Michele Germain, LCSW
star must reading.
[The following is what I
highlighted during my read of this excellent book -- I recommend it on my List
of Peace resources. My purpose in providing them is to interest you, the
reader, and hope that you will obtain and read the complete work. To
properly understand the highlights, you need to read the book to put them in the
….divorce or a major breakup is a call to heal old pain.
…having the identity of
“Tom ‘s wife”
….give his life meaning and purpose.
Although women make more effort to ‘fix”
their marriages, in the end, they initiate divorce twice as often as men.
…ex-wives are more traumatized by divorce and stay angry longer.
….the better question is “What is the lesson?’
….many adults look to their mate to be the good parent they never had.
…..hope that their partner will heal, fix or repair these historical
wounds, making them feel safe, whole, and complete.
…must dig deeper to understand what they need to do differently and
how to think differently want to create a healthy, mature, and lasting
….spared the work of becoming self-responsible.
What Jack and Jill don’t know is that if they start the climb together
unaware of their own needs, unable to practice self-love, they will be incapable
of truly loving and meeting the needs of their partner.
….what qualities, characteristics, and temperaments (both good and
bad) your husband and parents have in common.
…come closer to seeing the particular unresolved feelings,
deprivations, and needs we brought into our marriage,
and how they played out with our partner.
…parents who are emotionally mature, loving, and caring will raise
children with high self-esteem, who, as adults, are able to love themselves and
value their own needs.
…children are not loved, feel unwanted, or are regularly criticized,
they develop low self-esteem, deny their own needs, judge themselves harshly,
and may even unquestioningly accept the belief that they are not good enough or
"worthy” of happiness.
…She has physically, mentally, and spiritually hit bottom, and
believes that, without Jack, she cannot stand on her own.
…She’s not breaking down after
all. She’s breaking through.
The bottom line is that she believes she is not entitled to be loved.
And the silent suffering grows.
No amount of money, clothes, education, fame or men can fill the pail
from the past she carried into marriage.
“Why do I think so poorly of myself?”
“What kind of self-esteem did I have before divorce became an issue in
my life?” “Why my body in so
much pain?” “When did all these self-doubts and its critical self-talk
Slowly I came to realize that divorce was the event that enabled me to
come into direct re-connection with the child inside…and to use my adult
skills to heal her.
…there’s another element that is equally (if not more) important,
and that is the need to connect with our soul.
…remind you along the way that your pain from the divorce or breakup
has a purpose. Your are finding your
way back to your real self and spiritual essence.
Deepak Chopra’s The Path to Love and Overcoming Addictions -
The Spiritual Solution and Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul.
The simple, boiled-down message of this book id this:
the stronger the relationship we develop with ourselves, the healthier
the relationships we can establish with others.
…attend to ourselves in a caring, open, and non-judgmental manner, and
allow compassion to enter into our self-talk, we leave behind the hard truth
that we have been abandoned.
…..we are on our way to wholeness.
… is trust that our intuition is guiding us instead of our eyes, and
that the fog will eventually lift.
….there’s life at the top of the hill, and maybe climbing it our own
way will be most amazing and rewarding adventure of our lives.
My Hill The Trauma of Divorce
· I had been denying important realities of my marital relationship and ignoring essential elements of my own identity.
· ….the roadmap to guide women back toward true self-hood.
· …the human spirit prevails, even through the worst of pain.
· This was my pattern – pleasing others to the point of ignoring my own feelings, wants and desires.
· …the anxiety of never having enough continued to haunt me from my childhood.
· ….It’s called baggage and that sense of scarcity was certainly part of mine.
· I probably wasn’t sure what they were anyway.
· ….now I was sick.
· Starved my entire life for emotional support.
· I had never felt so vulnerable, scared, and out of control.
…feared Jim’s unexpressed anger and his potential rage.
That is a responsibility that I must own up to in our breakup.
…illness in women is a common red flag of problems in a marriage, and
sometimes a predictor of a breakup.
…every aspect of my being was under assault.
My inner child, whom I had tucked away long ago, was emerging on the
Confusion would give way to anger: the
unfairness of it!
So, of course, my brain shifted into the “blame” gear.
A divorce meant I was “not perfect”
The people and activities
that had made up my world were slipping away, seeing myself as someone’s wife
was over. Knowing myself as part of
a family was over.
Seeing myself in this house, this town, this way of life was
Supporting me and my feelings (or even showing interest in my
perspective) would force them to look inside themselves – and they didn’t
want to face their own ghosts.
A mother’s greatest nightmare is to see her kids suffer and be
helpless to relieve it.
I felt powerless during the divorce because I had given up my power
during the marriage.
