A zoom-ful of strangers…not something I’m usually looking forward to – I often can’t face feeling so self-conscious in front of the camera – but Monday evening feels a bit different. I’m leading a group at ‘Restored Lives‘, a new online-thanks-to-lockdown version. It’s a bit of a strange thing to look forward to, a ‘divorce course’, so I thought I’d answer a few questions on it so that anyone who’s interested, curious, or thinks it might help a friend can find out more. If you have any other questions about it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m more than happy to chat about it.
This is not an affiliated link, I don’t receive anything other than the joy of being able to help others in the same situation as I was.
What is it?
Restored Lives is a course for those experiencing relationship breakdown. It lasts for 8 weeks, meets weekly, and offers help and support as well as practical tools for those in this situation. There are short talks, videos and small group discussions.
Who’s it for?
It’s for anyone experiencing relationship breakdown. You don’t necessarily have to have been married to your ex. It also doesn’t matter how recent or long ago your separation or divorce have been. When I attended the course some people had separated very recently, whereas for others it was decades ago.
Do I need to be a Christian?
The course is run by Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), and they’re often run by churches, but there’s no need to be a Christian. The meeting will often close with a short prayer of no more than a minute, but there’s no expectation to join in with that bit. So in short, no, you don’t!
Why might I want to do it?
Maybe you want to meet others in the same situation, find help and advice, work out what to do next, work through emotions and situations. Maybe you don’t even want to do any of those things but you don’t know what to do next. It might also help if you want to get to a healthy place to move forward – although you don’t have to be there or even want to be right now!
There’s a big list here that will help you to know what’s included.
Who will be there?
The HTB course is led by the writer of the course, Erik, who himself has been divorced. You are put into a small group for the whole time with a leader and at least one helper. Our hope is that every group will have both a male and female helper or leader.
Within your group there will be five or six other people, all in the same position. All of the leaders and helpers have experienced divorce so they really understand what you are going through. The groups are decided by whether or not you have children, in order to make our discussions more relevant. During the time that some groups might discuss their children and parenting, we have our own discussion and sometimes talk about whether we would’ve liked to have children and how we feel about that.
Why did you do it?
I originally looked for the course because I wanted help and support. Unfortunately the nearest one to me was over an hour away and that just wasn’t feasible midweek. When I moved to London, although I had been divorced for a year and felt fairly ‘recovered’, I wanted to know what happened on the course. There were discussions and concepts that were definitely helpful for me, things like forgiveness where I realised I had sort of forgotten but not forgiven some people. I’m really glad I did it.
What will we talk about?
Obviously divorce and separation, but also a whole wealth of things interconnected with that. Emotions (the whole gamit of..!), dating, parenting, legal aspects, forgiveness, moving on, family and friends.
How much do I have to share?
As much as you want. At the beginning we ask people to share a small amount about why they have come to Restored Lives. It’s up to you what you share in that. I might say ‘I got married at 22 in 2009, and then found out my ex-husband was having an emotional affair on holiday in 2012. We separated, lived together, separated again, and eventually after failed attempts from me at reconciling, he chose to divorce in 2014. That completed in 2015.‘
Within the discussions it is up to you how much you join in, but we try and encourage everyone to get involved if they’d like to. It is a little bit trickier with Zoom…maybe unmute your microphone or lean forward to indicate you’d like to speak.
How’s it going to work during lockdown?
We are going to have weekly Zoom calls from 7-9.30. The main event will begin at 7.30 so if you need a bit longer to get your kids into bed or eat your dinner, feel free. Or feel free to eat your dinner on the call – in a ‘normal’ scenario we would have a meal together so why not on Zoom? (But maybe mute your mic!)
Mostly we will all be in the discussion together – up to 9 of us (6 guests and 3 helpers), although sometimes we might use breakout spaces for brief periods. You don’t have to be a technological expert, we will guide you through anything you need to do, all you need is to have a Zoom account and log in.
What if I have kids and need to dip out?
Then do, heck I might even need to. Just pop your mic on mute and we’ll welcome you when you’re back.
Isn’t it awkward?
Surprisingly no. It’s difficult
walking into logging into that room because it does always require courage to enter a room of strangers. But I’ve never found a more understanding, supportive group straight from the off. And if you hate the first week, you don’t have to come back.
Why do you go back to help?
For me, seeing the transition over the course of those 8 weeks is incredibly powerful. Seeing people physically lighten and smile and laugh over time is an absolute privilege. I also very much believe that speaking to others in the same situation as you is helpful, and where better to find other people who are divorcing who understand?
If you have any other questions ask them below or send me an email, I’d be happy to answer them. Maybe see you on Monday?
The Restored Lives course starts on Monday 11th May online. It costs £20 and you will be sent a course booklet and accompanying book. If the cost is an issue, please contact them as bursaries are available. To sign up: click here.