Did You Miss These?

My newly planted plants managed to survive the freeze with only cosmetic damage. It’s funny, similar damage used to devastate me. Now? I just shrug it off. I know that the wilted and damaged tissue will fall off of its own accord in a matter of days and that in a few weeks, there will hardly be a scar.

And now that the weather is in agreement with the calendar again, I’ve returned to yard to tend and water and plant some more.

With my hands busy in the garden, they have been idle at the keyboard.

The following are some posts that, according to the numbers, there’s a good chance you missed. Why not check out one that piques your interest?

Rewriting the End of a Relationship We often underestimate the power we have. Learn to embrace it.

Bust a Rut Sometimes life doesn’t allow us to change at our own pace.

Sacrifice Surprise – this can be a reason marriages end.

Growth Mindset in Marriage There’s a reason this trait is prioritized by job interviews.

The Anti-Victim Use these strategies to empower someone else. Or maybe even yourself.

Debridement Hard to read. But powerful lessons to learn.

Progressive Resistance It doesn’t get easier. You get stronger.

The Faux Commute Some take it literally. Others stick to metaphor. But we all have something to learn on this drive,

Outsourcing You can’t outsource healing. You have to do it yourself.

You Are Not Your Divorce Sometimes we need a reminder and a little perspective.

Confirmation Bias in Marriage Strive to see with your eyes rather than your assumptions.

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The Forgotten Lesson

Sometimes I miss the year of tear-stained cheeks.

Not the piercing pain. Or the perpetual confusion. And definitely not the ever-vigilant fear.

But the constant reminder of what really matters.

And what is just noise.

It was like the trauma itself acted as a filter. In order for something to register, it had to be at least as loud as the pain.

And that left quite a bit disregarded on the floor, rated as unimportant compared to the major life themes coursing through my mind on a daily basis.

I found myself surprised by some of the experiences that did register. A respite in the February sun trilled louder than my keening. Appreciation for a surprise snack of succulent fruit sounded above the din of my panicking brain. I accepted invites without hesitation, regardless of what tasks needed to be accomplished by some pressing deadline.

I have allowed myself to forget this lesson.

With no filter in place to separate the critical from the inconsequential, I have permitted the noise to deafen me.

Apparently I need a refresher course.

Be Where You Are for Dummies, Part II.

Class is in session.

What You Were Looking For in 2014

Every January, I enjoy looking back at some of the search terms that lead to my blog. Some are obvious (“marriage ended”) and some make me question humanity (“how do I get away with bigamy?”), but many simply make me chuckle. Here’s a collection of some of the funnier search terms from this past year along with the link to the piece they found:

“Bon Jovi stalker” I never quite reached stalker status, but I did secure a rubbing from his name carved into the Alamo.

“Happy birthday to my car” Apparently lots of people like to wish their cars happy birthday. Mine will celebrate its sweet 16 this year. Maybe then it can drive itself:)

“My wife is lame” Do you mean she has a limp?

“I’m a lame duck husband” Maybe you should meet the woman referenced above.

“Heart beans”  What does this mean? Will somebody please tell me????

“I am an introvert that wants to be real assassin” And apparently a real felon too. I’m not sure how much introversion has to do with wanting to take people out.

“The end!!!!!!!!”  Lots of people find me by looking for information about endings. No one else has been this excited though.

“The grass is always greener on the other side except over the sceptic tank meaning in marriage” Ummm…. No comment.

“Commit bigamy” Why do I read this as though it is a command?

“Spilled coffee in my Acura navi buttons” And then you ended up wasting valuable clean-up time reading about divorce. I’m sorry.

“Clean up Aisle 21!” Somehow I think this was meant to be read into a microphone rather than typed into the computer.

“Shaved monkey” Very carefully. They bite.

“Gerard Poujardieu” Yeah. I miss him too.

“What is the soulmate switch?” No idea. If you find out, please let me know.

“Eau de Sasquatch” Eau all right. I hope this wasn’t a gift for somebody.

“A bone to chew with you” Why do I feel like I need to apologize?

