Each year hundreds of parents of small children walk into the Family Court in New Rochelle and file petitions claiming that the other parent, usually the father, has inflicted some kind of harm on their child when in fact it is not true.The children are usually from five to ten years old. The parent who files goes before Judge Nilda Morales Horowitz who has fixed several cases and got caught with no punishment. She gives the parent advise. Gets Child UnProtective Services involved, The County Attorneys Office and Victims Assistance and assumes the defendant is guilty.
When rebuilding after divorce focus on what’s important for you and your family and what will give you space and time to heal.
One of the ways in which I organize my life is to make to-do lists and when I was rebuilding after divorce, I knew I needed a list that would help me to stay focused and on task. When you’ve been hurt and feel disoriented, it’s often difficult to keep track of what needs to get done, especially when you have children, a household and a business to manage.
I remember sitting down one evening, pen and paper in hand (yes, I’m old fashioned like that) and making myself a list of the things I needed in order to manage all the things in my life; it wasn’t easy but I got through it.
The reason why it wasn’t easy for me was because I already felt very overwhelmed by what had happened to me and, everything that came to my attention and needed taking care of on top of the things I was dealing with, felt like a ton of bricks piling up on my shoulders.
When you’re going through a major break-up, the last thing you need is to think about what else needs taking care of. Would making this list add to that feeling of being overwhelmed? Turns out, it actually helped me to see what I needed to get done now and what could wait. It put things into perspective for me and it ultimately allowed me to maintain my sanity when problems came up.
In no particular order, here is the list of things I had on my to-do list when rebuilding after divorce:
- Find a handyman you can call when you need help with a project around the house. I consider myself pretty hands-on when it comes to home projects but I also knew I had tons of other things I needed to pay attention to. Having the name and number of someone I could contact if and when I needed help gave me some peace of mind. It also meant I didn’t have to ask my ex to help anymore when I needed a second pair of hands. He was always willing to help but I also wanted to be more independent now that he had left.
- In addition to the handyman, have the name and number of an electrician and plumber. We all know the expression, “When it rains, it pours” and a few weeks after my ex had left, I had to deal with a few plumbing and electrical issues.
- Along the same lines as the items listed above, find a mechanic. When your car breaks down or you need to bring your car in for maintenance, having the name and number of a trusted mechanic can give you peace of mind.
- Find someone who can help you clean your house. I often prided myself on being able to clean the house by myself but when you’re emotionally taxed, coming home to a clean house does wonders for the soul. Again, this is all about finding ways to get help and focus on the priorities in your life: healing, spending time with your children, work, etc.
- Get your own bank account and start to manage your finances. Ask for help if you need to figure out how to set up various accounts (e.g., savings, retirement, emergency fund, etc). I reached out to a local mompreneur group where I live and sure enough, I found a fellow mom who could give me professional advice on how to manage my finances and help me to understand my options.
- Child care. I hired a mother’s helper a few times a week because sometime, I just couldn’t handle the kids on my own. I needed to retreat and take care of myself and when the babysitter arrived, I was able to get some alone time in my bedroom and know the kids were taken care of.
- Reorganize your living space. For me, I found it extremely therapeutic to go through my closet and toss anything I didn’t want anymore. I also walked through my home one evening, after the kids had gone to bed, and tried to find ways to make the house my own. Sometimes re-organizing the furniture and the decorations you already have go a long way. I also found that going to discount stores or IKEA and buying decorations and accent furniture really helped to make my space my own and it lifted my spirits.
- As a mom who works from home, I made a point of keeping a morning schedule for myself. I often found that I would get the kids up and going in the morning and then after dropping them off at school, I would go back to bed or sit somewhere trying to figure out how I would spend my day. It was awful. When I started to get myself ready for the day by taking a shower, applying some make-up and getting dressed, I felt my mood shift. Along those lines, I made a point of scheduling something for myself right after the kids had been dropped off. That way, I had somewhere to go and it made me feel good about myself.
Finally, the most important piece of advice I could give to anyone trying to get themselves back on their feet is: show kindness to yourself and allow yourself to feel this experience and to tell yourself it’s okay if it doesn’t all get done. Focus on what’s important for you and your family and what will give you space and time to heal.
The post Do You Keep a “To Do List?” If You’re Rebuilding After Divorce You Should! appeared first on Divorced Moms.
If you’ve ever considered bird nesting with your ex following divorce, then Splitting Up Together on ABC is the “exhibit A” you need to consult to help wrap your mind around that concept! The show, which debuted this March under the care of producer, Ellen DeGeneres, is an American adaptation of a Danish TV show, and follows the story of Lena and Martin (played by Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson), parents of three young children.
