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Divorce Recovery: Get Out of the Doldrums!!!

DanceSport Photography by Alex Rowan

Whether you are in North Carolina or in any other place, your recovery from a stressful divorce, family law, juvenile or custody case is extremely important.  It is important that you recover mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, financially, and spiritually.   This blog will address the grieving process of divorce and then make the “bucket list” suggestion that should assist with mental, emotional, and perhaps physical recovery.  Stay tuned for other blogs on other types of recovery, such as financial.

First, it is important to understand the grieving process that persons go through during the hardship of a family law matter.  There are generally four stages, and each stage can be a different length.  The stages are as follows: 1) denial or “this really isn’t happening to me is it?”; 2) anger or “I really hate so and so”; 3) complacency or “just get this over with”; 4) normalcy or “I’m back to neutral in my life.”

Let’s take a bad divorce case where the wife is cheating on the husband with another person.  The denial stage might be total disbelief that the wife would do that even when all of the evidences point in the direction of the affair.  The anger stage is next. This could be the final realization that the affair is taking place and the related urges of wanting to strike out and do something nasty to the wife or her lover begin to mount.  The third stage is complacency, and I just want to get this case over with and go on with my life; I’ll settle for anything or virtually nothing to get the matter over.  Finally, the fourth stage has you back to normalcy.  In a twenty year marriage, it might take four years to get back to normalcy emotionally if you are the aggrieved spouse. There are also risks in the recovery process of getting stuck in the anger phase and never getting out.  Proper counseling can help you work through anger and move on with your life.

Now, to moving on with your life.  My suggestion is to create a bucket list of five things or activities you have never done before and explore these things or activities as part of your divorce recovery.  Look to combine some activities with physical activities.  I’ll share my personal story of divorce recovery and my selection of activities and the process.

I had been married for twenty years, and one day I returned home from work and my now ex had moved out.  He left a note, but I did not know where he was.  This was really weird, particularly since I am a North Carolina Family Law Specialist handling these cases every day.  This took me for an unexpected loop.  I cried a lot.  I took some time off for a vacation to pull myself together.  Then I created the bucket list, which I have shared with many since my experience, now more than a decade ago.

My selections were as follows:

  • Dance.  I had never been allowed to dance as a child.  It was prohibited by my parents and the Alabama Baptist tradition in which I was raised.  I signed up for ballroom dance lessons in the summer of 2001, and that stuck.  Along with my professional dance partner and co-owner of Fred Astaire Greensboro, Alosha Anatoliy, I have become a world class ballroom dancer.  You can do something amazing as well.  Note the physical activity aspect of the dancing meets another recovery criteria.
  • Motorcycles. I had a client talk me out of this one, which was probably lucky.
  • Billiards. Well, the pool halls were just a little too smoky.
  • Scuba Diving. Still on the list, but not accomplished.
  • Flying a plane. I got a private pilot license.

So, how much better is this than sobbing about your situation?