As an avid reader, I often come across books that make me think of the many experiences my clients are going through and what they mean. I recently read a book called The Beauty in Breaking by Dr. Michele Harper, an emergency room physician who wrote about her experiences as a doctor helping people – including herself – through broken periods of their lives, physically, emotionally and psychically.
Beauty from Breaking
Divorce is very much a “breaking” – of relationships, one’s sense of family, and one’s sense of self. Clients, either by choice or necessity, have to move from that place of “breaking” to a new beginning. In her book, Dr. Harper references a Japanese art form, called Kintsukuroi, where broken pottery is made whole again by treating the cracks or breaks with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. In her book, Dr. Harper says: “The choice to highlight the breaks with precious metals not only acknowledges them, but also pays tribute to the vessel that has been torn apart by the mutability of life. The previously broken object is considered more beautiful for its imperfections. In life, too, even greater brilliance can be found after the mending.” She goes on to say that “brokenness” can be a “remarkable gift”, and “If we allow it, it can expand our space to transform… to see a whole new way of life.”
Divorce involves not just a review of the “old”, but a look at the “new” – it can be a transformative experience for parties, not just as a result of having gone through a legal process for their divorce, but because as part of that process, options and possibilities for the future are explored in settlement negotiations by both parties. During the divorce process parties prioritize their needs and interests to reach an agreement that will best serve not just existing but future needs and interests, that new way of life post-divorce. The cracks or broken parts that led to divorce, can be mended for oneself, together, or for and with one’s children if parties are open to those options and possibilities and the concept of a new, different, and happy life.
Processes such as Settlement Counsel, mediation, and Collaborative Law are focused on settlement, and exploring options and possibilities for resolving divorce and other family law conflicts in a non-adversarial environment. These out of court settlement processes are about a new beginning, a path forward that comes from the “breaking”. It is much easier to find that new beginning and new path, even when conflict is present and tensions are high, if the parties work together from the “breaking” to redefine their futures individually, as co-parents, and for their children. The journey is just as important as the destination.