With a little imagination and some self-love as a foundation, divorce can be the gateway to living your best life and find your self after divorce.
When I had my children all those years ago, I was shocked to learn some hard truths about pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.
Some of the surprising facts no-one thought to tell me about include: there are consequences to natural vaginal deliveries, you can still look five months pregnant after giving birth, having children can lead to marital discontent, and the biggest shock of them all, many women lose themselves in motherhood.
Although it’s not widely discussed, identity loss is a real and devastating side effect of raising children.
I for one was secretly harboring a depressed state of low self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth, behind a calm and collected façade. It took a divorce for me to recognize this truth and eventually restore my sense of self. And now, as a Life Coach to moms, and a friend to many women with children, “motherhood, as an identity theft”, is an issue I see emerging again, and again.
Most recently I came across an interview featuring actress, Jada Pinkett-Smith, who bravely revealed that motherhood had caused her to “lose her groove”. Even as a star, in the throes of raising her children, she too found herself asking “Oh my gosh, where did I go?”.
It does seem to happen that way. You throw everything into raising your children, helping them build their own identities that you lose sight of your own. You wake up one day and realize you’re a distant shadow of the person you once were.
So, here I share my personal story about how I was able to piece together my identity and how you can do the same.
Art has always been my passion. I’ve loved art since I was a kid.
The most memorable picture I created was that of a bird. An Eastern Rosella, with its fluorescent yellows, bright greens, and deep hues of red and blue. This drawing, at the age of 10, ignited my love for creating beautiful things.
As I got older, I continued to dabble in small pieces of art, mostly paintings I gave to family and friends. But as life got busier with the need to work and the arrival of children, art became something that I only did with my kids. Whilst I focused on helping my children build their creative muscles, my own desire for personal expression was put on hold.
It wasn’t until more than a decade later, during the early stages of my separation, that I reconnected with this part of me.
In the quest to “find myself”, I decided to take up painting lessons under the guise of an accomplished artist. I created artwork that I was proud of and felt myself come alive. As I left the studio each day with paint on my hands and clothes, I also wore a permanent smile on my face that I just couldn’t wash off.
But sadly, financial constraints and altered childcare arrangements meant that I could no longer continue the classes. What started as the equivalent of writer’s block for an aspiring painter.
I lost my inspiration and flow.
Everything I did outside of those classes, felt below par.
Frustration started to build as I was no longer enjoying the process. I bought into the ideals of our productivity-obsessed culture. The guilt of wasting time and money on fruitless activity weighed heavily on me. I felt a need to make my works of art “saleable”.
To that end, I continued with my mission to create big pieces of art. I was stuck on the notion that “large paintings made a bigger impact”. Consequently, I started focusing too much on the end result. I lost sight of why I was painting in the first place – for the love of creating beautiful things.
One after another, half-finished paintings piled up into the corner of a room. Nothing was good enough. It was only a matter of time before I gave up.
Several seasons passed by before I found myself contemplating art again. I moved into a new house and came across my old, boxed up, paints and brushes. So, I decided to give it another go. This time I would ease myself back into painting and only paint for leisure.
Like reacquainting with an old friend, I started to relive the joys of painting again. I chose to do something for myself and it felt great.
From there I started finding more opportunities to do more of what I loved. With each act of self-love, I continued to discover other parts of me that I had left behind or long forgotten.
A beautiful quote by a soulful writer, Beau Taplin, comes to mind, which I believe rings true: “Self-love is an ocean and your heart a vessel. Make it full and any excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold dear. But you must come first.”
As self-indulgent as it may seem, doing things that bring joy to your heart during divorce is not a self-fish act.
When you do things to look after and love yourself, you become the best version of yourself. Only then, can you give your children all of you and more.
So, what is it that you love or would love to do?
Were there things you wanted to do while married, but couldn’t for some reason (e.g. learn a new hobby, spend more time with family and friends, volunteer, bungee jump, etc.)?
Instead of making excuses about why you can’t do those things, research, make time, plan, find support to care for the kids, and do those things.
If money is a factor then that’s an opportunity to be creative. Brainstorm ways you in which you can engage in similar activities that will bring you joy.
