DIVORCE IS TOUGH – EVEN TOUGHER ON TEENS!

Guest Post By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

We all know divorce is tough on families. Everyone is affected, especially the children. In most cases, the older the children, the more complex the reaction and more difficult the adaptation. There are many reasons why.

Older children have a longer history in the former family unit, regardless of how healthy or toxic it has been. Perhaps they remember better times when Mom and Dad interacted with them and each other with more joy and harmony. Even if there were no good times to look back upon, older children were accustomed to the existing family dynamic, knew their place in the structure, and felt a sense of comfort in “what is.”

Resisting change is a natural part of being human. For teenagers that resistance is compounded by a tendency to test boundaries and rock the status quo. Divorce or separation naturally makes all children feel powerless over their circumstances. For teens, who are feeling their oats and less likely to listen to parental authority, this is especially hard to accept.

Teens are also more judgmental and opinionated than younger children. Consequently they are less likely to blame themselves for the divorce (as younger kids frequently do) and more apt to take sides and blame one of their parents. Many therapists see teens side with the parent who is more permissive, taking advantage of the weakened parental structure to try to get away with more rebellious behaviors. Some teens choose to side with the more powerful parent – often Dad – to bolster their sense of security, even if they were emotionally closer to Mom.

Anger is a common reaction from older children. If they are not given the opportunity to vent, express their feelings and be heard, this anger often manifests as physical rebellion, drug or alcohol abuse or other inappropriate behaviors. To complicate matters, communication is often more difficult with teens who are acting out because they are usually less talkative, more likely to keep their feelings held in and more moody than their younger siblings.

With this in mind, how can parents bridge this communication and credibility gap with their older children? Amy Sherman, a therapist in private practice who has dealt extensively with troubled teen populations, makes these suggestions:

1. Make your family a democracy. That means opening the door to listening to and “hearing” your older children, even if you don’t like what they are saying. Kids need to know they can express themselves without being disciplined or made wrong. At the same time, she warns against being too permissive which inevitably leads to exploitation from teens who are always testing their boundaries.

2. Whenever possible, both Mom and Dad should talk to the teen together, discussing issues as honestly as is appropriate. All children are natural manipulators. Don’t let separation or divorce give them the opportunity to divide and conquer. Mom and Dad talking to the kids together, on the same page regarding family rules and values, is your best insurance for keeping older children as allies. Co-parenting after the divorce is your optimum goal. When that is not possible, keeping both parents in their parental roles goes a long way toward maintaining stability within a transforming family structure.

3. Children need and actually appreciate structure, even teens. It creates the security they crave, especially at challenging times. Try to maintain boundaries as close to the pre-divorce reality as possible. When both parents share basic guidelines and agreements within the family structure, regardless of which house the children are in, they will feel safer and more secure. Your children will also feel more cared about and loved which is vitally important as the family moves into unknown changes and transitions.

Remember, children of all ages mirror what they see. If your children are acting out, look within the family system for the cause. Get the help you need in making internal changes, and they are more likely to follow suit. At the same time, be patient, tolerant and understanding with yourself and everyone else within your family. This too shall pass!

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Rosalind Sedacca’s acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! 

 

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HOW TO STOP FEELING INVISIBLE

What does feeling invisible look like and in what situations might we find ourselves feeling invisible?

From a physical perspective there are both men and women who exude that air of natural confidence and charisma and is what instinctively draws people to them. Even these people will have times when they need to withdraw from the world to recharge, maybe this is what you could also refer to as needing to feel invisible, the difference here though is that for them it’s a considered choice which is very different from those people who feel that it something out of their control.

Feeling invisible can often it can be a sign that we no longer have anything in common with the people we used to spend time with, including family. If we have very different interests and other people are not interested in engaging with us, maybe that might make us feel invisible.

At some social occasions you may choose to be invisible because the conversation is heading into discussing something that you feel strongly about and it’s just not worth stirring the pot or you are simply bored to tears. We do outgrow some of our family and friends and I view this as a good thing. It means that we are expanding our view of the world and making choices based on what we think and feel and how we want to be treated.

