Eileen Coen Mediation
The road you take makes all the difference.

Getting Out of the Emotional Rut: Finding the Road to Peace

divorce mediation Washington DC

Divorce is one of life’s major traumas.  On the famous Holmes and Rahe stress scale, divorce is the second biggest stressor after the death of a spouse.  At the same time, the trauma of divorce usually goes hand-in-hand with other stressors on the scale, ranging from moving out of the family home to facing a reduced lifestyle to not seeing the children every day. So let’s talk about getting out of the emotional rut.

It’s no wonder that spouses, in the midst of a divorce, often find they can’t get past anger and resentment.  The dull pain and sadness of grief may render important topics unspeakable. Or, every conversation feels like heading into battle.

Despite trying to reach an amicable divorce, in theory, at least, it may seem like your emotions — or your spouse’s — hijack the negotiations. In short, you keep falling into the same rut in the same, old road.

If you want to break the cycle and stay in control of what’s happening in your divorce, you’ll need to find a new road.

You may already be using the mediation process to help minimize the trauma of divorce and stay in control of restructuring your family. But it is still difficult to make important decisions for your family when you are feeling far, far from your best.

How then do you build a bridge from this surreal, painful time to a more hopeful and positive future? For one, have compassion and patience with yourself. Give yourself permission to grieve.

And, get the help you need.  Your emotional health is as essential to the divorce process as the family’s finances and parenting schedules are.  A good therapist, counselor, or coach can offer guidance and help you learn skills to bring your best self to the negotiation table.  In mediation, I find that folks who work with effective therapists and counselors are often better equipped to pursue that new road.

I love this poem by Portia Nelson, from her book, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery.  I share its clear, self-reflective wisdom regularly with my mediation and coaching clients.

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

One Comment

  1. Ben Stich says:

    Great post and wonderful poem. Can’t under-estimate the importance of finding time and ways for self-care.


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