Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome: Could This Be You?

Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

 

Narcissists are masters of disguise and narcissistic abuse is a form of thought control, it’s emotional manipulation of another person into handing over their mind and will, and thus their thoughts, desires for the narcissist’s personal gain.

A woman suffering from narcissistic abuse syndrome is often disconnected from her own emotional pain. She tends to obsess over her own failures after years of buying into the flaws her narcissistic partner identified in her.

Her mind is often spinning, preoccupied with trying to sort the confusion — the effects of the use of tactics such as gaslighting and word salad on her mind, with intent to distort her reality and impose his own — seeking an explanation for why the narcissist is so miserable, why he treats her the way he does, why he’s so insecure, why they cannot communicate, why he still doesn’t “get” what she’s trying to tell him, and so on.

In other words, what the victim of narcissistic abuse syndrome feels and thinks about herself, life and the narcissist, in most areas, mirrors to some or greater extent what the narcissist wants her to think, believe, feel.

Not every woman involved with a narcissist will suffer from narcissistic abuse syndrome. Those who are in long-term marriages or relationships are more apt to suffer the repercussions of the narcissist’s attempts at controlling, gaslighting and manipulation.

The result of being on the end of narcissistic abuse is the development of PTSD like symptoms. Some of the symptoms of narcissistic abuse syndrome are as follows.

Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

Cognitive

  • confusion
  • nightmares
  • uncertainty
  • hypervigilance
  • suspiciousness
  • intrusive images
  • poor problem solving
  • poor abstract thinking
  • poor attention/ decisions
  • poor concentration memory
  • disorientation of time, place or person
  • heightened or lowered alertness
  • increased or decreased awareness of surroundings

Behavioral

  • withdrawal
  • antisocial acts
  • inability to rest
  • intensified pacing
  • change in social interactions
  • loss or increase of appetite
  • hyperalert to environment
  • increased alcohol consumption
  • change in usual communications

Emotional

  • fear
  • guilt
  • grief
  • panic
  • denial
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • depression
  • intense anger
  • apprehension
  • emotional shock
  • emotional outbursts
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • loss of emotional control
  • inappropriate emotional response

The end result of a relationship with a narcissist is a slow, insidious, breaking down of the self-esteem of his victims until there’s next to nothing left, at which point, the narcissist will frequently throw his partner out in order to look for someone new and full of life to make his next target. Leaving his victim an emotional wreck wondering what she did to destroy their once “perfect” relationship.

Victims are not only spouses. They can be coworkers, employees, children, or friends of narcissists. When the narcissist is the victim’s mother or father, it’s a difficult spot to be in, as most children (even grown children) find it almost impossible to leave the relationship. And the abuse continues for years.

If you think that you or someone that you love is struggling with narcissistic abuse syndrome, it’s important that you seek help. Not only should you make a conscious effort to put the narcissist out of the picture, but you should seek some treatment from a certified professional trained in treating PTSD.

4 Ways to Deal with Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

Educate Yourself

Learn all you can about narcissistic abuse. Don’t learn all you can about the narcissist. Knowing what makes him tick, won’t undo the damage he has done. Focus on the symptoms you’re experiencing and the tools you need to utilize to help you heal.

Respect Your Boundaries

The key to setting boundaries with a narcissist is to stick to them. You will want to communicate clearly and directly each time. If you make a mistake and find that you “lose it” or say something wrong, just keep practicing and be accountable for your behavior.

Assert Yourself

Know what you want and fight for what you want. Don’t engage in power struggles with your narcissist. In fact, don’t engage with your narcissist at all. The best way to be assertive with a narcissist is to go completely no contact.

Get Help

Get support, seek therapy, and figure out how to move forward with your life without the narcissist partner involved. You don’t need to stick it out with him; it’s your life, and they don’t own it.

Prioritize your own happiness and sanity. In many cases, you might not have a choice, so when you do – get out, now.

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Confessions Of a Divorced Couples Therapist

divorced couples therapist

 

I was having a conversation with a friend recently, and she shared with me news that a mutual acquaintance of ours was in the process of a “messy divorce.” I don’t know them well. Certainly not well enough to know what their struggles are, or have been.

However, she shared a very detailed account of their relationship. She shared who did what, how each responded, etc. As I listened, I thought to myself; this is not my business. Only this couple really knows the truth of what is happening (and even they may not be perceiving it correctly!).

I knew that what I was hearing was:

  • not my business;
  • probably not the whole story, or entirely accurate;
  • going to be different, depending on whether partner A or partner B told it;
  • the source of a lot of pain for this couple; and
  • not going to benefit anyone for me to know their business.

So, I said, “It sounds like their family is hurting, and I am sure they both have a story that makes their choices make sense. I am certainly not one to judge!”

Two years ago, I could have just as easily been the topic of this conversation, and likely was for some people. Two years ago, I got divorced.

Divorce is a juicy subject.

I understand the compelling desire to talk about what’s going on in another’s marriage. My mom, who was a part of this conversation with my friend and me, chimed in with the comment, “I think a lot of people get anxious about their marriages when they hear about someone else divorcing.” Out makes sense that by hypothesizing about how “wrong” someone else has behaved, and how it “ruined” their relationship, we seek affirmation that we are not like them and that our marriage is safe.

