Separation and divorce

Teresa Mallon, Soul Centred Psychotherapy

Women in regional areas often feel isolated and at a loss of where to turn when life’s journey turns a complicated corner. Family and social networks may not be ‘around the corner’ and people are often left to deal with difficult and life changing decisions on their own. None can be truer than when a marriage falters, and a family unit is torn apart.

As I enter another year of my counseling practice I am constantly struck by the devastation this creates on all levels, and how the journey of recovery is essentially one that people need to reach out for.

Most of us begin a journey into a loving relationship to which we attach commitment, responsibilities, children, boundaries and even rules. Sometimes this works as two people respect and work through the many layers of these tasks. Unfortunately too often there is a breakdown of the commitment and the couple cannot find a way out of separation.

So often the rules and boundaries of a relationship are blurred and broken. Each couple will have established their own, but it is in the breaking down of the original agreement when the first blood spills. The original feelings of love diminish and most times fade, sometimes only by one partner, as rarely is it mutual. There are unforgivable affairs and forgivable affairs, yet not the right amount of healing to repair the wounds of broken trust that are opened. There are addictions that can tire a partner out, finally letting go of the hope that a change or an end to that addiction will come.

There is the relationship where love just fades and common interests are lost and you live like brother and sister and not lovers anymore. Then there is the abusive relationship that can sit in a peaceful place at times but will inevitably erupt into an explosive rage and sometimes violence that is like a tsunami wiping out everyone and every safe place in its path.

Women are often left to create an income that the husband may have attended to as she was home supporting the children, and this can seem like an impossible task.
Even the government works like a collective force saying you are on your own once your youngest child turns eight, as the single mother’s pension is stopped though not the cost of supporting the child.

In between the feelings of depression is anger and the painful feelings of betrayal and lost dreams and hopes. Of course the feeling of loneliness without your life partner can be unbearable. The house is so quiet when the children are with the ex-partner and you are left to sit alone in the truth that the marriage is over and is a long way from the “ I do”.

Children’s lives are deeply broken as the relationship between mother and father tear apart. All too often the children sit in the middle of the anger, hurt and frustration of the parents, being asked to take sides in what is an already and impossible task. The child’s grief is as real and deep as the parents and is often forgotten by the adults.

When the family unit breaks apart a journey of deep grief begins, as does the overwhelming stress.

Sleepless nights and no appetite invade the body’s natural state, and of course depression creeps in like an uninvited friend to sit beside you without choice.

Clients have even described the experience as losing a limb, something significant has left the body that can’t grow back. It has even been described as if your partner has died but there is no funeral or burial, just loss.

Where are the skills that as adults we need to honour the “marriage’ commitment? It seems to be a subject that we need to have sponsored in schools, to learn the valuable life lesson on how to respect ourselves, our family and our community. This respect would help lead us to a truly functional and equal partnership. I am being honest about the meaning of divorce because so many people walk this walk and unfortunately too many people do this without support and proper resources.

There are great books available now.  I recommend Crazy Time Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life by Abigail Trafford and Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. Both books can be ordered from your local bookshop. Yet for many people there is a need to talk and work through these difficult times as the healing begins and grows. Through the process of individual or group therapy you can begin to build your inner foundations on which to support the construction of a new you, a stronger you. Therapy is a vehicle to regain the hope and clarity of the self.

The benefits of individual therapy is in-depth attention on your journey whereas the group process can offer the company of like-minded people on a similar journey where rich friendships can develop giving you extra support and guidance.

In both settings you are given a confidential and safe place to share your story. As you gain the tools necessary to heal the wounded heart left by these devastating life experiences, you are supported and guided into making a new “agreement” with yourself, one of respect to yourself. A new lease on life can be taken up and embraced as different personal freedoms grow.

Wellness Tips: Stay in touch with friends and family; don’t be alone; keep the faith that change brings a better life.

Teresa Mallon practises Soul Centered Psychotherapy at Healing Well on Fridays. She can be reached on (0417) 864 556.

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