There is a unique context that the authors of the Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends book have created.
The analogy they use is that recovering from divorce is similar to climbing a mountain. Every person going through the experience has their own unique mountain that they are climbing alone but your mountain is made up of similar blocks to everyone else, they are just arranged uniquely.
This book was recommended to me only a few months after my separation (before the family courts got involved) and at the time it was probably the only thing that gave me a direction to head. Laying down a process for recovery was critical for me and I think everyone can benefit a lot from absorbing this book. It is not the sort of book you just sit down and read, it took me several months to work through each chapter one by one. Now I have picked it up again and started reading it for the second time I find myself still healing and learning but now in different ways to before.
This was the first time in my life I had taken the time out to do any sort of self-reflection and the change of direction greatly improves your strategy for recovery.
Chapter 1 – The Rebuilding Blocks
This is an overview and introductory chapter. It proves very useful to set out a pathway and lay down the process by which the rest of the book will follow. By giving a broad brush overview you can immediately reflect on how far along the journey you are and which of the upcoming blocks are going to be your major hurdles.
Chapter 2 – Denial
For me I was well past the denial stage of my breakup by the time I got to read the book but it was very interested reflecting back on the events in history while I was going through this denial stage. You will see a whole new side to the events that took place back then and also a whole new perspective of your contribution to those events.
For a lot of us at this stage of denial was prior to the breakup bombshell being dropped (sometimes years before). I was in denial of just how bad the relationship had become and it probably took me six months or so after the bombshell to really get out of it.
Chapter 3 – Fear
The realization that all your future dreams and plans with the kids have just been taken away from you.
Chapter 4 – Adaptation
This is the first real exercise in looking into your self and trying to unravel just exactly where those future dreams, plans and expectations come from. More than likely you will come to the realization that your parents relationship and your paradigms created during childhood are controlling you and your ego.
Chapter 5 – Loneliness
This chapter presents the next stage of self reflection. Getting to know yourself better and getting to accept yourself a bit.
These chapters that involve self reflection will be crucial to your recovery. When you do get through the end of it, like I have now you look back on this journey and wish you could have done the journey of self discovery as a teenager without all the lost time in between.
Chapter 6 – Friendship
Now is time to start building yourself a support network and some lines of communication to share the burden of the truths you have just realized.
Chapter 7 – Guilt/Rejection
The next handful of chapter were really challenging. It was a time to be critical of yourself. For me this was where I started unraveling some repressed memories and a lot of those subconscious or unconscious behaviors/memories that my ego had been hiding from me.
Chapter 8 – Grief
This chapter was exceptionally hard when trying to grieve for the loss of your children who are still just down the load but you can’t see them anymore. Eventually I got to develop my mantra, which was that grief leads to relief. Do the hard work men or women, face your demons head on and you will be stronger for it.
Chapter 9 – Anger
We all immediately carry anger in these circumstances. It was very easy to recognize the anger and project it but to progress you will have to learn how to stop projecting it onto your ex or at your ex and start to identify the source and deal with that. Kind of like a bush fire.
Chapter 10 – Letting Go
This was the first real upward swing in the path for me. It was when I started listening to Buddhist lectures, I started meditating and I started to look forward and make some changes in my life. All very new things.
It may have helped that it coincided with the time the marital house was sold, property settlement was finalized, I lost my job and had some health scares and started seeing my kids again after several months.
Chapter 11 – Self-Worth
My realization of a long term feeling of shame came to a head in this chapter. I could see for the first time the source of my shame and had to work out how to accept it and also how to stop it. I also spoke to a lot of other men going through the same experience and continued getting the feedback that our experiences are very similar and our wives were all disturbingly similarly belligerent.
Chapter 12 – Transition
One of the few backward focused chapters, Transition, walks you through the process of trying to what went wrong, why it went wrong, how you and your ex contributed to it going wrong and grow from the new-found knowledge.
Chapter 13 – Openness
The process up until now has really been one of stripping down all the layers that you need to get through so that you can start a phase of constructing a new you. The next several chapters are just that. It was rewarding to stop playing the games people expected of me and for the first time just let them know exactly who the true me was. You may have to start shedding those friends who are dead wood now.
Chapter 14 – Love
This is the chapter where you are encouraged to get back on the horse and go out dating again.
Chapter 15- Trust
Open yourself up to another and accept the risk of being wounded again.
Chapter 16 – Relatedness
This is where your new relationship and your new partner get the opportunity to fill the gaps left behind from your failed marriage. Your new-found knowledge of relationships will supposedly allow this one to be different.
Can you sense my skepticism?
Obviously I have still got some work to do before I can hit the mainstream again.
Chapter 17 – Sexuality
A lot of men just want to get to this part of the recovery first. Skipping all the other phases will just get you back to the breakup stage again faster. Second marriages fail at an even greater rate than first marriages because broken people try to fix themselves by prematurely looking for another person to fix them.
Chapter 18 – Singleness
Get comfortable being single. Make it normal to be out in public by yourself. This was when I started seeing my friends who were married as crazy fools, putting up with all the grief their wives were dishing out, for what?
Chapter 19 – Purpose
Life purpose. A direction for your life to go in. One that is focused on your own goals and no one else.
This is another major step. The realization that new opportunities exist that didn’t before because you had the old ball and chain (wife) around your neck.
Chapter 20 – Freedom
I think for a lot of men who are stuck in the child support racket freedom will only be reached once the kids grow old enough for the bleeding of money to stop.
I hope you got a good sense of the pathway this book will take you on. The path was both challenging and rewarding which definitely shaved off a few years from my recovery phase. This book was one of several I tried. All the books I read prior to rebuilding were all far too focused on women’s feelings and men’s shortcomings to make them palatable for me and probably for most men with half a backbone (I will leave this topic for another post though).
I found this one to be neutral in it treatment of men and women. Not a small feat.
Let me know if you have been to any of the workshops offered as part of this program or had it recommended to you.
Did you work through it too?