In a divorce situation many women I work with or meet find the adjustment into life as a single woman very difficult and feel uncomfortable in social occasions where they may be the only single women and feel left out of the conversation. Or in relationships many women they feel that their needs are unheard or that ‘you never listen to me’. I could discuss the difference between men and women when it comes to ‘listening skills,’ however that is probably best left for another time.

How to stop feeling invisible raises many questions for me – let’s start with these two.

What am I doing or not doing to make myself feel invisible around people?
What is the meaning I have given to the fact that I feel invisible?

Feeling invisible in any situation is a choice, whether it’s in the workplace, with your family and friends or in social occasions and it’s never about other people. It is always about us. Often lying behind this will be a fear and lack of self-worth. Fear of not being heard, fear of not being liked, fear of speaking up and asking for what you want, fear of disagreeing with someone else’s opinion, fear of not being enough …………….. (fill in the gap!)

More questions for you to contemplate that will help bring more awareness into what might be going on for you. If this is a significant problem for you choose just one thing on the list and work towards turning that around before you move to the next one.

When you feel invisible or unseen or not heard by others do you remain silent?
Do you take on responsibility for attending to other peoples needs before your own?
Do you take on responsibility for other people’s lives in an attempt to ‘fix’ them?
Do you pretend that everything in your world is rosy when you are really feeling sad and lonely?
If you strongly disagree with someone do you speak up or do you prefer to avoid conflict?
How often do you end up feeling unappreciated, unseen or not valued?
How much of this is a reflection of how you treat yourself?

Having the awareness that you feel invisible is the first step. The next step is to take responsibility for your own feelings, for what you want and how you choose to be treated. It all has to start with you loving and caring about yourself more than you care about anyone else.   It’s a work in progress however the rewards that come along with every little step will encourage you to keep going.

Sometimes we need a little push to get started and to help you take that first step imagine in 10 years time what your life looks like, how you feel and what you are saying to yourself if you choose to do nothing.

Now imagine in 10 years time what your life looks like, how you feel and what you are saying to yourself when your whole world has changed because you had the courage to take that very first step.

To share your thoughts or your story please email me: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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ARE YOU A NUMB SPECTATOR TO THIS GAME CALLED ‘LIFE’?

This is a subject that is so very close to my heart!

I lived my life as a numb spectator for many years. On the surface it appeared to everyone that all was right in my world, I had the house, great kids, a good husband, and all the while I was slowly dying inside and I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT!

Sadly this is not an experience that was unique to me. I know that far, far too many women continue to simply exist from day to day, going through the motions of the ‘daily grind.’ Housework, meals on the table, raising kids, holding down a job, physical and emotional distance between themselves and their partner, completely numb to their feelings and crawling into bed at night exhausted, only to wake the next morning and begin the daily cycle all over again and silently hearing a inner voice asking “is this it, is this really what life is all about?”

Living like this is of course a recipe for physical and emotional disaster and no matter how hard, or for how long we continue to bury and ignore the internal messages that our body is sending us there will be a point when there will be an eruption and much like a volcano once it starts there is no turning back.  All the anger, resentment, grief, guilt and hurt will begin to spew out with a force that scares the most hardened of us.

Everyone will move through this period in their own way and in their own time as reaching this turning point begins the struggle to unleash the real ‘us’ that has been buried deep inside for far too long and as much it creates fear and confusion at the time everyone who has already been through this period of transition will acknowledge that it was also the beginning of their journey of personal discovery and self-awareness.

It is not however a journey without its challenges.

Creating any significant change in our lives will mean that there will be opposition and resistance from the people around us.

As we begin to make the conscious decision to discard all the beliefs that we have created or those that have been past on to us as we allowed the influence of our family and society to shape us into a clone of other peoples expectations those closest to us will feel threatened and fearful.

But …….