For those of you not familiar with bird nesting, it is the practice of continuing to share a home with one’s ex after divorce. Unlike typical divorces where the children alternate between homes, in this situation, the kids remain in their home, and the parents rotate in and out. The children never have to vacate their own bedroom or familiar surroundings and only go without the presence of one parent at-a-time, according to their visitation plan.
Many of us couldn’t imagine continuing to be in that close of proximity to the one we divorced, yet many child development experts praise bird nesting as a creative solution to co-parenting because it causes the least disruption to the children when their parents can no longer be married. It may be a child-centric dream, but it’s hard to imagine the logistics of it for most situations.
In the case of Lena and Martin, they happen to have a garage which has been mostly finished into an apartment. It lacks in air conditioning and some of the comforts of the main home; but, allows the adults to have a place to live when it’s not their turn with the children. For divorced people like the Splitting Up Together duo who are fortunate enough to have a guest house, finished basement, or move-in ready garage, it’s not a bad idea.
What about the rest of us?
Very few of us could afford to rent a second residence for our off week, whether shared with our ex or not, while continuing to contribute to the rent or mortgage of the family home. Even fewer could afford to maintain two separate living quarters for our time away from the kids. Personally, I would have a hard time coming “home” to my ex’s bachelor pad after he’s had a week of sexcapades and pizza binging. He wouldn’t help maintain our home while we were married, so I certainly wouldn’t expect him to do so now, and I’m no longer game for picking up his pizza boxes and dirty socks!
Lena and Martin had ground rules in place about passing off each living area to the other, so we don’t see too much strife between them about messes and so on; however, some of the typical co-parenting frustrations exist such as inconsistencies between the two about chores and responsibilities of the children, discipline, and so on. The close proximity of their living quarters also creates uncertainty about when to involve the other about such things as a child’s fever or sensitive puberty issues.
Is it ever okay to just barge in the family home on your week off to ask a question or share a concern or bother them on their week off? What if she has a date staying over? What if he just wants to be trusted to take care of a situation himself? Some of these questions are the same for us no matter what our visitation arrangement, I, for one, like to think of myself as “on duty” whether my kids are with me or not; yet, I respect the fact that my ex has the right to individual time with the kids, just as I do!
One thing that becomes very clear about bird nesting from watching the show is the need for boundaries. In many cases, we need to know when to be flexible (such as when the heat of summer hit and the garage was no longer habitable, prompting the characters to agree to share the main house for the summer). In many other circumstances, it becomes necessary to define what is and is not acceptable to maintain peace, privacy, and the need for each member of the partnership to heal and begin to form their own identity as a single person.
Is bird nesting realistic?
I have always contended that once the co-parents begin to develop other serious relationships, the arrangement will become stickier. How many of our dates would want to bounce in and out of our two residences, and will new partners be allowed to stay in the main home with the kids? This situation would be awkward, at best, and something that would have to be carefully planned through. What happens if one of the parents eventually remarries and wants to reside with their new spouse full time? Will nesting even be a possibility anymore?
New relationships and dating are likely to be some of the most contentious issues faced by bird nesters, as demonstrated by Lena and Martin. Martin becomes jealous after witnessing a sexual encounter between his former wife and a new partner, and Lena lets her mind go wild with speculation after seeing a female regularly visit her ex in the garage. Nesting turns up the volume on feelings of jealousy or possible unresolved romantic feelings when dates take place in one’s own property instead of across town!
I don’t know any divorced folks co-hosting pina colada parties in the backyard, but maybe I missed my chance at the fun by not bird nesting. Time will only tell how well Lena and Martin weather the challenges of divorce, co-parenting, and bird nesting while continuing to shack up together. While bird nesting is something to consider, it is full of unique challenges that most co-parents do not have to overcome; therefore, anyone considering it has a lot to talk about in order to make it work!
Splitting Up Together makes post-divorce parenting look rather easy compared to what I know of most situations. Perhaps they’re more evolved as co-parents, but I suspect that some Hollywood magic and the fact that this couple probably just needed marriage counseling is what makes it work so well for them. The removal of some of the stress and expectations of married life seems to have created a newfound sense of appreciation for one another and regret for the loss of the marriage. There are some genuine issues that need to be worked through, but I have to wonder if divorce was ever their answer?
I have respect for anyone who can make nesting work, which is why I regret to say that, in my own life, I feel it would be a life sentence of dealing with the same issues that plagued my marriage and drove us to divorce. I predict that, in my own life, bird nesting would equate to an eternal prison of cleaning up after someone I can no longer stand and getting horrible sleep in a garage where I cuddle up to his power tools and the lawnmower. No thanks.
