Thirty-nine years ago to the day I started writing in an ugly, plain, spiral-bound notebook, I stumbled upon it while cleaning out some papers under my bed. My journal from my divorce in my early 20s reminded me of a perspective that now usually comes from the clients with whom I work: deep pain, mental anguish and psychological torture accompany a decision to divorce. Whenever I talk to someone who has not traveled this path, and they speak of people who flippantly decide to end a marriage, I usually want to ask, “Where are they?” I so rarely meet them. 

If you find yourself where I did 39 years ago, from the perspective of a few decades down the road, I want to assure you of a few things:

First, this emotional roller coaster you think won’t ever stop, it actually does. This is not permanently the mind space you will forever occupy. It will be hard. Very hard. For a while. Time actually does make a difference. Hang on. 

Second, the right people show up at the right time. As I read through my journal, I was struck by the number of pivotal people who influenced my journey. A therapist helped me access long-buried subconscious commitments which no longer served me. That recognition had a profound impact. It still shapes my approach when confronting difficult emotions, compelling me to ask, “Is there something deeper fueling the anger/pain/disappointment/fear I am experiencing right now?” Friends rose to the highest definition of that word. There are times when you simply must acknowledge a need and ask. Unknowingly, I gave those same people permission to ask for help in the decades following, when they faced their own divorce or other unique and challenging journeys. My attorney was a lifeline when I had no familiarity with the law and felt like I had entered a foreign country and couldn’t speak the language. My journal reminded of how vulnerable I felt then and today I try to remember that my clients are likely feeling that same way. 

Third, there is no shortcut for the processing a divorce demands–emotionally, physically, financially and in every other way a divorce changes life. There’s no bypassing the worry, the sleepless nights, the vacillating back-and-forth between what to do and what not to do, the tears, the second-guessing. It’s torturous and necessary and ultimately, if you allow it in, sit with it, observe it move at a pace which often feels uncomfortable, it is also ultimately healing and life-restoring. I suspect when you  read back through your journal many years later, you also will feel a sense of pride that you were able to go deep, wait for wisdom, and thrive.

Wishing you wisdom,

Deborah Bennet Berecz

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Berecz and Associates PLC | Attorneys, Mediators, Collaborative Lawyers | Grand Rapids, MI | Saint Joseph, MI

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