By Michele Germain, LCSW
When I first received The Jill Principle from Llewellyn Publications to review, I thought it was a change from the usual material they published. After all, this was in the “self-help/relationships” genre, and Llewellyn specializes in the New Age market. However, just a little way into reading the book, I realized that divorce and breakups can have spiritual repercussions.
I should clarify the title first — The Jill Principle has another subtitle that states: Moving from the Tumble of Divorce to Life at the Top of the Hill. This book is about picking up the pieces and finding oneself back on the top. Divorce is one such event that can actually result in one becoming out of tune with oneself. As the author states, “It’s my belief that a crisis is an attempt by the natural laws of the universe to effect change and bring us back into harmony with ourselves. While I also believe inner growth and harmony can take place without a painful crisis, the fact is most of us are so out of touch with our real selves that it requires a crisis to force us to take a closer look at what needs to be changed.”
The author, a licensed clinical social worker, draws on her own story of divorce as well as the stories of women in her practice to illustrate the various ways one can respond to a breakup, with disbelief, shock, and a myriad of other reactions. In the section on grieving, many exercises are given to facilitate healing. But then, the real work begins — getting back in touch with one’s body at first, and then with the mind. “Divorce or major breakup forces us to drop our dependences and find our worth and value within,” the author states. Germain is a bioenergetic analyst and she provides methods to get over the hurt and loss.
The exercises are clear and well-written. I believe many can be followed in situations other than divorce, for example, if one feels they have gotten out of sync and needs to fully inhabit their body in the case of vague physical complaints such as the ones the author experienced as a reaction to her breakup. There are some references to connecting with the “inner child,” — a concept I find a bit dated, but that is just my take on that theme and it does not diminish from what is taught.
All in all, this is a thought-provoking and practical book on finding one’s personal power and becoming spiritually whole after the trauma of a divorce. I found this a satisfying alternative from Llewellyn’s usual offerings, and hope they continue with more spiritual self-help books in this vein.
The Jill Principle: A Woman’s Guide to Healing Your Spirit After Divorce or Breakup
By Michele Germain, LCSW
Llewellyn Publications, 2006
194 pps, $12.95
Review by Diane Saarinen