My personal jury is still out on the viability of bird nesting, but this show may change my mind on that as I watch the characters play out many more post-divorce situations. Meanwhile, I will continue to watch simply because it’s refreshing to see representation of a divorced family and all the issues we go through!
The post “Splitting Up Together” Shows Us the Pros And Cons Of Bird Nesting appeared first on Divorced Moms.
There should be no doubts as to the very real existence of parental alienation syndrome. A rose by any other name is still a rose.
Shortly after my divorce was final my ex started a systematic brainwashing of my children. For her, divorce was unacceptable and when I chose to leave our problem-riddled marriage she viewed it as me abandoning the family as a whole. And, she made it her job to make sure our children felt the same way she did. Within a year of our final decree, neither of my 3 children would see or communicate with me.
My children were my life and, being unwilling to do without them in my life I started researching and learning everything I could about parental alienation. Below is a bit of what I’ve come to believe about PAS, the parent who alienates and what needs to be done in such situations.
I’m happy to say that, with the help of an outstanding therapist, an educated family court judge and a psychiatric evaluation of myself and my ex wife, within two years I had my children back in my life. Some, though, aren’t as lucky as I and can end up alienated from their children for life.
No child or parent (mother or father) should ever have to live the horror of alienation at the hands of a personality disordered ex.
The best way to prevent the abuse of parental alienation is to have all families where there is a conflict issue go through specialized, court-ordered counseling with a parental alienation specialist. Or, at least someone with a high success rate who specializes in working with families in grief management, anger management, and impulse control.
Why these specialties? Because in 99% of the cases of PAS (parental alienation syndrome), the alienating parent may be borderline narcissistic. They have extremely low self-esteem and believe they have to be perfect or they are not loveable. And if they are not loveable, then they will be abandoned. And this is their biggest fear, being abandoned.
For this reason, they will do anything to make sure that they are seen as the perfect and only parent for the children. You can add to this the fact that they are stuck in the anger stage of the grieving process of divorce and cannot move forward. They constantly project their issues and anger onto and through the children or what I call Borderless Boundaries. These parents need help to grieve properly as do the children.
It is imperative that proper parental alienation education and training be provided to divorce attorneys, counselors, therapists, child agencies as well as to the family court and judges.
Without proper education and awareness, the damages caused by aligning the children with only one parent will be horrific and permanent.
Children have the right to both parents in their lives. There is no room for false allegations and contempt of court orders. The courts need to start penalizing for these transgressions. Until this is done, families will continue to be ripped apart and the children made to suffer.
Regrettably, this suggestion MAY serve to help only the PAS child, someday but not immediately. It may have no impact in facilitating the reunification between a parent and their child, at least not initially. This may offer only the hope that your legacy to your child will be aware of the truth.
Many knowledgeable professionals have likened parental alienation to cult indoctrination.
But this issue is immeasurably more insidious: whereas victims of cult indoctrination are not initially in a dependency relationship with the cult leader and therefore had the option to reject the indoctrinator, children are very much dependent upon their brainwashing parent.
Because of the dependency needs of children, resisting the alienating parent, who is generally but NOT ALWAYS, the residential parent, can be terrifying to them. So as despicable as these children treat their targeted/alienated parent, they have no good options for escaping this dysfunctional family dynamic.
They are in a no-win situation, a double bind, a catch 22. Their situation is crazy-making, which explains why the psychiatrists who eventually founded the family therapy movement in the 1950s first observed ON THE PSYCHIATRIC WARD the characteristic family dynamic of parental alienation syndrome.
Child psychiatrist, Murray Bowen, had labeled this dynamic as the “Pathological Triangle.” He was so convinced as to the detrimental effects on children of this dysfunctional coalition between one parent and a child to the minimization and disengagement of the other parent, that when he hospitalized the child, he also hospitalized the entire nuclear family!
Yes, although it is accurate to credit child psychiatrist, Richard Gardner, to have first labeled this family dynamic as PAS, the family dynamic has nonetheless been observed and systematically documented by psychiatrists/family therapists for more than 60 years.
For the naysayers, like Janet Johnston, Joan Kelly, Stephanie Dallam of the Supervised Family Network, there should be no doubts as to the very real existence of parental alienation syndrome. A rose by any other name is still a rose.
The post What I Learned About Parental Alienation When I Was Alienated From My Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.
Do Judges Hear the Victims Yet?
