divorced couples therapist

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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become empowered after divorce

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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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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Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement

Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement? I Don’t Think So!

Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement

 

I’m not dating. I’ve been divorced for seven years now, and I’m not in a relationship. I’m not looking to be in one, either. There have been a few boyfriends, a couple more serious than the others, some purely physical. But right now, and for the past year, I’ve been absolutely, completely, 100% unattached.

And I’m totally fine with this. Am I the only one?

Everything I read about divorce seems to have a message: if you are divorced, you need to date.

Pronto!

Fresh divorcees fret about it, as though there is a deadline for finding new love, a relationship version of the old biological clock that is ticking ominously in the background. That their lives will not be complete until they have someone on the other side of the bed every single night. To this day, people still ask me, “Why aren’t you dating?” or “You should find a man” or my favorite, “You know what you need? You need to date.”

There are plenty of things I need to do: I need to work. I need to parent my children. I need to do laundry and get groceries and walk my dog. Do I need to be in a relationship?

I don’t think so.

Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement?

There is something very liberating in being single. I have learned how to be alone, but not lonely.  I feel as though this is one of the weird little parting gifts of divorce, one that took me a long time to discover and even longer to appreciate.

The gift of learning how to be by yourself.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t spend all of my free time alone. I have four kids, a neurotic dog and a gaggle of amazing friends. I could be out every night of the week if I wanted.  But every once in awhile, I find myself alone. And I kind of like it.

Before my divorce, I hadn’t lived alone other than a month when I was a flight attendant back in 1989. I’d lived with my parents, and then with roommates, and then with a boyfriend who became a husband. And technically speaking I am not living alone right now, what with my four roommates- five if you count the sweet shedding boy who shares my bed. But for the first time in my adult life, I’m single and not looking.

Part of it may be me guarding myself, my heart. My ex husband did a major number on me when he left. I’m not naive enough to think that there wasn’t some damage done, but I am smart enough to know that it wasn’t permanent. Me not actively seeking love right now isn’t a matter of not wanting to be vulnerable again, nor is it a matter of not trusting men (or my choices in men).

Part of it may be good old fashioned insecurity. If you find yourself failing at marriage once, it’s hard to think of trying it again. Who’s to say I won’t invest another 15 years of my life into another person only to be left again?

It might be those things, yes. But I’d like to think that my steadfast-singleness is an education of sorts. I’m learning, you see. Learning to enjoy my own company, which, when you think about it, is laying some pretty good groundwork for any future relationship I may find myself in.  Personally, I think it takes some courage, and some cajones, to face life solo. Some days I feel brave.  I’m learning how to weather life’s storms on my own, which is something I think all women should know how to do.

Now, don’t think I’m dissing those of you who have jumped right back into the thick of things. I have friends who found new and improved loves before the ink on their divorce decrees dried. And that is WONDERFUL. We all have our very own ways of doing things, of growing and recovering and living. Truth be told, there are some moments when I feel some envy.

I see them with their boyfriends or husbands and it reminds me of all the good things that come with couplehood. The companionship, the comfort, the warm strong arm draped over your shoulders on a cold walk to the car. The security one feels when there’s a trustworthy man snoring next to you in bed.

But then I see friends who have gone through a virtual parade of boyfriends, watched them fall in and out of love, or something that kinda/sorta feels like it. They’ve introduced their kids to some of them, brought them to parties and gatherings and then one day, they show up alone. Or with a new guy. I’ve comforted them when things go bad, when they realize that this wasn’t Mr. Right, it was Mr. That’ll Do For Now.

There’s something to be said for their sheer determination to find someone, and I commend them for that. I have to wonder, though, is that the best way to find your happily ever after, or is it simply a way to keep your dating muscles toned and in shape, to avoid atrophy?