Confessions Of a Divorced Couples Therapist

I have wanted to write a newsletter on this topic for some time now. However, each time I thought about sitting down to my computer to write this newsletter, I heard a knock on my door. So I would get up, walk down the hall, open the door and in stormed Fear. Fear would say to me, “If you share this information, the world will think you are a failure, and who would want to work with you if they knew you were divorced?”

A divorced relationship therapist. Fear convinced me this is an oxymoron, that these two concepts were contradictory. Helping couples make their relationships work, while meanwhile being divorced. Fear told me that I was like a car mechanic with an automobile that wouldn’t run, or a financial investor filing for bankruptcy, or a realtor with her own house on the market for a year and counting.

Fear was convincing and persistent, and I let her plant her seeds of shame, and then I watered them with my silence. Each time she came knocking at my door, I invited her in. Fear convinced me I was a failure.

Finally, I did what I would advise others to do in a situation like this. I got myself a Coach. Ironically, it never occurred to me to ask her if she has ever divorced. That didn’t matter to me, (isn’t that interesting, I thought to myself). We met regularly, and she challenged me to question what Fear was telling me. She gently nudged me to find my voice, my deepest truth, the part of me that is real. Imagine that, this coaching stuff works!

You cannot force self-awareness. That is the power of having a coach or therapist to assist you. A good coach offers you a nonjudgmental, objective, and safe space to sort through the details of your situation. Fortunately, I had a good coach.

As time passed, Fear continued to visit. I stopped inviting her in, but I still opened the door, said, “hello,” and offered her a seat on my porch. Until one day, I went to my door and standing beside Fear; I noticed Freedom.

Freedom said, “Can you see me?”

And I said, “Yes, why do you ask?”

She replied, “Because I’ve been here all along, waiting for you to notice me.”

Freedom said, “I am here to remind you that you always have a choice. You can continue to focus on Fear. I will not take her away from you. She will always be available to you.” “However,” she said, “You also have the choice to turn your attention toward me. We will both always be here. It is up to you to decide which voice you will choose to hear.”

As I listened to Freedom, I began to feel lighter in spirit, and a sense of peace wash over me.

Freedom explained to me, “Fear has encouraged you to judge and berate yourself for the failure of your relationship.” She continued, “I am not here to convince you that you didn’t fail. I am here to help you see your truth.” She asked me, “Can you be at peace with your divorce?” And, she asked me, “What have you learned from this failure?” Freedom then inquired, “What good has come from feeling ashamed, and from believing you have failed?” And lastly, she wondered, “Can you fail at something without being a failure?”

I sat with these questions for a long while. Months and months. Over time, I noticed that Fear was no longer in sight. When I opened my door, I no longer saw her on my porch. Nor was she in my driveway, or down the street. Occasionally, I would think I saw her drive by, but she doesn’t stop and linger anymore.

What I know today is that that divorcing was simply the right choice for me.

I should have divorced. I needed to divorce. And, I did divorce. It has become that simple (not to be confused with easy or painless) for me. By staying, I would have failed myself. I had a choice. Fail my marriage, or fail myself? I choose to fail my marriage. (And, unfortunately, in the process I failed myself in some ways, too). It’s just that today, I accept my failures. I choose to learn from my failures.

I made a decision that was right for me. It took me two years to accept that it doesn’t matter who judges me as long as I cease to judge myself.

I wonder if Fear has been knocking on your door? If so, be sure to keep an eye out for Freedom. She is much, much better company.

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10 Things To Do To Become Empowered After Divorce

become empowered after divorce

 

Anyone can be more empowered to do anything in life that they want to do. To be able to become empowered after divorce there are few things that you need to do.

You do not have to spend money or try to do something that you might not be fit to do. Instead, it is all about looking within yourself and finding out who you can be.

Every empowered person knows a few things in life. These tips can help you to become more empowered and learn how to live your best life. You will be able to find the best possible you that you can be when you know how to look within yourself.

Do these 10 Things to Become More Empowered

1. Accept Yourself

Instead of worrying about stereotypes or things that you could do, realize that you are who you are and you’re doing the best you can do. Learn to be your personal best and be happy with being your best self. By being who you were meant to be you will find that you can accomplish the things in life that you feel are your purpose.

It isn’t uncommon when going through a divorce to suffer a loss of self-esteem. An angry ex can be belittling, demeaning, and judgmental. Don’t fall into the trap of internalizing what is said or has been said about you. Don’t define your worth as a person based on the negative input of another.

Only you can assign personal value to yourself. And, like I said, as long as you’re doing the best you can do, your worthy of acceptance.

2. Have Clear Core Values

Know what you believe in. Have values that you will stick to regardless of what is going on in your life. Be true to yourself and stick to these values no matter what you lose or gain because if you do not stay true to values that you have you are not being authentically you.

3. Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes

Instead of running from your mistakes you should take responsibility for what you have done wrong. Be willing to admit when you are wrong so that you can grow and learn from these mistakes.

Think back to all the mistakes you made in life and consider how they have strengthened your character and ability. Consider the plethora of skills that your mistakes have taught you, and also how they have shaped your knowledge, personality, your social development, and your life experience.

Mistakes are valuable. However, for them to be of value, you must first see them as a beneficial and critical part of your life that you cannot avoid and must instead embrace with an open heart and open mind. Who knows, your biggest mistakes could end up turning into your most glorious victories, as long as you are open to learning and growing from the experience.