On one side of the recall where judges and lawyers who vowed to keep the “independence ‘ of the judiciary. This side was led by former Santa Clara County judge La Doris Cordell, who was not very nice to the protestors on the other side, showing the judge culture still runs deep in her veins.
On the other side, the Recall Persky side, were moms, a few dads, and an army on social media. An army that is fed up with a judiciary that was anything other than impartial and independent. An army La Doris Cordell and the aging judiciary were ill prepared to face in a local election.
POOR PERSKY? NOT !
Yes, Persky had a family. Yes, Persky was a nice guy. Yes, Persky was one of the county’s smartest and best judges, but Judge Aaron Persky was still part of a Judge Culture that voters and the #metoo movement said must go.
Before he went though Persky, who could have retired , cost Santa Clara County tax payers over $5 million dollars in security, recall ballots and other costs merely to make a point for the judiciary. A point he will never make now that he is the first Superior Court judge to be recalled in California after 86 years.
Persky will forever be linked to his ruling in the sentencing of Brock Turner. Persky will live out his days with that being his judicial legacy. His children will see it, and his family will feel the financial pinch that all families who were trapped in Persky’s court felt for years. When Persky’s grandchildren look him up on line, they will see the recall, the protests and perhaps they will see where history changed in California’s courts.
Persky loses his $150,000 a year pension, but more importantly he loses the millions he could have made working at JAMs and as a private judge, referee or Special Master.
Some say Persky will not lose and that law firms like McManis Faulkner are already cashing in on hopes of getting Persky assigned in complex cases.
The issue that failed to come out before the election, was related to Persky’s rulings in family court. That is where Persky was seduced into the culture of criminal activity that would eventually be his downfall in the recall election.
Judge Persky oversaw the Wahl v Perkins case, a case where divorce attorney Bradford Baugh was disqualified, but Persky never appears to have reported Baugh, as Canon 3D2 required. And while attorney misconduct appears to run rampant in Santa Clara, very few judges ever do anything about it. Persky has personal knowledge of lawyer and judge crimes, and ironically, Persky is the one being tossed from the bench, not the criminal judges and family law attorneys.
As the judges and lawyers who endorsed the No on Persky Recall scratch their heads in amazement, several fractions of the Persky Recall are turning their attention to District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who is said to have known about Antitrust activity in Santa Clara County divorce cases that serves to harm women and children, and he did nothing.
SOLANO COUNTY MOVES JUDGES – #METOO!
Santa Clara had the signs ……..and media attention, but a small group of women who are true warriors continue to impeach and recall bad judges who are violating rights where children are concerned.
These moms, labeled a “MOB”, have had enough and are supporting each other in court watching, letter writing and yes, that dirty deed, protesting.
Soon all judges will learn they just might want to start worrying about social media and protestors because they are not going away.
Trying to get DA Jeff Rosen to worry about the crimes Mary Ann Grilli, James Towery, Nat Hales, James Mc Manis, Bradford Baugh , and countless others committed in divorce and custody cases, is point less. So Jeff Rosen is about to see what voters have planned for him.
Molly O’Neal, of Santa Clara County’s Public Defender’s office, called victims who supported the recall of Judge Persky a “Mob”. Funny, look at the MOB in Solano County, they look more like a group of moms angry at judges who took their children, for no legal reason.
Bye Bye Persky. Bye Bye Carringer.
Who is next in 2018? Still time to recall or impeach judges, the DA and the politicians who protect them over protecting victims and children.
When you are first issued your divorce decree, it might not hit you how uncomfortable Father’s Day can be the first year after your divorce.
The major holidays are significantly more complicated after divorce and require careful planning to avoid conflict and hurt feelings. Father’s Day can be especially tough since this day in particular is supposed to be all about you.
Here are some tips to guide you through your first Father’s Day after divorce.
Talk to your ex
Ideally, your parenting time will fall on Father’s Day and you will be free to celebrate however you please. Sometimes, this is not the case and other arrangements must be made in order to accommodate any festivities you have planned.
She might be the last person you want to talk to, but it is worth reaching out to your ex to work out a plan. If Father’s Day does not fall on your scheduled weekend, ask her if you can work out a compromise. Offer to let her have the kids an extra weekend, so you can have them for the holiday.
It will help your case tremendously if you were cooperative on Mother’s Day. As with all aspects of co-parenting, working out holiday custody arrangements requires clear communication and flexibility.
If, for whatever reason, your ex tries to withhold parenting time from you on Father’s Day, you should get in touch with your family law attorney immediately.