“Chutes and Ladders for financial advice” Generally I would recommend a financial advisor rather than Hasbro, but to each his own.

“All terrain pug” It makes me smile to think there could be another one out there.

Want to read my advice to the great searchers of 2013? You can!

Roadmap to Healing After Divorce

healing map linear

 

healing map nonlinear

 

A. Your world collapses. You do do too. You feel like you’re coming undone at the seams and ever being okay again seems impossible.

B. Little by little, you start to make some improvement despite yourself. Maybe you go a few hours without crying. Perhaps you sign up for a class or start to exercise in an attempt to regain some control and to better yourself.

C. All of sudden, you feel invincible. Giddy, even. You feel as though you lost the dead weight and now you can fly. Maybe you feel a spark with someone and it ignites something within you. Perhaps you’ve conquered the legal divorce and it’s given you confidence.

D. This fall feels even worse than the first. It makes you question if you will ever really be better. If your spark is extinguished, you may find the secondary pain even worse than the initial trauma. This plummet may come when the honeymoon period after divorce expires. Regardless of when it hits, it feels hopeless.

E. You plateau for a time. The baby steps forward are so small, you don’t even notice that you’re starting to make incremental progress. This is when you’re building your roots; the progress may not show on the surface, but you’re doing the deep work that allows future growth.

F. You start to climb again. This one feels different than before. Where the first improvement was spurred by outside forces,  this one comes from within. It’s not an express lane to the top, but you sense traction on this climb. It may be slow, but it’s steady.

G. This is often the frustrating period. You’re making progress within the big picture, but the periodic slides backward keep you distracted from your gains. This is where the traps lie. And you have to disarm them to escape them.

H. Healing reaches a critical mass and begins to happen faster. Good days accrue into good weeks and even great months. You gain perspective, looking back and seeing where you have been. You’re surprised to realize that you’re even better than before.

The struggle has made you strong. The suffering has made you grateful. The journey has made you wise. And the fall has made you humble.

 

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Here’s my timeline from healing after divorce. Caution: results may vary:)

Eleven Traps That Hold You Back After Divorce

The journey back to life after divorce is a tricky one. You’re depleted and overwhelmed and simply ready for things to hurry up and get back to normal already. It’s easy to feel stuck, trapped between your life and the life you wish to create. When you become aware of these snares, you are better able to disengage and find the freedom to move forward.

Feeling stuck?

The following are common traps that can hold you back after divorce:

Sadness

Divorce is the end of the life you had. It is the death of the marriage and of the shared dreams. It may mean significant changes in family and in lifestyle. It’s natural to mourn. To grieve. You have suffered a major loss.

Sadness becomes a trap when you try to avoid it. When you sense the oncoming tears and instead of letting them flow, you turn away and try to deny their existence. The sorrow only builds when you ignore it, the weight of it holding you down. The only way to relieve sadness is to feel it, acknowledge it and let it flow through you.

Feeling sad?

Guilt

Remorsefulness comes in many forms after divorce. You may feel guilty for not maintaining your vows, letting your spouse down or not providing the life you had envisioned for your children. Or maybe you even feel guilty because you let yourself down, staying in a situation you swore you would never tolerate.

Guilt has a productive purpose; it guides our actions and acts as a warning light for unethical choices. But sometimes there’s a short in the system, the alarm sounding even when no intentional wrongs have been committed. Consider your actions truthfully. If you owe any apologies, deliver them with sincerity (don’t forget to send one to yourself) and then let the guilt go, as it has served its purpose.

Why

Even when the world responds otherwise, we often possess an innate sense of fairness. Of balance between our intentions and our experiences. When divorce happens, especially if it is a particularly brutal divorce that leaves you feeling victimized and battered, it is natural to question “why?”

At first, exploring the “why” feels like an escape. It distracts from the pain and activates a more rational and aware part of the brain. But “why” is a deceptively sneaky trap. We convince ourselves that once we understand, we will be okay.  But no amount of information can relieve the pain. At some point, you have to accept that you won’t know everything and that you can move on regardless.

