by Kent Darcie
Today everything is reduced to “4 easy steps”. “No pain, but you can gain anyway” is the mantra of our marketing gurus. Four simple steps to losing weight without exercise. Four secrets to becoming a millionaire without hard work and on it goes. Recently, I purchased a new book and, confident of my immunity to those teasing and appealing voices, I plunged into “The Long Way Home: The Powerful 4-Step Plan for Adult Children of Divorce,” by M. Gary Neuman.
Four steps for an issue as complicated as dealing with a parent’s divorce seemed like a stretch. However, with pen in hand for the required journaling, guarded hope, and a healthy amount of skepticism, I started the steps. 10 weeks had passed before I completed the 5 week process and to my amazement, doubts were crushed under the weight of all the discoveries I made.
Feeling like Christopher Columbus
Neuman believes that our makeup as adults is linked directly to our parent’s divorce. Thus, his four steps lead you through a methodical process of discovery and action. One unknown link in my life-chain explained why I’ve responded to tense people so negatively all my life. I am very uncomfortable around tense people. If someone is tense around me I will tell a joke, compromise, or find some other way to release the tension.
While somewhat aware of this tendency, I never suspected a link to my parent’s divorce. Yet there it was! For the first time since adolescence, I saw how tense my dad was when he came to visit us back in the early days following the divorce. My journaling reminded me of the tension in the room and how uncomfortable it made me. That was a major revelation. More startling was looking at times in my life when this tendency directly impacted how I responded in a situation—both constructively and destructively. And there were many such discoveries following Neuman’s 4 steps.
The road toward healing is not a straight line
Journeying through The Long Way Home is like spending the day at a carnival. The rollercoaster of emotions will take you to super highs and deep drops. You’ll experience the fun house, house of horrors, midway with all the noise and lights, begging for candy from your parents and being turned down, and the exhaustion you feel at the end of the day. But like the carnival, The Long Way Home is well worth the trip. Better stated, it’s a powerful journey that will propel you toward healing like a bullet leaving a gun barrel.
The only missing piece in his process was the part I found most helpful working through the book—my relationship with God. God’s truth is critical to silence the lies that are uncovered and accepted as axioms since our parent’s divorce—I am unworthy, you can’t trust anyone, things are great now but they are all going to fall apart, the divorce was my fault because, etc.. As unearthed memories played on my mind’s screen—some good, many bad—God’s comfort and solid biblical truth served as my bedrock when the waves of the past threatened to overwhelm me. They are also critical to achieving the change in our life that The Long Way Home offers.