I was talking to another single friend the other night, she joined this club by way of widowhood. I told her that I was writing an article about “embracing your singleness” and she plopped down next to me and told me her side of it: “People were asking me about dating within a week of my husband dying” she started. “I mean, look-“ she held up her left hand, her beautiful wedding band shining brightly on her ring finger. “I took this off for about a week…I had been lifting weights and it was bothering me,” she continued. “And right away, I noticed raised eyebrows and the ‘you go, girl’ comments started.” My friend motioned towards the kitchen, where her kids were laughing and messing around with their friends. “Those people in there? That’s my focus right now. That’s my job. I’ll figure out the dating thing later on.”

My widowed friend and I may have found ourselves in this spot via very different paths, but we both landed on the same page. Love is something we both want, both look forward to…but front and center in our lives are our lives. Being moms, taking care of households, nurturing friendships. Taking care of ourselves. Finding our sea legs in order to ride out the rest of this crazy voyage.

Who knows..I’ve heard that love will find you whether or not you’re looking. And if that happens? Great. I haven’t sworn off men and dating and sex and all of that good stuff…I’ve just decided that right here and right now, it’s not my number one priority. I may meet my Prince Charming while grocery shopping or out on the trails while walking my dog. I might meet him at one of my son’s hockey games or while out on the town with my friends. Or, I might not.

Either way, it’s fine with me.

The post Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement? I Don’t Think So! appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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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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losing friends after divorce

How to Deal With Losing Friends After Divorce

losing friends after divorce

 

When going through a massive life change such as divorce, most of us would like to think that we have a support network reasonably close by. These are the people we automatically turn to for support – a listening ear, a helping hand or to provide us with a little comfort and hope when we feel that we have neither.

So what happens when the crap hits the fan and the people that we think will be there for us are actually not there for us?

Losing Friends After Divorce

I was chatting with a newly divorced woman recently. She told me that she had been shocked, and slightly hurt, to find that several women she had previously considered friends had not contacted her since she had told them of her separation.

This lady has a wide circle of friends and it was one little group in particular (girls she had known since high school) that had reacted this way. Conversely (and weirdly) some of the people that she had NOT considered herself to be especially close with had been the most supportive!

This scenario got me thinking about change, upheaval, and grief and how different people deal and react at such times.

Sadly, people who we once called friends may not be there for us in our time of need. If this is the case, it’s vital to remember that this has nothing to do with you, and EVERYTHING to do with them. Who knows why people react as they do?

In all likelihood, these people are struggling with their own demons and our situation has struck a note of FEAR into them.

Some people are afraid that divorce is contagious. Some people feel safer hanging around other married people. Some people genuinely don’t know what to say and how to act when faced with such change. And you know what? All of this is OK.

We can let these people be and accept that maybe they just aren’t our people. Maybe they were never our people. Maybe we stayed with them out of habit and convenience and now that the chips are down we realize that actually, we have very little in common with them.

A good way to assess whether or not we consider such people to be our true friends is to evaluate how we feel when faced with the possibility that we may never hear from them again. If we feel deeply saddened, we may want to consider reaching out to them and talking to them about what is happening.

But if instead of deep sadness we feel ‘hurt’ or ‘shocked’, there’s a good chance that we won’t truly miss them, and that it is time to let them go. I believe that this was the case with my friend. Once she took the time to assess how she really felt about the situation, she realised that she was, in fact, OK with it. That it was probably habit, circumstance and convenience (and, maybe some ego) that had made her want to hold on to these people.

I’ve been there too. I’ve wanted to hold on to people and situations that I’d outgrown, and that had outgrown me. But I’ve come to learn that holding on to people and things that are simply no longer there not only keeps us stuck in an old story and an old life – it seriously delays our healing.

Because in order to move forward and become who we are meant to be, we need to heal from what we’ve been through.

In order to heal, we first need to grieve. And to grieve properly, we need to do the inner work. We need to learn to ignore meaningless distractions; we need to learn to give ourselves the love we crave; we need to spend time alone.

As a newly separated woman, I was a grieving, crazy mess. Yet I somehow instinctively knew what I had to do. I knew that I had to work on healing myself. I knew that I couldn’t rely on anybody else to do this work for me. This is not to say that I isolated and had no friends or support whatsoever – it is to say that I focused on the people and things that I loved the most.

