Many of us learned the gymnastic term the “twisties” this week when the news broke that world-renowned gymnast, Simone Biles, had withdrawn from the women’s all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics. “I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to,” Biles told reporters in Tokyo and she stated that she “wanted to focus on her mental health.”
Apparently, getting “the twisties” is a gymnast’s biggest nightmare. The twisties are described as a mysterious phenomenon — suddenly a gymnast is no longer able to do a twisting skill he or she has done thousands of times before. Elle Reeve, a CNN reporter who used to compete in gymnastics said the twisties are a condition where, “Your body just won’t cooperate, your brain loses track of where you are in the air. You find out where the ground is when you slam into it.”
Flipping and twisting at the same time can be extremely disorienting. When a gymnast is good at it, the gymnast is often described as having “air sense.” One of Simone Biles’s greatest skills has been her air sense, but this week when she withdrew from the all-around team competition she stated “I had no idea where I was in the air. I could have hurt myself.”
I can’t help but think about some of my clients who come to my mediation process after experiencing the debilitating conflict of an adversarial litigated divorce proceeding. The phenomenon known as the twisties that gymnasts experience seems similar to the fear, loss of control, and disorientation that some of my clients experience when they are engaged in adversarial divorce proceedings with their spouses. Divorcing couples may be going through the day-to-day routines that they managed before their divorce, and suddenly they find that they don’t trust themselves and they have trouble making decisions. The dysfunctional family law system, their emotional state, parenting challenges, high conflict situations, and overall confusion can rob them of their “air sense.” The result is that if they don’t withdraw from litigation, they will “slam into the ground” and hurt themselves and their family. The divorcing couple can refocus on maintaining their mental health if they pivot from adversarial litigation to a cooperative mediated process for handling their divorce.
One of my primary goals as a divorce mediator is to reduce my client’s fear and confusion and to provide them with a sense of balance and control. Whether divorcing couples have already retained an attorney or are just contemplating divorce, they can avoid getting the “twisties” by contacting Breer Law Offices and scheduling an initial consultation to learn how mediation can improve their mental health and empower their decision making.