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Preface to Divorce: How to Feel It, Live It and Let Go
A book by M. Susan Hamilton
Preface by Wayne D. Effron
People dread divorce. It is a leap into the unknown. On one hand there is the personal trauma: the embarrassment of telling friends and co-workers; the heartbreak of watching your child see his world fall apart. On the other, there are the financial and legal complexities. A strange system of rules imposes itself upon the most personal decisions: how much money you must pay or receive, what property you keep, where your children will live and when you will see them. The most daunting aspect of the process is that as much as any occurrence in life, divorce involves change.
For the first time in years, a person will not wake up next to his mate. He will have to balance a checkbook and select mutual finds; he must go grocery shopping and cook his own meals; he will go to a party or family function alone. The change is all the more disruptive and disorienting because it occurs while the person is experiencing significant pain. In my 18 years as a divorce lawyer, I have seen countless people make the determination to end their marriage. It is a wrenching decision requiring at various times courage, selfishness, and faith. The process itself and its aftermath are generally faced with a healthy dose of rationalization. Like armor on the jousting knights of old, we protect ourselves with a selective historical perspective. We bury ourselves in work or a new romantic relationship or in the (sometimes overwhelming) details of the divorce itself. We do so because the pain might be too much to cope with if met with an open mind and heart.
A few of us, a rare few, have the courage to experience a marital breakup without blinders. Susan Hamilton has done this. This book is written from the perspective of a woman whose marriage is dissolving after 21 years. Susan faces this without rancor, blame, or self-aggrandizement. Aside from being one of the best-prepared and most meticulous clients I have encountered, Susan has the soul of an artist. Her insights go to the essence of divorce: its tragedy, its absurdity, its humor and, ultimately, its power of redemption. As painful as the divorce process can be, it is also a rebirth.
There are few times in life when one can wipe the slate clean and begin anew. Susan appreciates and describes the roller coaster that is a dissolution of marriage. The reader will find the journey a little less bewildering after reading this book. More than that, this work shows that at the end of a long, difficult trek, there will be days when the sun shines, a warm breeze blows, and peace fills the heart.