  • What if reaching the point of no return was exactly what needed to happen?
  • What if we were doing the very best we could with the resources we currently had available to us?
  • What if all the heartache and pain we had buried for so long was actually helping us to survive?
  • What if the eruption of the volcano meant the complete destruction of the road we were currently travelling?
  • What if it meant that for the very first time we could see a new road ahead, new horizons with a sign post that read ‘The real you, 100 miles in this direction?’
  • What if we discovered that with every single step we took we began to explore and discover our deep inner wisdom and new found belief in ourselves
  • What if we discovered our voice, our passion for life and began to live with a sense of peace, contentment and joy?

I firmly believe that this is our birthright.

In the words of Nora Ephron “Above all, be the heroine of your own life, not the victim.”

What are you waiting for?
To share your comments or personal story – send me an email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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JOY, LAUGHTER, FAMILY & FRIENDS

Christmas, a time of joy, laughter, good times, family and friends.

Or it it?

This time of year can also the catalyst for endings.

Many people spend this time reassessing their lives. Whether it be a job or career they are no longer finding satisfying,

the realisation that continuing to ignore their health and fitness is no longer an option,

being in debt, ending conflict with family and friends or living yet another year being unhappy or unfulfilled in a relationship.

For many people who spend time reassessing their relationships either consciously or sub-consciously, it can and does lead to many couples heading to the divorce courts in the New Year.

It’s not that someone suddenly wakes up one morning and says “OK, it’s all over, I want out of this relationship.”

For many there has been an emotional and physical disconnect for some time before the actual decision is made to call it quits and sometimes it can be just one more little thing that happens that proves to be the catalyst for this decision.

When I started to write this blog the words ‘Emotional Bank Account’ popped into my mind and as I usually take notice of these ‘little things that pop into my mind’ I went to my book shelf to find the book that this came from. It’s just a little ‘off topic’ but worth sharing.

If you haven’t read Stephen R Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ there are many, many takeaways from this book and I highly recommend, it is a great read.

Here are just a few of the profound words from Mr Covey on relationships.

An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.
If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty and keeping my commitments to you I build up a reserve.

When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant and effective. If a large reserve of trust is not sustained by continuing deposits, a marriage will deteriorate.

Instead of rich, spontaneous understanding and communication, the situation becomes one of accommodation, where two people simply attempt to live independent life-styles in a fairly respectful and tolerant way and may further deteriorate to one of hostility and defensiveness.

For many women who have been through divorce this is yet another time of emotional turmoil as they struggle with memories of good times past. Happy family gatherings at Christmas and seeing children’s faces light up with delight on Christmas morning. For those women now on their own, particularly if they are newly separated, it is a time of sadness for the loss of those special family times. It may also be a time of financial stress as they simply do not have the resources to buy their kids the gifts they would like to, particularly if they see the father lavishing all sorts of presents on them. The facts are that there simply doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of joy in the world for them.

If you are reading this blog and this is how you are feeling about Christmas there are some things you can do to make this a more enjoyable time.
The very best way, as with most things, is to take the focus of ourselves and think about what we can do to make the day more fun and enjoyable for someone else.

Easier said than done, I know.

But the truth is that when we get out of our heads and turn our thinking around there are many ways we can really make a difference in the lives of someone else and the reward is that we get to “feel great” about ourselves and grateful for the people and things what we do have in our lives.

Here are just a few ideas.

  • Have an open house for your friends who might be spending the day on their own. Here in Australia we call it an ‘Orphan’s Christmas’.
  • Perhaps volunteering at a homeless people’s shelter or a women’s refuge.
  • Or visiting the local hospital or an aged care facility.

Begin by asking yourself this question.

“What could I do today to make someones day a little brighter?” Notice what ideas come to mind. Then go do that!

Your thoughts, comments, personal story or suggestions are important to me.

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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COPING WITH LOSS

The dictionary describes grief as sadness, anguish, heartache, regret, remorse, sorrow and suffering.

