finding yourself after divorce

Suffering An Identity Crisis? How To Find Yourself After Divorce

finding yourself after divorce

With a little imagination and some self-love as a foundation, divorce can be the gateway to living your best life and find your self after divorce.

 

When I had my children all those years ago, I was shocked to learn some hard truths about pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.

Some of the surprising facts no-one thought to tell me about include: there are consequences to natural vaginal deliveries, you can still look five months pregnant after giving birth, having children can lead to marital discontent, and the biggest shock of them all, many women lose themselves in motherhood.

Although it’s not widely discussed, identity loss is a real and devastating side effect of raising children.

I for one was secretly harboring a depressed state of low self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth, behind a calm and collected façade. It took a divorce for me to recognize this truth and eventually restore my sense of self. And now, as a Life Coach to moms, and a friend to many women with children, “motherhood, as an identity theft”, is an issue I see emerging again, and again.

Most recently I came across an interview featuring actress, Jada Pinkett-Smith, who bravely revealed that motherhood had caused her to “lose her groove”. Even as a star, in the throes of raising her children, she too found herself asking “Oh my gosh, where did I go?”.

It does seem to happen that way. You throw everything into raising your children, helping them build their own identities that you lose sight of your own. You wake up one day and realize you’re a distant shadow of the person you once were.

So, here I share my personal story about how I was able to piece together my identity and how you can do the same. 

Art has always been my passion. I’ve loved art since I was a kid.

The most memorable picture I created was that of a bird. An Eastern Rosella, with its fluorescent yellows, bright greens, and deep hues of red and blue. This drawing, at the age of 10, ignited my love for creating beautiful things.

As I got older, I continued to dabble in small pieces of art, mostly paintings I gave to family and friends. But as life got busier with the need to work and the arrival of children, art became something that I only did with my kids. Whilst I focused on helping my children build their creative muscles, my own desire for personal expression was put on hold.

It wasn’t until more than a decade later, during the early stages of my separation, that I reconnected with this part of me.

In the quest to “find myself”, I decided to take up painting lessons under the guise of an accomplished artist. I created artwork that I was proud of and felt myself come alive. As I left the studio each day with paint on my hands and clothes, I also wore a permanent smile on my face that I just couldn’t wash off.

But sadly, financial constraints and altered childcare arrangements meant that I could no longer continue the classes. What started as the equivalent of writer’s block for an aspiring painter.

I lost my inspiration and flow.

Everything I did outside of those classes, felt below par.

Frustration started to build as I was no longer enjoying the process. I bought into the ideals of our productivity-obsessed culture. The guilt of wasting time and money on fruitless activity weighed heavily on me. I felt a need to make my works of art “saleable”.

To that end, I continued with my mission to create big pieces of art. I was stuck on the notion that “large paintings made a bigger impact”. Consequently, I started focusing too much on the end result. I lost sight of why I was painting in the first place – for the love of creating beautiful things.

One after another, half-finished paintings piled up into the corner of a room. Nothing was good enough. It was only a matter of time before I gave up.

Several seasons passed by before I found myself contemplating art again. I moved into a new house and came across my old, boxed up, paints and brushes. So, I decided to give it another go. This time I would ease myself back into painting and only paint for leisure.

Like reacquainting with an old friend, I started to relive the joys of painting again. I chose to do something for myself and it felt great.

From there I started finding more opportunities to do more of what I loved. With each act of self-love, I continued to discover other parts of me that I had left behind or long forgotten.

A beautiful quote by a soulful writer, Beau Taplin, comes to mind, which I believe rings true: “Self-love is an ocean and your heart a vessel. Make it full and any excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold dear. But you must come first.”

As self-indulgent as it may seem, doing things that bring joy to your heart during divorce is not a self-fish act.

When you do things to look after and love yourself, you become the best version of yourself. Only then, can you give your children all of you and more.

So, what is it that you love or would love to do?

Were there things you wanted to do while married, but couldn’t for some reason (e.g. learn a new hobby, spend more time with family and friends, volunteer, bungee jump, etc.)?

Instead of making excuses about why you can’t do those things, research, make time, plan, find support to care for the kids, and do those things.

If money is a factor then that’s an opportunity to be creative. Brainstorm ways you in which you can engage in similar activities that will bring you joy.

In my case, I traded in big expensive canvases for small sheets of watercolor paper. I also swapped acrylics and oils to watercolor paint. Not only did this make painting more affordable, but less messy too.

Another example is my substitute for a trip to a Day Spa. A full afternoon of professional pampering may be out of reach, but soaking in a hot bath (uninterrupted), donning a face mask, with added bath salts, a good book, and a cup of tea, can make a world of difference to the hamster wheel of life.

There’s also plenty of resources and ideas online that show you how to make pampering products with ingredients straight from the pantry. Who knows, you could enjoy the DIY process more than the pampering session itself.

The possibilities are endless!

You, resilient mom, can now make your own decisions, try new things, make new friends, and eventually find someone to love you the way you deserve to be loved.

With a little imagination and some self-love as a foundation, divorce can be the gateway to living your best life and finding your best self.

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survive financially as a single mom

3 Ways Single Moms Can Survive Financially

survive financially as a single mom

In the end, there are really only two things to focus on if you want to survive financially as a single mom: decreasing expenses and increasing income. The more you do both of those things, the better off you’ll be.