…as goes the marriage with its dysfunction
- so goes the divorce.
…seeing this a business transaction.
…body can become every bit as much as a victim of divorce as can her
self-esteem and decision-making ability.
…emotional pain that goes unhealed goes underground.
I had also looked to the marriage to fix something inside me that
yearned to feel whole and secure in the world.
....any marriage cannot heal life’s wounds, nor magically mend us
where we are broken.
Marriage can provide a nurturing soil in which people grow, or it can
bury them even deeper in misery.
But what this process taught me most of all is that I had to be my own
inner healer for my mind and body so I could reach the depths of my soul.
God represents a space of love, peace and divine energy. And that divine
energy was connected with the core of me -
….would help me transcend the deadly confusion.
…finding this elemental place, this soul, this divine energy deep
inside me would be my inner Healer.
I used grief work and bio-energetic exercises to heal my feelings and to
learn how to become more at home in my body.
I did inner child work to heal my negative thinking and to improve my
self-esteem. Them I turned to
prayer, meditation, music, and retreats in nature to contact my soul.
…the very core of me was total love.
…there is a common thread that unites us:
we are all trying to move toward wholeness.
Bottom of the Hill Grieving Divorce or Breakup
· …you cannot get on with your life until you do the work of healing.
· The loss of a mate triggers a personal journey inward.
· …calls to discover parts of ourselves we have lost, forgotten, and ignored because of blocked and unresolved pain.
· Feelings are there to teach us what we need to know.
· …by avoiding our grief work, we end up merely trying to escape the sadness, and falsely believing that running away is an appropriate road to healing.
· The list of escape paths is endless, but the truth is that they don’t lead anywhere.
· You must dare to pay attention to these feelings dare to be honest, and dare to investigate where they come from and what they mean.
· ….a release.
· The essential problem is that we have disconnected from our real selves, very likely even before our marriage.
· …divorce or breakup becomes a call to heal old pain.
· …With this awareness, we begin to see our own unfinished business, how it played out with our spouses, and our own contributions to the interaction.
· …the grief process as six stages that a person undergoes: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
· Task 1: To accept the Reality of the Loss ( Avoidance Phase, Denial).
· Task 2: To work through the Pain of the Grief (Confrontation Phase, Anger).
· Your task is to feel it, express it, and work it out in a constructive manner.
· Task 3: To adjust to an Environment in Which the “Loved One” is missing (Confrontation Phase, Bargaining).
· …the other partner is reluctant or adamantly opposed to try again.
· We cannot control the behavior, thoughts, or feelings of our former mate.
· ….bargaining is a very normal and even useful response, giving as time to adjust to the loss and wean ourselves slowly from a focus on what went wrong to “What I need to change within myself.”
· Depression relates directly to the injury to our-self esteem.
· …acknowledge our changed circumstances, and not become stuck in our suffering.
· Task 4: To emotionally Relocate the “Loved One” and Move on with life (Acceptance Phase, Accommodation).
· Energy disengages from the spouse and is directed toward other people, activities, and goals in life.
· I believe that a deeper level of acceptance, forgiveness and healing will occur if we allow ourselves to completely surrender to our feelings and our bodies, and to seek spiritual solace.
· We must come to reject the idea of divorce or breakup as a personal failure and see it as the opening of the gate to find our true self – to live in a place of knowing that we will never be lost again.
Way Back Up the Hill – Healing Your Body
You understand by now that you have suffered a severe loss.
Bioenergetics is a form of psychotherapy, developed by Alexander Lowen,
M.D, that combines bodywork with your intuitive mind.
Its goal is to help people resolve their emotional problems and reach
their full capacity for pleasure by helping them to reconnect with their body.
As body awareness develops and feelings resolve, a stronger sense of
But what is most important to know is that if we reconnect with our
body, what needs to heal will be brought forth.
The key is to breath deeply, bringing attention to our bodies, and
embrace the tightness or physical contraction
instead of forcing the tightness to open.
I would have to jump. In this instance “jump” meant trusting my
process, trusting and surrendering to my body, and trusting that I could drop
deeply into the core of my body and return intact.
Be loving and patient with yourself as you would be with a small child.
Do not judge your experiences, but bring compassion
to each step and tell yourself you are doing the best you can.
Tuning In Exercise 1.Scanning to Body – Identifying Areas of
Tuning In Exercise 2.Locating Feelings in Your Body – Going to the
Center of the Tension.
…”How could you? How
…”Why weren’t you there when I needed you?” . “Why did you do
the things you did?” and Didn’t you know I loved you and needed you?”