Grief is everyone single one of these words and I think it needs all of these words to illustrate the extend of what it is to experience.

Grief is one of the key emotions that women going through divorce and loss experience and takes a considerable amount of time to move through.

It may seem strange that the function of grief is to heal.

Sorrow can make you feel as though you are being torn apart, cell from little tiny cell.

People who follow grief through its whole course emerge stronger and healthier, more able to cope with the inevitable losses that affect every human life.

In the end they become sources of wisdom and compassion for themselves and everyone around them.

Sorrow is heavy, hard work.
It stalls all your systems in order to force you toward a very, very painful task, coping with loss.  And loss always lies at the root of grief.  Every time you lose something you hold dear, you must grieve, and every time you feel grief-stricken you can be sure you have lost something dear.  We are stunned and devastated by things like separation, aging and death as though these aren’t the very constants sure to affect every single one of us.

Whatever the reason, loss is hard for us and healing from it takes a lot of energy.  Grief pushes us into ‘deep rest’ weighing down our muscles, wringing tears from our eyes and sobs from our bellies.  It isn’t pretty but it is natures way.

Our deepest grief is reserved for things that have no acceptable substitutes: loved ones, relationships, health, hopes and dreams.  Trying to replace someone special to you, or something you once were is actually useless. There is nothing to do but mourn and the pain will disappear a whole lot faster if you lean into it.

1. Find Or Make a Safe Place to Grieve
At a bare minimum you have to have a safe place for mourning, privacy and quiet.  Maybe wrapping yourself in a blanket, have a pen and paper at hand to express your feelings in writing.  Some good old sad songs are also useful.  Any song that helps you cry will access your grief, move it through you and help you release it.

2. Reserve Time to Grieve
Sadness slows you down, give yourself more time than you think to finish tasks like cleaning your house or finishing projects.  The more love and support you give yourself, and get from others, the more energy you will have for the tasks of everyday life.

3. Maximise Comforting Activities
This means doing things that gladden your heart. Walking along the beach or in nature, listening to music, enjoying your children or your pets, whatever works best for you.

One of the Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha was that any permanence we perceive, in ourselves or the world around us, is an illusion.
Clinging to that illusion, trying to force things to stay as they are, leads inevitably to suffering.  Accepting impermanence means embracing the world as it is, complete with loss.  Refusing to accept change doesn’t mean that the pain of losing something you love will never start, it only means that the pain will never stop.  As they say in coaching, the only way out is through.

    • Losing the illusion of permanence means that you will accept your losses.
    • It means that you will become well acquainted with sorrow.
    • It also means that you will realise the infinite sources of healing and joy that are available to an open heart.
    • People who don’t resist grief, who let if flow through them, come out more resilient on the other side.
    • They are less afraid of loss, more able to soften the pain of those around them and quicker to appreciate whatever happiness life brings.
    • Ironically, it is those who have accepted the most terrible grief who are capable of the greatest joy.

Thank you to ‘Martha Beck’ for permission to use some content from her book ‘Finding Your Own North Star’.

Your thoughts, comments, personal story or suggestions are important to me.

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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IS YOUR SENSE OF SELF-WORTH INTACT?

Self-worth!

The reason I wanted to address this topic is because I see so many women bashing themselves up about not being enough …… and ‘enough’ is another whole discussion topic.

As I began to write this blog it caused me to stop and really think about what this word means to me.

This of course led to to think about the times in my life when my self-worth was feeling a bit battered and bruised?

  • When a boy I really really liked wasn’t remotely interested in me.
  • When I hit a rough patch trying to cope with small children and felt totally inadequate as a mother.
  • When I didn’t / don’t achieve some goals I had set for myself.
  • When I failed miserably because of some financial decisions I made
  • When I was dumped by a guy I really cared about for a much younger woman
  • Times when I held my tongue instead of speaking up for what I believed in
  • Times when I let someone else control my life to some degree to avoid confrontation
  • Times when I questioned my ability as a coach (the not good enough syndrome!)