Be honest with your children
Previous Father’s Day celebrations were probably whole-family affairs. Adjusting to a more low-key holiday is going to be different for your kids as well, so be aware that they also might be dealing with some difficult emotions.
Acknowledge that Father’s Day feels a little different this year and let them know that it is OK to feel sad. You can admit that you are feeling a little down about things too. Make sure you reinforce that even though things are different, you and your kids still love each other.
Help them out with gifts
In years past, your wife probably helped the kids pick out a gift for you for Father’s Day. Depending on their age, your children might not know what to do now that Mom is not around to help out. This could be a source of anxiety for them if they are worried about you being disappointed on Father’s Day.
You might consider enlisting the help of a relative or close friend to help them figure out a gift idea. You can even supply them the money to pay for it. This is not about making sure you get a Father’s Day present but rather ensuring that you and your children are able to happily enjoy the day together.
Celebrate on a different day
The worst-case scenario is that you have to spend Father’s Day separated from your kids. In that case, just celebrate Father’s Day on a different weekend.
Just because you are celebrating on a day that is not designated as “Father’s Day” should not make the day any less special. The holiday is about acknowledging the special bond fathers have with their children, and that is something you should be able to celebrate on any day.
Take everything in stride
The most important thing to do on your first Father’s Day after divorce is to take everything in stride.
Keep in mind that the sad emotions you are feeling are entirely normal. It is OK to feel that way.
“It’s normal for a dad to be experiencing some sadness, some anger, some feelings of loss and just the sense that this isn’t what I wanted to have with my child,” said author, speaker, and teacher Laura Petherbridge. “Just knowing that those emotions are normal and that he’s not losing his mind or weird or something because he’s experiencing that is three-fourths the battle.”
Even if the day is a bummer, remember that it is just one day on the calendar. Even if you do not get the ideal Father’s Day celebration, the role you are playing in the lives of your children is crucial. Nothing can change that.
The post 5 Tips To Guide You Through Father’s Day After Divorce appeared first on Dads Divorce.
The emotional pain of divorce can be temporarily ignored through distraction, but won’t completely go away until we face it.
Two summers ago, my son had major surgery on both of his legs and spent a third of his summer vacation in thigh high casts. What a trooper! The things that kid endured, both during the surgery and recovery, boggles my brain; yet, it was necessary to correct some chronic problems that would affect him the rest of his life. In preparation for his procedure, friends and family gathered many things, such as books, movies, and games, to keep his mind off the pain and misery of those evil casts. Heal he must; but, if at all possible, he could be distracted from the pain!
Divorce pain isn’t much less heinous than the agony of having bone and muscle sawed through. Often, we try to “keep our minds off of it” by thinking about anything else we possibly can and busying ourselves with both everyday responsibilities and meaningless pursuits to ignore the destruction and suffering all around us. The problem with disregarding the pain of the end of our marriage is that it won’t go away just because we pretend it’s not there!
Have you ever played hide and go seek with a young child? Sometimes, they’re not very good at it, and they seem to think that as long as their face is hidden and they can’t see us, that we can’t see them! Maybe you’re not acknowledging the pain of divorce, but it will patiently sit and wait for you until you’re ready to face it!
The emotional pain of a break-up is different than a physical recovery. My son’s bones and tissue continued to heal, even if he threw himself into a good book or video game to occupy his mind while his body mended itself. Heartbreak, however, insists that we feel every bit of the experience and address how it affects us. In short, it won’t go away until we give it its due time and attention, so we might as well face the music and get it over with!
My question for you, then, is are you allowing yourself to heal, or are you simply distracting yourself from the inevitable? Are you hoping that by focusing on work, friends, hobbies, or even vices that the bad things in life will just disappear?
While I do recommend having a variety of positive things available to motivate and help take our minds off of divorce, we have to be careful of how much we bury our heads in the sand versus taking a temporary respite from all things negative. It would be too overwhelming for any of us to only think about all the ways our lives suck during divorce; however, we have to eventually confront everything that is happening and work our way through it!
Additionally, we must choose distractions carefully. Not only should they not completely block us from feeling or being a participant in life, but we must be sure that attempts to block pain do not cause new complications to develop for us. Namely, we need not turn to dangerous distractions, such as alcohol, drugs, or sex, which could become addictive or cause us harm.
How many of us have even joked about the therapeutic benefits of a little “retail therapy?” As with most things, everything is best in moderation. A little shopping (or stress eating, gambling, adrenaline, and so on) is fun and not especially harmful; but, the endorphin release and ability to replace sad feelings with happy ones can quickly let them get out of control!