4. Believe in Your Ability to Make Things Happen

You must believe that anything you put your mind to can be accomplished. You should also be willing to believe that your future is controlled by you and that you can easily change your future. Know that you have the power to control and change things in your life that others might not fully understand and that you can believe in something even when no one else does.

This is especially true for those financially devastated by divorce. Were you a stay-at-home mom who is now struggling to make ends meet? Are you a father who used up retirement funds in order to have more time with his children?

If you’ve found yourself in a rut you don’t believe there is a way out of, start looking up, making plans, setting goals and digging. We are all surrounded by options to change our situations, all you have to do is think outside the box and believe enough in yourself to make things happen for the better.

5. Always Show Gratitude

People who are empowered show that they are grateful for the things in their life. They appreciate all that they have been given and each person that they have come into contact with. With this attitude, they will be able to appreciate all of life’s gifts.

Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.

Gratitude improves physical health.

Gratitude improves psychological health.

Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.

Gratitude improves self-esteem.

Gratitude increases mental strength.

We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have – rather than complain about all the things you think you don’t have or deserve. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.

6. Do Not be Afraid

There are few things in life that one should be afraid of and empowered people have realized this. They know that fear is simply something that is there to hold them back and keep them from reaching their full potential.

So instead of fearing things, they confront them head-on with a consistent willingness to learn something new from the fear.

7. Don’t Play the Blame Game

No matter what is going on in your life, even if you do not feel that you are at fault and you think that someone else is to blame, don’t play the blame game.

You will find that once you start blaming others it becomes a pattern and a habit to avoid taking responsibility. This avoidance will keep you from achieving your goals and fulfilling your dreams. It will also turn you into a perpetual victim and, take it from me, there is nothing more unattractive than a “victim.”

8. Learn to Say “No”

No is not an evil word or something that you cannot say. In fact, learning to say no is very empowering because you are learning to take control and stand for things that you believe in and can accomplish. Never feel guilty for saying no when you need to or want to.

As individuals when it comes to our time, saying “No” is one of the most powerful things that we can do in order to be effective in our most important tasks, taking care of our own personal needs, and not over-extending ourselves. Just say NO!

9. Be Willing to Learn Something New

There are many things in life that you can learn and many times that new lessons will come your way. Do not be afraid to learn something new because these new lessons will only help you to expand into a better person.

Take any opportunity that you have to learn something new throughout your life.

10. Keep Dreaming

Never stop dreaming. If you stop dreaming you will be giving up on the one thing that life cannot take from you. No one else can control or dominate your dreams. Make these your own and use them as a daily reminder of what you could possibly become.

My mother is 90-years-old and refers to herself as a “work in progress.” Holding onto the ability to hope, dream, and plan means you’ll remain, just like my mother, a “work in progress.”

These 10 are just the tip of the iceberg. How empowered you feel in life will depend a great deal on the issues you are facing in life. The main takeaway from these 10 should be and hopefully will be for you, is to never give up, never stop believing in yourself to handle whatever adversity life puts on your plate.

Empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority.

It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. Becoming more empowered is something we all have the ability to do.

This article first appeared on EmpoweredDivorcee.com

The post 10 Things To Do To Become Empowered After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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transforming your life during and after divorce

5 Tips For Transforming Your Life During And After Divorce

transforming your life during and after divorce

 

Waiting for something awesome to happen simply means waiting. Absent movement and change, nothing awesome happens. Sadly, we often forget that without struggle there is no change. We as humans generally don’t change our habits, lifestyle, mindset or anything unless something hits us smack in the face.

Therefore, while divorce is undoubtedly a life changing event, recognize your power over the situation, your choices involved in the situation and hit the process back by using the time for self-awareness, self-love, and learning to truly be there for the only person we have control over- ourselves.

Divorce is certainly a difficult time but made more difficult by our self-loathing and self-beliefs. The rejection, the pain of being left, the fear of losing friends, family, and the only identity we feel we have is scary. But stepping back and taking the time to focus on you isn’t selfish, it’s necessary if this process and struggle is to provide you anything positive in your life moving forward.

If there was ever a time to be self-absorbed, this is it. Use this process as a time to figure out YOU.  What do YOU really want- not what others want for you or from you. Doing this will not only reflect compassion and care for yourself, but it will also teach you or assist you in learning the relationship we should all have with ourselves and often don’t and never do absent pain.

Too often in times of pain, we are inclined to substitute that pain with other people, places and things and only to end up in the same sad place we started, often more wounded and feeling less in control. Recognition of our responsibilities to ourselves and our ability to have a positive relationship with ourselves is the truest gift we can give ourselves.

To step back and find your true happiness alone gives you the power to be truly happy with others in the future.  Most of us, up until divorce or death, accept our place in the world without a thought as to whether we are true to ourselves and happy in this place. It’s just the place we envisioned for ourselves because of our own initial beliefs and outside influences showing us what happiness looks like. This is the time to reverse this for good and learn to be your own best friend.

Obviously I am aware that everything in this article is easier said than done. But for me, I have learned that almost every day I will face something that triggers my lack of self-love or will show me an area of myself that I haven’t learned to embrace and love. Every single day something in our life will occur that challenges our own belief system and until we learn the tools to lean on and take that control back, every single day belongs to someone other than the only person who will never leave us- ourselves.

Therefore, while there is certainly no easy and clear path to self-love (or I haven’t found it yet), there are certain mindsets and actions to practice during this difficult time that can transform your life moving forward.

