The Shortcut for Healing After Divorce

Every spring, I hear a common refrain in my classroom. Almost as predictable and consistent as the tree frogs singing outside.

We are at the point in the curriculum where topics have built and overlapped upon each other until a single problem can take up half of a piece of paper. Each day, as I painstakingly go over each step (after anchoring the new material to the known and illustrating the meaning behind the process), I inevitably hear a voice, “Okay, so what’s the shortcut?” And then, since 8th graders are famous for tuning out, I hear the same question repeated throughout the class.

And I have to be the one to break it to them.

There is no shortcut.

There is only process.

One step at a time that breaks the seemingly insurmountable heap of algebra into smaller and smaller digestible pieces.

Until the x has been stripped of all its mystery and power and isolated on the other side of the equal sign.

I hear a similar refrain the newly divorced throughout the year. The words vary, but the intent is the same:

“What’s the shortcut to healing?”

And I have to be the one to break it to them.

There is no shortcut.

There is only process.

One step at a time that breaks the seemingly insurmountable heap of hurt into smaller and smaller digestible pieces.

Until the ex has been stripped of all his or her mystery and power and isolated on the other side of the mental divide.

I teach my students about the power of intention. I coach them to remind themselves at the outset of a problem what they are trying to accomplish. Then, at each step along the way, I ask them to question if that choice helps them reach their stated goal.

As newly-minted mathematicians, they make mistakes and often work inefficiently. Yet, if they keep their goal in mind, they get there, even if it takes more paper or the use of an eraser. And, by remembering their intention, they know when they are finished and the goal has been reached.

Healing is no different. Set your intention at the outset. What are you trying to accomplish? Before you act, ask yourself if it helps you move towards your goal. If you misstep, don’t stop. Simply back up and try a new path.

I work to set a classroom environment where mistakes are opportunities and it is okay to ask for assistance. I alternately push them and praise them as I move them along. I aim for them to always be a little uncomfortable; too easy and they don’t grow, too hard and they give up in frustration.

Make your environment a positive one. Surround yourself with the right people. Learn from mistakes. Ask for help when you need it. And strive to keep yourself just a little bit out of your comfort zone. That’s where the magic happens.

When my students ask me about a shortcut, I try to listen to their complaints. Yes, I admit to them, the process is somewhat arduous and has places where they may falter. Yes, I agree with their cries, that that they may make many mistakes and that starting over is both frustrating and disheartening. And yes, I empathize with their pleas, that they wish they didn’t have to do this.

And after I listen, I reassure.

Yes, you may stumble. And if you keep moving towards your goal, you will get there.

Yes, it will be difficult sometimes. And when you reach your goal, you will be stronger than ever before.

Yes, there are times it will feel impossible. And you will feel so amazing when you accomplish the impossible.

Yes, I will be here for you when you need me. And I will help you need me a little less every day.

Yes, you can do this. And once you believe you can, you will.



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8 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    Funny headline!

    Nicely done, Lisa. Two years are just about in the books now.

    The changes have been remarkable.

    Hope you’re well!

  2. jessihd says:

    Thanks for this today. I always rush from one thing to another in my love life, it’s probably why I’m going through a divorce now. I’m taking time to be by myself and it is scaring me. I guess I’m going in the right direction.

  3. tywood12 says:

    Reblogged this on My New Life.

  1. March 11, 2015

    […] written by Lisa Arends who I like and admire very much. Yesterday, she published a post called “The Shortcut for Healing After Divorce,” which I instantly clicked because I want to know the secret and tell […]

  2. March 14, 2019

    […] were made out of impatience. I wanted it to be fully grown. Like yesterday. But, as with anything, there are no shortcuts. Instead, it’s a process of trial and error, adaptation and setbacks, and learning from each […]

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