 

Whether you’ve always managed the household checkbook or this is your first time, the financial struggles of being a single mom can feel overwhelming. Stop, breath, and start with these simple steps to getting your finances under control.

3 Tips For Surviving Financially As a Single Mom

1. Stop incurring new debt.  If you’re in the red hole, the first step is to simply stop digging deeper. It’s just not possible to get out of debt if you keep creating more. It might be easier for a while to just stop using credit cards in order to not incur any new debt. Every day that you don’t add to your debt is another day closer to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. If you find that you can’t get to the end of the month without incurring debt, Step 2 below will help.

2. Budget every dollar. I know, it’s a dirty word to many, but I turned my financial life around when I got serious about budgeting. One of the reasons we find ourselves out of control financially is because we don’t have clarity on what goes in and what goes out. Even if you think you know, you never really do until you track your income and expenses and account for every dollar. Mint is a free app that can help, but I find YNAB to be worth every penny (plus, you get a free month trial to then budget how to pay for the app).

If apps don’t appeal, there’s always pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet, or even a Word doc to get you started. You can round up to the nearest dollar, but you may be surprised on just where those dollars have been going! It will help you figure out where you really can cut back, and where you can’t. YNAB uses the zero-based budgeting method (this method can be used with or without the program) and the concept is, you can only budget the dollars you have. If you’ve been budgeting by assuming your income and expenses, it will take some adjustment to get used to this new method, but it will be well worth it to get you on a more solid financial footing.

3. Beware the Single Mom Guilt.  I have been there. I have felt so guilty about my marital status that I’ve spent more than I could afford, trying to overcompensate. But after using my tax refund to pay off credit card debt, and then building up debt, and then paying it off, and then doing it again, I finally had enough. And I realized that throwing money at the problem wasn’t really helping.

The more financially stable we became, the less stressed I was. The less stressed I was, the happier my girls were. The happier my girls were, the more we could simply enjoy being together and not have to spend so much money on cable, on outings, on activities they weren’t really enjoying. Instead, my oldest daughter helped out at the dance studio to get a break on tuition.

My youngest daughter shops at Goodwill when she needs new leggings. We come up with solutions together when we hit financial blocks. And if you feel bad for saying, I can’t afford it, try saying, “sorry, that’s not in our budget right now” instead. A small difference, sure, but it takes the focus off the negative part, and reminds both you and your child that you have financial goals.

Of course, personal finance is always personal, and you will have to make some difficult decisions, but try to remember, that’s true for most of us! Divorced or not, kids or not, we all can only work with what we actually have. And you may find that there simply isn’t enough. If things are that tight, you may need to look into increasing your income.

I ended up going back to school once it became clear to me that I was never going to make it on my salary as an Assistant. So I went back to school, got my Paralegal certificate, and got promoted. I took out some student loans and was able to get reimbursed through my employer’s educational assistance program for some of it. Thankfully, my interest rate on my student loan is low, but I am currently throwing any and all “extra” money into paying that off. So far, I’m paid a year ahead.

If going back to school is not an option, consider freelancing. Please do NOT pay for any “work from home” opportunities. But there are things like ride-sharing services, babysitting, and e-commerce sites. I have a friend who has done very well with her Etsy shop!

In the end, there are really only two things to focus on when it comes to managing your money: decreasing expenses and increasing income. The more you do both of those things, the better off you’ll be.

Our family has gone from surviving to thriving, and I can trace it back almost to the day that I was absolutely done with the paycheck-to-paycheck struggle. I am now a month ahead financially, and having that breathing room definitely, helps when we get hit with a new financial problem.

I am out of credit card debt completely, and we even went to New York this spring to see Hamilton, all completely paid for in cash. (I do use credit cards again, but only for the rewards, and I have auto pay set up to pay the balance in full every month so that I don’t pay any interest.)

It’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s also true that money can’t buy the previous, married, 2-parent household, either.

It’s also our job to teach our children about personal finance. As with everything else, they will learn these lessons by our actions, and not our words. If you want your children to have a healthy relationship with money, it’s time to have your own healthy relationship with it, too.

You’ve totally got this!

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solo traveling

How Moms Can Use Solo Travel For Self-Care After Divorce

solo traveling

 

Every hard working mom deserves to replenish her batteries at least once a year. Admittedly, I felt a pang of guilt for leaving my kids behind with their grandparents while I embarked on a chase for adventure, but it turned out it was exactly what the doctor ordered!

As I was to find out, the phenomenon of solo-traveling is in full swing right now, dedicated parents from every corner of the globe are in on it, so why wouldn’t you be as well? This decompressing solo journey is one of the cornerstones of self-care, and a treat that every mom deserves to relish in.

Solo Travel After Divorce Allows You To…

Invest in yourself

‘I’ is the most important constituent of self-care solo travel. It is all about investing in yourself and finding the most efficient activities to replenish your energy wells. Read a nice vacation book, stay in a hotel with a pool or accommodation near a natural body of water. Remember – water is a known neutralizer of negative energy!

