Divorce can be overwhelming, so it is helpful to know what the possible stages of any crisis can look like. As so many of us have experienced in our lives, there is often a crisis that throws us into a cycle of transformation, and divorce is certainly one of those crises. It is helpful to look at divorce as a process and through the lens of the cycle of transformation. Frederick Hudson and Pamela McClean of The Hudson Institute have developed a very descriptive process for looking at change. What I know is that this process has been revealed and found in many cultures on the planet. It has been discussed many times over, and most specifically by Joseph Campbell, who called it the “Heroes Journey.”
I find that teaching people about what this process can be and does frames it with a beginning, middle, and an end, which can be most helpful. The Hudson version is simple, effective, and easy to remember because when going through a crisis we need things as simple and as easy as possible.
The crisis of divorce may throw us, or we may find ourselves in the Doldrums part of the cycle. Here is where we surrender to the ending of our marriage. Sometimes we are on board and sometimes we are not, and it’s an unwanted experience. Here is where we feel grief and sadness, shock and despair. It is a time of letting go of what we know, what we hoped for, and often the life we have worked for, as well as the dreams we had hoped for.
The next stage of the journey is the Cacooning phase, and this is where we pull in to reflect and release, and here is where people often seek help and support for the letting go part of the old identity, and for support in searching for our new identity.
Sadness and anger, as well as grief and depression can take hold here. Therapy and support can help release and reframe these feelings so they don’t become poisonous to us and cause us harm.
Stage three of the journey is the Getting Ready phase. This is where new learning happens; where we resurrect our purpose and passions, as well as our sense of self and our new identity. We get to experiment and be creative, as well as build new networks of support and renew old ones. We begin to experience ourselves as whole again and can see the world with fresh eyes and excitement, in addition to a bit of anticipation.
Stage four is the Go For It phase, where we are dreaming and deciding what our new life will be about and who gets to be a part of that new life. New beginnings are the name of the game here, and it is a mixture of joy and lightness. In this stage we can see ourselves having a future and it is one that we want and deserve, and can and do create.
There is a place between the Doldrums phase and the Cacooning Phase where there is a choice to be made to have the death of the old identity and seek the introspection to learn and grow, or to do what is called a Minitransition and bypass the deeper work. It may seem like an easier route, but alas, it will be a quick fix without lasting results and usually cause people to repeat unhealthy patterns of behavior and end up in the same place just a few years later.
Where are you in The Cycle of Renewal? If you have questions and want to move beyond the crisis, whether it be divorce or some other loss such as a death, a challenge or upheaval, such as a loss of a job or a move, you can call me, email or text me and let’s make sure you travel this journey with support and with the learning to help you thrive in your life.
Blessings to you as you travel the age old Cycle of Renewal. May you have a safe and prosperous journey.
Cycle of Renewal Image courtesy of Lizanne Corbit, taken at Hudson Institute