Tips For Transforming Your Life During And After Divorce

1. Don’t Obsess on Your Weaknesses. Focus on Your Strengths:

For most people, if they receive one insult and ten compliments in a day they will focus on the one insult. When you feel that happening, step back, write a list of 5-10 things you know you do well or that you know are your strengths.

2. Focus on Yourself. Be Self-Absorbed:

During divorce and separation, our roles as parents change. The kids are no longer with us every day, every night, every weekend or every holiday. As painful as this is, and believe me I empathize very much as to missing our children, rather than using the time to socialize more and throw ourselves into a dating frenzy, take some time alone.  While socializing is certainly important, it continues our reliance on someone other than ourselves to validate our existence and importance and gives away our control over our happiness once again.

3. Be Determined To Gain Power Versus Focusing on the Loss:

It is incredibly easy when any relationship ends whether by divorce, death or even the end of a friendship, to blame yourself and engage in the “I’m not good enough” game. See that mindset for what it is – a game of self-defense and a means to make justify inaction. You get power in any situation or struggle you overcome if you focus on that aspect. It is, of course, easier to be a victim, convince yourself it’s your fault and you are unworthy, but remember that this is on you.

It’s safer to lay down and hide from our feelings, but it’s incredibly powerful and positive to learn to love ourselves even when it feels like no one else does.

4. Decisions vs. Conditions:

Practice recognizing the choice you have in the outcome of life. The choices we have daily to make ourselves happy.  See that for most of us we rely on the perception of “conditions” because it’s safer.  If we don’t see our actions and beliefs as choices but rather as conditions, we can theoretically have someone other than ourselves to blame.

Again, the risk in pain is there because we are owning our choices but the risk of gain and true happiness in our true selves can only come from seeing that most of our life is made up of choices, not conditions imposed on us like some life sentence.

5. Smile:

Smiling in the mirror at the one person who will never leave you is the biggest source of comfort.  We have absolutely no control over how anyone feels about us, looks at us, or views us.  Showing ourselves a tiny bit of self-love with a simple smile in the morning can go a long way.

Showing the world we love ourselves openly is not narcissistic but in fact, is showing the world of our ability to love others as well.  In other words, if we can’t smile at ourselves we certainly can’t expect anyone else to smile back.

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need to get a life

8 Signs You Really Need To Get a Life

need to get a life

 

I work a lot, an awful lot. I’ve been working an awful lot for years. Recently I’ve noticed something. I no longer get invitations to go out with girlfriends. Heck, I no longer get invitations to hang with family. Why? Because they are all used to me using work as an excuse for not participating in anything other than work.

In other words, I need to get something other than a work-life. I need to get a real-life!

I think it’s common for us single moms to build our lives around our children and our need to keep from drowning financially. Being hypervigilant in taking care of our children and getting our bills paid can also be a good excuse for not having a life.

If you’ve been hurt, let down and disappointed by life, building a wall around yourself protects you from being hurt and disappointed again. Live like that long enough and you’ll find that safe cocoon you’ve wrapped yourself in will begin to cause you to feel just as much emotional pain as real life can at times.

If These 8 Signs Describe You, You Really Need to Get a Life

1. You spend your weekends binge-watching Netflix.

Netflix

The highlight of your weekend is binge watching Netflix and eating takeout. You tell yourself you’re easy to make happy but, the reality is Netflix on the weekend is all you have going on. Which isn’t a bad thing, if you’ve got someone to binge with.

 

2. Instagram depresses you.

Instagram

You constantly feel pangs of envy when looking at people’s Instagram feeds. Is everyone in the world having more fun than you are? Answer: No, they’re just better at faking it. You eventually follow nothing but puppies, kittens, and National Geographic so you aren’t constantly reminded that you can’t even fake a real life.

 

3. You haven’t been laid in months, maybe even years.

haven't been laid

You sleep in a bed with your laptop, your dog and a pile of books and magazines. Nothing says “I’m not getting laid as much as I’d like” than a bunch of crap taking the place of where a man’s body should be. “Um, this area is reserved for my celibacy. Please stay away. Thank you!”

 

4. You live vicariously through others.

live vicariously through others

You’re a spectator watching how other people spend their time. You’re constantly talking about what other people are doing or have planned because you’re doing nothing and planning nothing. You keep up with the “Joneses” but you have no motivation to join the “Joneses.” You’re in a crowd of busy people but, all alone.

 

5. You chat with more people online than in real life. 

Chatting Online

You belong to support groups, quilting groups, maybe even a book club but, they are all online. When you aren’t at work, the only people you talk to are via a $1,500 laptop that holds the contact info for your closest “friends.” The Internet allows you to say whatever you want to whoever you want. It’s your safety shield, your way to connect with others without ever really connecting. It isn’t real life, though, only a crutch because maybe real life scares you?

 

6. You’re always doing stuff for other people. 

doing for others

You won’t take a nice long bath, buy yourself a new outfit, go out drinking with the girls or for dinner with a close friend. And the reason is that your time is consumed by doing things for other people, maybe it’s your kids or maybe you’re just a good friend who others can rely on for favors. Whatever the reason, you spend most of your time putting other’s needs first which happens to be a great way of not having to admit you have needs of your own. While you’re busy helping others you may help yourself right out of a life of your own.