All in all, traveling solo allows you a welcoming opportunity to reconnect with yourself. My own first solo traveling experience as a fully-realized mother was a road trip (more on that later), but virtually any backdrop can work. If you are thirsty for experiences that are completely exotic in your book, charter a flight to Morocco, Thailand or Bali but keep in mind that your comfort is of absolute priority.

Give yourself some breathing room

If you find the idea of traveling half-way around the world intimidating, especially if it means daunting separation from your kids, then taking a road trip may just be akin to dipping your toe in a lake before jumping in. The upside of this is that it is a flexible journey with a loose schedule. This is a convenient feature of a road trip because it means that you can fully concentrate on the self-care aspect.

But first, make sure that safety precautions are all checked off. I generally take my car for routine maintenance before the trip. It would also be prudent to include a well-equipped survival kit in your car in the case you get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Apart from a basic set of tools, my survival kit also includes extra water bottles, some power bars, and sanitizers. Knowing that you have taken all the necessary precautions, the road trip itself will be so much more carefree.

Make it transformative

One of the most exciting prospects of traveling solo is that you can start your trip off as one person and get out of it as a changed individual. Yes, such experiences, no matter how short, can be immensely powerful. This is what a trip to Guangzhou represented for me. Not to dwell too long on the experience, this sprawling metropolis was a neon-glazed sucker punch of a culture shock that realigned my perspective of the world – and this is what your experience should be!

Choose a destination that puts you in a completely new environment. Your mission, if there is a thing within this context that can be deemed as such, is to create a pilgrimage for yourself that will expand your mind and soul. Urban environments saturated in multicultural influences can have such a profound influence on you, but you can look towards the trips that put you on the path of cultural and traditional landmarks of other countries. Solo-travel for self-care is a wide and empty canvas, so you can go wild and choose the colors that befit your sensibilities the most!

It is perfectly natural to feel a looming sense of responsibility for your children. My own kids are constantly on my mind, no matter the circumstances, but this feeling can also make you feel trapped in a way that is highly unproductive. A week or so of separation can be an adventure for everyone and you have to break the ice eventually. Trust me, the hardest part is taking the first step, but you need to invest in all the aspects of self-care in order to find inner balance and be of use to yourself and your children as well.

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fear of being alone after divorce

How I Overcame My Fear Of Being Alone After Divorce

fear of being alone after divorce

 

When I was married I lived a comfortable life. For the most part, I was surrounded by people – my husband, my daughter, my son and my dog. We did most things together, whether it be trips to the shops, gatherings with friends and family, or any of the other myriad things that consume family life. We were a ‘regular’, ‘normal’ and ‘happy’ family.

I was married at 22, had my first child at 24, and my second at 26. By the time my kids were teenagers I could regularly be found counting my lucky stars, grateful that I’d ‘made it’. That (unlike my mother and grandmother) I’d managed to hold my marriage together and would never have to fear being alone. The dreaded ALONE.

When, in my fortieth year, the unthinkable happened and my husband blindsided me with the news that he no longer wanted to be married and was leaving me, I was left shocked and shattered. I was certain that there had been a massive mistake – that this was simply not how my life was supposed to turn out.

In an instant, my childhood fear of being abandoned, alone and unlovable was recognized.

How I Overcame My Fear of Being Alone After Divorce

In the early days of my separation, I found myself consumed with the negative thoughts swirling around my head (funny how grief does that to you). The most prominent of those thoughts were:

What if I’m alone for the rest of my life? What if I never find anybody to love me?

I became almost obsessed with the idea – the fear – of being ‘alone’ forever as if this would be a fate worse than death.

One day I was speaking with a married girlfriend who told me that she often felt alone, and lonely, in her marriage due to her husband’s moods. Another day I accompanied a single girlfriend to watch the film Fifty Shades of Grey which, weirdly enough, helped change my perception of relationships and of what ‘happily ever after’ really meant.

Over time I began to adjust my rigid and outdated views on love, marriage, and loneliness. I slowly came to accept that I would be OK no matter what – that being in a relationship or marriage that stifles individual growth and leaves one or both parties feeling empty and alone (or worse) was surely a fate worse than being forever ‘alone’.

I allowed myself time to GRIEVE

Of course, when we are deep in the throes of grief everything is heightened. Our emotions, our fears, our loneliness. When we have spent a good portion of our life with a significant other, and that significant other is suddenly removed from of our life, we are going to feel the loss. BRUTALLY, at first.

In the early days of my separation, I made it a mission to learn all that I could about the grieving process. I wanted to understand what it was that I was going through, and how long it was going to last. I read inspirational stories of women who had made it through the divorce process, and I asked friends for their break-up stories and strategies.

What I learned was this: I was not always going to feel so terribly alone. But to help me along, I needed to allow myself to grieve – as horrible and painful and excruciating as it was. It simply could not be skipped or bypassed. I very consciously told myself that I would get through it, and eventually, I did.

I MADE myself spend time alone with my pain

This continues on from the point above. In order to move through our pain, we need to feel it. We need to sit with all of the sucky emotions as they arise. Emotions that are processed by us will move through us and eventually leave of their own accord. Emotions that we do not take the time to process become suppressed emotions, and will very likely resurface at a later (often inconvenient) date – and often much worse than the original emotion.

