Thursday, May 15, 2014

Behind Closed Doors: The Private Lessons Of A Divorce Support Group

When going through my divorce a few years ago I always wanted to but never got around to joining a Divorce Support Group.   About four months ago after doing a basic Internet search for "Divorce Support Group" in my area I serrendipitiously found one that was starting that night, two blocks from my house in 30 minutes!

Lucky for me I was still dressed for work so I made my way over to the location.  All those in attendance received a workbook,  were strongly encouraged to give an optional donation and given a high level outline of the 12 week course.  I thought that I was pretty much over my divorce by this point but I figured that I might learn a thing or two from this course or if anything I could give advice to anyone going through a similar experience that I went through.

Last night was the final meeting for the group.   I did not attend all 12 sessions,  more like five.  I met some interesting individuals along the way.  There were a couple folks going through similar challenges as I was and went through.  There was a guy that was actually getting back with his ex wife after an almost nine month separation and finally there were a few folks that had been divorced for 15+ years, remarried for a little less time than they have been divorced and still lamenting over their first marriage.

Of all the people I met there was one that made the strongest impression despite only being present at three of the five classes I attended.  Let's call this guy Mark.

Mark was a rather helpful fellow.   He stayed about 15 minutes after the first session to tell me about this Men's Rights Group he was a part of and how I needed to join and how my daughter's mother was depriving me of a ton of my rights.

The next time I saw Mark just happened to be a day after one of his Men's Rights Group meetings.   He spent the entire beginning of the session and the majority of that night's session telling me how I had missed out on a life changing event the day before.   Before leaving for the night he gave me his e-mail addressee and telephone number and invited me to a study date,  if you will, with him and some of the other guys in his Men's Group that upcoming weekend.  Needless to say I didn't make it.

The next two sessions of the group were peaceful and productive without Mark there.  Everyone was calm,  respectful and encouraging.

Fast forward to last night.  I showed up about five minutes late to a positive happy group of people and pizza for the last night.  Everyone got settled and just as class was going to start.... who came walking in but Mark...

Mark boorishly helped himself to a few slices of pizza while complaining about how bad traffic was and how parking was impossible.   When the mediator asked him how he was he commenced to tell us about all the horrors of his life while eating his free pizza with his mouth open and belching liberally in between words.

Mark's biggest gripe was about how he had been unemployed for about a year.  When members of the group chimed in to offer assistance he would push away any advice by making statements such as; "I know about that," "I've tried that, " "All the jobs are for college grads," ect.

I was on the verge of leaving during the session at several points but decided out of respect to the rest of the group that I would stick around.  Mark was on a roll the rest of the evening, making negative generalizations like they were going out of style,  complaining about anything,  interrupting others all while burping liberally and eating an entire sleeve of store brand cookies.

Finally the entire rest of the group non-verbally agreed to end the session.   We wished each other well and I ducked into the bathroom on the way out of our meeting room to avoid having to re-hear all about Mark's woes.

Now the purpose of this post is not to complain about Mark but to give you a perfect example of how NOT to act.  I wish Mark nothing but the best and hope he finds his path in life.

The morals to today's story are::

● Listen more than you speak because someone may just be trying to tell you the one thing that you are needing to hear.

● Don't interrupt others when they are talking (see the first bullet )

● Use your manners

● When speaking in a group setting only share things that you also think will also benefit others.  If you are talking just to hear yourself speak than do everyone a favor next time by staying home and practicing in front of a mirror

● Last and definitely not least I want to honor the late great Dale Carnegie and his book How To Win Friends & Influence People by reminding everyone NOT to Criticize,  Condemn or Complain because it does no good.

Until we read again,


p.s.  No offense to you if you are anything like Mark.  That may have been me just a few years ago. Just be cognizant how your actions affect others and of the energy you are putting out into the world.

p.p.s. Don't be a Mark.

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