Vengeance

When we are in pain, we often want to last out. When others harm us, we want them to experience the same suffering. We hold onto our anger like a shield, the sheer power of it enough to protect our delicate selves beneath. We want our perceived persecutor to face consequences. After all, it’s only fair.

The need for revenge is a brutal trap. While your attention is filled with negative thoughts about your ex, you neglect to care for yourself. When you are filled with rage, you end up being singed. And when you base your well-being on someone else’s downfall? Well, that’s just not good karma.

Here’s the truth: You can move on even if justice as you see it is never served. Besides while you’re waiting for the desired punishment to be meted out, who is really the one held in prison?

Feeling angry?

Loneliness

If you have lost a spouse that you shared many years and many memories with, the forfeiture of the shared history is ruthless. The sudden void is cavernous, the shock of the missing person all-encompassing like the cold air on your goose-pimpled flesh as the water drains out of the bath.

It’s a scary place to be, where two split back into ones. You may feel rejected. Isolated from your former life. Alone against the world. It hurts. But at some point loneliness is a choice. It is up to you to fill your life back up with friends and memories. You have to get up and get out to be connected.

Feeling alone?

Permanence

We have this way of believing that the way things are now is the way they will always be. But everything changes. Even suffering.  The way you feel now is not the way you will feel next year. Or next week. Or even tomorrow.

Divorce is a time when you have to rewrite your life’s plans. But it’s the start of a new chapter, not the end of the story. New beginnings are brimming with possibilities. See them.

Feeling hopeless?

Worthiness

When we have been rejected, we often internalize the message, assuming that if it happened to us, it must have happened because of us.  We may see ourselves as broken, and either seek out rescuers and fixers or conclude that we are unworthy of love and compassion. We may view our mistakes as fatal character flaws that render us useless.

Divorce is an enormous blow to our self-image and confidence. And it can also help to build us back up as we complete steps we never thought we were capable of. Be mindful of the thoughts you allow about yourself and be deliberate with your personal narrative. After all, the words we say to others have influence. But the words we say to ourselves have power. You are worthy. Say it. Believe it. Live it.

Fear

While some may respond to the fear of divorce by fighting, others may freeze in place, scared that if they move, they will be targeted yet again. Still others may run, seeking to avoid facing the truth of the end of the marriage and the carnage left behind.

When we allow fear to drive our lives, we are limiting ourselves. It may feel like living, but it is only a facsimile bounded by self-imposed rules and boundaries. It’s scary taking that leap of faith from what you knew into the abyss of possibility. But that risk may be preferable to the limitations imposed by apprehension. Don’t let fear be your chauffeur; drive your own life.

Feeling scared?

Super-Parent

If you are in the position of assuming primary (or only) care for the children, it is all too easy to feel great pressure to mitigate the impact of the divorce by being a super-parent. I see parents who feel guilty for the effects of the divorce and overcompensate by being too permissive with their kids. I see parents who feel guilty about the void created by divorce who strove to fill it by any means necessary.

But most of all I see parents who are overwhelmed and overworked, assuming the entirety of the burden of childcare and decision-making. They become all-mom or all-dad and lose themselves in the process as they place their children’s needs first. This is a tricky trap. Your kids need you. But they also need you to be you. Wholly you.

Give yourself permission to be a good enough parent rather than a perfect parent. Focus on what matters and be willing to release the details that really don’t. Seek out support and guidance from others. And make sure to take care of yourself too.

Preservation

This is the trap of “I will never let myself be hurt again,” the walls that prevent any weaknesses from showing. That protect any vulnerabilities.  This trap is often rife with justifications of why it is better to be alone than to risk being hurt.

Consider this: If you are focused on preserving, how much are you enjoying? If you only think about protection, do you ever experience enjoyment? Life is meant to be lived, not secured under glass.

What If

This trap ensnares you with thought tendrils that wind around your brain, whispering about possible actions and outcomes whose time has already passed. The “what if” trap is a maze with no exit, a circuitous path that never ends.

When you spend your energy wondering about what could have happened, you give the past power to rob the future of its potential. Instead of “what if,” try “what now” and focus on what is yet to come.

When will I feel better?