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How Are You Doing After Your Divorce Or Breakup? A Journey Of The Soul
by Michele Germain, LCSW
Heather, an attractive school teacher from a middle class suburb of Cincinnati meets Tom, a tall, handsome recent business school graduate. They fall madly in love, and soon find themselves walking down the aisle.
In marriage he takes on the dominant role. Through the years they tangle their emotions around each other in ways neither understands. Heather hides her lack of self-worth and looks to Tom to make her feel complete. Tom hides his insecurity and looks to Heather to make him feel stable and focused. Their relationship suffers as expectations aren’t realized, and they remain strangers separated in their buried pain each blaming the other.
After nine years Heather initiates a divorce. She survives the difficult settlement process, but wonders why her anger and hurt linger.
Two years later she marries Mike, believing he will make her feel good about herself. After a short time this second marriage fails, and Heather finds herself confused and distraught. She feels men don’t understand anything, and that life is unfair. Nonetheless, she continues to obsess about finding the “perfect” partner.
Sally an insurance agent from Florida, meets Ken a car salesman at a high school reunion. They quickly fall in love and soon talk about building a life together. They have high hopes despite each having had a difficult marriage and divorce. Each feels a strong commitment to the other, and they decide to live together even though they do not get married. However, it isn’t long before rescue fantasies dance in their heads. Sally hopes to have the family she never had before. Ken looks to get the praise and support that was lacking from his ex-spouse. Eventually they grow unhappy each blames the other for their lack of fulfillment. Sally thinks Ken is critical, and Ken thinks Sally is controlling. Neither of them looks to their historical wounds as reasons for their pain. They separate after four years. Sally reads many self-help books but still feels distrust and anger toward men. Nonetheless, she begins the dating cycle and looks to find the “perfect partner.”
The stories illustrate much of what is happening today. People are repeating their individual unhealthy patterns and continuing to move from one relationship to another, in the hopes the next time it will be different.
As a psychotherapist for over 25 years I have come to believe that the reasons for so many broken marriages and repeated break-ups is that men and women bring to their relationships the unresolved traumas, wounds, losses and disappointments from their childhood that they thought were forgotten yet lie within their unconscious. Then upon entering a marriage or a significant relationship they look to their partner to be the “good parent” they never had, expecting their partner to heal, fix and repair these historic wounds and make them feel whole and complete.
They cast blame outside themselves when this does not happen and never learn how to be self-responsible. They continue their individual search for a happy ending holding onto their unrealistic expectation.
Understanding yourself, taking responsibility for your feelings, finding your happiness from within, and learning how to maintain a sense of autonomy is necessary to having a successful and healthy relationship bond. It is an inner journey that requires your full attention to your body, mind and spirit.
So what does this soulful journey look like and how can we begin.
First you must ask yourself the hardest questions. How did I get here? What part did I play in this relationship ending? What choices did I make along the way? How has my unresolved losses contributed to my relationship problems? What have I been asking my partner to do that I should be doing for myself.
(These and other questions appear in “The Jill Principle”. )
Take some time to answer these questions as best as you can. Ask them with your body, mind and spirit. As you continue to search and develop a better relationship with yourself more light will be brought to these questions.
Now write about everything you wanted from your parents but did not get. Next, write about everything you wanted from your husband or significant partner and did not get. You might see some similarities in your two lists.
If we are going to create a healthy relationship bond, you need to be able to understand what old unresolved pain you brought into you relationship and how this was acted out in your day-to-day interaction with your former partners. Are you still trying to get from the other what you did not receive as a child? What expectations do you have going into an intimate relationship? Are they realistic or unrealistic? Do you choose someone who cannot give you what you need and then keep trying to change him/her?
What I have learned from my own divorce and losses is that all we need is a sincere commitment to grow and the courage to surrender to the deeper parts of ourselves in order to find the “answers” and find our “real selves” where we can live a soulful life.
Michele Germain, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and certified bioenergetic analyst with over twenty-five years of experience. As a specialist in divorce recovery for the last decade, she has written articles and conducted workshops on the topic, and has been interviewed on television and radio programs. More information on her work can be found at www.michelegermain.com.