….our intention is to heal our anger. That we are aiming for
forgiveness. Releasing the anger
will help open our hearts, I told her.
Anger is an emotion that makes many of us uncomfortable.
First, many women believe that it is wrong to even feel angry, and
secondly, we have not been taught how to appropriately express anger.
Yet anger is just another natural response to suffering a loss.
Expressive Exercise 1. Releasing
Anger (kicking Legs).
Expressive Exercise 2. Releasing
Anger (Hitting Pillows).
We need an open heart to be able to love again.
…”.that’s, where I have been hiding my grief”
Expressive Exercise 3. Releasing
Sadness (Softening the Heart).
…” I just want to be loved.”
…giving ourselves the space and freedom to express our deepest
feelings in a safe place.
Prior to starting your expressive exercises, you might wish to pray, or
send light to the person you wish to forgive, or the intention you wish ro
I asked for help to release the hate, anger and despair.
I asked for the ability to reach a place of total forgiveness and
connection with my loving-self.
Your Own Pail of Water –
Healing Your Mind
· Your mind is flooded with thoughts of self-doubt and self-criticism.
· But the key question is are the self-criticisms and negative thoughts we’re experiencing a result of the divorce - or has the action of the divorce aroused them from a deep sleep?
· …What do I really think of myself?”
· The good news is that divorce can be the event that brings us directly into contact with the mind and the negative beliefs we have accepted for years.
· It is the opportunity to uncover what is true about ourselves an d replace our negative internal messages with positives ones
· .…absorbs and becomes fluent in negative self-talk.
· …the struggle of “not-enoughness”.
· The inevitable bottom line is her conviction that she is not worthy of being loved.
· …..become her own worst critic.
· We must simply stop and take the time to heal our original wounds.
· Exercise 1. Connecting With Your Inner Child.
· Exercise 2. Connecting With Your Inner Child Interacting With Your Parents.
· We first have to hear the voice of our inner child, with its many fearful or confused thoughts, before we can heal. As we grow.
· Divorce or major breakup forces us to drop our dependencies and to find our worth and value within.
· It would be ideal if, at the end of a marriage, a ceremony existed where husbands and wives could tell each other what gifts each received from the relationship, and how sad.
· Instead, the must learn to acknowledge their strengths and give themselves the validation they seek.
· This is what is meant by unconditional love. It is very difficult for most of us to provide it to ourselves, but it is crucial. This is our inner work and the path to healing our mind.
· …unrealistic expectations.
· We need to ask any questions that will help us to better understand our fears, insecurities, and self-doubt.
· You re-educate the child by bringing her the positive messages of love and understanding that she did not receive early on.
· …she did the best she could do.
· When you bring love, compassion, and forgiveness to the negative moment, you nurture and heal the insecurities and fears you’ve carried since childhood.
· We are required to deliver these messages over and over again until the inner child truly hears them and accepts them.
· There is a formula for finding self-love. It requires being fully present, attending to our self in warm, open, non-judgmental manner – and allowing our heart to respond.
· We accept our limitations, respect our need to be loved, appreciate our vulnerability, and praise ourselves for doing our best in every moment.
· We never abandon ourselves. We never give up on ourselves…
· ..We are committed to learn what we need to change and do differently in healthy relationships with others.
· We learn to love ourselves…..we will find acceptance inside ourselves.
· The Buddha said: Whatever we practice, we will become.
…one of the hardest experiences you have been faced with.
You are completely starting over.
…you find yourself longing
for understanding, love, and validation.
…”Where am I going?”
…bring us back into harmony with ourselves.
A crisis demands that we take a closer look at ourselves and how we have
been living. It forces us to
evaluate all our relationships in the world, as well as our activities, our
work, our lifestyles, and all our priorities.
“What do I do now in order to live my life with self-respect, faith,
…it is necessary to let go of control and surrender not only to our
body and our mind.
When we live this way, we are not being in the moment.
We find our soul by surrendering to the moment.
This means that we need to turn over our difficulties, our decisions,
our mistakes, our victories, even our happiness – and let them flow freely,
accepting the outcomes, good or bad.
…..merging with the movement.
We only have control of how we enter the experience and how we react.
It required trust and courage, allowing movement and being open to what
was new and unfamiliar. Surrendering
“I don’t know how to handle this, so I give it over to You.
Please help me.”
Have a personal conversation with God.
Love is a feeling, not a intellectual process, it is a sensation and it
is experienced in the body.
…the opposite of love is fear.
….best way to meet and conquer them.
Dealing with our fears is
the only way to find peace and harmony in our lives and to love to our full
Exercise 1. Identifying
Exercise 2. Releasing Your
…let go of these fearful thoughts and feelings.
