Marjorie JamesLast week, I started talking about memories, spurred on my listening to “The Way We Were” by Barbra Streisand. Let’s continue.

“Memories… may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember we simply choose to forget.”

I have a friend who divorced her husband after years of emotional abuse. He was very good at convincing her that she was useless on her own and needed him to “take care of things” for her. I talked to her about what she has been through since the divorce.

She told me that she would still be married, to her detriment, if he had not started to get physically abusive, especially “in the bedroom.” She was concerned that he would accelerate the abuse and include their daughter, so she made the difficult choice to leave.

He had done a very good job of convincing her that she was basically only competent enough to be his “servant” (her word) and do whatever he decided. She forgot that she was an intelligent person who graduated from high school with honors. She forgot that she was able to run her life well by herself, having a job she enjoyed and getting promoted twice. She forgot that her friends looked to her for good advice. She forgot that she was an attractive woman with a strong, positive influence on those around her.

Her “Memories” experience was very difficult. Her ex-husband had totally destroyed her self-esteem and left her questioning every decision she made. She could only focus on all the things he said she did wrong, and it took her a long time and lots of encouragement from friends and family to turn the corner to positivity.

She is still in the process of putting to rest those memories that are “too painful to remember.” It has been three years, and she says that each season brings growth and healing. Her goal is, “So it’s the laughter we will remember whenever we remember…the way we were.” May it happen for her.

What does this have to do with Collaborative law? Good question, and I have an answer. Collaborative professionals are committed to affirming the dignity and worth of each individual they work with. My friend’s ex-husband probably wouldn’t have been willing to go the Collaborative route, but it would have been most helpful for both of them. He would have seen his wife treated as a worthy individual, and that might have had an impact on his perception of her and other women he encounters. She could have started her “Memories journey” sooner.

Copyright 2013. Marjorie E. James. All rights reserved.