January 10, 2006
Wendy Doscher-Smith, Miami-based photographer and writer, researches the power of goodbye.
For most people, divorces are nasty ordeals promising pain, frustration, hurt, confusion, blame, envy and many soul-searching sleepless nights, but they needn’t be. Take Miami-based resident and divorcee Sonia Jacobson, for example. Following the end of her marriage, Jacobson not only remained on civil terms with her ex, but played matchmaker as well. “After the divorce, I found the next wife for him one night when we were out,” Jacobson says. “They then held the wedding at my house. I was the “best man” at the wedding and I am now the godmother of their soon-to-be 4 year-old.” While Jacobs’ case specifics are surely a rarity, perhaps there is hope for those who are coping with the big “D.” Although divorce is ugly (even Marilyn, armed with all her curvaceous, blonde va, va, voom, can’t make the “seven-year itch” attractive), it is a fact of life and, if the statistics have it right, it is here to stay.
Today, the seven-year itch is actually more like the four-year itch, since according to divorce statistics on www.divorceinfo.com, the chance of divorce increases until the fourth year of marriage, when it then declines. Getting divorced is one of life’s greatest stressors, ranked up there with whoppers including death in the family and moving across the country. So what is one to do?
Well, even if you are not ready to introduce your ex to a new love, you do need to take those baby steps toward health and harmony. First of all, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Divorce is so common today that there is no need to feel isolated in your situation. Also, stop blaming yourself, as it serves no purpose. Matters of the heart rarely come along with definitive “fault.” If these first two steps sound easier said than done, take heart. Practice finding your center, both spiritually and physically. Focus. A large part of becoming focused and centered is about allowing yourself time to heal. Acknowledge that this time around, it is all about you!
University of Miami professor of counseling psychology Blaine Fowers has counseled numerous couples on getting through the rough patches. After a divorce, he suggests not rushing the healing process and slowly changing your daily routine to make way for a fresh start. “Look at the divorce as an opportunity to make new decisions to create space for something new,” Fowers says. “Then think, ‘What do I want to do with that room in my life?” For some, the new room in daily life might accommodate a hobby or an opportunity to volunteer for a charity. Fowers recommends pursuing goals that weren’t a good option in the past because you didn’t have time or the relationship itself just “got in the way.” No matter whether it is pottery or helping homeless pets, any activity is fine. The one thing to avoid, Fowers suggests, is ruminating because then you run the risk of rerunning the endless carousal of maddening questions such as “Could this have been avoided?” “Where did I go wrong?” or, worse, “Am I flawed?”
Getting centered is also important because it affords time to reflect and learn from the past before stepping into the dating world too quickly. “People get stuck because they go right into another problematic situation,” Fowers says, “because it is natural and feels right. But it is so important to learn from what happened and say, ‘How can I change in a way that will allow me to have a better life?’” In many cases, a better life consists of taking time for yourself by caring for your mind and body. Some ways to do this are through methods such as talk therapy, even if it is just confiding in a close friend, or through meditation techniques, visualization techniques, or aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is an effective way to naturally calm the mind and address emotions associated with divorce including depression, frustration, grief, anxiety, insomnia, lack of concentration, irritability, fear, hopelessness, moodiness, panic attacks and nervous tension. According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), essential aromatherapy oils such as lavender are useful for relaxing, as is ylang ylang, which has the added benefit of reducing muscle tension and is a good antidepressant.
One way to make use of aromatherapy is by combining the usage of oils with massage. Massage therapy affords an excellent venue for relaxation and centering. As massage is a highly sensual experience that allows you to focus more on the physical senses and less on the proverbial gerbil running in the wheel in your mind. As your body is kneaded and unkinks, so does your mind. Be sure to evaluate which types of massage are best for you. Some types that are particularly good for divorce-related emotional ailments include, according to Spa Magazine, abdominal massage. This deep kneading of the stomach, intestines, and reproductive organs helps alleviate headaches and digestive disorders. They also suggest ayurveda, the ancient Indian art and science of holistic health and healing that focuses on establishing and maintaining balance of mind and body with the aid of herbs, nutrition, aromatherapy and body therapies. Many spa treatments besides massage may also be helpful in restoring the body’s balance. For example, any treatment with chakra balancing helps correct imbalance in the body’s seven major energy centers. With the use of essential oils and gentle pressure, positive life energy is transferred from the practitioner to the recipient via the hands to help eliminate blockages, thereby restoring good health. And although they may seem like surface solutions, treatments involving exfoliation using botanical or marine extracts ensure you emerge with a new glowing self – skin, bones and mind.
Courtesy of Professor Blaine Fowers, University of Miami Counseling Psychology Professor
How to achieve peace during a divorce?
- Allow yourself proper time to heal
- Get centered
- Let go of past hurts and perceived mistakes
- Come to terms with the loss of the relationship as well as the loss of routines
- Focus on new beginnings