The moral of this story is that while we can ease emotional pain, we can’t entirely hide from it-nor should we! If we wish to completely overcome all that we feel because of divorce, we will have to engage in the grieving and healing process until we finally emerge whole again.
There’s no need to suffer through every inch of the journey toward healing; yet, it’s important to know that distractions may only draw out the process because they keep us from facing off with our problems. Healing doesn’t require obsessing over our pain, but taking on each emotion and new situation will allow us to come closer to the other side.
What are you using to help you get through your divorce? Are you taking it all without the anesthesia of distraction or hiding from the hurt because you don’t want to face reality? Reality is very patient and will wait for us until we’re ready. Pain is unwelcome but doesn’t have to a long-term companion.
The post Are You Dealing With Divorce Or Distracting Yourself From It? appeared first on Divorced Moms.
In addition to helping you work through emotions, writing can also give you a way to visualize the life you want.
“Who likes to write?”
Twenty-four faces look back at me as if I just asked them if they wanted to cut off a limb or crawl through a desert. A few brave hands go up.
For the last 17 years, I have started my Composition class this way. It’s a dangerous question. I know the odds are stacked against me. For the most part, my students don’t come to me liking to write.
Chances are, you don’t like to write either. But stay with me, because as you heal from a divorce or as you move through any other challenging time in your life, writing can be an important tool for healing and self-discovery. It can help you gain more clarity about the stories you tell yourself, about who you are and the events you have experienced. And it can help you create new stories about the life you want, too.
You don’t have to love writing or be good at it for it to help, and the research is clear that it does. I don’t necessarily love running – my muscles burn; I’m out of breath; it’s sweltering hot – but I do love the feeling I have when I am done. The sense of accomplishment. The clarity of mind. The ability to eat pizza. (Just kidding. Not really.) Writing is like that. If you keep at it, if you strengthen that muscle, it will allow you to start seeing patterns, to work through issues you didn’t even know were weighing on you, and to change your story if you want to change your path.
Writing doesn’t require any pricey equipment or memberships. All you need is a pen and a notebook or your hands and a keyboard, if that’s more your style. You don’t need other people to do it. It can be done in complete silence or in the midst of three kids playing Power Rangers (trust me). You don’t need to be flexible or in good shape. Writing is accessible to everyone. You just need to get over your fear.
So, if you’ve tried yoga and wine and running and tea and therapy and are still feeling stuck, give writing a try. Why? Because it works. Here are 3 ways that it can help.
1. Writing is cathartic.
The first time I realized what a release writing could be I was 21 and getting over what, at the time, was “the most traumatic break up ever.” I was in a new city, freshly single and alone in my apartment, as my roommate had moved in with her boyfriend. Journaling was something I had previously done sporadically, but with a lot of alone time and a broken heart, I started to write more. After a while, it turned into a nightly practice. I’d work out (Tae-Bo. Hello, 1999!), then light my peach candle and curl up on the couch with my notebook. I didn’t write with a purpose; instead, I just put into words whatever came to mind. Head, hand, paper. Repeat. Sometimes I wrote for only a few minutes; other times, I wrote for an hour.
But regardless of the duration, the feeling at the end was always the same – lighter. It was like putting down something I had been carrying around all day. Once I had written about it, I could give myself a break from thinking about it.
Since then, writing has become the way I work through most experiences. I’ve seen it work for my students, too, as they write about serving in Iraq, overcoming addiction, ending abusive relationships and recovering from failure.
What you write about isn’t important. You could write about your day. You could jot down the first word that comes to mind and do a stream of consciousness entry. You could make a list of things that are going well, or of things you’re grateful for or angry about. Don’t worry about having a clear direction or focus. What ultimately matters is giving a voice to your thoughts. This is what helps. Think of journal writing like having a conversation with an endlessly supportive friend who never grows tired of hearing the same story a million times.
You might find yourself crying, laughing or screaming while you put the ideas swirling around in your head onto paper. This is OK. Getting your emotions out and putting your feelings into words will allow you to work through them. Feel them, write them down, and free yourself from thinking about them. Don’t get caught up in worrying about whether your writing is good or not, either. This is just for you.
Some people even like to burn their pages, but I don’t suggest it, because going back over what you’ve written can be helpful. Which brings me to the second way writing can help.
