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Celebrating divorce? Doesn’t mean you’re over it.

There’s a popular term in our culture today: “closure”.

Well-meaning friends may decide that a clever cake, some beers with the boys, or an indulgent vacation will help a friend achieve “closure” after a divorce. And all too often, we tend to think that a new relationship or another marriage signifies that someone is “definitely over it!”

But here’s the real truth: A judge’s signature on a piece of paper doesn’t erase our hopes and dreams for what we wanted in marriage. We mistakenly assume that we’ll shed the past, much like a snake sheds its skin, and get on with life without looking back.

However, it just doesn’t work that way.

That’s why the first stage in the Smooth Divorce Recovery Program is called Stabilize the Present.  At the very beginning, I work with clients to sort out their real losses from the perceived losses and get a clear picture of their situation, identify their personal resources for this transition in their life, and assess just how much they’re accepting the transition of divorce. Whether someone is recently divorced or still carrying the wounds from a relationship that ended ten years ago, the Divorce Recovery Stress Indicator helps identify their barriers to enjoying life after divorce.

I won’t deny there’s real value in having a strong support system, and a rich slice of cake can make anyone feel better about a failed relationship — in the moment. But in the long run, a successful recovery from divorce takes highly focused action. Which ultimately makes the beer, the indulgent vacation or the clever cake all that much sweeter.

Journaling: its role in your divorce recovery.

Part of the Smooth Divorce Recovery process includes daily journaling with a book that I’ve specially-prepared to address a different divorce recovery issue each day. Why is this an integral part of our process? Here’s an explanation drawn from “The Benefits of Journaling for Stress Management,” by Elizabeth Scott, M.S.:

Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It’s also a good problem-solving tool; oftentimes, one can hash out a problem and come up with solutions more easily on paper.

Journaling about traumatic events helps one process them by fully exploring and releasing the emotions involved, and by engaging both hemispheres of the brain in the process, allowing the experience to become fully integrated in one’s mind.

The Smooth Divorce Recovery process features structured journaling focused on the following daily tasks:

Daily check-in: Clients choose from a matrix of words to gauge their feelings on that day. The rest of this exercise helps the client understand the reason behind having these particular feelings.

Reconciliation thermometer: Clients record the intensity of their desire to reconcile with the ex, on a scale of 0 to 100.  They also record the intensity of desire to NOT reconcile, from 0 to 100. Combined with journaling, the Reconciliation Thermometer is a way to shed light on irrational beliefs about having forever lost our hopes and dreams.

Someone to talk to: When we are immersed in this emotion-based process, often we can’t see our options or understand the reality of the situation as clearly as when the pressure is off. We need someone whom we trust to help us handle this life transition effectively. However, it can’t be just anyone. The instructions in the journal helps Smooth Divorce Recovery clients identify the right person for this important role.

Disaster Fantasy: This is just as it sounds, and in completing this part of the journal every day, clients learn to confront irrational fears and negate their power over the decision-making process.

Positive Affirmations: The structure of this journal encourages clients to continually repeat positive affirmations with conviction and passion in order to chip away at even the strongest resistance.

Combined with the Smooth Divorce Recovery process, journaling is a powerful and essential component to structured and significant recovery – the kind of that lets clients get past the pain of a divorce and move on to the rest of their life.