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Dealing with Divorce at the Holidays

Dealing with Divorce at the Holidays
November 17, 2014 Dr. Karl Benzio

For Immediate Release
November 17, 2014

Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio Says Letting Go of Past Hurts Gives Way to a Fresh Start for Those Who Are Divorced

Philadelphia—The stress of the holidays can throw anyone into a tailspin of worry, self-doubt, anxiety and even self-medication.

This is especially true for those who are dealing with divorce between Thanksgiving and the New Year—whether it’s a fresh split of the relationship or a decades-old divorce.

Psychiatrist Karl Benzio, M.D., founder and executive director of Lighthouse Network (www.lighthousenetwork.org), an addiction and mental health counseling helpline, says that those who have experienced divorce can make a commitment to forgiveness this holiday season and move on to a more healthy way of living.

“Divorce can create feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, hurt and betrayal,” Benzio said. “And oftentimes, at the holidays, estranged spouses are brought together—even if not by their own choosing—for the sake of their kids or other family members. But the holidays don’t have to be a time of strife for those who are divorced. Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can give—to ourselves, our ex-spouses, our children and other loved ones.”

November 16-22, 2014 marks Mental Health Wellness Week, and Benzio says committing to forgiveness and letting go of past hurts can go a long way toward true mental health wellness.

“After a divorce, holiday traditions that were once a part of the family are now gone,” Benzio added. “And children, especially, may have trouble dealing with this loss. But if parents can come together to make new traditions, and forgive in the process, it will be a healthier transition for the entire family.”

Benzio added that divorce is often a spark that reignites an addiction fire. And once an addiction is fired up, it can burn out of control, causing damage to any and all areas of our lives, often quickly and deeply. Unforgiveness fans this fire, while choosing to forgive helps put out the fire.

When others hurt us, Benzio said, such as an ex-spouse, either during or after the marriage, we must proceed through a set of both external and internal actions. Oftentimes, we make a new vow—to never allow that person to hurt us again—through the external actions of setting boundaries, formulating a strategy to deal with the other person, assessing their trustworthiness and negotiating what future interactions will look like.

Internally, there are five steps through which we must proceed to reach the place from which we can truly forgive someone else, such as an ex-spouse:

  1. We first assess our part, if any, in the issue, problem or in this case, divorce.
  2. We build up our emotional management skills by knowing how emotions affect us and how to process them.
  3. We must let go of any feelings of entitlement that will block our goal of forgiveness.
  4. We must realize what it is we are holding on to. What is preventing us from setting appropriate boundaries and “changing the rules of engagement” with the other person?
  5. Finally, after these self-searching actions, we can achieve true forgiveness.

Once people are truly ready to forgive, there are six steps to overcoming the hurt of divorce for good:

  1. Understanding both parties’ role in the divorce.
  2. Forgiving the ex-spouse, which takes just one person.
  3. Asking the ex-spouse to accept our forgiveness, which takes both people.
  4. Reconciling the relationship, which takes both parties. This does not necessarily mean “getting back together,” but taking the necessary steps toward a healthy relationship.
  5. Restoring the relationship, which helps us move the new relationship to a healthy place.
  6. Growing the relationship again, which takes both parties and requires a commitment to shift the relationship to a new level that involves forgiveness, grace and perhaps even newfound trust.

“Committing to these five internal actions and these six steps will help all of us let go of past hurts and truly forgive,” Benzio said. “This is especially true for divorced people who must deal with past anger, bitterness and resentment. When we hold onto these negative feelings, we are not hurting our ex-spouse; rather, we are only hurting ourselves. Forgiveness is a wonderful gift that Jesus has given to us, so we are called to extend the gift of forgiveness to others—and to ourselves.”

Divorce and forgiveness are often topics in Dr. Benzio’s counseling sessions, and help is available for those struggling with feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. Those interested in moving past hurtful relationships can call the free, 24-hour Lighthouse Network Helpline at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242). The most effective help will incorporate God into the healing process, because without Him, no amount of rehab, treatment or medication can bring lasting healing and transformation. Lighthouse Network also provides online resources for those concerned about a family member, friend or a loved one. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/im-family-a-friend.

Lighthouse Network representatives and counselors also help those in need navigate the complex health care system and complicated insurance processes, offering expertise to clients to maximize their insurance in order to obtain the best treatment option with minimal out-of-pocket cost. Lighthouse can also help those without insurance find treatment options.

Benzio shares insights on various mental health issues in the one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” airing on approximately 425 radio stations across the country, including 200 stations in the American Family Radio Network. The purpose of the “Life Change” program is to bring scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine some common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s obstacles and enjoy fulfilled lives. For more information on “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/life-change-with-dr-karl/.

Lighthouse Network works to guide struggling people through storms to achieve peace and find answers for those who have a hard time defining their problems. Lighthouse Network also offers the free, 24-hour Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).

Lighthouse Network’s web site, www.lighthousenetwork.org, provides information to those struggling to find help for their addiction problems, as well as to family members searching for help for a loved one. Topics addressed include alcohol abuse, addictions, and other mental health or life management issues.

Lighthouse Network offers several resources for those struggling with addiction and their families, such as Stepping Stones, a free daily devotional for managing life’s stressors and storms and equipping readers with healthy decision-making skills. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/stepping-stones/ to read the devotionals and sign up to receive them daily via email.

For more information on Lighthouse Network, visit www.lighthousenetwork.org or call the Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).

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