I learned to spend time alone (one of the greatest things I have ever done for myself). I spent time learning how to become a single mother. I did my best to get up, get dressed and go to work each day. And I spent time with the people that mattered the most – some family and three or four close friends who, again instinctively, I knew would always have my back.

In time I made new friends – something I didn’t do a lot of when married – and formed a new relationship. There are people I was once close to who I now have either very little or no contact with. And I accept this, hard as it was in the early days of my divorce.

I know that similar to my marriage, these friendships have served their time and their purpose. They weren’t deliberately killed; they died a natural death. And there is no shame or regret in that.

The post How to Deal With Losing Friends After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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stalking your ex on facebook

Stop Stalking Your Ex On Facebook With These 4 Tips

stalking your ex on facebook

 

You know it’s terrible for you. You know you should stop doing it, yet somehow, you find yourself going back to that search tab on Facebook, and typing in his name. What utterly unsurprising exhibit will you find this time?

Ah, stalking exes on social media. We’ve all done it. Heck, I’ve even had my share of keeping tabs on some old friends I’ve cut ties with. But in terms of toxicity and harmful behavior, social media stalking that guy you dated for six months or the friend you’ve had a falling-out with comes nowhere near the ex-husband, the father of your child. Looking back, I can see precisely how my casual tendency to hop on over to my ex’s Instagram had spiraled into a dangerous habit that brought out the worst in me.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re freshly divorced or it’s been a while. The truth remains that social media surveillance only impedes the natural process that unravels after a serious relationship has failed. That’s a process of healing, coming to terms with what happened, and becoming whole again.

So what do you do when you know it’s not right, but still can’t help yourself?

Stalking Your Ex On Facebook? Here’s How to Stop

Get to know your habit

How often do you stalk your ex on social?

Which feelings does this practice usually evoke?

Pay attention and try to note in which situations you most often search his profile. You’ll notice you hardly ever do it when you’re busy, focused on your wellbeing, or generally content. No, we’ll stalk our exes on social when we’re mind-numbingly bored, feeling petty, or in a self-destructive state where we’re intent on making our anguish worse.

What does that tell you? Yup, nothing good can ever come out of this.

Lastly, whenever the idea of checking out their profile pops up, ask yourself: “What am I looking for?”

The answer to this is seemingly obvious, yet completely vague: well, you “just want to see what he’s up to”. But here’s the thing: you won’t stop until you find something to despise, or something that makes you feel hurt and jealous, or something that proves you’re better off without them.

But this is social media, not real life. And trust me, you don’t need a curated digital presence to prove to you that you’re better off without him. Whether it was you who filed for divorce or him, that decision has been made, and I hardly doubt Facebook/Instagram/Twitter had anything to do with it. Move on and stop looking for confirmation when you have it already.

The thing with this habit of social media surveillance is that you won’t discover anything that you don’t know, think, or feel already. It’s about finding ways to confirm your biases, and that’s exactly what you will do every time. You’ll prove to yourself that you were right. But it won’t feel as good as it should. Am I right?

Keep busy

The reason it won’t feel good is largely owed to that pesky voice that inevitably accompanies all stalking sessions. “Okay, he is still pathetic, but what the hell am I doing with my life, sitting here and scrolling through his profile.”

The best way to cure harmful social media habits is by staying busy and focused on other things. Spend quality time with your kids, go for drinks with friends, find a new hobby. Maybe you want to finally take up hiking and make a new family tradition of enjoying the outdoors with your kids. Whatever activity you’re going for, be mindful and present. You’ll have plenty of tangible proof in your life that you are, indeed, better off without him.

Another good idea is to choose a replacement habit for every time you feel the itch to check on his profile. For example, that could be going for a walk, doing a short meditation exercise, or working on an art project (you can even get your kids on board). And don’t leave this to chance. Plan for this scenario and make sure you have an idea for what you’ll do instead of diving into his social media accounts.

