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I Couldn’t Heal After My Divorce Because I Kept Pretending I Wasn’t Hurt.

couldn't heal: concerned woman with head in hand

 

We live in a world with a lot of judgments. And life just isn’t always simple. God knows that getting divorced when you have children in common is far from simple.

When I get the look from people in my life about why I wanted to be a Life Coach to help other single moms, I am always met with a sideways glance that asks, “when are you going to get over your divorce?” It’s not an oral question asked, but rather just a look. A look that I have seen many times and one that I am quite familiar with.

Why am I so delayed in what appears to be my grief by focusing on divorced moms as a topic of discussion, let alone an additional career path?

I Couldn’t Heal Because I Kept Pretending I Wasn’t Hurt.

And my answer is, “I couldn’t heal because I kept pretending I wasn’t hurt.” I couldn’t focus on it at the appropriate time that one would deal with something as traumatic as divorce can be. I had two small babies that needed so much from me and I was so afraid that if I did indulge in the feelings of the true trauma of what happened to my life, I would never be able to find my way back.

It took my children to finally reach young adulthood for me to be able to take a much-needed pause and really look back over the shoulder of my past and see what I did wrong and what I did right. There were so many items that could fall into both of those buckets. And to be honest, pretending that I wasn’t hurt in a funny way served me well.

If I could look at my life and pretend I wasn’t alone, pretend I wasn’t scared, pretend I wasn’t daunted, and pretend I wasn’t the only one in my family divorced…well maybe it was by that alone that I somehow survived. After all, isn’t “playing and pretending” one of the first skills we learn as children? I was and always have been so good at putting on a brave face and pushing through to get to the other side of something. But who I am today as a result of this is far from being the “Great Pretender”.

Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming. Alice Walker

Being somebody I didn’t became all too easy for me. And in those years while I was pretending, I realized that I was piece by piece becoming a new me. I was slowly becoming reborn. In the years of feeling victimized by my ex-husband or the woman who took him from us or the bosses that couldn’t understand the weight of my responsibilities at home, or the family members who couldn’t understand me at all or the boyfriend who couldn’t understand why he was not the center of my universe….well, it all just made me find my voice and find enough strength to yell ENOUGH!

I don’t owe my ex-husband comfort in being a compliant ex-wife.

I don’t owe his concubine my nervous system and shattered heart.

I don’t owe my boss any explanations about my personal life when I’m one of his top performers.

I don’t owe my family members a weekly program as to what was happening in my life and I don’t owe any boyfriend anything at all.

What I do know is that I deserve and have earned respect from each and every one of those people by the sacrifices I and my children had made in order to secure their comfort levels. I owe only to me. I owe it to myself to love and approve of the person I have become.

In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.

I have experienced more life than most of the people I know. Or at least it feels as though I have. And yet when I try to remember things that happened, I only remember them in a wash of grey. I don’t really remember the details that well. I do think that this is actually a byproduct of trauma and how we cope.

Or at least it seemingly is how I coped. Today, when I speak with women who have been through the trials of divorce and are coping with being a single parent, I get as much comfort in talking with them, as they do when talking with me. I do tend to ask myself periodically, what wisdom do I have and what can I impart upon the legions of single moms that seek my help?

The first message I receive from single moms is that they feel alone and frightened but cannot show it for fear that their children may pick up on this. They also feel that their friends and family will feel pressured to have to help, so they don’t show any neediness and they don’t ask for help. They don’t want to appear vulnerable to anyone. We straddle two worlds as divorced moms. One of being heartbroken and the other of being the strong women we are required to be, by virtue of today’s standards. We are required to feel like Rosie the Riveter 24/7 flexing our strong muscles and being somehow invincible.

The first thing I want to make clear to each and every one of the women I meet with shortly after saying hello, is that they are validated, and their feelings are real. And we start from there. No need to put on airs. My sign says, “Leave your cape at the door. Superheroes not required here.” Often times while we “pretend” we do so in an effort to make those around us more comfortable. And we do so at our own peril.