…as you keep facing the fear and letting it go.
You will be able to love
What we must do in this situation is to surrender to our bodies, our
senses, and trust our intuition.
…trust that we have everything we need to meet the unknown challenges
· It has truly been a cleansing and purification.
· ..It became a matter of balance.
· …enter intimate relationships, but without being overly dependent, overly reactive, or overly suspicious.
· …turning him into a project.
· …whoever came into my life offered a gift. Each relationship and each date was a part of my learning.
· The perfect relationship is first with myself, and knowing the fullness of who I am.
· If a second marriage was going to happen it would occur in its own time.
· It required me to say committed to myself, and to take responsibility for my feelings.
· If I was to be the role model; it meant continuing to feel and learn and understand my own power as well as my own mistakes.
· With each person, I practiced and learned to express my personal power in a calm, centered way.
· …pause and ask myself, “What am I learning here?”
· My intentions were to live life differently than I had before, based on the values that came from my heart, not the values of others I had always felt obliged to follow.
· Concept 1: Make a Commitment to Your Real Self.
· …the self-discovery process must not stop.
· For the rest of our lives, we will bring our full presence to our lives by pledging to stay aware of our feelings and our thoughts, and aware of how we manage them.
· …we are no longer dependent on others for the solutions to our problems or fears.
· The commitment we make to ourselves is to pay attention. We stop, look, and listen.
And we check our behavior.
We bring to our lives our new intention: to know and dialogue with the
unique people we are, and love and honor ourselves through whatever emerges from
Concept 2: Take Full Responsibility.
Now and for the rest of our journey, our happiness and peace of mind are
our own responsibility.
How do we integrate this concept? Whenever
we are feeling unhappy or unfulfilled, wherever there is a conflict in our
lives, we must explore the causes inside our own selves.
….go inside and ask ourselves what are we doing, that is causing us
We are only responsible for ourselves, and must learn what we need to
learn and change what we need to change.
When we truly see our part, we can change.
Concept 3 See Life as Lessons.
…not to be regarded as failures.
All we need to do is make the inquiry, hold the intention, and the
desire to understand the lesson, and then let go, trusting that our real selves
will reveal the answer.
Concept 4: Change as
When we change on an internal level, we change our values, our beliefs,
and our opinions, and we change how we feel about and respond to life’s
We must learn to simply observe, reflect, and find the opportunity in
Just remember: All change
requires us to do three things: 1) Grieve and say goodbye to what we are leaving
behind. 2) Identify the gifts we
have received from the “lost” status quos 3) Embrace the “new normal”
Resistance to Change.
When we relax and believe that the change is shifting us to a course
that leads to our greater good, we can meet the challenges and uncertainties
that change inevitably brings.
Concept 5: Understand the
Truth About Personal Power.
When we begin to see change
as an opportunity, life as lessons, and we continue to take responsibility for
our happiness, we are living in the integrity of our real self’s whole being
and connecting to our personal power.
Personal power is about communicating with integrity and letting go of
…expressing your personal power with integrity:
Deal with the present issue
Use active listening
Use “I” messages
Avoid absolutes “should, always, never….
Do not attempt to imply who is right and who is wrong.
Concept 6: Make Choices
That Are in Your Highest Good.
Choices that are made in our highest good are choices that are made from
our heads and our hearts, not from our pain.
They are choices that are aligned with our true natures and reflect our
values and philosophies of life.
…answers may not be entirely obvious. So next step is to pray and ask
for clarity and guidance.
Then we wait and remain patient.
…develop a pathway to your deeper wisdom that leads to your highest
Keeping a Life Inventory.
As examples, we stimulate our intellect by reading, learning new things,
or talking to a friend, emotionally we nurture ourselves by seeing a good film,
exploring intimate relationships, journaling our feelings, or listening to
Physically, we nurture ourselves by taking care of our bodies through
healthy eating, adequate sleep, and regular physical movement whether it is
walking, stretching or swimming.
Our souls are nurtured by activities such as sitting in solitude under a
tree, drawing, attending a religious service, reading spiritual literature,
volunteering, or helping a friend in need.
We have not cured divorce, divorce had cured us. It has reconnected us
to our bodies, cleared our minds, and awakened us to a force within called our
We now know that there is a
process we can follow: we drop deeply into our bodies to merge with our
feelings, we listen to the voices of our inner wounded child, and we surrender
to mysteries of our souls.
This is where all transformation occurs, and where we find our true
…we only need a sincere commitment to grow and our courage to
surrender in order to find a deeper vitality and a greater aliveness.
It has awakened and led us back to our real selves.