Now, we’ll talk about blocking him from your social media in a moment, but even with those brakes in place, you’ll likely still find yourself craving a social media toxicity hit, at least in the beginning. Like with all bad habits and addictions, a good habit that substitutes the initial behavior will help redirect your focus and ultimately break the cycle.

Go cold turkey

Just. Block. Him.

This is the obvious solution and the one that’s most widely recommended. And if you’re guilty of “hiding” his posts, only to come back and actively search his profile, this is definitely the “parental control” you need to set for yourself.

By blocking his profiles, his online presence becomes invisible to you and vice-versa, which, in all honesty, is really what you need at this stage. Further down the line, maybe a time will come when you’ll be okay with seeing him pop up on your feed, and you really won’t care at all; but if everything is still fresh and you’re struggling with trying not to stalk him, that time has clearly not come yet. So use that block button to avoid temptation and give yourself the much-needed space.

The fact that he won’t be able to see you is equally important, as you won’t be tempted to curate your social media presence to show him that you’re better off. You don’t want to be posting stuff just to get a reaction from him. Trust me; it’s not healthy for you. And remember: his close friends and family come with the package, too. If there’s anyone close to him whose posts will remind you of him and rub salt into the wound, block them also.

But although this is the simple answer, it’s not the ultimate one. To release the demons from within and eliminate the need to stalk him on social, you’ll need all these other steps too.

The bottom line: Commit to letting go

To let go, you’ll need to commit. Set your intentions and muster the willpower to eliminate the habits that are standing in the way. Stalking your ex on social is undoubtedly one of the most harmful, and it’s too darn easy.

These steps have helped me, but if you’re still having a tough time after a few weeks, maybe you want to take a break from social media entirely, even if it’s just temporarily. You’ll find you have a lot more time for all the good things in life.

The post Stop Stalking Your Ex On Facebook With These 4 Tips appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Letting go after divorce

Letting Go After Divorce: It’s Scary & Intimidating Must Very Necessary

Letting go after divorce

 

A pink bike with a pink and white floral print banana seat. I hold a blurry memory of my first bike as if viewed through a hazy flashback scene. Yet I remember with clarity the thrill of independence and pride associated with learning to ride it. A bicycle symbolizes newfound independence for young children, and I loved mine and the sense of adventure and freedom it gave me. Now that I am a parent, my children’s bicycles hold a different significance.

Because as a parent, loss is your biggest fear. My friend recently recounted a situation where her three-year-old daughter was lost behind the stage during a dance recital. My friend became emotional as she talked about her fear and inability to speak at the moment, and the amount of time it took her to recover, even after finding her daughter.

Not being able to locate your child, even for a few seconds, feels like what I imagine drowning does. An immense pressure on your chest, an inability to speak or even breathe. Time slows and your vision narrows. You imagine the worst-case scenario; calling for help or even forming a sentence becomes an impossibility. When faced with such loss, as parents, we hold on tightly to our children and resist their demands to let go.

In other situations, most people do the same, steeling ourselves against loss.

Clutching our purse, locking our car and house, guarding ourselves, our family, and our possessions. Cruelly, sometimes, the people guilty of stealing the most from us are the ones closest to us, betraying our trust, our love, our friendship.

Throughout my divorce, acquaintances would talk about how divorce was so traumatic because it signified “the loss of hopes and dreams” and that captures the essence of divorce; my grief was not a result of saying goodbye to an imperfect partner, but the collapse of all I had built, the dissolution of all I had accumulated, and, far worse, the destruction of all my future plans for my family and me. Loss during divorce is inescapable, overarching, and momentous.

At every stage, as I continued to part ways with pieces of my life, I underwent the same heartbreaking process of grief and loss. My house, my furniture, my dog, and, most recently, a 15-year friendship. At first, I railed against the loss, then I grieved it usually with lots of hot, sad tears, and, ultimately, I shed that old form of me, which had held the item close, like a second skin. Each time, faced with the threat of loss, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, I wouldn’t recover, and, inevitably, I did. I emerged, often scarred, sometimes lighter. Always altered.