 

7. You’re afraid to try new things.

afraid to try new things

You’re already stuck in your ways and you’re a young woman. How is that possible? You go to the same deli and the same restaurant each week because you like the food there. You have the same daily routine of a run in the morning then work then chores then something else that’s boring.

Stop playing it safe. Life is way too boring if you stay inside the secure confines of your comfort zone. You might just give your life a bit more gusto by finding something you never knew you had a passion for if you start trying out a few new things. You only get one life, make sure you make the most of it that you can.

 

8. You’ve turned into a negative Nelly.

negative nelly

All you can seem to do if find something to complain about. What is she wearing that? Why does he talk so loud? You’re not a whole lot of fun to be around and, most of the time your mood is so sour you don’t feel like leaving the house.

The thing is if you had a life of your own you wouldn’t be complaining so much about other people. If you had a life you wouldn’t be staying at home with Netflix for company when your friends ask you to go out.

The post 8 Signs You Really Need To Get a Life appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Should You Hire a Divorce Coach?

hire a divorce coach

 

Recovering from divorce was extremely challenging, one of the most difficult experiences I have ever had to endure. There were so many pieces of the puzzle that had to be put back together. Not only was I having to heal from the dissolution of my marriage, but also from the second-hand trauma that affected the entire family.

I knew that in order to start the healing process I had to journey within and first heal the one person that mattered most… ME.

Divorce dims the spotlight on EVERYTHING.

Everything that was once buried and neglected came erupting like a volcano. All my hurts, my fears, and all the ways in which I had neglected my spirit. I remembered my tipping point so vividly. It was the moment I reclaimed my power and dropped BLAME like a bad habit.

Yes, I was angry, and yes, there were so many ways in which we handled the unraveling of our marriage selfishly, but I knew that either I could be a victim or I could get the help I needed to heal what brought me to this unconscious relationship in the first place.

I had no idea where to start. I was completely oblivious to the world of self-help, and so was everyone around me. The small box that I put myself in was limited, and I had no tools to get out.  At the time the people that knew my struggles suggested getting a counselor. So, that’s where I started. I actually started seeing a counselor at the tail end of my 19-year relationship, before the words “I want a divorce” came out of my mouth.

I saw a few different counselors: by myself, with my husband at the time, and with my children.  All of it served a purpose in my journey towards healing, and I am so grateful to those that helped me. I could only have gotten so far on my own with the tools that I had. There were things that I was just not able to see on my own.

You aren’t aware of how you got to your suffering if you don’t have people in your corner giving you perspective and challenging you to open your mind. It’s easy to point fingers and make someone responsible for your pain. I know, I sure did many times. But, taking ownership of my shortcomings allowed me to create real lasting change.

You can’t change what you won’t acknowledge.

So, there I was, in counseling, unpacking baggage and getting to the root of how I got led to my suffering. The puzzle pieces started painting a picture. It led me back to my childhood, I started shedding layers of baggage I had been carrying, and lies I believed about myself. I metabolized all the limiting beliefs I was spoon-fed. The deadweight started lifting, but I felt like I was still craving more.

Should You Hire a Divorce Coach?

I didn’t stop there. I was all in! I wanted deep-rooted healing, but I also wanted a life that lit me up like the 4th of July, I wanted fulfillment that would make my heart sing, a relationship that I could only ever dream of, and a legacy my children can be proud of.

I got exactly what I asked for.

Let me back up for a minute (full disclosure). I didn’t manifest the heck out of my dreams without the help of a few amazing coaches. You may be asking, “What is the difference between a coach and a therapist?” Therapy often focuses on the past and possibly dysfunction or illness, and coaches focus on the future and goals. Coaches are interested in awareness, action, and accountability. In coaching, you are the expert. A coach helps clients dig out what they are unable to see for themselves.

This is exactly what I got out of working with my own coaches. I was able to use my divorce as an opportunity to heal, and through that healing, I found my life’s purpose, which is to serve and help others who are stuck in the aftermath of divorce, and to create a relationship of a lifetime. The promise of creating a relationship of a lifetime is the one that I coach clients to have with themselves.

Isn’t that the most important relationship you must create…the one with YOURSELF? How can you have healthy relationships when you are drinking from an empty cup?… You can’t!

OH…I also found the man of my dreams! We’ve been together for over five years now, and we added a new addition to the family. This is the legacy I want to leave behind, one that allows my overflow to spill over to my family. I want my healing to speak for itself.

What changed after coaching?

My language changed, which started shifting my mindset. I started questioning my beliefs, or I should say my limited beliefs that at the time kept me stuck in guilt and shame. This limited mindset kept me small.  I started debunking many core beliefs, which were not all mine but carried from generations before me, much of which was no longer serving me.

The shame of being divorced wasn’t serving me, the guilt for “breaking up” my family wasn’t serving me, feeling like a terrible mother wasn’t serving me, avoiding people wasn’t serving me, and giving my power away to everyone was no longer serving me.

Divorce Coaching was the best investment I made for myself, and it continues to be. My children have a mom that is present and is living with purpose, my partner has no obligation to “complete me” because I am responsible for my own happiness, and every day I continue my journey towards living a life that brings me joy. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

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stay too long with wrong guy

Stayed Too Long with the Wrong Guy? 4 Steps To Self-Forgiveness

stay too long with wrong guy

 

Women with the biggest hearts are often drawn to emotionally unavailable men. We mistakenly think that if we love him hard enough, he will heal in our hands. If you have experienced the ending of such a relationship disaster, consider yourself lucky. Congratulations!

