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Group setting offers support for divorced

Valencia Hills group meets weekly to help ease the pain

Posted: September 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

For nearly five years, a little-known program provided by the Valencia Hills Community Church is held for two hours nearly every Monday, 10 months of the year. Participants gather to find a way to work through divorce.  

DivorceCare, a nondenominational, faith-based 13-week course that offers people a tool to get through the difficult process of divorce, is taught by Angela Romero and Rene House. Each week is a 40-minute DVD dealing with topics such as loneliness, anger, depression, finances, children, forgiveness and reconciliation.

The videos feature expert Christian leaders in the fields of psychology to offer advice through the process, followed by a support group format, allowing students to ask questions and work through problems.

“The support group portion is really the most helpful,” Romero said. “It helps people to deal with issues and move forward in a much healthier state.”

Something more

Sandra Chiusano, 63, was married to her husband for 25 years when he asked her for a divorce. She was devastated. She immediately entered into therapy, but felt it wasn’t meeting her needs.

That’s when she found DivorceCare. She admits she was hesitant about attending since she wasn’t a member of the church, but eventually completed the 13-week program three times.

“It was a lifesaver for me,” Chiusano said. “It really helped ease the pain. It was a safe environment to say and feel the things I was experiencing.”

Other participants of the group all seemed to agree that being around others who were going through the same thing really helped.

Teresa Soto, 33, was going through separation with her husband after he had an affair.  She wasn’t a member of the church and found the program by accident after she had also attempted outside counseling.

“I had one counselor who told me that forgiveness was overrated,” Soto said. “She said if I wanted to be angry for the rest of my life that it was OK. I wasn’t OK with that.”

Soto was having trouble dealing with the loneliness of divorce. She admits she had many family members and friends supporting her, but felt no one could relate.

“I was able to connect with others who were going through the same thing,” Soto said. “It provided emotional support, hope and direction for my life.”

Empowerment

Mark Samson, 46, went through the DivorceCare program three times, each time getting something a little different out of the class. He, too, had tried counseling, but needed something more.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I would be where I am now without the program,” Samson said. “This program is life changing. You have this idea of growing old with someone and when that is taken away, you feel powerless. You really are grieving for the loss of a dream.”

Now, Samson uses the tools and techniques he learned in DivorceCare to deal with difficult issues that arise with his ex-wife.

“I was able to focus on forgiving her and me,” he said. “Because it was religious based, it really gave me hope. It also helped me to understand why things happen.”

The most recent session of DivorceCare began on Aug. 6, but attendees are welcome to join mid-session. The class is open to everyone, not just church members, and is for men, women and people who have been married any length of time.

Soto also felt it was an invaluable tool for reaffirming her faith in God and helping with her failed marriage.

“DivorceCare really changed my walk with the Lord,” Soto said. “I kept my marriage at the center of my universe. When that fell apart, so did my world. Now, I put God at the center of my world. I discovered if you put God in the middle, you will always be centered.”

For more information visit the Valencia Hills website www.valenciahills.com or call 661-775-1885. A special DivorceCare: Surviving the Holidays class will be held Nov. 12 from 7-9 p.m.

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