This is NOT to say that you should isolate yourself and do nothing but feel horrible all of the time. It IS to say that you should not look for continual distractions from your grief and pain. I used to sit in the bath, sometimes for hours, with just music and tea for company. This practice alone taught me that pain and loneliness would not kill me!

I made the decision to REDISCOVER who I was

Too many of us lose a piece (or many pieces) of ourselves when in a long-term relationship. We forget who we were before we married – I think I actually forgot that I was somebody at all. I identified as a wife and mother, and that was pretty much it.

When the first excruciating phase of grief had passed, I tentatively decided it was time to find out who I was. Who I was – without the labels of wife and mother. I rediscovered my love of writing. I re-taught myself how to cook (my husband was the chief cook in our household). I spent hours devouring books and movies that I somehow never found the time for whilst married.

And I did most of this alone!

Remember, you were somebody before your marriage and subsequent divorce. And guess what? The girl you were is still in there somewhere! Make it your mission to find her.

I forced myself OUT of my comfort zone

When I was married, I rarely spoke to anyone new or different or outside of my circle of regular people. I felt stupidly secure in the knowledge that each night I would be going home to hubby, and I, therefore, didn’t really see much need to meet new or interesting folk.

As a single woman once again, I oddly found myself going out of my way to say hello to people I wouldn’t normally feel comfortable enough to speak with. For some reason, my new ‘alone’ status gave me the confidence to do this.

I now know that as we evolve and change, so do our tastes and perceptions. Our souls naturally want to seek out different people and experiences in the name of growth, and it is important not to stifle this. So, be brave enough to hang out with the people you feel drawn to, even if they aren’t your ‘regular’ types. Your ‘regular’ is very likely changing from what it once was, just as it changed for me.

I now love my alone time.

Now, four years on from my divorce, I can confidently say that I love my alone time. My first year of divorce taught me how to not only tolerate being alone but to find true joy in it. I have seen that for every loss in life, there is usually a gain and that nothing in life is ever really permanent. And I am no longer scared by this.

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single mom vacation tips

6 Money Saving Single Mom Vacation Tips

single mom vacation tips

 

For single moms, saving up enough money to take a vacation with their kids can be a challenge when they’re working to support their household on just one income. While it’s important to create memories and escape the daily routine, often times single moms don’t have the extra money to spend on fun and travel. Below are a few tips we put together for single moms on how to provide great memories for their children while remaining on a budget.

Single Mom Vacation Tips

1. Savings Goals & Realistic Travel:

It has been my experience that when I save for a specific goal, I’m more successful. Instead of saving for a “vacation someday” try saving for a “3 day weekend trip to the beach two months from now.” Your children will most likely want to get away from home at least once this summer, so start looking into affordable vacation spot a few months in advance as prices are cheaper the further in advance you book. This gives you plenty of time to start putting money away for your much needed time away with your children.

2. Take Advantage of Online Deals:

In today’s digital world, getting deals on travel has never been easier. When it comes to places to stay you can take advantage of deals that are published by the multiple online or limited deal sites such as Groupon GetAways or Amazon Local. You can book a place to stay on AirBnB or you could partner up with another single mom to vacation together giving you a way to share the costs and have a little adult interaction while on vacation.

3. Create a Budget:

Figure out how much you will need to save towards taking a vacation, and have the money taken directly out of your paycheck and transferred into a separate savings account. I personally love using Mint.com for this, and the best part is, it’s free!

There are also a bunch of other savings apps that have popped up recently such as Digit that helps you save by taking out money based on your spending. Another free app is my app SupportPay, which helps you track the expenses around your children so you can easily see where your money is going and give you the information you need to reduce spending.

Websites and apps like these allow you to save for your vacation without having to think about it.  Be sure to check in on your accounts every so often though to make sure you are staying on budget so there are no surprises when you want to take your vacation.

4. Start a Change Jar:

Pinterest has some cute ideas to decorate change jars. Some people like to save all of their change, and some prefer to save dollar bills only. Figure out what works best for you, and make it a habit to set aside the extra cash every chance you get. To encourage your kids to get involved, make a game out of collecting extra change by setting goals or rules that cost money when broken. Setting family goals that your children can participate in is a great way to teach them the value of a dollar, and how to save for activities they want to participate in.

5. Give Something Up:

If you want to get really serious about saving for a vacation, giving up something for a month or two can really make your savings account balance grow quickly. You could give up eating out for a month, not going to the movies, not buying new clothes for one month, take a cable TV break, etc. Also, you can take advantage of the sharing economy by renting items you aren’t using or you could rent out your items and make some money on items sitting around the house.

Sell Unused or Unwanted Items:

If you’ve got a little spare time on your hands, spend a couple of hours and take a quick tour of your house, pulling out all the outgrown clothing, toys, electronics, and movies that you no longer need. There have recently been several apps that have launched that make it really easy to sell your items. For example, Letgo, thredUp, and Decluttr are apps that enable you to take a picture and quickly post your item for sale. Of course, you can always have a garage sale, this could make you money and help you meet your neighbors.

Being a single mom isn’t easy but with a little planning and some creative ways to save money or make a little extra, you can give your kids the vacation memories they want with the money you have.

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Men Every Divorced Mom Needs

5 Men Every Divorced Mom Needs

Bitch, please. I got this.