In my case, I traded in big expensive canvases for small sheets of watercolor paper. I also swapped acrylics and oils to watercolor paint. Not only did this make painting more affordable, but less messy too.
Another example is my substitute for a trip to a Day Spa. A full afternoon of professional pampering may be out of reach, but soaking in a hot bath (uninterrupted), donning a face mask, with added bath salts, a good book, and a cup of tea, can make a world of difference to the hamster wheel of life.
There’s also plenty of resources and ideas online that show you how to make pampering products with ingredients straight from the pantry. Who knows, you could enjoy the DIY process more than the pampering session itself.
The possibilities are endless!
You, resilient mom, can now make your own decisions, try new things, make new friends, and eventually find someone to love you the way you deserve to be loved.
With a little imagination and some self-love as a foundation, divorce can be the gateway to living your best life and finding your best self.
The post Suffering An Identity Crisis? How To Find Yourself After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.
I don’t have studies to back up what I’m about to say but, I’m going to say it anyway. I do a lot of reading and research about divorce and why people divorce. The number one complaint I hear from women about why they chose divorce is, inevitably, “I was no longer happy.” Their marriage wasn’t making them happy, their husband wasn’t making them happy, the way they viewed that moment in time in their lives didn’t make them feel happy.
The running theme is, for some reason, women expect their happiness to come from without, not within. When they settle into marriage and the daily humdrum of raising children, making a living and holding a marriage together women become disenchanted because it turns out, marriage isn’t a fairytale and no one will live “happily” ever after.
According to Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, “Happiness is at least 50% genetic. Positive psychologists tend to acknowledge a much weaker version of the happiness set-point view and often point out that even if genetics determines about half of our happiness, the rest is caused by factors that we can control to some extent; our circumstances (about 10%) and our intentional activities, such as the way we choose to think about things (about 40%).”
Let’s break that down, genetics is 50% responsible for how happy a person feels. Circumstance is 10% responsible and how one chooses to think about their circumstance is 40% responsible. It isn’t my intent to diminish anyone’s feelings BUT unless you are married to an abuser, alcoholic or slacker it is possible that these women aren’t happy because of genetics or the way they choose to think about their circumstance and, not as a result of a bad marriage.
As my grandmother used to say, women who divorce because they are no longer happy could be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Getting rid of the thing that could bring them the most happiness by divorcing, in pursuit of some skewed idea of what it means to be happy or, what happiness actually is.
How to Find Happiness in Marriage If You’re a Woman
Happiness is a state of mind, not of circumstance. If you want a happy marriage, you have to make it a happy marriage. Happiness doesn’t magically occur when he stops working 50 hours a week and spends more time with you and the children. It won’t magically occur when the children are grown or there is enough money to cover all the bills. It won’t be found in regular date nights or, snuggling on the couch every night watching romantic comedies.
Your life, inside your marriage, is now, today, dealing with what comes your way and how you choose to think about what it takes to get you through the day. Happiness comes from determining to feel good about whatever life dishes out on any given day. It’s about attitude.
If a woman is blessed with a loving husband who works hard to provide and children who work hard at driving her crazy she is going to find happiness in those blessings because she chooses to view them as such. To be happy one has to allow that 40% positive attitude to hold more authority than the 10% negative attitude about her situation.
Get over thinking someone owes you happiness. Or, that some outside force can “make” you happy. Husbands and children can impact how happy you feel but, ultimately you are responsible for your own happiness. If the drudgery of working, being a wife and mothering is sapping your energy and ability to feel happy it is your job to introduce activities into your life that balance those obligations with activities you enjoy.
Most women become unhappy in marriage because they lose their identity to the marriage and they put their needs second to the needs of their husband and children. That is a rule book written by women and it is full of rules that need to be broken. One way to do that, to stir the pot and not fall victim to the antiquated idea that your needs aren’t important is to simply, get out and do things you like to do.
Your children, marriage, husband, and home will not fall apart if you spend a few hours at an art class or, go to the gym daily to work out and keep your body and mind in shape. Women who are happily married have a life outside the marriage, husband, and children.
