Guest Blog: Recovery After A Divorce: Healing or Covering Up The Pain?
Dr. Bing Wall: Today we are fortunate to have a first hand account of someone healing after a divorce in a healthy way. My prayer for folks going through a divorce is they find a way to let go of the resentments, hurt and failure and heal BEFORE they start getting involved with other people emotionally. Most don’t take my advice and get involved with someone else right away. The temptation is great: the failure and loneliness are suffocating and it feels so good to actually have a flesh and blood person listen instead of scoff. Usually they find another going through the same thing. Both are hurting and they nurse each others’ wounds and then they get involved sexually and move in together and everything seems wonderful, for a short time anyway, and then the problems start, they break up and the cycle continues of using another person as a drug to feel good and then we’re not far away from a lifestyle of hurt, betrayal and insecurity.
It’s not the way to go. Emilie took my advice and hasn’t dated. It’s been four years. She’d say the first two years were regrouping and putting herself back together and the last two were re-inventing herself. She’s a delightful lady, has her Masters in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Minnesota and has been a Senior High teacher in St. Paul 9 years. I’ve been after her to write some blogs for us here on this topic because she has a lot to offer. She’s taught the Divorce Care class at her church and been on several mission trips, took up triathlons and half-marathons and this Saturday is starting her first RAGBRAI. She’s also my wife and my only daughter. Thanks, Emilie, for being willing to let us grow with you. Let her bless your life as she has ours:
By Emilie Wall, MS
When I was two weeks into my freshman year of college I was riding around town with a friend on a bicycle. We had been riding for about 3 hours by the time we were near his home. We hadn’t eaten dinner and we ran out of water about half way into our bike ride. When we were getting closer to my friend’s apartment we decided to race back to his apartment. We were going about 20-25 miles an hour. We came to the Design Building at Iowa State University where the sidewalk splits and he veered to the left and I veered to the right. It was about nine o’clock in the evening at this point and the sun had already set. What we didn’t know is the construction company remodeling the Design Building had put fences around the perimeter of the building right in front of our path. The construction company had failed to put up warning signs or lights to warn us of the barricades and we couldn’t see anything in front of us. My friend rode his bike right into the fence. I saw it too late and slammed on my breaks. I sailed over my handlebars and my bike went flying about 15-20 feet and hit the fence. I smacked the cement with my shoulder and head and broke my collarbone, fractured my elbow, bruised my jawbone, and ripped my ear part way off.
I don’t remember much of the first moments after the accident, but I do remember asking if my friend was okay and trying to get up. I was told later on that I complained about my shoulder hurting, but my adrenaline was working really well and I couldn’t remember the pain that I was in at the time.
I was extremely dehydrated and couldn’t eat anything because of my jawbone being bent out of shape. That night I woke up to use the restroom and when I was returning to my room I fainted and fell to the ground. At that point I couldn’t get up on my own. I yelled out for help and my poor father had to help me out. The bad part was he pulled on my arms to get me up. I’m sure that didn’t help with the initial healing process.
I stayed home for a few days and then went back to the dorm. I had to switch my classes around because I had been riding my bike to an English class that was now too far away for me to get to by walking. The new English teacher didn’t have much leniency with me. I needed to write a one-page paper about myself and there wasn’t much of an extension regardless of my circumstance. At the time I didn’t know that my right elbow was fractured. I was having trouble writing but wasn’t sure why.
A week after the accident I was returning home from writing the English paper, which took me hours to write because I didn’t have the use of either of my arms. It was late and all the doors were locked. I was tired and weary. I tripped on the stairs and ended up re-breaking my collarbone and re-fracturing my elbow. That time I felt the pain. It was intense. I wasn’t able to open the heavy dorm doors, so I had to pound on the door (it has been too long for me to remember how) but a girl on the floor opened the door for me and helped me call my parents. They came to the dorm to pick me up and take me to the emergency room. At this point I found out that I had a fractured elbow. So they gave me a brace that would help me not use my arms.
This was a pretty humbling time of my life because I couldn’t dress myself, carry anything heavy, write anything, open doors, drive, or anything else on my own. My poor roommate had to help me shower and dress. I had a friend drive me to a few of my classes, carry my backpack, and take notes for me. The positive side was I got a handicap pass for the school year. I was out of work for a month and the construction company paid me for the time lost.
There is something else I have learned over the years from this story. I am reminded of it all the time. When people go through a physical trauma our body produces adrenaline to help cover up the pain. If we felt the pain without the adrenaline it would be too much to bear. It’s too much of a shock to the system and would almost paralyze us. I believe that God does the same thing for us when we go through emotional traumas as well.
Let me explain. When I was going through my divorce, and everything else that went along with that emotional trauma, I didn’t experience everything at once. I believe that God allowed little bits to come at a time, because if everything was revealed at the same time or experienced all at once, it would have been too much for me to handle. At the time it felt like too much and I wondered why all the crap kept coming and wouldn’t end. But looking back I see it as a blessing to have it spread out over a period of time. It gave me time to heal one wound before having all the other wounds revealed to me.
Eventually the scabs come to cover up the wound, but the insides still need to heal. The body and our emotional state (depending on which we are referring to) are fragile and can only handle so much at a time. I believe we need to give ourselves more time to heal the insides and not focus on the scabs on the outside. There is a reason why doctors say to take all two weeks of a medicine even though you are feeling better after three days. The bacteria are still there. It is just weakened. If you don’t take all of the medicine your body will stay sick longer.
It has been over four years since I have been officially divorced. God continually shows me areas of my life that need to be worked on. Some areas were weakened by the divorce and they have needed time to strengthen and heal so that I can be stronger than I was before. Some areas were weak before I even married and affected my marriage. The divorce heightened those weak areas and has needed a lot of extra attention and time. We all don’t heal the same way nor do we heal at the same rate.
My caution: Don’t rush it! It is worth being patient through the healing process. I have never been happier in my life. My collarbone still is crooked and my ear has a scar where it was sewn up, but they are stronger than they were before. I have scars from the divorce, but they have made me into the woman of God that God has created me to be. Divorce has not defined who I am, but certainly has shaped me into a beautiful creature of my Heavenly Father!
Dr. Bing has blogged about healing from a divorce. You can check them out here.