Be thankful for the wrong relationships. They teach you, change you, strengthen you and prepare you for the right one.

Divorce hurts. Whether you initiated it or not, it still hurts.

It hurts if you were cheated on.

It hurts if you fell out of love.

It hurts you, your parents, your siblings…. anyone who thought your marriage was the model union of which my tribe all thought.

But it also really hurts our children if we don’t address this kick to our hearts.

I admit I didn’t handle my broken heart well because I just didn’t address it at all.  I just felt so erased and in a split second the home and the family we were building meant nothing. I was hurt. My husband left me for another woman weeks after our second child was born. I was hurt. I lost my husband, my best friend, my entire nervous system, my financial security, and my sanity. I was hurt. But, I never addressed it.

I do have the luxury of wisdom now. I do know what I did wrong, and what I did right. I have learned lessons that can indeed be shared. I know… heartbreak or not, I did marry the wrong man. He wasn’t a bad man, just the wrong man. I was the wrong woman for him too. He never meant to hurt me. He is not a man without a heart. He was just a lost man who needed someone else to ride out the rest of his life with. I get it now.

I also know that whether there is a right one for me or not, I am still growing, learning, and evolving. And the woman I am today doesn’t operate to make everyone else comfortable first. She accepts herself and expresses herself and gladly shares her sense of wisdom with anyone who wants to listen. And it’s okay if they don’t.

Being a Life Coach to divorced moms is a calling that was meant to be. There are few things in this world I feel more passionate about. I will never be able to forget the trauma of my divorce and that’s okay. The memories I have are a mixture of good and horrible all in one. But they serve to perhaps help other women not experience some of the broken pieces I had to endure.

And if they do, we can work together to rebuild. If at the very least I can make them feel less alone and a little more whole, I will have done what I set out to do. And I make no further explanations to anyone on that.

The post I Couldn’t Heal After My Divorce Because I Kept Pretending I Wasn’t Hurt. appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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fall in love with men who hurt you

Why Do You Always Fall in Love With Men Who Hurt You?

fall in love with men who hurt you

 

Do your romantic relationships bring out your insecurities and cause you to mistrust your own judgment? Do you always fall in love with men who hurt you? Many women become involved or even obsessed with the wrong men – men who are emotionally unavailable, with other women, addicted to substances – or who cannot love them back.

Do You Always Fall in Love With Men Who Hurt You?

This problem has been given many labels including codependency which can be defined as having underdeveloped self-esteem and dysfunctional boundaries, combined with inappropriate caring for others (letting others invade your boundaries). In the mid-1980s, Robin Norwood’s best-selling book “Women Who Love Too Much” offered women a guide to freeing themselves from destructive loving.

Many women consistently put other’s needs before their own and end up in one-sided relationships. The consequence for girls can be profound, with girls and women dismissing their own needs and ending up with a depleted sense of self, according to author Jill P. Weber. She posits that many girls learn to tune out their own inner voice due to their family experiences, and this prepares them for one-sided relationships in adulthood. Weber writes, “As a woman develops a strong core sense of self, fulfilling relationships will follow.”

Elizabeth, a beautiful and outgoing thirty-two-year-old, provided Kyle with unconditional love and did her best to make up for his dysfunctional upbringing by trying to meet his every need. After they moved in together, she cooked Kyle lavish meals and did all of the laundry in addition to working full-time and taking care of her five-year-old daughter.

Elizabeth reflects: “It took a breakup for me to realize that I was not responsible for Kyle’s happiness and can only truly make myself happy. He never treated me right and was unwilling to plan a future with me.” Elizabeth came to understand that she didn’t have any energy left for herself when she was so focused on Kyle’s well-being. Since their split, she has been able to return to college and finish her degree in nursing.