With the implosion of a roadmap for my life, there were certain ideas that troubled me more than others.

One was that my children would not be with me when they experienced milestones. Ironically, my ex-husband had missed multiple milestones for our children when we were together; as the only constant in my children’s lives, I vow to always be there for them, and so my fears are unfounded. While I realize I have the annoying habit of worrying irrationally at times, an unusual source of recent distress became who would teach my children to ride their bikes without training wheels.

It was more than fortuitous then that in the midst of a particularly troubling month when my ex was threatening to take me to court regarding his misunderstanding of his visitation schedule, my daughter turned six and requested I remove her training wheels from her bicycle. My mother and I both took her out several times to practice with little success.

Two weeks later, as my ex’s threats increased, I took my daughter out again, and she practiced balancing and gliding on the bicycle. Then I held on and balanced the bike as she pedaled. Holding a child up is difficult work, both at that moment and all others. Every once in awhile, she would tell me to let go and proceed to fall into a bush or onto a front lawn. She grew frustrated and cranky as we all do when our expectations of ourselves exceed our abilities. I tried to express how difficult and time consuming acquiring a new skill is. She did not care. She was determined.

What my Daughter Taught Me About Letting Go After Divorce

That afternoon, after multiple attempts, when she finally instructed me to let go again, and I hesitantly did, my beautiful, tenacious daughter took off. Her long red hair streamed out from under her pink helmet as she rode away. I could see the pride she felt in her accomplishment in the set of her back, the way she sat upright in her seat and continued to ride away from me.

My heart was being squeezed. I felt simultaneously proud and nostalgic. As a mother, I cannot measure the pride I feel at my children’s accomplishments. At every one of my children’s milestones, I have cried with the weight and significance of the moment. This one was no different. I started to cry. I ran to catch up. When she finally came to a stop, I enthusiastically praised her, but she questioned my tears. I explained they were tears of joy.

The next day, my daughter came home with an even more valuable gift, a story she had written about learning to ride her bike. She is in kindergarten and an emergent writer, yet the story was very perspicuous. “I told my mom to let go. I told her to let go again. She let go, I could feel the fresh air and it was fun and my mom was crying joy.”

And so the student inevitably becomes the teacher. I had taught my daughter to ride a bike, and in turn, she gifted me a treasure. Sometimes, in life, we must let go. Letting go is scary and intimidating, but, often, it is necessary. In the process, we might be knocked around; we might fail at first. We definitely will fall. But it is in the act of letting go, difficult though it may be, that we find our way. Letting go is a freeing choice. We gain freedom and independence. We begin to fly. And we learn to write our own stories.

The post Letting Go After Divorce: It’s Scary & Intimidating Must Very Necessary appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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moving after divorce

Moving after Your Divorce: 6 Tips For Starting Fresh

moving after divorce

The circumstances of a divorce are never easy to deal with, but a divorce is also the start of a new chapter.

Whether your move is voluntary or not, the chance to start a new life focused around your own happiness is a silver lining under the storm clouds of a divorce.

Take charge of your next big adventure with these six essential tips for moving after divorce and starting fresh.

6 Tips For Moving After Divorce

Analyze Your Finances

First, consider your financial options. Calculate your new budget and consider all of your expenditures and costs to estimate the type of place you’ll be able to afford and the cities or towns that match your expected income.

Every state has its own state/local tax burden and property values, so it’s important to shop around and do your research.

If the loss of your spouse’s income is creating a financial hardship for you, a move can help you balance your income and your expenses by downsizing from your current home or area.

Balancing your budget allows you to consider the places you can spend less and the ways you might be able to increase your income.

Moving costs should also be considered before you make any concrete plans. If you’re planning on hiring a moving company to help you get to your new home, don’t hesitate to shop around for the best deal.