2. Writing can help you see patterns.
We all have patterns – with our words, our mannerisms, our choices. But we’re not always able to see them ourselves in the real time. This is where a regular writing practice can help. After a while, you will be able to read back over the pages you wrote last week or last month or even a few years before and start to notice themes. It might be something as simple as a phrase you commonly use when you are upset, which could clue you into patterns you have with your word choice. Or maybe you find that you write a lot about feeling overwhelmed, about not having enough time in the day or enough hands to help everyone at once. Is there a way to reach out for help? Or maybe you notice that you are often writing about being alone or feeling lonely. It might be time to focus on ways to broaden your circle, either virtually or in-person. And, if you’re divorced, there’s a good chance that you have vented about your ex. Do you notice things that he or she does that trigger you? Maybe he’s never on time for pick up or she doesn’t keep track of important dates for your kids. Is there a way to address this so that it’s not a constant source of frustration for you? (The answer to this might be “no”, but at least you know what triggers you, so you can work on reacting differently.)
You might also find that your patterns are more about who you are in relationships and what you want for the future. Recently, I came across an old journal that covered a few years in college, the aforementioned grad-school-end-of-the-world breakup, and the year leading up to meeting my ex-husband. At first, it was fun to read through my life in the late nineties, but nothing was notable. It was just a collection of ramblings about my days, about what I was thinking and feeling. But the more I read, the more I realized that I had essentially been writing about the same thing for the last twenty years. The people changed, the cities changed, but when it came to relationships, what I wanted was to be chosen. It was what my entries centered on then and what they came down to now. I wanted someone who was all in, who chose me without reservation. Talk about an “aha moment”.
To get this benefit of writing, you do have to have a semi-regular practice, even if that means only writing for a few minutes twice a week. But the results are valuable. Anything that helps us to be more self-aware is. For some of us, our patterns are what led us to a life that didn’t end up working out and taking a good look at them is what will allow us to grow.
3. Writing can help you create a vision for the life you want.
In addition to helping you work through emotions, writing can also give you a way to visualize the life you want. It can help you to move forward, no matter how stuck you currently feel, and give you hope.
Instead of writing about what happened to you today, try describing a typical day in your life in five years or even in five months, if that’s more manageable. Be as specific as you can. Make it real. What are you wearing? Where are you living? Who is sitting next to you? What food are you eating? What makes you smile? Be there as you write, because someday you actually will be.
Imagining what my life would be like in few years and making it concrete through writing was one of the things that helped me when it seemed like my divorce was endless. I would sometimes create bulleted lists of the things I wanted in six months. Other times, I would imagine a typical day when everything was calmer, describing it from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed.
Future-writing like this is helpful because it can jolt us out of our current circumstances. And while spending time exploring our emotions is important, being reminded that it will pass is equally as valuable. Why? Because it shifts our focus. It shows us that we are not limited to what we are experiencing in the moment. Sometimes, we get so caught up in today’s fears and issues that it limits our perspective. And we can end up getting stuck there, with each day just being a repeat of the day before. Feeling what it’s like to be in a different place, emotionally, physically or both, helps us to start to move in that direction. And writing a new story is the first step.
So, even if you are convinced that writing is “not your thing”, it’s worth a try. It will take time; stick with it. You don’t decide to go for a jog one day and run a marathon the next, right? But if you give it a chance, writing might just help make sense of your current experience and create a life that you love.
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The post Divorce Got You Feeling Stuck? 3 Reasons You Should Write About It appeared first on Divorced Moms.
One of the greatest challenges divorced dads face is the process of rebuilding trust and maintaining a positive, healthy relationship with their children.
As a father, your children tend to look to you as a source of protection and stability. When they see their parents argue and then divorce, that secure foundation is rocked.
Depending on the age of your child, they might blame you for the divorce and side up with their mother. That can be even worse if your ex-wife engages in the process of parental alienation, which should be considered a serious threat to the child’s overall well-being.
The period immediately following your divorce is a critical time for your relationship with your kids. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, you might need to devote considerable time toward rebuilding a level of trust with them.
Here are several ways divorced dads can build back trust with their children.
Encourage open communication
It is important to be considerate of the emotional turmoil that your children have experienced and encourage them to talk about what they are feeling.
Repressing emotions is extremely harmful and can lead to long-term mental and physical health issues. Let your children know that it is OK to express whatever they are feeling. Be aware that this might mean you hear them talk about feeling anger towards you, but that is better than letting them harbor hidden resentment that festers.
Your children might not feel comfortable discussing everything with you. They might feel like that means they are taking sides with you or their mother. If that is the case, you should consider whether your kids would benefit from seeing a licensed professional therapist or counselor who can help them work through everything they are going through.
It is important to be considerate of the emotional turmoil that your children have experienced and encourage them to talk about what they are feeling.