I know that forgiving ourselves for staying so long, loving, and loyal can be a major kick in the pants, especially when we most likely overlooked some major red flags in the beginning.

Emotional unavailability is defined as the inability to be emotionally present and receptive. These men put up walls against emotional intimacy, which is often characterized by several different types; the workaholic, the perfection chaser, the aggressor, the sob story victim, the disappearing act, the crumb giver.

These types use anger and aggression, stonewalling, denial, and avoidance to refrain from difficult conversations and problem-solving. Essentially, they chronically evade dealing with their own crap, fail to meet any of our emotional needs, and leave us wondering what the hell we did wrong. Newsflash! The only thing that we did “wrong” was choose THEM to partner with.

Stayed Too Long with the Wrong Guy?

Let’s get through this together! Moving on…

Show some self-compassion.

So often, we kindly talk to others with tenderness and sweet words of encouragement. From our children to our lovers, we are always right there to wipe their tears and hold their hands, listening with both ears to erase the pain. Enough! After a heartbreak, all of this energy and effort must now be turned inward. Time for self-compassion! Look in the mirror and admire those laugh lines that formed while giggling with your beautiful babies on the floor, tickling their toes.

Pull out that notepad and write down your best qualities, celebrating each one. Talk to yourself as if you are a young child or an elder. Use words of love and kindness. Your feelings are valid, you matter, and you deserve the love that you give.

Self-care is not selfish.

Did anyone say salt bath? Home pedicure and wine? Whatever makes you sigh aloud with relief, Do. It. Now. Shave those legs and then lotion up for a few extra minutes finishing with a foot massage. Stop in at the local salon, wash that man right ‘outta your hair, and trim those dead ends, literally and figuratively.  Call a counselor and clear the air for yourself. Pick up a new book and may I suggest “Mr. Unavailable & The Fallback Girl” by Natalie Lue? Light a candle and read for your own benefit and clarity, which brings us to number three…

Learn the lesson.

Hindsight is 20/20, my love. What red flags did we ignore? His criticism and yelling, his enduring need to work overtime and disappear, his perfectionist nature, or his perpetual “silent treatments” whenever there was a disagreement? Write down every strange gut feeling in that belly that went overlooked and every tear that soundlessly stung those eyes.

Self-reflect. What kept us still with an emotionally incompetent man for so long: fear, uncertainty, guilt, low self-esteem? Name the reason and accept it. We accept the love that we think we deserve. What do you deserve? Nothing changes if nothing changes, and change begins NOW.

Forward movement.

I started my own forward motion by creating a list of things in life and love that I want and desire. I included all of the qualities that the future love of my life should possess, the feelings that I hope to experience (like peace, liberation, openness, ease, giddiness) and the relationship goals that I plan to achieve with a partner.

I also construed a list of the places that I wish to visit and the activities I am eager to experience this fall, from wineries to autumn-leave trails to writing additional articles. By directing all of your energy and attention unto yourself, you will heal and recreate a new beautiful version of you, ready to love again with an emotionally available man next time.

As the author Natalie Lue writes in her book, “[Self] Forgiveness creeps up on you. Focus on treating yourself well, grieving any losses and addressing any habits that have held you back and that is forgiveness in itself because you give you another shot.”

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stayed so long in psychologically abusive relationship

Why I Stayed So Long In a Psychologically Abusive Relationship

stayed so long in psychologically abusive relationship

 

It has been a little over 15 months since it occurred to me that I needed to escape.

That staying with a controlling, and psychologically abusive person was harming my kids more in the long run, than the effects of leaving and starting a whole new life would.

That maybe, just maybe, if I had the strength to endure this treatment for so many years, that I could find the strength to leave.

And so I left.. or started the grueling process of leaving.

Over a year later the most common question I’ve been asked, “Why did you stay?”

So for those of you that have never been in a relationship like this one, that sadly so many of us have been, I thought I would try to answer that burning question.

Why I Stayed So Long In a Psychologically Abusive Relationship

Many assume it is simply the idea of breaking up a family that keeps us in the cycle of abuse. But I am here to say .. no… that is not what made me stay.

Forgive me as my ability to express myself in writing has never been my strong suit.. but here goes.

We stay because we have been controlled and manipulated to believe that we have no other viable options. There are often elements of financial control among a lot of other seemingly simple reasons that keep us in “it”. But they are not simple…not simple at all.

I can only speak on my own behalf here but I suspect that others will be able to relate on some level.

Poor self-worth. Fear. The belief deep down, from years of damage, that we are not worthy of anything better. That we are not strong enough, on our own, to provide for ourselves and/ our kids. Our identity has been slowly taken away, piece by piece until we no longer know who we are, what we want, and most importantly, what we are capable of.

It began for me as small bits of mind control that left me dependent and uncertain.

It got so deeply ingrained into my subconscious mind that I was not good enough or strong enough. These small acts that I endured on a daily basis reaffirmed, in my damaged and vulnerable mind, exactly what my abuser wanted me to feel. Doubtful, scared, and unworthy.

