My First Divorce Support Group Experience

I got to the church (actually it's one of those mega-churches), wound my way around the many corridors, and eventually found my assigned room.

It was a typical church meeting room, with chairs placed in four neat rows all positioned for a good view of the TV placed at the front of the room. The director of family programs at the church gave an introductory speech, handed out our workbooks, explained the importance of doing homework, and then played a video for us to watch. The video was clearly geared towards the folks in the room who felt victimized by divorce, not those needing support after declaring they want out. After the video, they split us up into two groups of around 15 each.

My group moved to an adjoining meeting room, and gathered around a large table placed at the center of the room. My two assigned counselors introduced themselves, reviewed the list of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for our meetings, and then initiated an icebreaker activity. After that, we went around the table, describing our specific situations. It was amazing to me how 15 people who were so different could feel such similar pain. There were a lot of nodding heads, gestures of support, and utterances of agreement throughout.

No two stories were alike. Most of the attendees had been caught off guard by their spouses' desire to leave...except for the two victims of physical abuse...and me.

As luck would have it, there was a refuser in our group, and he was sitting next to me. He was mousy and wore the badge of a victim with zeal. He shared how he brought home a good paycheck, helped his wife around the house, and went to his kids activities...and then stated that to him, that was all he needed to do to demonstrate love (because god-fearing christians shouldn't be tempted to express themselves through their flesh - seriously, he said that.) I kept my mouth shut and listened as he lamented at the fact that she had found a lover.

The meeting was running late and I was the last to share. I used my sense of humor to ease the group, and then told my story. Nothing I haven't already shared on ep. Talked about the control, the passive-aggressiveness, the isolation. Didn't mention the sexless aspect...wrong venue, wrong audience (lol). Instead, presented it as emotional abuse (which it clearly is). And the fact that I lived with stbx for 10 years before marrying him...felt the need to glance over that little fact as well.

I haven't touched on it much so far, but there was a pronounced religious slant to the meeting. To continue attending these meetings, and I do think they'll have value, I'll need to filter out the religion. If it gets to be too much...heck, I'm out 15 bucks...worth the risk to stick it out, I think :-)
PeachesGalore PeachesGalore
46-50, F
5 Responses May 30, 2012

I like your positive attitude about meeting people, learning, and possibly getting support. Good luck if you decide to take the refuser head-on. "god-fearing christians shouldn't be tempted to express themselves through their flesh"? Rightttttt.... He must have been a barrel of fun for his wife.

Thank you for preparing me! I'm going to my first divorce support group in a couple of days and tend to be completely frank about what got me there...a husband with a low sex drive for me (but boy was he imaginative with others!) ... I hope to make some folks blush and face some hard facts....ooohh, this'll be fun!

In a supportive setting, you SHOULD feel completely comfortable sharing your story. If you don't, find a new group. {hug}

Peaches....I bet you can find a group that's a better fit for you...unless you want to have some fun and tweak the refusers a bit (viva la SLF...rotfl!)<br />
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In either case, best wishes to you; it's a brave and courageous step!

Thank you!

You know...I really tried! It's like in Wisconsin, only religious people need help with divorces...jeesh! OK...I generalize. But every group I found was associated with a church. Maybe I'm not googling using the correct terms???

You may have found this already, but there is "211".

Through the national United Way, each state has a 211 resource that serves as a database of community resources. In most places, they're fairly comprehensive. The states break down further by United Way service area, which usually covers multiple counties. The national resource is www.211(dot)org. For Wisconsin, it's www.211wisconsin(dot)org. Click on the tab for "call centers" and find your service area. Hope this helps...

Thank you, mary. It does!

...and if you don't find the group listed, call a few of the appropriate agencies and inquire into groups; many small independent groups would not be listed on the site, as the focus is on organizations.

1 More Response

That's the thing "leavers" and "lefts" have such a different view on divorce, it's like oil and water. Being the leaver I never looked very hard for a support group. I had talked to a few that had gone and got the impression that most were the angry "lefts" at those types of meetings and wasn't looking for that. I found more support here on EP then anywhere else, other then my family was happy to have me back!

When I signed up for the group, a month ago, I was pretty mired in the "bad guy" guilt that accompanies being the "leaver." My ep friends provided plenty of support (thank you again!), but I felt I could benefit from some "in-person" support as well.
So now a month later, with the divorce progressing comfortably, my needs have changed. I'm now attending the group with the goal of making some new friends. If I learn things about myself, if I actually get some support...all the better!

Glad you went and got something out of the meeting. <br />
Sorry that you felt the need to filter yourself.

The fact that I had to filter was frustrating. The fact that I feared being judged by others...in that setting...is dead wrong.

Dead wrong. Repression is what got us into this mess in the first place.

Exactly. I stopped attending after week two.