I have a friend who takes a yearly, weeklong vacation away from her role as wife and Mom. She also maintains a popular blog about women’s issues and writes daily. That is her life and passion, something she does for herself that in no way is related to her role as someone’s wife and mother. Do something, on a daily basis that brings you a sense of joy, is an escape from the whining children and constantly working husband. If you do, you will have a deeper appreciation for your own sense of autonomy AND the daily drudgery that is marriage and raising a family.
Be your authentic self. Did you go into marriage with a set of rules about the kind of wife and mother you want to be? Are the rules realistic? Can you eat off the floors, are the beds made daily, your children dressed and spat shined? Do you have a routine you follow from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning until your head hits the pillow at night?
That image you have in your mind about the perfect wife and mother may play a role in unhappiness you feel. Why not give yourself a break and be yourself, not who you think you should be for your children and husband but, yourself. If that means not making the beds daily, so be it. If it means sitting your children in front of cartoons in the morning while you journal or meditate, go for it.
Let go of the need to keep up with your own false image of who a good wife and mother is and allow your own personality to drive the kind of wife and mother you are. Your husband and your children will benefit by getting to know the real you. You will benefit by being able to relax and let go of some silly preconceived notion and living your own reality.
Adjusting your attitude, taking responsibility for your own happiness and living authentically may lead to things like, a husband who comes home early from work because he enjoys the company of a wife who is upbeat and happy.
A lot of research has been done on attraction and it all points to the fact that people are attracted to others who are friendly, happy and self-confident. If you have a full life, interests of your own and don’t need anyone or any institution to “make” you happy, guess what, you will be happy. You don’t need to leave your marriage to find happiness, you only need to make a few adjustments.
And, those adjustments will promote and change in the way your husband and children react to and engage with you. It’s a simple way of taking away the need to divorce because you are, “no longer happy.”
Disclaimer: This article does not apply to women living in abusive marriages where they are in danger of physical harm or death.
The post 3 Ways To Find Happiness In Marriage If You’re a Woman appeared first on Divorced Moms.
There is help if you are a victim of domestic violence!
“Look at this food you have fixed for me! Do you call this dinner? I wouldn’t even feed this to a dog!” he screams as he swings his lengthy arm across the table knocking the food onto the floor.
Quickly she kneels to the floor. Her eyes dare not to look at him for she knows what will happen. She picks up the broken plates with her shaking hands and holds back the tears until she is alone.
Suddenly, a blow to the back of her head causes her to fall unconscious to the floor. The room is dark. There are faint cries in the background. It is her youngest son. She knows she must get up. If she does not, she fears his anger will be redirected to her son. She struggles to open her eyes, but she cannot. She tries to move her arms, but they will not move. She wants to cry out to her son to comfort him, but the words will not come. Slowly her son’s cries become more distant and then…nothing.
Every three minute a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend.
More women die from domestic violence than heart failure. Most abusive men have grown up in an abusive household.
Domestic violence happens every day. You are not alone. There is help out there.
Choosing to escape a violent relationship is scary. There are so many reasons you think of to stay. He might change or is just having a bad day. Maybe I should have done something better. Maybe it is all my fault. No one deserves to be abused in any form whether it is verbal or physical. And, statistics show that without help, an abuser will not stop and will only become more violent.
So you may be wondering how you will live. I do not know if I can afford it on my own. There are many sources out there willing to help you to get back on your feet in a safe environment.
Where will I go where he will not find me? He swore if I ever leave him he will kill me. You do not have to live in fear. There are many resources online, and you can find a local number to a crisis center in your phone book.
The first thing you need to do is to realize you are a domestic abuse victim.
Once you have done that then you need to make a plan.
When you get a chance to be alone, you can call the domestic violence helpline. They will offer you suggestions on what to do next. If you are in immediate danger call 911. If he is only in jail for a few hours then pack a bag and run to a shelter.
If that is not an option and you have the time to plan your escape then here are some suggestions to help you when you are ready. Pack a suitcase and hide it in a bus station or a friend’s house. Get a cell phone. A pre-paid cell has no contract, so there will not be any bill sent to your home. If you can stash a little money back if it means you have to tell him that you spent more at the store than you did.