You can get a ballpark estimate of moving costs by calling around to a few moving companies to compare rates. Don’t forget to factor in your new utility bills as well; these vary by region, climate, and the size of your home or apartment.

Research Your New Town or City

Finding a new place to put down roots is a challenge all by itself, but it can also be a liberating experience. Maybe you’d like to move to a place you always dreamed of living or a familiar place near your friends and family.

Take some time to consider your options, and find a new location that fits your job, financial situation, family needs, and personal preference. A move to just a few towns over can still bring significant and welcome change to your situation without upturning your entire life.

Once you’ve got an estimate of your cost of living, there are other factors to consider. The culture of your new location, your proximity to services like public transportation, crime rates, and public-education quality could all be major factors for your personal happiness, depending on your circumstances.

Describing your ideal environment can help you identify the things you’re looking for in a new city or town. Consider all aspects of your life: your career, your kids, and your lifestyle.

Databases like City-Data provide a wealth of information if you have a location in mind. A database lets you look up tax assessments, public school ratings, and more without leaving your living room.

Look for New Employment

For most people, starting a new life requires a new job. If you’re currently pursuing a career, a move to a new location gives you a reason to dust off your resume and reach for more income or benefits. You’ve gained skills in your old job, and you can leverage your move to take your career to the next level.

If you were dependent on your spouse for income before your divorce, a divorce can mean an anxious time of finding a job and earning a good income.

Take your list of ideal cities for your move, and start job hunting as soon as you can—some companies may offer you a relocation package to help with the move and starting work.

If you’re already retired, don’t discount the benefits of a new career. With your marriage coming to a close, a career in teaching or consulting could give you a renewed sense of purpose and identity in your new location.

Look around in the area you’re planning to move to and see if it offers opportunities for an exciting new gig.

Plan Your Move-In Day

Once you’ve selected your destination, it’s time to actually get there. With the right steps and planning, you can make moving a more manageable and low-stress experience.

If it’s in your budget, consider hiring a full-service moving company. Many companies will carefully pack your belongings for you and move them into your new home.

You’ll have enough on your mind as it is, so hiring a moving company can help you avoid the stress and focus on planning the new life waiting for you on the other side.

If a full-service moving company is out of budget, you can take your time with your move by renting a portable moving container. With a moving container, you can pack slowly and carefully over several weeks or several months.

When you’re ready, a moving service will pick up your container and move it to your new home. You can also rent a storage unit in your new town if your new home doesn’t have space for everything you want to still keep.

Build a New Network

Being alone in a new place is difficult. When you complete your move, focus on establishing a new network of people you can depend on. You might seek to build relationships with your new neighbors and coworkers, or you can connect with family and friends that live nearby.

Try not to spend too much time alone in your new city; it’s important to start getting out there to feel more comfortable in your new environment, even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone.

Ask around in your current network to see if anyone knows somebody near your new home. Often, your existing friends can help introduce you to new people.

Don’t hesitate to try new activities like a sports league, a board game night, or the local bar’s trivia night—you might end up with a new friend or two. Your move is a chance to surround yourself with new people that reinforce the type of life you want for yourself.

Don’t Forget the Details

You have a lot on your mind with a big move and a big relationship change. Don’t lose track of critical details. Create a moving checklist that includes things like measuring furniture, setting up a new postal address, transferring bank accounts, and defrosting your refrigerator.

If necessary, make a physical list for yourself and keep track of each item on a week-by-week basis.

Once you’re established in your new home, it’s time to nest. You can decorate your home to your own vision and create a space for growth and new beginnings.

You may have started in a place of turmoil and loss, but your new life is an affirmation of your strength and resilience. This transition signifies a new adventure, a new lifestyle, and a brand new you.

The post Moving after Your Divorce: 6 Tips For Starting Fresh appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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people pleaser

Are You a People Pleaser? Here Are 6 Tips On How To Gain Control

people pleaser

While it’s admirable to be a caring person, learning to accept and respect myself has helped me to set healthy boundaries and to say “no” without feeling guilty.

