulder to cry on.

        Third,  support groups  are vital for survival.   No one knows what you are going through
like a fellow sufferer.    Support groups like  Transitions,  or  The Beginning Experience  give  help, counsel, and therapy  just by being there.

        Support groups  often  have activities that  single people can enjoy  in a group.   Many singles feel that they are outsiders now to married couples.  Some deliberately stayed away from married couples. Others feel the awkwardness of their position, but don't like being left out.     One person described her  experience of going to a support group. She didn't want to laugh or even eat.  But  she sat there  listening,  and  took a small bite of pizza,  listened more,  took another bite, and  before she knew it, she had eaten a whole piece of pizza, and was delighted with it.

        Fourth,  journaling....putting your  thoughts down,  describing your feelings,   the sense of betrayal,  the lost of trust,  the suspicion about people in general, can be  healing and therapeutic.   This is like the angry letter you write to someone and then tear it up.

        Fifth,  humor.   You don't feel like laughing.   But seeking out  humorous movies helps one to laugh. Laughing and crying  helps to get the endorphins  working in your body  and  healing begins its work.

        Sixth,  take care of yourself physically.    This means eating well.   Some lose weight and others gain weight.  Gaining may be due to  overeating to fill up the void within,  or  foods that one would not ordinarily eat, junk foods, that  cause one to gain weight.   The lack of exercise also  relates to this.
Exercise is important for physical well-being, and that in turn  relates to mental well-being.

        Seventh,  Don't  be quick to rush into a new relationship.   You are vulnerable.   You may react against  the opposite sex with distrust  and be very negative toward them.

    Eighth,  if you are so emotionally disturbed that you can't function well,   you may need to consult with your physician about the possible  use of an anti-anxiety drug, or  anti-depressant for a while.   You  have experienced shock,  perhaps denial,  disbelief, along with loss of self-esteem, and self condemnation.  Sleepless nights take their toll on you and they in turn lower your emotions  so that a cycle is set up which must be broken.   You need sleep!

        Ninth,  realize  that  healing is going to take time.     There is grief,  and grief takes time to process. It cannot be speeded up.

        Tenth,   If you have children, don't  turn them against their father.  This may backfire on you.
The children  have the right to see their  father under good circumstances.

        Eleventh,  let's  assume  you  did not have any real divorceable faults.  Now you find yourself divorced.   The  anger,   hurt,  and shock  is still there.   Now comes the hard part.   You have to forgive even though  your spouse has never asked for it.   You have to forgive for your sake, not theirs. Forgiveness  is part of  God's way of healing you.    You may have to come to the point of praying as  Corrie ten Boom did after encountering  a former guard of the concentration camp she was in.  It was in Munich that she spoke in a church and  the former SS man  came up to her and said, "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein. To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away."   His hand was thrust out to shake mine.  And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

    Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them.  Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more?  Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me  and help me to forgive.  I tried to smile, I struggled to raised my hand. I could not.  I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer.  Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness."

    As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.  And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness anymore than on our goodness  that the world's healing hinges, but on His."
        You may never encounter your spouse in the way  Corrie met this person, but  there must be forgiveness for your sake, for getting beyond the bitterness of the experience.

                                                             The Healing Site

For Further Reading:
    Archibald  Hart,  Helping Children Survive Divorce,  (Word)

      Mary Lou Redding, Breaking and Mending,  (Upper Room Books)