Losing Control — and Getting It Back

Pain in the elbow joint

I recently fell while taking a walk and ended up with fractures to the radial bones in both of my elbows. While I was very fortunate in that my fractures weren’t displaced, so I didn’t need surgery, both the fall and the injuries prompted feelings of vulnerability and fear because of my absolute loss of control in that situation, my ignorance about the recovery process, and my temporary inability to use my arms in many typical ways.  I have been fortunate in my life not ever to have fractured anything, so the territory for me was uncharted.

It wasn’t long at all before I began to feel less in a state of shock and more reassured that I would heal and be okay.   First, my doctor and physical therapist both were knowledgeable, caring, and gave me a roadmap of my recovery plan.  Becoming familiar with the likely process of my recovery helped me become more hopeful and to feel less out of control. My family and friends supported me physically and emotionally, which helped me realize that I don’t have to be independent all the time and that I can ask for help.

While I am now almost completely healed, I have thought often about the similarities between my experience and that of my collaborative divorce clients experiencing the initial stages of a separation and divorce. Feeling vulnerable and out of control are part and parcel of the beginning stages of separation and divorce.  My clients then begin to learn about the collaborative divorce alternative and the steps in the process, begin to trust that I will accompany and advise them throughout the process, and begin to believe that they and their families will be fine  as they take constructive steps to move forward in two households.   At that point, feelings of distress and anxiety naturally begin to diminish and a new “normal” starts to look less scary.  While fear and feelings of vulnerability are normal responses to the dissolution of a marriage, working with experienced collaborative professionals can often be the vital first step in regaining a sense of control  and well-being about you, your family, and your future.