No. Really. As resourceful and resilient singledom has allowed me to become, as I turn the corner on four years without a ring on it, I know this for certain. Men are important. Never fool yourself into thinking you can live without them.  If my social circle only consisted of women, I might hang myself with a pair of Spanx and, just to make sure I ended, puncture my liver with a McQueen heel.  Life needs testosterone.

With that in mind, I’d like to present you with the 5 men that every divorced mom needs in her life.

And I would know…I’m as single as a dollar bill.

1. The Handyman.

Men Every Divorced Mom Needs

No shit. The Handyman is Numero Uno in your life. You don’t have to sleep with him and he’ll change your air conditioner filters. Seriously, how awesome does it feel not to have to negotiate sex to get something done around the house?!? Finding the perfect Handyman is more important than finding a boyfriend. I am non-sexually in love with my current Handyman.  I hit the Tool Time jackpot with this one. He hangs chandeliers without asking me to swing from them, digs post without asking to “post” me, and lays carpet without…well, you get the picture. I would give you his number, but, fuck that! I’m keeping him to myself.

 

2. The Hot Neighbor.

Handsome man.jpg

Everyone needs that equally single guy neighbor that can come running should you have an emergency.  He’s like the backup quarterback. You don’t plan on using him, but he’s nice to keep around. His hotness level is irrelevant, but since mine happens to be hot, really hot, I figured I’d take this moment to brag about it. (Unfortunately, he has an equally attractive girlfriend, which makes my walking my dogs back & forth in front of his house, hoping he’ll walk out for a conversation, slightly psychotic.) The single neighbor is the guy you call if something seems awry in your house at midnight, or if your car won’t start.

 3. The Ex.

 Irrational Ex.jpg

You don’t like to admit it. I don’t like to admit it, but the ex-knows us pretty damn well. So much so, that when you get crazy because the guy you went out with on Monday hasn’t called and it’s Wednesday, you can call the ex and he talks you down. Because he knows your crazy….he’s experienced it first hand. Always keep an Ex on deck for moments of insanity. Of course, this one is totally up to you. If he left you high and dry and you want nothing to do with him, that’s understandable.

4. Friend With Benefits.

 Hook Up.jpg

No explanation needed but, in case you do, here is an article for you. A woman has needs.


5. Secret Crush.

 Crush.jpg

It’s not really a secret that I have a crush on the produce guy at my grocery store. It’s not like I stalk him (I don’t even regularly BUY groceries!) or know his schedule or anything creepy like that, but on that rare occasion when I see him, terrible thoughts enter my head that involves knocking down entire displays of apples.

I know. I’m a bad grocery girl. But quite honestly, everyone needs a secret crush…and not just single ladies.  An SC lets you know you are still alive. That no matter how routine and humdrum your life may seem, you still have that spark of frisky.

So if you’re single like me, you keep these five in your bullpen until the ONE comes along to make them all obsolete.

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letting go

Letting Go: The Prerequisite for Healing From Divorce

letting go

 

Your marriage is on the rocks and you’ve done your best to save it.

You have been doing the work. After careful reflection, you realize that things don’t look good.

You have worked on improving yourself, gone through counseling, but things between you and your husband are not any better, and the marriage is not likely to work out long term.

What next?

Make peace with your situation, learn your lessons and let go.

The importance of letting go!

Hanging on is inevitably going to bring you additional disappointment and will stop you from beginning a new life.

Dr. Wayne Dyer said that “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Looking at your marriage in a different light breaks the chains that bind you and opens up a world of possibility.

Attachment to anything, person or outcome brings suffering, because losing it, or just the fear of losing it, makes you unhappy.

The important lesson here is that you cannot move forward until you make peace with the situation you are currently in and let go of the attachments. Attachments to what happened, to what you think should have happened, to what never happened. Attachments to the man he was, to the man he is not, to the man you hoped he’d be.

Resisting “what is” is the root of suffering. Simply stated, you cannot receive blessings if your hands are tied up hanging on to baggage. As long as you hold on to the disappointments, mistakes, and hurts of the past, you won’t be able to accept a future of unlimited possibility.

Likewise, self-recrimination and regret in no way will change what has happened in the past, and also needs to be released. Living trapped in a space of regret over the things you did, the things you didn’t do or the opportunities missed will not bring you peace nor heal what’s wrong in your relationship.

Make peace with your situation and release it.

Letting Go of Dreams

You need to let go of the dreams and hopes you created around your relationship with your husband, and instead, open the door to new opportunities that can come into your life only if you are emotionally free and receptive.

It is a hard thing to do, I know. For me, it was hard to imagine a new life, and I was paralyzed by fears of the unknown. I couldn’t imagine dating other men or giving up on the future I had envisioned for myself. It is alien to conceive of a new life when you are still hung up on what could have been or, more importantly, what you think “should have been.”

But if I hadn’t made the move, I might still be stuck in a bitter marriage, with all the lack and limitation that came with living with my ex-husband. And because I was finally able to let go, I opened the way to a new life, with a new husband and blessings I never imagined.