Find a friend that you can trust. Whether it be a family friend or someone from the crisis center. Let them know of your plan and let them help you to make your getaway.
There are many support groups and advocate agencies out there. It is up to you to make the first step.
Over the years I’ve mentored and coached a lot of women. Sometimes these are formal, ongoing relationships, other times it might be a quick cup of coffee, and then there is the “fly by” bits of encouragement doled out in quick tips in support groups. I was thinking about the questions I’ve gotten most frequently over the years and realized they all centered on ways to speak up.
Especially from women experiencing divorce. Some find it difficult to speak up and advocate for themselves and end up feeling defeated emotionally and legally. Whether it is divorce, relationships, career issues or anything else, if you don’t use your voice and share your point of view you’ll not have any role in life other than being a peacekeeper.
5tips to help you find your voice.
1. Raise a Ruckus
Make a statement, express an opinion. If your points are sound, let them fly!
Too often women sit back and stifle their own viewpoints in the name of peacekeeping. Remember, this isn’t about you, this is about getting to the best decision for you. Your viewpoints are essential to challenging groupthink. Play it out. You raise an opposing perspective. The group debates and discusses. At the end, they stick with the original idea. Now everyone, including you, is more comfortable with the decision. Good outcome. Alternatively, the group debates and discusses and decides to change course. Again, good outcome.
2. Say No & Multiply the Impact of Your “Yes”
Stop saying yes to everything! You are not superwoman. Both inside and outside of work, get better at saying no. And when you do say yes, ask yourself, “Can I multiply the impact of this yes and accomplish more than one goal through this single activity?” You might be surprised how easy that actually is. Listen to Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker talk about multipliers and how we can all rethink time. Only you can define how you spend your time. Being able to say, “NO” means spending time on things that are important to you achieving what you want in life.
3. Stop Using Submissive Language
To be most impactful, keep your language strong. Two words in particular often creep into women’s speech, and they aren’t particularly useful. The two words? “Sorry” and “just”. Think about these two sentences:
“I just need this one piece of information.”
“Sorry, but I need to find out where we are on that project.”
Compare that to, “Hey Dave, I need one piece of information to finish up my presentation.”
Or, “Mary, I’m calling to find out where we are on that project.”
Or, “Ex, your offer of child support is nowhere near the money I need to make sure our children are provided for.”
Without modifiers, both sentences are stronger. Which means the speaker will be perceived as stronger.
We’ve all done it. Last week I said “sorry” twice. And there was nothing to apologize for! We lessen ourselves without even realizing it. Amy Schumer has done an entire skit on the word sorry. It would be funnier if it wasn’t so true.
4. Demand Feedback
I met with a talented young woman recently and discovered that none of her male supervisors were giving her candid feedback. And she was giving them a pass on it because she didn’t want to create a kerfluffle.
Let’s be clear. No matter who you are, no matter how uncomfortable it might be for them, leaders are there to help you grow. It is their JOB to give you constructive criticism. If they aren’t, demand it from them. Ask about competencies, and then run down the litany of things they might be unwilling to bring up themselves. Appearance, manner of dress, vocal tone, speaking style, body language, and the list goes on. If they’re uncomfortable, make it clear that you aren’t.
5. Fill Your Own Well
I know many women who take care of everyone else around them, at work, at home, in their community and never take care of themselves. Whether it is time to exercise, read, connect with others, a hobby or a passion, take time to invest in yourself.
Hopefully, you already know what fills your well, the things that replenish you when you’re drained. For me, it is writing and painting, and lots of family time. They’re what I turn to over and over again when I am in most need of peace and recharging. And I don’t apologize to anyone for needing that. Why? Because I know I’ll be a better version of me, both at work and at home, when I return. In short, if I don’t do #5, numbers 1 through 4 get a lot harder.
So speak up ladies! We need to hear your voice. The world will be better for it.
The post Afraid To Speak Up? 5 Tips To Help You Find Your Voice appeared first on Divorced Moms.