Sunday, May 29, 2011

Post-divorce Aphorisms for the Helper and Helpee

David Loxtercamp has come up with 14 aphorisms for country docs like himself.   I liked them all, but it struck me that some of them lent themselves to the post-divorce period.

Risk factors are not disease.  You are at risk for spending the rest of your life alone.  That does not mean you will spend the rest of your life alone.  And, you were always at risk for spending the rest of your life alone; you just didn’t know it.

Aging is not an illness.  Divorce is not an illness.  It’s like the death of one’s parents, infertility, getting fired from a job, and so forth.   Stuff happens.  While not an inevitable part of life like aging, it’s pretty close, as the staggering divorce statistics reveal.  There’s no pill for it.  No surgery.  You just have to figure out how to cope and flourish (my concept of the week). 

To fix a problem is easy, to sit with another suffering is hard.  You suffer post-divorce.  What you may need is to sit with that suffering a bit, and to have someone to sit with sometimes.  You cannot fix it.  It’s a done deal.  Feel it, learn from it, and grow as a result. 

The most common condition we treat is unhappiness and the greatest obstacle to treating a patient’s unhappiness is our own.  Try not to hang out with unhappy people too much.  Others in the post-divorce boat may be empathetic, but they may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel any more than you can.  Here’s where coaches are great.  They bring a lot of optimism to their work.

Nothing is more patient centered than the process of change.  Everyone knows what you should do after your divorce, and they’re more than happy to tell you.  The process of change, as Loxtercamp suggests, is highly individual.  You must be free to go through this your own way.  It doesn’t mean you can’t get help, it just means that you know best.

Consider these for your post-divorce recovery, and for those trying to help with someone else’s post-divorce recovery.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.

My song of the week:  Lovely Day. Bill Withers

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