Letting Go of Wrongs

Similarly, it is just as easy to hang on to the wrongs done and embellish them with thoughts of revenge. But what good is it? I know a woman who is still seething over her ex-husband’s infidelities. And guess what? He has moved on. He has a new love in his life while she is alone with her anger. Wouldn’t it be more productive to direct that energy towards creating a life of bliss for herself where her ex-husband is not even a thought?

When you fixate on what’s wrong, you won’t notice anything else around you, including what’s good and worthy.

Letting Go of the Past

Make no mistake…the past is over and done and cannot be changed. Dr. Wayne Dyer advised to let go of the notion that you can have a better past. How true. Take one last look at what happened, reflect on the lessons learned and don’t look back. The future is ahead. Free your hands from baggage and make room for the blessings that await you.

Letting Go of Your Mistakes

Perhaps, at some level, you feel guilty for some conduct you have engaged in that caused harm to your spouse or your relationship. We all make mistakes. Can you forgive yourself for your mistakes? Can you ask for forgiveness for those mistakes? Are you willing to make amends?

There is no benefit to living with regret and self-recrimination. Seek forgiveness, make amends where feasible and release the charge of past mistakes. Forgiving yourself and looking to the future with the resolve not to repeat these mistakes is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.

Letting Go of Attachments

You are not served either by an attachment to an unlikely script in which you and your husband live happily ever after. It feels comfortable and familiar to cling to a fantasy in which your husband is the perfect husband, not the tormentor who makes your life miserable.

But, if you’ve done everything possible on your end, living that script would require him to change. And you cannot change him. You can only change yourself.

Accepting the limitations of your husband and your relationship is the first step you can take to propel you to start over.

Accepting and Blessing What Is

If, after careful reflection, you conclude that your marriage is not working, and most likely never will, you need to accept it and move on.

Life is not going to happen until you recognize that this relationship is not the path to happiness you envisioned. To the happiness that you deserve.

Once you come to terms with it, you can objectively view your marriage as a stepping stone that got you to where you are now. It is your springboard to the future, all the wiser for it, grateful for all its lessons and character-building opportunities.

You attracted your husband into your life for a reason. Reframe your situation and learn to see him as a teacher who taught you a lesson necessary for your personal evolution. Be grateful for the lessons and thank your husband in your mind. Then release your husband and your marriage and bless them both with love.

It is now time to heal. The best is yet to come.

The post Letting Go: The Prerequisite for Healing From Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Things I Learned To Like About Myself

Things I Learned To Like About Myself After Divorce

Things I Learned To Like About Myself

 

I was married in 2000 and I thought we would grow old together on our country porch, rocking side by side and watching our grandchildren frolic in the yard. Now that reality has smacked me, wait, no it literally punched me and what I thought would happen won’t be happening, I’ve become a totally different person than I once was.

In October 2016 as I heard my ex saying, “we are done” with no warning, no signs, no explanation I felt as if I were having an out of body experience. I realized that was my wake up call. Once I found out he had an affair I was devastated and continued to ask why, what did she have that I didn’t?

I put the entire situation in the back of my head. I was not in denial. I was ready to be done. Now as I sat and thought about my situation I realized I needed to find out what kind of person I was. Somehow through all the mess of what I thought was a wonderful marriage, I lost me. I did that, not him. I became him…negative, condescending, not wanting to stray from home and generally hating people. That’s not me and I knew that. I had to fight to get back to the person I once was.

Here are some things I learned to like about myself once he was gone:

1. No matter what hurtful words he said, I refuse to allow that to be my truth. He said some hateful things to me. Things he knew would rock me to the core. I allowed that to consume me. I am NOT what he said. I know now his hurtful words were his way of having the last move, stabbing me in my heart. I deserved better than that and I am not that gullible person anymore who believed what he used to say about me.

2. I need to keep busy. I think a lot of people are shocked reading my statuses on Facebook. I am not your typical 52-year-old granny. I drive race cars, sing, a gym rat, sit on granddaughters bunk bed and watch Spongebob, eat ice cream for breakfast, Gigi and mom. I found that the more I was with my friends, I didn’t consume myself with thoughts of him. I laugh and I know that is exactly the therapy I needed. Even when I am having good days, friends are always welcome and needed.

3. As much as some of my friends wanted me to be with someone, I knew that was not what I needed. I did not need another person in my life clouding my judgment and feelings. I needed to love who I was and the person I once was. I don’t need someone to make me happy, I need surroundings to make me happy. My solitude has given me a much better perspective on life. I have learned to respect myself and that was the greatest thing I could have ever done. I had once thought I needed a person in my life to complete me but I know now I don’t.

4. I could manage my money in spite of what he said. I paid off my SUV and my credit cards and my credit score soared. I got a promotion at work. Three years after we split I bought a brand new house. I drive my builder insane because my ex was a builder and I know way too much. When I pull into the driveway of my new home each day I smile knowing I did this. Not my ex, not anyone but me. I saved money for my down payment and I bought my very own home. He still lives in his two-bedroom apartment with his cats and drives a company truck and his dream was to build a home.

5. I love having family around me. To say the relationship with my kids was strained is not enough. It was bad. They were ashamed of who I was and I don’t blame them. My oldest daughter and two grandbabies moved into my home for a year while her husband was deployed. It broke my heart to move them back to VA a week ago. I didn’t like being around people when I was married. Now I can not imagine my life without my family. I have a huge house with lots of room and I do not mind having my house full of company.

