Twenty years after my divorce, I can remember -- vividly -- the books that saved me during those early days of finding my way alone. Each book gave me something- the language, hope, and understanding- to help me process the trauma. Millions of people experience the pain of divorce each year. The right book can be a great comfort.
In one of the ironies of life, I was taking the university course titled "The Philosophy of Love" as my marriage crumbled.
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis was on the reading list. I learned to examine love beyond the words- I love you. I realized for the first time, that ours had been an immature, naïve love. That's what can happen when you marry your childhood sweetheart. Sometimes there is no room for emotional growth. A mature love, according to Lewis is a balance of four loves. Reading his book helped me identify the holes in what I had perceived as our ' perfect' little high school romance.
The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families by Amity Pierce Buxton is one of a very few books on this topic. It was enormously helpful for a woman like me, 20 years ago, living in a very small town, without any reference material to help me understand. We shared the same marriage experience. She gave me hope for a better day.
Her book dedication reads in part "to my children...whose love sustained me in my journey from trauma to transformation."
I too will always be grateful for my sons' constant love and support in my journey.
Man's search for Meaning by Victor Frankl was sobering. It is a book that puts real suffering in perspective. There was far worse misery in life than my divorce. Most important, there was- free will- the choice to survive and carry on with life. We can choose to rise above our emotional pain.
Forgiving The Unforgivable: Overcoming the Bitter Legacy of Intimate Wounds by Beverly Flanigan spoke to me of violating a moral code, breaking a trust. It helped me fix the responsibility on him. With that was a letting go.
"If the injurer's action intentionally breached a vow or promise or violated another moral rule, the injurer was to blame."
By his own admission, our marriage deception had been intentional.
In The Meantime by Iyanla Vanzant gave me hope that what I was experiencing was but a moment in time. It would only be forever if I allowed it. My choice.
"The meantime is protective as well as preparatory."
On Your Own Again by Keith Anderson and Roy MacSkimming asked, "Why are you here?" This book helped me understand the healing process requires both acceptance and understanding. There had been unseen holes in my marriage. Anderson also reminded me that, for children of divorce, predictability, consistency and reliability are paramount.
Simple Abundance:A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach was my soothing bedtime snack. Her words spoke to me of quiet and peace at the end of each day. There were many days that I celebrated more for surviving them than for anything else of significance. The daily entries in her book were an emotional lifeline.
The Mind of the Soul by Gary Zukav wrote about moving beyond being a victim of the divorce and not limiting my life. I wanted to get better not bitter.
Soul Stories also by Gary Zukav reminded me to listen to my intuition. Too often when we divorce and move into a single life we make wrong turns.
", listen to what your intuition tells you. A lot of people hear answers they don't like, so they pretend that they didn't hear any answers at all. "
Love and Betrayal: Broken Trust in Intimate Relationships by John Amodeo gave me language to process the divorce. The terms 'decidely cruel' and 'emotionally dishonest' were particularly relevant.
I think the greatest books of all, a real visual history of my emotional growth, were my personal journals. They meticulously chronicled my path back to living a full and happy life again.
"Be the heroine of your life, not the victim."
- Nora Ephron
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