Their personal journeys through divorce into new beginnings inspired Jennifer Roger and Blair Stanley to create the programs they are leading at The Haven in September.
Blair and I were in Portugal attending a Satir Family Therapy Training Workshop when we were asked to write this blog to introduce our courses Moving Forward: Life after Separation and New Beginnings: Relationship Skills for Singles, which we were about to offer at The Haven, and are offering again in September. Initially I saw this as “bad timing,” but upon further reflection, I saw an interesting connection.
Blair and I took this trip as an opportunity to learn together and to share time with a colleague who teaches with her own unique style all over the world. What we as a couple do in our life together often has, as its central theme, a curiosity to expand our personal learning. This is what informs our teaching and has done so right from our own “New Beginning.”
I started to reflect on how we, as two previously divorced, family physicians, began a journey together giving relationship skills and divorce adjustment workshops at The Haven.
Over a decade ago, individually and in parallel, we found ourselves separated from our previous marriages and moving towards divorce. The experience was profoundly painful and chaotic.
We were coping with feelings of grief, fear, shame, anger and loneliness. And while we were coping with the internal chaos, there were also dramatic changes occurring in our outside lives. We had to adjust to changes in caring for and being with our children. Our physical living spaces changed and we had to cope with financial shifts. We had to develop new skills to take care of tasks or responsibilities that were shared with or were done by our previous partners. It was overwhelming and we were wracked with feelings of anxiety, sadness, and isolation.
Suddenly we were faced with some very difficult questions … What happened? How did I get here in my life? Who am I? We were each shaken to the core and out of this suffering a new awakening slowly began to take shape. Through the worst part of our histories, opportunity for personal transformation arose.
We met each other a few years after commencing this same journey. Curious to understand our process better and committed to the idea of NOT repeating our pasts, we started to take courses together and do the “research” necessary to fully understand separation and divorce. This led to taking couples courses and voraciously reading everything we could get our hands on regarding conscious coupling. We were mentored by Dr Rick Griffin and Margaret Adams (who formerly taught these courses). We attended many programs at The Haven, studied the works of Carl Jung, Brené Brown, took courses with renowned Canadian EFT therapist Sue Johnson and read works by Harville Hendrix and the Gottmans … to name a few. As we were cultivating our new relationship together, we practiced all the skills we were learning and turned our relationship into a fertile ground for testing these new learnings. Finally it dawned on us that we could really contribute meaningfully to others on this journey by providing some guidance and support; helping demystify the process of divorce and providing hope and skills for those committed to having healthier relationships in future. We find this work together some of the most meaningful work we do as family doctors.
If you’re experiencing chaos, pain, and confusion, we encourage you to join us for Moving Forward: Life After Separation, which will support you to find new life and direction after the end of a relationship. If you resonate with our idea of not repeating our pasts, our New Beginnings: Relationship Skills for Singles program will provide you with the resources to create a positive relationship in the future or improve a current one. These programs can be taken individually or one following the other. If you’re interested in both, please contact the Registrars to learn about available discounts.
This article was first published in April 2019.
Did you enjoy your read? Get bi-monthly updates straight to your inbox. That’s right, just one email every two weeks with a collection of great new content, plus an invitation to contribute too!