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Be a good co-parent
The major dilemma children of divorce face is that they love both of their parents, even though their parents no longer love each other. Maintaining strong, healthy relationships with both parents is a challenge due to the inherent complications of divorce.
This is problematic because having two active and engaged parents is the best way to offset many of the risks children of divorce face.
With that being the case, the onus is on you and your ex-wife to put your personal differences aside in order to find a way to effectively co-parent. This involves swallowing some pride and acknowledging that your children are better off having their mother involved in their lives, even if she is a person who has wronged you.
Good co-parenting requires clear communication, flexibility, and cooperation. Co-parenting takes effort from both sides, so you only have so much control if your ex is particularly disagreeable. If that is the scenario you find yourself in, consider parallel parenting, which is a high-conflict co-parenting model.
If you have done everything you can think of to get your ex to cooperate with you and she is still starting arguments and failing to live up to her end of the deal in your co-parenting arrangement, you should contact your family law attorney. An attorney who focuses on men’s and father’s rights can determine whether there are any legal remedies available that could improve your co-parenting situation.
Always keep in mind that co-parenting is about doing what is best for your kids. That should give you more than enough incentive to find a co-parenting system that works.
You are now sharing custody of your children, which means it is critical to make the most out of the parenting time you do have. It is not enough to just spend time with your kids. You need to ensure that you are actively engaged and present every second you are together.
“Being present is really about how much of yourself you really give to your kids,” said Han-Son Lee, who runs DaddiLife, a website and community for modern dads. “We see a lot of parents who are sometimes on the phone and there physically in the same space as their kids but not emotionally or mentally there. I think being present is about really being there for our kids and making sure there aren’t those digital distractions and various notifications and beeps and buzzes so that way you can really be present in the time that is most necessary for Dad.”
This should not be an issue for most fathers. The latest fatherhood research tells us modern dads are finding new and creative ways to stay active in their children’s lives more so than previous generations of fathers ever did.
The post How Divorced Dads Can Reestablish Trust With Their Children appeared first on Dads Divorce.
What’s on your post-divorce bucket list?
I have a male co-worker who is recently divorced. He put together a post-divorce bucket list for himself. He says, “If I’m going to get over her and get on with my life, I’ve got to keep myself busy and my mind occupied.” What a great idea!
That motivated me to start my own list and go to work, crossing through items, setting goals and promoting growth and, hopefully building a new life for myself. How about you, do you have a post-divorce bucket list? What’s on your list.
My personal post-divorce bucket list, in no particular order:
Here is what I have so far, I’m sure more will be added as I cross through these.
1. Get a extra large garbage bag and get rid of everything that I don’t use, that doesn’t fit my new life, triggers painful memories, or that I bought in hopes that it would make me a different person and turned out to be rubbish.
2. Download podcasts that interest me to listen to every time I’m commuting or driving in the car.
3. Have weekend plans. A trip to the beach, a walk in the park. Plan something so I’m not sitting home stewing on the weekends.
4. Make concrete plans to see, in person, the people I miss but haven’t been in touch with since my marriage.
5. Use SPF
6. Open a savings account.
7. Have safe sex…often.
8. Embrace being ordinary. So much of my anxiety comes from the idea that to be average = to be bad, when in fact, all of us – with rare exception – are just average, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A world that insists the only people who are successful and worthwhile are the ones at the very top is sick. So, I’ll embrace my ordinary!
9. Read the stories of people who were in similar situations to what I’m in, and study how they found their way out.
10. Go out of my way to help others.
11. Stop engaging in arguments with myself.
12. Buy a really good vibrator
13. Forgive my ex.
14. Go see The Nutcracker.
15. Read the Sunday paper in bed more often.
16. Visit Disney World with my daughter.
17. Go to London and buy something at Harrod’s.
18. Forgive myself.
19. Host holiday meals in my home.
20. Ask a man out on a date.
21. Fall in love again.
22. Get a mani/pedi once a month.
23. See a movie in a theater at least once a month.
24. Continue to RESIST!
25. Get my first mammogram
26. Take scuba diving lessons.
27. Have a one-night stand.
28. Take a trip alone.
29. Go skinny dipping in the ocean.
30. Write my will.
31. Redecorate my bedroom.
32. Have drinks with my ex’s new wife.
33. Buy myself flowers.
34. Learn to say no.
35. Binge watch…”Netflix and chill?”
36. Take a hot air balloon ride.
37. Take a photography class.
38. Have a Pink Tea with my girlfriends.
39. Date outside my “type.”
40. Get in shape!
The post Post-Divorce Bucket List: 40 Things I’ll Be Doing Now That I’m Divorced appeared first on Divorced Moms.