ARE YOU SURRENDERING YOURSELF IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS?

In most relationships, whether they be with a spouse, family and friends or work colleagues we compromise ourselves in some way, to either keep the peace, avoid confrontation or to be accepted, liked and even loved.

Most relationships involve a great degree of compromise simply to allow the other person to maintain their individuality, pursue their own interests and have a different circle of friends. All of which I believe contribute to making the relationship not only more interesting but more importantly allowing both people to grow as individuals within the relationship.

For separated families to put their children’s very best interests ahead of personal feelings or opinions also involves compromise and when the relationship is strained this can be incredibly challenging.

And of course, some things are just not worth making a big deal about much of the time but at what point does ‘biting your tongue’ become something much more?

At what point does compromising become problematic?

Where does it start and where does it end?

Generally when the stakes are high! And they are if our usual response is to avoid any sort of confrontation or voice our opinion on a particular topic, or stating to someone that what they did really pissed us off and when our voice is no longer heard.

This can happen in relationships in very subtle ways. For example if you are telling your friend, partner or work colleague about something that happen during the day and not only are they not listening, they will cut you off mid sentence to tell you something about themselves.

When this becomes a common pattern real communication will cease to exist and the relationship itself will be compromised.

Or conversely

  • When you are too afraid to express your true feelings
  • When your opinion no longer counts
  • When you have been put down so many times that you just keep everything to yourself
  • When you are ridiculed for your opinion
  • When you no longer even know how to express your needs
  • When you no longer feel that you deserve to have an opinion
  • When you no longer even care because you feel worthless
  • When you no longer even know what you think

What most of us don’t realize until we’ve allowed our own sense of self-worth and self-respect to reach rock bottom is that in every moment, situation, and relationship that we do not honor and value ourselves, we are compromising who we really are and thus abandoning, betraying, and ultimately hurting ourselves far more deeply than we know.

I thought I would share with you some tips on Finding Your Voice Again, from my “6 Steps To Getting Your Life Back On Track” ebook.

I remember quite some time ago seeing the movie ‘Runaway Bride’ with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. There was one particular scene in the movie that really stood out for me and it relates well to this step, finding your voice again.

In this scene Richard Gere asks Julia Roberts ‘how do you like your eggs?’ and she replies ‘how do you like yours?’

This also reminds me of a client who broke down in tears and said to me, ‘I don’t even know what my favourite colour is!’

In the role Julia Roberts played in this movie she had absolutely no idea how she liked her eggs, she had never allowed herself to realize that she could choose to have them anyway she liked and asked for them just the way she liked them.

“How do you like your eggs?”

Exercise

Time to make your voice heard.

Over the next few weeks I would like you to begin to pay particular attention to the times, when for the sake of keeping the peace, or perhaps thinking it’s not that important, you stay silent rather than speaking up or voice your opinion on some topic.

I’m not saying that all of a sudden you become someone who challenges everyone or everything. The purpose of this exercise is simply one of creating more self-awareness. It can often be some of the little things that we let go without comment that eventually lead to becoming our natural way of responding in most situations. Your voice is important and your voice deserves to be heard. It’s time now to find YOUR voice again.

Next time you go to a restaurant with friends or family, take particular notice of how you read the menu. How do you choose what you are going to order? Do you wait to find out what everyone else is having?

Or as you read the menu do you imagine what the food will look like and taste like? Perhaps you may find it really difficult to make a decision at all. This is just one example of any number of different situations that you may begin to notice how you make decisions and when you choose not to say something even though you disagree.

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DAMNED IF YOU DO AND DAMNED IF YOU DON’T

My clients are so open and forthcoming about the very private details of their lives, they allow themselves to be raw and vulnerable, to express their thoughts and feelings honestly.  For many of them the decision to end the relationship was not theirs to make, it had already been done and they were left to deal with the fallout, facing an uncertain and unknown future.

For the ones who are unhappy and dissatisfied with their relationship, struggling with a feeling of unrest and discontent it’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place.