6. I work out at the gym 6 days a week. I set a goal and I do it. Five am every morning I am working out. I then go to work. It has become my lifestyle. I never had a motive to do so, now I do. I have had so many compliments that I do not look my age. I love that. I have worked hard for the person I have become, I deserve this.

When my marriage ended I was fearful of being alone. I was more alone being married. I am happy and I am finally at peace with myself. I have my freedom from constant approval. My life has changed but so have I. I had the attitude to change my status quo and I am proud of that accomplishment.

The post Things I Learned To Like About Myself After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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get over your ex

11 Signs You’ve Managed To Get Over Your Ex

get over your ex

 

Here is the issue with divorce, someone is always the one left behind. Rarely are both parties in agreement about pursuing a divorce. This leaves one spouse with the difficult task of getting over their ex-spouse who chose to leave the marriage.

Not being able to be with someone you love, someone you had planned a life with is hell. Oh, the pain! The good news is, the pain isn’t terminal, it doesn’t last forever. You will get over your ex. It may not happen as quickly as you want but, one day you’ll realize that you’ve put them and any feelings for them behind you and moved on.

Below are 11 Signs You’ve Managed To Get Over Your Ex:

1. You wake up with something or someone other than them on your mind. When pining away for lost love we tend to go to bed thinking about them and wake the next morning with the same thoughts. If you are managing to lay your head on the pillow at night and wake in the morning without him/her infringing on your headspace, you’re over it.

2. They text or call and you don’t feel the need to respond or answer immediately. There was a time you would have left work in the middle of the day if it meant being able to communicate with them in some way. Now, when there is a text or call you shrug your shoulder and say, “I’ll respond when I get the time. You’re over it.

3. The things you used to find endearing about them now make you cringe. The way she used to dribble toothpaste down her chin when brushing her teeth. It’s now an Ick, not so cute after all. The way he used to come in from doing yard work, all sweaty and hot and want a kiss? The thought no longer causes butterflies in your stomach but causes your stomach to churn. You’re over it.

4. You are dating someone and you don’t compare them to your ex. In fact, you know there is no comparison because your ex just doesn’t stack up against the new love interest. You’re over it.

5. You can’t remember their phone number, social security number or any other vital statistic concerning them. When you have to look up their number to call them to discuss issues about the children, you’re over it.

6. You hear they are dating again and it ain’t no big deal. You have no desire to know who they are dating. You have no desire to warn that person about what a nimrod your ex is. You could care less because you’re over it.

7. Sex with your ex? No way! You used to wish for “one more night” now the thought of it makes your skin crawl. You have no desire for more time between the sheets with him/her because you’re over it.

8. If you were cheated on, you no longer feel rage when thinking about or seeing the other woman/man. In fact, you feel lucky and more than appreciative that you no longer play that role in his/her life. You were done a favor and you know it because you’re over it.

9. Memories of your time together no longer make you sad. You can think back over the good times and feel blessed to have had that experience because you’re over it.

10. You are able to smile, say hello and wish him/her a good day when you see them at your children’s activities or during drop-off and pick-up for visitation. You don’t feel sad when your children are with him/her. You don’t spend weekends wondering what your “family” is doing without you there. You are out having fun and enjoying your free time because you’re over it.

11. Best of all, when they text or call wanting to get back together you can’t imagine how that would ever be possible. You have a new life, new plans for your future and they just wouldn’t fit in because you’re over it.

The post 11 Signs You’ve Managed To Get Over Your Ex appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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women who lost themselves in relationships

6 Tips For Women Who Lost Themselves In Relationships

women who lost themselves in relationships

I dedicated myself wholeheartedly to his happiness because THAT would be the key to everlasting love.

 

The sunlight fell through the dirty kitchen window and painted a soothing pattern on the wall that we’d just painted turquoise a few months ago. It looked beautiful from the floor where I was sitting, leaning against the cupboard my legs pulled against my belly.

Happy memories flashed in my mind when another wave of pain rushed through my body. It felt like an iron fist was squeezing my heart and a heavy burden pushing against my chest.

Uncontrollable sobbing commenced.

How could he end this now? How could this love be over?

All my dreams and hopes lay shattered in front of me on that kitchen floor.

It was most definitely not love at first sight. Life had to play a few tricks to bring us together. But when I finally opened my heart, I gave it to him completely.

Around a year into our relationship, my body was exhausted from all the hard work I was doing. As an actress, I was constantly traveling from one (side) job and audition to another, trying to survive somehow. I was headed straight for a burnout.

Once I got sick, I was forced to slow down and look for an “ordinary job”.

I felt defeated, sad and lost.

All that was left in my life was him, and I did everything to be the best girlfriend possible.

There was NO way that I would lose him too.

I started cooking and cleaning. I learned Italian to understand the lively conversation at his family table. I baked cakes, wore the type of clothes he liked and gave him all the freedom he wanted and needed.

I dedicated myself wholeheartedly to his happiness because THAT would be the key to everlasting love.

Until I realized after 3 years of giving my all, that our relationship was lost.

He wanted to move out of our apartment — and my life.