In total contrast to the previous comments I believe that I have always had a strong underlying sense of my own self-worth!

  • A very strong belief that I deserve to have the best that life has to offer
  • That I have a voice and a message to share with the world
  • That I attract only the very best people and things into my world
  • That I am enough!

As I look back over my list of battered and bruised self-worth issues the only difference in the two examples are that I thought I wasn’t pretty enough, good enough, smart enough, young enough, strong enough, educated enough, rich enough.

SELF WORTH COMES FROM ONE THING – THINKING THAT YOU ARE WORTHY.  Wayne Dyer

I BELIEVE THAT ALL SELF WORTH ISSUES ARE THOUGHTS ABOUT NOT BEING ENOUGH!

THEY ARE NOT REAL, THEY ARE JUST THOUGHTS AND THEY CAN TAKE CONTROL OF OUR LIVES IF WE LET THEM.

Take particular notice of the times when these little thoughts come invading your head space, take some time to observe what is behind them, what meaning you are making of them – and then turn them around and give them a much more empowering meaning.  Ones that makes you feel great about yourself and your life!

DO YOU HAVE AN INSIGHTS TO SHARE?

Your thoughts, comments, personal story or suggestions are important to me.

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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WHAT’S GOING ON INSIDE YOUR HEAD?

What’s Going on Inside Your Head?

My guess is that you are already aware that our minds are really, really active, you know that, ‘monkey chatter’ that is constantly going on and on inside our heads.

It has been recorded that we have between 40-60 thousand thoughts a day!

95% are the same from day to day.

80% are automatic negative thoughts.

Just thinking about that is in itself enough to ‘blow our minds.’

How they work out those numbers I have no idea.   What I do know is that each one of those thoughts is always influencing your perception of reality, your experience of life and will be having an impact on your body in some way.  How you are feeling in the moment and where in your body you are feeling it.

Now what really interests me and one of the biggest challenges my clients seem to face is that we are only consciously aware of a handful of these thoughts when in fact we are self suggesting all the time.

 What do I mean by ‘self-suggesting?’

These thoughts we are having, our internal dialogue and the images we are making about these thoughts are shifting and shaping our reality.

Now consider this, every single word we say to ourselves, every single word that comes out of our mouths, every single thought that we think is a suggestion to ourselves.

Just knowing this is huge!  Creating more and more awareness of how you are talking to yourself is key to making huge changes in how you see the world around you and how you experience life.

Even as you make simple changes you will begin to notice a huge difference in how you respond to the world around you.  Once I became aware of the power and control of my internal dialogue and I changed my internal dialogue every time I became aware of what was going on, my world really changed in a powerful and positive way.

 Let’s call this a little ‘thought’ experiment.

I would like to invite you to do this and just notice for yourself what’s different.  In the way you feel, the way you think about yourself and the way you think about what is possible for you and for your life.

Grab yourself a notebook or a journal and begin to jot down the thoughts you are having that really just make you feel crappy.  And straight away turn that thought around to one that flips it on its head and notice how this new thought makes you feel.

Try these ones to get you started.   And say them out loud!

My life is an emotional roller coaster

My life is a journey

How could I be so stupid and do a thing like that?

What could I have done differently in that situation?

What an idiot I am to fall for a guy like him, what is wrong with me?

 I am so glad I got to experience that relationship, I’m really clear now about what I really want!

I can guarantee that when you do this you on a regular basis it will open up your mind to notice new opportunities and possibilities.

You are already choosing to think about what is going on in your world in a certain way, so test out what happens when you choose to think differently

What you choose to think is always totally up to you!

“THINKING MAKES A WONDERFUL SERVANT AND A TERRIBLE MASTER”

What steps are you prepared to take to become the master of your thoughts?

Your thoughts, comments, personal story or suggestions are important to me.

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

If you are struggling to know what to do and who to talk to following your breakup, follow this link to schedule a time to chat with Jenny https://Divorcedwomensclub.as.me/

 

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