Reaching that point where there are one of two choices to be made, the day you realise the pain of staying will be greater than the pain of leaving and choosing to step off the edge into an uncertain and unknown future.

Like many women who find themselves in this situation, I had unconsciously distanced myself emotionally and physically for a number of years until one day I crossed that threshold, that point of no return, I had reached my ‘tipping point.’  That one more thing when in an instant I knew I was done and I also knew it was a case of damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

The fallout of this decision spread far and wide as very close family and life long friends distanced themselves, as I watched my children hurting so much that it broke my heart, as rumors spread and as my husband did everything he could to salvage our marriage knowing that I had reached the point of no return.

If you find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place, in a position where you are struggling to make a choice between two possible alternatives, before you do anything else it is important for you to get very clear about your decision, once you choose to walk a different path there is no turning back.

Knowing what I know now and having someone in my corner to support me, someone to walk the path with me, to help me navigate through this time would have made an incredible difference to me and to my life.

To help you with whatever is going on in your life right now, some area of your life where you may be feeling some internal conflict, this exercise will help you gain more clarity and help you redirect your focus towards what you want to be different.

CLARITY THROUGH CONTRAST

  • Take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and on the left hand side write the word CONTRAST, on the right hand side write the word CLARITY
  • Fold the paper in half and only work on the Contrast Column. Make a list of all the things you feel are ‘wrong’ with your partner and your relationship, the longer the list the better.  Spend the time to work through this, come back to it over a few days and keep adding more things as they come to mind.
  • Once you have run out of things to write, open the paper and as you read each item on the Contrast list one at a time, write what it is you do want and how you would like things to be different.
  • Having completed both columns, fold the paper again and now only look at the list in the Clarity column and read through each one of them, make any changes as they come up for you.
  • There are several benefits to using a simple and easy exercise like this, it will assist your decision making, it may even open up the opportunity to begin a different conversation with your partner.

Example: “I feel taken for granted,” in the Clarity column “I want to feel appreciated.”

Remember: You cannot unring a bell!   Once something has been said or done and the wheels are in motion it cannot be undone.

 

Jenny is an absolute advocate and champion for women rediscovering themselves through the process of divorce.

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GIRLFRIENDS AND MISGUIDED ADVICE

If you are in the early phases of separation there will be some people you want to keep close by your side and there will be others that will no longer be a part of your life.

Everyone will have an opinion on what you should do, what they really thought of your partner and be particularly cautious of the ones who love to feed on gossip. The last thing you need to hear is someone saying things like ‘I always thought he/she was a jerk,’ ‘Did you know he tried to hit on me plenty of times?’ and the best one of all, ‘you’ll be fine, just get over it there are plenty more fish in the sea!’

If only it was that easy!

The fact is that any separation, no matter who decides to end the relationship, is a traumatic and confronting experience. It changes who you are, it changes many aspects of your life that you held dear, it causes you to question everything about yourself, your decisions, and it completely wipes out the timeline you had in your imagination of how and when all the things you had planned together would come to life. Now all you see in front of you is a blank wall with no idea of how to get over it, around it, or through it.

Most people these days know someone who has been through divorce and although family and good friends are so very important in your life now, it is time to remove the people from your life who simply have no idea of what it is like to walk in your shoes and hugely beneficial to connect with a few friends or acquaintances who do.  These are the people who will give you permission to spend the day curled up in bed, who will listen to you talk and talk about the same things over and over again without judgement, they will be the ones you can call late at night.  They will come over to spend the night and keep you company, get you laughing and smiling again. They will reassure you that there is nothing wrong with you and share the things that happened to them and encourage you to honour the grieving process and allow the body to do it’s healing in the way it has been designed to do.   Your body goes into shock and all the physical and emotional triggers that are designed to help you through any trauma will kick in to do what needs to be done to begin the grieving and healing process.

Time really does heal old wounds and life goes on, we manage to pull ourselves together, we learn more about who we are and just how strong and resilient we have become, we learn to ask for help when we need it, we learn to swallow our pride and seek financial assistance when we need it, we become experts at managing our budgets, we discover just how wonderful and supportive a select group of special people in our lives are and eventually we regroup, we begin to think about what we want to do with our lives, our work or careers or adding value to others in some way.

