QUESTION: What keeps me stuck in the emotional pain of my divorce?
Don: Your hand is stuck in a vending machine.
“My daughter's arm is stuck in a candy machine. Please help me!”
This is the starting scene in the old rescue TV Show from the 1950’s. The fire department engines show up by a candy vending machine where the little girl has her arm stuck up in the vending machine with a frantic mother trying to comfort her little crying daughter. The mother reports, “I just turned my head for a moment, and she tried to reach up into the machine to get a candy bar, and her hand and arm are now stuck and I can’t get her free. Please help us!”
The chief fireman studied the situation carefully with the two big guys with axes and the jaws-of-life ready to roll as they anxiously looked on at the mother clinging to her little girl. The chief fireman kept staring at the vending machine and the little girl. He calmly walked up to the little girl, knelt down and whispered something in her ear. The arm quickly and smoothly came right out of the opening in the vending machine. The little girl collapsed into her mother’s arms and all sighed a great relief.
As the firemen put all their unused equipment back onto the truck, the fireman with the ax asked the chief, “What did you whisper in the little girl’s ear?”
The chief replied, “Let go of the candy bar.”
This story illustrates the painful process of grief that is present with the heartache of divorce: you desperately hang on to what you want that you just can't have. You wish earnestly for a better or a different past.
Negative imaginary conversations of what you should have said, could have done, would have done if you had had a chance, play in your head. Your mind just won't let go of what you can't have. This is what causes the emotional pain. The bad news is that it is not as easily solved as the TV Show and the little girl. The good news is, there is a way to let go. There are specific actions you can take to get relief from this pain and feel like yourself again. This is where counseling can greatly help if it has a solid Grief Recovery focus on processing: resentment with acceptance, regrets with apology, unexpressed gratitude with expression, and unfelt, hidden emotion with expression. The expression is not to the other person, but out loud to a counselor with compassion. This process gets the imaginary, negative spirals of awful out of your head and heart, out in front of you for release and inspection. This powerfully healing process helps you become more and more aware of the present moment of what you life is truly about, not back then, but right now.
Psychotherapy with The Grief Recovery Process can help free you from the cause of your emotional pain. Let go of the wish for a different or a better yesterday. Feel like yourself again.