Ask yourself this question: Is there something about the way my guy treats me that makes me a bigger and better person? If the answer is no, ask yourself: Am I settling for less than I deserve in the relationship? Research shows that one of the main reasons why people stay in bad relationships is the fear of being single.  If this is the case, gently remind yourself that you are a worthwhile person regardless of whether or not you are in a romantic relationship.

Women who are attracted to men who hurt them often confuse chemistry and compatibility.

In fact, they are both essential to a long-lasting healthy intimate relationship.

  1. Chemistry: This usually refers to physical attraction but can include intellectual attraction as well. It is about how interesting and simulating you find the person. Do you enjoy each other’s touch and is their sexual chemistry? It’s essential because, without it, you are little more than friends.
  2. Compatibility: This is about sharing common values and goals, having fun together, and liking each other; it helps to sustain a couple through tough times.

Do you find yourself attracted to guys who you have good chemistry with, but not compatibility? Perhaps you grew up in a family where you were a caretaker or focused more on making others happy. Maybe you even felt that you had to be in a good mood regardless of your true feelings.

6 signs you are at risk of falling in love with men who hurt you.

  1. You become so absorbed in your partner’s problems you don’t often have time to identify or solve, your own.
  2. You care so deeply about your partner that you’ve lost track of your own needs.
  3. You feel that you grew up too fast in terms of your maturity or sexual activity.
  4. Growing up, were you often in a caretaker role with one or both parents or your siblings.
  5. Are you a people pleaser? If you have this tendency, you may find setting limits hard and you might have trouble asking for what you need from your partner. This is a pattern that starts in childhood but can be reversed.
  6. Do you feel that you have to be in a good mood or positive when you are with your friends, family, or intimate partner?

Many women are in one-sided relationships because they consistently put their partner’s needs before their own. Girls are often raised to focus on others and defer their own needs. Too often they are left with a depleted sense of self and they look to their partner for validation. Keep in mind that emotional intimacy is not emotional dependency. If your relationship causes you to be anxious or to question your sense of self, it may not be the best relationship for you.

Here are 6 ways to avoid hurtful, one-sided relationships:

  1. Seek a partner you can be yourself with and is easy to be close to. In other words, you don’t have to walk on eggshells. You feel safe in the relationship and free to express your thoughts, feelings, and desires openly without fear of rejection.
  2. Set an expectation of mutual respect. You can accept, admire, and respect each other for who you are. If you don’t have respect for your partner, it will eat away at chemistry until you have nothing left.
  3. Select a partner who is trustworthy.  Does he call when he says he is going to call?  Does he take you out when he says he is going to do so? When a man is interested in a woman, they keep their agreements.
  4. Make sure your guy carves out time for you on a regular basis and includes you in his inner circle. He makes you a priority because he values your relationship. This includes regular text messages or phone calls to show that he’s thinking of you.
  5. Don’t have sex with a partner who makes you feel insecure. A partner who truly cares about you is a boost to your self-esteem. He values you, gives you compliments, and encourages you to do things that are in your best interest.
  6. Select a partner who talks about your future together. If he says he’s not ready for a commitment, take him seriously – he’s just not that into you. Don’t waste your time on a relationship that doesn’t have a future.

In order to stray away from falling in love with me who hurt you, you have to focus on self-love. Unless we have self-acceptance and self-love, we cannot believe we are worth loving just as we are. We might try to prove our worth through giving too much to others and being overly tolerant and patient.  Author Jill P. Weber writes: “The more you view others’ mistreatment of you as something you have the ability to fix, tweak, or amend, the harder it is to develop a positive sense of yourself. Seeing yourself exclusively from the eyes of others disconnects you from the day-to-day, moment-to-moment experience of your life.”

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

More from Terry

Learn to Love Yourself and Find Inner Peace

5 Ways To Stop Settling For Less Than You Deserve In A Relationship

The post Why Do You Always Fall in Love With Men Who Hurt You? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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