Workshop Teaches Coping Skills For Divorcees

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Statistics say 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.

Divorce is a pretty common occurrence. All of us know someone who has been through it.

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To help Rim country divorcees deal with such a common occurrence, Payson's Community Presbyterian Church is offering its third Divorce Recovery Workshop starting Aug. 10 for anyone who has been affected by divorce.

Rev. Charles Proudfoot will instruct the workshop, which is designed to support divorcees as they deal with the aftermath of a failed marriage, and grow instead of deteriorate.

Because, Proudfoot said, "You're average, but you don't feel that way."

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  • According to an article published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, not all marriages fail for the same reason. However, there are some common reasons among couples, such as poor communication, financial problems, a dramatic change in priorities and infidelity.

In Rebecca Howe's case, her husband of 25 years found another woman.

"I felt lost," she said. "The emotional trauma puts you in strange places. Your life changes. Your finances, the dependency on the other person and your whole moral beliefs."

Howe said she contemplated suicide and went through bouts of depression. But she vowed to keep moving.

"I just kept showing up to work," she said. "You've got to keep moving."

Howe said she was able to find friends and mentors in the community to talk to and spend time with.

"Most folks need somebody," she said. "You don't understand what goes on. You go crazy."

Lee Kennedy, a volunteer counselor and workshop leader, said most people have no idea what divorce is like.

"You have a sense of terror at your own reaction. You're afraid of your own emotions," she said. "You have all these memories of who you are, connected to that person."

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  • The workshop is divided into two parts: lecture and small group discussion. The hour-long lectures will cover topics such as "Is This Really Happening to Me?", "Coping with Your Ex-Spouse" and "Finding and Experiencing Forgiveness."

Although the Presbyterian Church is offering the workshop, it is open to all denominations.

"Religion does come up, but we work very hard at keeping religion out of the discussion," Proudfoot said. "We're not driving any particular faith."

Proudfoot said that divorcees come to the workshop in all stages of divorce. Some people have read all the books and searched the entire Internet, but talking with real live people makes a difference, he said.

"The groups give you permission to talk about those things," he said, "like ‘I'm not alone, these feelings are not uncommon.'"

"I didn't know divorce was so traumatic,"Howe said. She will be leading one of the small groups this time.

"I've been there. I know how I felt and a lot of it is the same," she said. "I have time. I can help. They have to know they're all right."

Kennedy said being a small group leader could also be therapeutic.

"There's nothing more validating than helping people," she said.

Kennedy said newcomers are usually very cautious, very nervous when they come to the workshop. Many are afraid they will start to cry.

"There aren't enough programs out there," she said. "This process helps you organize. It keeps you from getting jumbled."

Proudfoot said there is a certain amount of risk in attending the workshop: it is scary.

"Give it a try. You can always not come back. It's your option," he said. "But there will be something there you will take away as helpful. There's no detriment to you."

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  • Proudfoot said it usually takes divorcees several years to "get over it."

"You're never over it," he said. "Society gives you a very short time to get over divorce and death."

It took Howe more than four years to recover from her divorce.

"I'm in a more open place right now. A lighter place," she said. "I talk more, I'm more outgoing. I'm enjoying finding out about me. And I'm content with where I'm at."

Payson is big enough that there's more than one grocery store in town, Proudfoot said.

"It's possible to live a full life without running into your ex," he said.

Howe said she doesn't speak to her ex-husband any more, and has found that she can now see the things that lead up to the divorce.

"I didn't realize my life would be as good as it is," she said. "I can make decisions about everything in my life. I think my own thoughts. I have my own opinions now."

Howe added that she has never felt a stigma from being divorced.

"You don't ever say you're divorced, you say you're single," she said.

THE WORKSHOP

When: Aug. 10 to Sept. 21, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays.

Where: Community Presbyterian Church at 800 W. Main St.

Who: Any divorced or separated person.

Cost: $25

Childcare: Available for children 10 and under by reservation.

For more information: Call (928) 474-2059 or e-mail cpcgen@cybertrails.com

Editor's Note: Rebecca Howe is an assumed name. The small group leader preferred to stay anonymous in this story.

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