But because each of these small bits of exposure are just that.. small.. especially at first… it became the norm for me. I forgot how to challenge my own thoughts. Forgot how my own beautiful intuition worked. The supposed “red flags” people warned me about. I was made to feel those were endearing ways that my abuser used to show his love. My value slowly changed .. it became based on pleasing my abuser as opposed to rocking the boat.

My own “gut” feeling was slowly reprogrammed to accept that this was love and totally normal.

Each incident, each cycle, that often ended with a “honeymoon” phase of attention, affection, and a brief break from the actual abuse, told me that I must be crazy to feel this was wrong. That he loved me, look at all he is doing to show me his love.

This is all part of the game of control.

The words of affirmation that came in those moments were used to fuck up my instincts. To make me convince myself that I must be wrong. And hence..”gut”, “intuition”, “red flags” were all my own broken thoughts. That there is no way that this could be bad when he clearly loves me soooo much. WRONG!!

Bit by bit the small bits became bigger bits. Looking in, looking back now from a safe and happy place, I can see that. But in those years and years that I endured this, when I thought I was becoming stronger I was actually becoming more and more used to this abuse. It became so normal and routine that it no longer even felt concerning. It was just how love worked.

In fact, if it was slightly muted because maybe he was distracted by a new job or business, it felt weird and uncomfortable for me. So then I would try harder to please and conform and seek the abuse and control that was slowly killing me on the inside because it was how I thought love was meant to be shown.

Abuse became my love language.

Insane right? How could that be? Well, friends, that is how it works. Manipulation and control slowly eat away at your soul until it no longer is your own soul at all.

In a strange twist of events, it finally occurred to me one day when my young child was verbally abusive and disrespectful and I thought to myself “how dare you treat another human, especially your mom, this way. Where do you get off thinking this is okay?”

OMG .. somewhere inside of me the “fight or flight” mode that humans are wired with, but abuse victims are rewired to deactivate, was switched back on. How on earth could I have been so stupid to not see what had been happening all these years until this very moment? And what the actual fuck do I do about it now that I have children, absolutely no financial control, and no self-esteem or self-worth.

I am the lucky one. The one that is surrounded by caring and loving friends and family. The one that finally found the strength to realize that the “how” and “when” didn’t matter anymore. Only the “why” mattered now.  Why I had to get the fuck out is the “why” that I mean.

Some of us are not so lucky.

Some of us may never have an “aha moment” that triggers that fight or flight mode back into action. The programming that is done day after day, year after year, is so damn hard to breakthrough. Some of us are not surrounded by loving and caring friends and family that we know will help us pick up the pieces of our broken lives and put them back together. Some of us are not so lucky, and that type of abuse turns into physical violence, and we feel even more trapped and damaged and afraid.

ALL of us need to remember that we never can tell what goes on behind closed doors. That one simple and kind gesture might be enough to show the “unlucky” one the real, kind, caring love that they deserve and be the switch flipper they need to reactivate fight or flight mode.

To this day I am struggling with uncovering more and more ways that this abuser scarred me. I am easily triggered, it is hard for me to know what real and healthy love and relationships feel like. It has been HARD AS FUCK to remember the fierce, confident, self-assured, smart, in control of her own thoughts, independent, and brave woman that used to live in this body.

So thank you to those that put up with my pushing them away year after year, and thank you to those that never gave up on that woman that was hiding away inside that scared and abused mind, and thank you to those that have pushed me to see my potential, and thank you to those that have shown me what true healthy love should feel like and look like, and thank you to those that remind me that I am worth it, and thank you to those that do not give up on me and my kids because they know we deserve to be surrounded by loving and caring and supportive people, and thank you to those that kick my ass on days that I forget all of this took so much fucking strength that getting through the rest of life should be a breeze in comparison.

I will tell you that it takes more courage and strength to leave and to find that woman again than it did to endure that abuse year after year.  I will also tell you that if any tiny part of this feels like your life, you are fucking worth it, and if I can do it, you can too.

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Best Thing My Husband Ever Did For Me

The Best Thing My Husband Ever Did For Me Was Divorce Me

Best Thing My Husband Ever Did For Me

 

I was in an abusive relationship with an alcoholic for 8 years. We have a child together and I thought he was the love of my life. We were married after 7 years together but that made the drinking and resentment he had toward me worse. He was cruel and distant when he drank which was all the time. Like most women, I kept this part of our life a secret.

I enabled him because I wanted him to be happy but what I was really doing was helping him become a monster.  The abuse was mainly when he was drunk and we were arguing but I always reasoned it away. “He loves me so he must not mean it.”

It was when he started drinking while on his medication and actually scaring me that I ramped up my complaints about drinking. I was babysitting him wherever we went or we would leave early so he didn’t have the opportunity to be drunk. He then started refusing to go to functions because I wouldn’t allow him to get drunk. I became enemy number one and he had decided he was the victim.

I was often called crazy or psycho for yelling at him for his drunken episodes but there was no rationalizing that.

As it began to escalate, I wasn’t aware of the woman he was seeing who was helping to validate his supposed persecution. My husband had been telling me he was taking my daughter to this woman’s house so my daughter could play with the little girl she babysat.  Little did I know, that was not why he was going there. When I finally caught them together and confronted him, he lied initially but then admitted they were together. That same night he packed a bag, left and asked for a divorce that week.