For instance, I used to take on too much responsibility at work because I thought that others would “like” me and I’d feel better about myself. As it turns out, it was a quick way to burn out and I ended up feeling resentful and depleted.

The term “People Pleaser” is often used to describe people who go out of their way to make sure someone else is happy to the detriment of their own happiness. They seek approval from others due to unresolved issues with their parents or a need to be accepted.

Becoming a people pleaser is a way in which many individuals neglect to set boundaries and convey to others that they’re not good enough.

If you’re not sure if this description fits you, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

-Do you have a hard time saying “no” when you are asked to do something for others?

-Do you worry a lot about disappointing others or worry they’ll leave you?

-Do you bend over backwards for other people, often at your own expense?

-Do you do some things because of a feeling of obligation, and then feel resentful afterwards?

-Are you afraid that if you don’t take care of others, they’ll think you’re not “nice?”

-Do you avoid speaking up for yourself or voicing your opinion because you’re afraid of conflict?

-Do you let your other people “take advantage” of you?”

If you find yourself recognizing yourself in a lot of these, then you probably can benefit from being more assertive.

After all, although pleasing others at your own expense might gain you some recognition, it won’t be good for your self-esteem in the long run.

Letting Go of Being a Victim

Studies show that while some men may experience “People Pleasing” it appears more often in women. Over time, a lack of setting boundaries in relationships can damage a person’s sense of self-worth. The good news is that this damage is reversible with self-awareness and support from others.

Before you can begin to set healthy boundaries in relationships, you must have healthy self-esteem – which means evaluating yourself in positive ways and believing in yourself. Honestly take stock of your patterns of relating to others.

One of the first things to ask yourself is: how do I treat ymyself? No one is going to treat you with respect if you beat yourself up. Get rid of all those self-defeating thoughts in your head – such as calling yourself “stupid” that won’t help you get back on your feet.

The first step to addressing people pleasing behavior is to examine your attitudes and beliefs. Often people get stuck in the role of “People Pleasing” because they lack self-awareness.  The following 6 ways will allow you to gain control of your life.

How to Stop Being a People Pleaser

  • Embrace the idea that you can’t be liked by everyone. There will always be those who don’t agree or approve of your words or actions. Accept that you can’t control what others think of you. All you can really control is yourself.
  • Ask yourself: do I give too much in relationships? Do you ignore your own needs due to seeking other’s approval? Therapy, reading, and keeping a journal can aid you in this process.
  • Challenge your beliefs and self-defeating thoughts about your self-worth. You don’t need to prove anything to another person about your self-worth. You are just as deserving of attention and caring as other people are.
  • Put an end to playing the role of a victim. Make new decisions to change your life – such as taking time to do the things that you enjoy rather than deferring to the needs of others.
  • Practice compassion and self-approval by learning to set personal boundaries and saying “no”to unreasonable requests from others.  You will feel better when you give yourself time to replenish yourself rather than focusing too much on others.
  • Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you are selfish. As you begin to care less about seeking the approval of others, you’ll find you have more energy – people pleasing can drain us of time and make us feel tired. Strive to achieve balance between your physical, mental, and emotional heath.

Take a moment to ask yourself: Am I able to freeing express my thoughts, wishes, and desires without worrying about my partner or friend’s reaction? If the answer is no, it may be time to consider working on freeing yourself from being a people pleaser.

By learning to be more assertive, you will no longer feel like a victim. Making yourself a priority isn’t the same as being selfish. You are worth the effort and deserve a freer, happier life.

I would love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments at movingpastdivorce.com. To find out more about my research, order my book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy Long-Lasting Relationship.

My forthcoming book “The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around” will be published by Sounds True in the February of 2020.

Follow Terry Gaspard on Facebook , Twitter and movingpastdivorce.com/

This article originally appeared on movingpastdivorce.com

The post Are You a People Pleaser? Here Are 6 Tips On How To Gain Control appeared first on Divorced Moms.



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