Back there, on that kitchen floor, I made myself a promise. I swore to myself to go for that effing holy grail—LOVE—on my own. I wanted to learn about self-love, true happiness, and my safe place within.

I dedicated myself to learning everything about relationships and what made them successful.

It took me five more years and many lessons until I met the man that I call the big love of my life.

But now I am here. Nine years after the tears on the kitchen floor, I have become the woman I swore to become, and I’m sharing the top secrets to healthy relationships, especially for women who have easily lost themselves in the past as I did.

6 Tips For Women Who Lost Themselves In Relationships

1. Build your own happiness outside of the relationship

No one and nothing but you are responsible for your happiness.

When I had to temporarily give up my acting career, I felt so empty, that I clung with all might to the last thing that gave me joy. My relationship.

It’s okay to lean into your relationship when you’re feeling down, but you cannot make your relationship the number one reason for your happiness.

A relationship is a construct of two people coming together. And it’s being nurtured through the two people in it. Their actions, decisions, and emotions.

So when you are empty and are constantly sucking energy from the relationship, what do you think happens with it?

Right! There’s no way that this will work long term.

That’s why it’s crucial that you are taking good care of yourself and that there’s an equal flow of happiness from the relationship towards you and from you back into the relationship. That way the energy of the relationship doesn’t get depleted.

2. Stay your own person, don’t become enmeshed in the relationship

My love and business partner, Bas, and I have spoken to many single women to learn about their situations.

The one thing that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN shared with us was: “I lost myself in the relationship”.

Nine years ago on that kitchen floor, I had no idea who Priska even was. What made her happy. What she wanted or needed.

I literally became my relationship and lost myself in the needs of my partner.

This was the death of the liveliness and connection in our relationship.

Who else was there left for my partner to love?

Whatever happens, make sure that you don’t forget that you yourself are the most important person in your life. And that your values and standards, needs and wants, are equally important as your partner’s.

3. Stop being “the good woman”

Even after many years of hard work on myself, I still have the tendency to please my partner. Fortunately, Bas, my fiancé, is more than aware of my pattern and supports me in stepping consciously out of it.

We women have learned very early in our lives that “being the good girl” will bring us praise. Our parents, teachers and other important people we look up to will more likely give us loving attention and validation when we’re doing all things right.

But this behavior is a trap that will never bring us true success.

Women who are constantly trying to be “good” are often lacking healthy boundaries and are on a hamster wheel of pleasing others, instead of being who they are and living their best lives.

Believe me, there will always be people who won’t like you — even if you do your best.

So let all the masks drop, don’t play small, and be ALL of yourself.

4. Establish clear and healthy boundaries

I cannot stress this one enough.

My lack of boundaries not only led to massive pain in my past relationship but also threatened the one I’m in.

As I suffered severely from “the good woman syndrome”, I let everyone step over my boundaries, which resulted in a big, fat, ugly emotional explosion.

Because in the end. this people-pleasing-method just doesn’t work.

Be clear about your boundaries and communicate them transparently. Period.

5. Vulnerability is your strength

My ex-partner loved to dance tango Argentino, and he was GOOD.

Me on the other hand, I had just started out and often stood at the periphery of the dancefloor, as the 3 males out of the 30 dancers would certainly not choose me to glide over the parquet.

At one point I stopped going to tango because it broke my heart seeing my beloved dancing with all these other beautiful women — literally becoming one in front of my eyes.

It took me a long time to admit this because I didn’t want to be seen as the “jealous girlfriend”.

For the same reason, I also never said a word when he met up with some of his ex-girlfriends or would flirt with other women in front of me.

While I would have never asked him to stop dancing, it still would have helped me to actually have a conversation with him about my fear and pain.

Don’t be afraid to speak your truth.

Your vulnerable parts are your gifts.

They show, what really matters to you.

It’s okay to be open about ALL your feelings and to share them with your partner.

They will most likely also share their vulnerabilities with you, which will create a new sense of togetherness.

And it also brings the possibility for you to find solutions as a team.

6. Don’t take any bullshit

I know how it feels to bend like a pretzel out of the fear of losing a partner. And I also know how much bullshit I took exactly for that reason.

But you know what — if you let your partner’s bullshit slip through, you rob them of their opportunity for growth.

They will have no mirror that shows them where their boundaries are, and you will have to live with all the consequences.

Don’t shy away from calling your partner out on their B.S. And also be prepared to be called out on yours. If we can do this in a respectful way, while still owning our own responsibility in the situation, this will lead to a massive expansion in the relationship.

Be who you truly are

So many women try to be somebody they think their partner wants them to be.

But think about it.

Your partner fell in love with YOU.

So don’t ever let any story take over your freedom and put you into the cage of someone else’s ideal.

It will assassinate your appreciation of life, your authentic, savage nature, and it will definitely asphyxiate the genuine dynamics of your relationship. Period!

Some last thoughts

What I have learned from my own journey and from the stories of many other women from all kinds of cultural backgrounds, is that the world needs all of us in our most vulnerable, original, trustworthy, and liberated version.

Then, and only then, can we share our unique gifts with the world as empowered individuals and as thriving partners in the blooming magic of real, deep love.

The post 6 Tips For Women Who Lost Themselves In Relationships appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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