Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: "When Happily Ever After Shatters"

Keeping in line with our social media focus for June, "Time For Healing: A Look at Divorce Recovery", our counselor Alisha Lewis has reviewed the book "When Happily Ever After Shatters". 

The book, “When Happily Ever After Shatters” is one of the most engaging books I have read regarding divorce recovery. The author, Sue Birdseye, takes you through her personal journey of divorce, after a seventeen year marriage with 5 children together ended with her husband telling her he was leaving. She is extremely open and honest as she shares her experience of divorce in her carefully chosen words in the pages of this book. This book covers a multitude of issues that arise in the divorce process and recovery. It is a comprehensive view of life before, during and after divorce. She not only carries you through the range of emotions such as abandonment, fear, anger, despair and loneliness; she provides practical ways in her book to effectively deal with those emotions. The book effectively addresses how to pick the pieces up after divorce and learn to live again. She carries you through the emotional, physical, financial, spiritual and legal struggles that one faces in divorce. She shares not only her personal experiences but talks about how her children were affected by the divorce and ways she was able to be there for them in the midst of her pain. The foundation of this book is built on how God worked in her life and the life of each of her children through the devastation of divorce to bring about a gift of hope and healing.

What did you find helpful about this book?
Having worked in the field of divorce recovery for over 15 years, I found it to be thorough in addressing the many facets that you should expect in the face of divorce. She not only shares a lot of questions she pondered in this process, she provided many answers found clearly in God’s word. In this book, she has excerpts from her journal that are moving and can easily connect someone who is going through or has been through a divorce. It provides understanding, nurture and hope. Scripture is filled throughout the pages of this book and she beautifully describes God’s every step with her through this time in her life.

What do clients find most helpful about this book?
There is a statement I hear quite often from the clients I see who are in the process of divorce or who are recovering from divorce. It goes something like this, “My friends and family don’t understand what I am going through.” They feel very alone in their journey. Sue Birdseye understands. The book is personal and engaging. It is filled with sorrow and pain, frustration and humor, devastation and healing. The clients feel understood and they relate to Sue’s pain and long for the healing she shares in her book. Clients report their feelings are validated and they are able to connect to this writer because of her personal testimony. They have found clear practical answers. Clients discuss how easy it is to read and how it helped them to know that they are not the only one experiencing the pain of divorce but that healing will come. It is an encouraging and hopeful book. The role God plays in her recovery and how she reveals this in her book has drawn clients closer to God in their own journey.

Favorite Quotes:
·      “And while it was a day by day, step by step, remind-myself-to-breath kind of experience, I saw that God was (and continues to be) with me, helping me maintain a Christ-centered perspective even during the worst times.”
·      “I am thankful and hopeful because God is allowing me to be a part of the redemption of this difficult period in my life and the lives of my children.”
·      “His word reminded me of who I am and whose I am.”
·      “Knowing the truth of who God is and how deeply He loves you is foundational to your success.”

Monday, June 17, 2013

When Will I Ever Heal From My Divorce?

Question: Will this pain ever get better to the place I can move on in my life?

Answer: This is a far too common question for people who have experienced or are going through a divorce. Divorce is devastating.  It not only greatly affects the people directly involved in the divorce; it affects your children and other significant relationships in your life. It hurts. Your life will not be the same after you have experienced a divorce. However, in the midst of pain, there is hope, hope of restoration after the destruction. 

In Psalm 46:1-3, it states, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

We live in a society of quick fixes. We don’t want to sit in a place of pain and discomfort for long. However, recovery from anything is a process. Everyone has a different time table of recovery that is unique to them and to their situation. There are many variables to consider when you begin the process of recovering from a divorce. Some include the length of the marriage, children from the marriage, how loving the marriage was, how connected the couple was in the marriage prior to it ending and if the divorce was a surprise to the person. The variables mentioned, as well as others, play a part in the recovery process and time table involved in healing.

Loss is inevitable and difficult when divorce takes place. Some have indicated it is like someone has died. Recovery from a death has some finality.  However, a person experiencing divorce has to bring about closure while the one leaving is still alive and well. Some of the feelings and symptoms of loss through divorce include fear, anxiety, depression, loneliness, anger, and hopelessness. Those going through divorce, in spite of their circumstances being different, feel the same pain and need the same healing (Birdseye, 2013).

Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed the 5 stages of Grief. Through the years, her “grief cycle” has been seen as a “change model” for any person who is dealing with any type of trauma in their life, not just death and dying (Kessler, 2013).  These stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 
In divorce recovery, you will go through the 5 stages shown above. I would like to walk you through the stages in application to divorce. Keep in mind that the stages you go through are not necessarily in the order you will go through them. You will go in and out of these stages based on the feelings you are experiencing.

Denial is the first stage. Denial helps you to survive the loss. In this stage, the denial helps us deal with our feelings, allowing them to come at a pace that is easier to manage. As you begin to come to terms with the reality of the loss (divorce), you start the healing process not even knowing you have started.

Anger is the second stage. It is an important and much needed stage to facilitate healing. Be willing to embrace your anger and realize the other feelings underneath the anger. It is painful but anger is our power emotion and helps take care of us and aides in making decisions needed to move through the pain to a further place of healing.

Bargaining is the third stage. It is important to healing too. This is the stage where you will try to do anything to change the outcome. You want to go back to the way things were before this happened. You will do anything to try to stop the pain. Bargaining is the process of coming to a place where the realization of the loss is closer than it has been in your recovery.

Bargaining leads us to the next stage, which is Depression. The realization of the loss (divorce) is ever present before you. You feel empty and lost. This stage takes you to a deeper level of grief. This can be a lengthy stage and can sometimes lead the person to seek professional help from a counselor or assistance with medications if significant physical symptoms occur and worsen. Contact your physician for medication assessment if you feel there is a need. The important thing to remember is that Depression is a normal response to trauma and loss in a person’s life. You can move through this stage as you do the other stages, just allow yourself the time needed to do so.

Acceptance is the last stage. This stage allows you to come to terms with the reality of your present circumstances. It is the process of healing that allows you to move forward and begin to live life again. It is an accepting of our new normal. Enjoyment of life can enter in at this stage. It is learning to live life again after divorce.

Divorce recovery is possible. The pain does get better. It is necessary to allow time for the healing to take place.  If you or someone you know is experiencing loss associated with divorce, reach out and be available to listen or ask for help. Seek out people in your life who are supportive and encouraging. Be aware of the local support groups in your community and churches that assist with divorce recovery.  You don’t have to go through this journey of healing alone.

In Jeremiah 29:11, it says, For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 *This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.
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