The Best Thing My Husband Ever Did For Me

I felt betrayed and devastated that the man I loved and the father of my child could treat me like nothing. He had treated me so poorly for so many years but he wanted to get away from me? I felt like my heart was ripped from my chest and someone was punching me in the throat. I remember one day taking out the garbage and on my way back to the house just lying down on the patio outside because I felt utterly broken. I laid there for a while until I began to cry this child-like sob that I am sure all my neighbors heard and assumed it was a dying animal or something.

I had stopped eating and sleeping, partially because I was so emotionally and physically drained but partially because every bite made me feel ill. All my emotions smashed together to create one super emotion, divorce. I thought I would never feel ok again or myself again. The funniest part of all of it is that I wasn’t myself at all when I was with him either. What I thought was happiness was really just, getting by. I was craving to have my life back when it wasn’t a life anyone should have or want.

Taking it one day at a time.

My friends and family told me to take one day at a time which I rolled my eyes at but that was the best thing I ever did. I gave myself a reset everyday thinking, “if I screw it up today I will be better tomorrow”. I made a lot of mistakes during the divorce letting my emotions control me at times but just like another cliché we know, “time heals all wounds”, well that’s because it does. The more time went by the less angry and hurt I was and I began to feel this strange overwhelming feeling where I was genuinely HAPPY!

At first, it would happen here and there and then I would have whole days of being annoyingly happy. I was starting to be that person that other people roll their eyes at because I was just so happy. Like a drug though, when I wasn’t happy, the lows were pretty rough. I had to tell myself that however I was feeling when I wake up tomorrow the anger or anxiety will dissipate and it did. I began to be happy most of the time. I would laugh and get excited about life. My daughter could sense it too.

After so much time living for someone else’s needs, I started to live for me.

It has been a year since we separated and three months since the divorce was final but I can honestly say that I am happier now than I can ever remember. I forgot how funny and smart I am, not to brag. The people around me love me and most of all I love me. It was horrible knowing that my daughter watched me broken and lifeless. I never wanted her to see me like that.

I was always a fighter. I am not ashamed of it all because it was the fight in me that made me get up off that patio and push forward where I made it through a better version of myself. I still have bad days like anyone else but they are better than my best days with him. The best thing my husband ever did for me was divorce me. He gave me my life back.

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toxic people

Want To Feel Better? Then Stop Hanging Around Toxic People

toxic people

 

When you’re working to get your confidence back and build boundaries after divorce, there is one “hiding in plain sight” barrier that will keep you from reaching your goals.

And that’s surrounding yourself with toxic people.

You know *exactly* who these toxic people are…

  • The pushy one with unsolicited advice that makes you doubt your decisions
  • The catty one with snide comments and back-handed compliments
  • The one who blames you and makes herself the victim when you call her out on her BS.

Sound like anyone you know? 

Is this a sister? Your mother? Your adult daughter? That “friend” who says she’s “only trying to help you?”

Literally every woman deals with these jerks on the daily. And his/her comments are so hurtful because they know which button of yours to push. They’ve known you for a long-ass time, and know your sore spots, triggers, and vulnerabilities.

That’s why one of their comments can leave you devastated for days.

The secret about toxic people in your life…

100% of that criticism has nothing to do with you. She is projecting her own insecurities onto you she’s not taking responsibility for her own issues.

Remember the time your sister said, “that dress looks a little snug on you, don’t you think?” although she knew you were counting calories and going to yoga three times a week?

She’s guaranteed stepped on the scale that morning and was 12 pounds heavier after that cruise.

Remember that time you got that promotion at work and instead of congratulating you, your mother said, “Oh, so I guess that means you’ll be spending even less time with your kids.”

Like, WTF?!

She guaranteed is feeling resentful that she stepped down from her job to stay full-time with her children and didn’t go back into the workplace.

What to do About Toxic People

So, what do you want to do about her? 

Continue to let them walk all over you, saying “that’s just her.” This option is risky because you put yourself at risk of continued frustration and hurt feelings.

Stand up for yourself. This doesn’t have to look like a Jerry Springer fight. But it takes courage.

“Hey (insert person’s name), it really hurts my feelings when you do/say (insert harmful action here). I would ask that you keep those comments to yourself.

“Hey (insert person’s name). I notice that you’re always commenting or giving me unsolicited advice on my divorce/looks/weight/recovery/insert whatever they’re always commenting on. I would ask that you don’t do that anymore, at least until I specifically ask for your advice.”

So, a quick heads-up when you stand up for yourself. If the person has any amount of emotional intelligence, they may take a step back and say, “Oh, wow.. Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad,” or something along the lines of that. 

Or…they may get defensive and turn it on you. They may say, “I’m only trying to help you. If you don’t want my honest opinion, then fine.” And then they might stomp away or hang up the phone or stonewall you or some other 5-year-old-at-the-playground nonsense.

If that reaction occurs, that is a HUGE RED FLAG that maybe this relationship is unhealthy. This ain’t the end of the world–it’s just an opportunity to set up healthy boundaries.

Oh, and I get you may not just be able to walk away from that person so easily. She might be a relative or close friend.

But remember–being related to someone DOES NOT give them carte blanche to treat you like poorly.

It takes a herculean effort to be confident enough to speak up and stand your ground when they push back. But until then, remember:

  1. Be aware that some of the most toxic people may be the ones closest to you
  2. Their smack-talking has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with their own insecurities
  3. You have the power to speak up for yourself
  4. Family members and close friends *do not* get to throw shade just because they’re in your life.

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