When people come for an initial divorce consult, they often feel like their life is in complete chaos, and that everything is spinning out of control. Once I give them a legal roadmap and they understand what lies ahead, they start to feel a little better, but as their legal counsel, I can only do so much in terms of getting them back on track. The real work has to occur inside their own heads, and their emotional recovery will depend immensely on their ability to hack into their own hard-drive.
Some people will wallow in self-pity, and complain about how unfair life is to them. They will play the blame game, and seem incapable of taking any responsibility for their own actions. The more they continue to the play the role of a victim, and allow themselves to feel powerless, the more this becomes a self-fulling prophecy. The downward spiral into the black hole is a very sad thing to witness, but there is nothing I can do to stop that– each person has to find their own inner strength to save themselves.
When I went through my own divorce, I worked with a life coach, who helped me see that life is all about choices, and we alone are in control of the choices we make for ourselves, including how much power we wish to relinquish to another. Often, these choices are difficult, and we need to think through the consequences very carefully before making a decision that could have a major impact, not just for us but those around us.
Learning to be free was not an overnight project, nor was it easy. In addition to working with my life coach, I read countless psychology books and spent over 100 hours in the last six years attending various dispute resolution trainings with top-notch psychologists that helped me understand their cutting edge research. They all taught me to discipline my emotions and assume responsibility for my own actions, while rejecting responsibility for others– and this lesson has saved my life.
Litigators are typically hard-wired with a savior complex, but I’ve gone through a paradigm shift, where it is actually more rewarding for me to see you save yourself. Dispute resolution methods that help parties settle out of court, put the clients in control of their settlement and their future, and that is far better than letting a stranger decide their fate. I no longer need to get my adrenaline rush fulfilled inside a courtroom, and I am ten times happier not playing the nasty games that we play as part of a legal battle.
Many of my colleagues still don’t quite understand what happened to make me shift my way of practicing law, but obviously that is because they are not inside my head. There are two books that describe this transformation incredibly well: 1) The Road Less Traveled by Dr. Scott Peck and 2) Butterflies are Free to Fly by Stephen Davis. I highly recommend both for those trying to describe the metamorphisis they just experienced in their own lives.
I am forever grateful to all those that helped me hack into my hard-drive and rewire some outdated ways of thinking. It is only through openness that you can increasingly become free from your fears, and honesty really is the best policy. An honest life truly is a good life– and it starts with being honest with yourself. Sadly, it is often a tragic turn of events, like a divorce, that leads many of us down this path of greater self awareness, and I’m not going to lie, there is a lot of pain involved during the exploratory process, but without pain there is no gain.
Many try to numb the pain– but that is never going to cure the problem. Get off the drugs, booze, and whatever other crap you are taking to numb the pain– that is just a one way ticket to self destruction. If you address your greatest source of pain, you can turn it into your greatest source of power– I promise, and I am far from the first person to point out this irony of life. Those that know how to guide you through this journey are out there in abundance, and let me be clear NONE of them are lawyers. We are only trained to get you through the legal process, and within 6-18 months you should be done with our services. The rest of your journey could take years, depending on how deep you want to go and how you define the “recovery” process.
Each individual will have his/her own unique experience down the rabbit hole, and the more you can embrace this as an adventure, the less anxious you will be. You have to become like a detective, who is picking up clues from your past to figure out the answers that will help you move forward. All the clues you need are actually there, and there is a prize at the end– so the sooner you stop the pity party (which is normal because you just lost a part of yourself), the sooner you can go start hacking and find a new and improved self!
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.