Last night, I attended a support group for divorced people. Several months ago, I saw a sign outside a church a few miles away from my house. Yesterday morning, I called the phone number for more information and decided to check it out.
I discovered that the “support group” was actually a 13-week class (complete with a workbook) provided by a company called Divorce Care. These classes are offered nationwide and there is a location tool on the web site (plus, they have a program for kids!). I also discovered that there is, in fact, another church in town offering the same workshop- but they don’t advertise publicly (Why not advertise? Don’t they want to help people?)
I arrived a few minutes early and met the other 6 people in the class- all of varying ages and stages of divorce. I was given a workbook and told to help myself to a beverage. They asked me to fill out a sheet of paper asking for my standard contact information and the status of my relationship with Jesus. I was excited to discover that the lesson for the evening was about “anger”. I smiled enthusiastically and told the group that’s one of my favorite subjects. They smiled politely. I think they found me a bit odd. (Anger is a great topic to learn about. We all experience it and we all show it in different ways. And for different reasons… anger is a surface emotion: if someone is angry, it means there is a deeper problem- a need not being met. It’s cause for investigation. I find it somewhat fascinating.)
Class officially began with a prayer and then we watched a video. The video was full of interviews with regular divorced people, as well as therapists, talking about anger… how they felt, what they did, etc. They talked about the different ways people deal with anger… and then they talked about the ways people should deal with anger. And then they said something I found mildly bizarre given the topic at hand: the “host” suggested to us viewers that the best thing you can do would be to not get divorced (umm… I thought we were all here because we were definitely getting divorced. I was pretty sure most of the people watching this video had already investigated the Before You Divorce option. And, I can’t speak for others but my divorce initiated a decline in my level of anger. My marriage was the primary cause of my rage). The video ended with the reminder that it’s impossible to overcome anger without divine intervention.
When the TV was shut off, it was time to reflect and recap the information in the workbook. I babbled rather confidently (according to that Strengths Finder book, “input” is one of my strong suits. i’m sure it can be terribly annoying) about the role of anger in a divorce: how destructive it is, how it makes lawyers rich, how it blinds us to what is really important. I tried to contain myself and shut up long enough to let the others talk as well. I think I did an OK job. We concluded with another prayer and they said they hoped to see me again.
I’ll probably go back for another session or two. In addition to anger, the course also covers depression, finances, loneliness and forgiveness (and more!). Being a student of divorce, I welcome the opportunity to learn from others’ approaches.
That being said, I don’t think this particular class is something I could have endured during my own divorce process- but that’s just me. I’m not a christian and the religion-factor is woven very tightly into the material. I felt more comfortable in the Buddhist divorce workshop that I participated in last year. (Perhaps I’ll write about that too one of these days…)
Anyway, my intention in writing these 600+ words was to say: Check out the local support group options. You can’t not learn from other people in similar situations.