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How Churchill helped me through my divorce

Feeling overwhelmed and confused, I decided to see a therapist, in order to help deal with my divorce.  After arriving at his office, sitting in his waiting room, walking into his office, I finally slumped down into a brown leather couch.  It was a corner office on the fifth floor of a corporate building where people were busy with their everyday lives, and I was about to reveal something extremely vulnerable.  Looking around, I remember being impressed with the view, but at the same time, terrified by this new experience I was about to begin.  The therapist started the conversation innocently enough, “What’s on your mind”?  So, I began to talk.

I rambled on for a little while, and the therapist nodded and expressed a few words of empathy until IT happened.  In the middle of pouring my heart out, and in the middle of finally being vulnerable about my experience, I heard: “You know what Winston Churchill used to say, if you are going through hell…keep going.”  I stopped talking, and stared at my therapist.  What did that mean? Was that suppose to me feel better?  The therapist looked back at me, seemingly satisfied with these words of wisdom, while I thought about this useless comment.  After all, how did these words by a dead English prime minister, relate to me today?

Eventually, the session ended, and it all seemed like a blur, but Churchill’s words stood out.  I went back to reality, ready to tackle the next obstacle, and navigate my turmoil filled life.  It was hard, and I could not wait to go back to therapy for some help.  On the second visit, we talked about some of the specifics of what I was dealing with and my therapist was able to give me some good feedback.  Then, towards the end of the session, he did it again.  Trying to crystalize a point he uttered, “Remember what Churchill used to say, “If you are going through hell…keep going.”  Not again, that quote was still meaningless, it still didn’t help, and he was equally satisfied with delivering this knowledge.

The third and fourth visit were the same.  A lot of talking about specific things I was struggling with, and each time he would remind me of what Churchill used to say.  Each time there was twinge of irritation on my part, and I still could not see any correlation, with Churchill’s encouragement, to my mayhem.

On the fifth visit, I came prepared for the inevitable.  In the waiting room, I visualized him uttering out the phrase that irritated me so much, and this time I would take it in stride.  Only this time, my therapist left this line out of our conversation.  There was no Churchill tip on how to endure this painful process.

My therapist got back on the horse in session six and seven session as Churchill came early and decisively.  Yes, yes, I know…keep going.  Both times I felt a twinge of irritation come back, and both times I could not help but to stare at him in disbelieve that we were still talking about Winston Churchill. 

Session eight, must have been even more difficult, I don’t remember many of the details, but my therapist referred to this line, twice.  Once in the beginning, and once at the end.  Thankfully he was going on vacation the following week, which meant a week without this reminder of what to do when I was going through hell. 

As weeks passed by, I learned more about my self, grew a lot, and became much stronger in my ability to handle the stress.  Throughout that time the quote would frequently re-emerge. “You know what Winston Churchill used to say…”.  I started not hear the entire quote, but rather drift off, into an image of an old grumpy English man with an unsympathetic face, a top hat, and a cigar in his mouth.  Sometimes I would hear him speak, as he was portrayed in the TV show, The Crown; with a low aggressive, and many times, stern voice.  Then I would hear, “keep going”, and I would re-enter the conversation we were in the middle of.

Finally, after months of weekly visits, my life was becoming clearer.  It was becoming easier to hear Churchill’s quote, and I was beginning to embrace it.  There was a new life in front of me, and new people who supported me, rather than take advantage.  I realized how much courage it took to stand up and say NO more.  I was regaining personal power, and with it came confidence and self esteem.  During this part of my life I was keeping going, and going, and going, and never turning back.  Hell was starting to be behind me now.

Since the divorce process is complete, I am able to reflect on how brilliant Winston Churchill’s quote is, and how relatable it can be to all of us.  There is no escaping that sometime in our lives, we will all go through both up’s and down’s.  By being proactive, purposeful, and work though the issues facing you, you have the chance to over-come, grow, and move forward.  It is hard to remember when life is hell, but since it will happen, I encourage you to reflect on what Winston Churchill used to say… “When you are in hell, keep going.”