There are so many parts of who we are and for many women it’s not until we are no longer someones wife or partner that we have the opportunity to make these discoveries, our self-awareness becomes deeper, we begin to question our beliefs about relationships and other things we thought to be true, many begin a deeper spiritual practice, question why they are here, they realise the benefits of maintaining their health and fitness, giving back to their families and communities and begin to explore experiences that are new, challenging, fun and allowing the growth and expansion of themselves and their lives.

If you would like to chat to Jenny about anything at all, even your favourite wine click here to schedule a time https://calendly.com/jenny-smith-1/what-s-going-on-in-your-world

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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!

* * *

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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THE TOP TEN PARENTING CONSIDERATIONS FOR A LESS STRESSFUL DIVORCE

Most separating parents are very concerned about how divorce affects their kids whoever far too many underestimate the real impact of divorce on children, teenagers and adult children as well.

In Australia nearly half of divorces involve children under the age of 18 years of age and these are the ones who suffer the most into adulthood.

Anyone who believes that their children will be unaffected by their divorce may be surprised to know that ALL children of divorce suffer emotional wounds. The question is never whether they will be hurt the question is how badly will they be hurt?

The responsibility for how badly they will be hurt comes back to the people who love and care for them the most – their parents! Are they prepared to put their differences to one side, avoid having heated discussions within earshot of their kids, talk openly about the divorce giving their kids reassurances that they haven’t done anything wrong, that it’s not their fault and speaking respectfully about the other parent in front of the children.

In an ideal world separating parents would finalise the divorce quickly and amicably to avoid dragging their children through an emotional battleground and have plans in place to keep any major upheavals, like living arrangements, school routines and social activities to a minimum. Of course we don’t live in an ideal world and the reality is that many kids are involved, not just in the separation and divorce phase but the ongoing disputes, arguments and conflicts that many parents engage in as co-parents giving very little thought to how this is impacting on their children. They get blinded by anger, resentment, hatred and revenge and are hell bent on hurting, harming or demeaning their former spouse.

When couples are really struggling with their own issues and concerns about the future, how they will divide property, possessions and finances it becomes all consuming and emotionally charged.

As the adults in this situation you do have the power to put your differences to one side and focus on giving your children the reassurances they need so desperately need. They are loved, this is not their fault and that they will still be a family but doing it differently from how it used to be.

Before I share my tips to help parents make the separation and divorce process less stressful please don’t assume that your kids will OK with the whole thing because they just want you to be happy! I have heard that said so many times and if thinking that makes you feel better and that your kids won’t have any problems with the family splitting then think again. Yes our kids want us to be happy, but what they really what is for their parents to be happy together and the family unit to stay the same. I’m not suggesting for one minute that couples stay together just for the kids, what I am saying is look at this massive change in their lives through the eyes of a child, teenager or adult it doesn’t matter how old they are.

Here are my top ten parenting considerations for a less stressful divorce

    1. At least one parent, preferably both, is prepared to put aside personal issues and focus on discussing and agreeing on the wellbeing of their children in the short and long term
    2. Seek help from professionals to get advice and guidance when there is conflict around decisions or arrangements that will affect your children. An independent third party will provide a different perspective and allow you to find solutions you hadn’t previously considered
    3. Sit down with your children together on a regular basis to reassure them that although there are going to be changes in their lives you will always be there for them. They will want details of what is happening and how it will affect them
    4. Be honest with them about any changes as they arise so they have time to talk about them with you both and express any fears and concerns they might have
    5. Accept that you will not always agree with how your ex parents ‘your’ kids or like the fact that a new partner now has a role in parenting you kids. This is one of the most difficult challenges for many separated parents
    6. If possible both parents attend special events like birthdays, school and social activities, and other events together. Your kids will love that you are both there ‘for them.’ There will come a time when they will be getting married and having children themselves and it is what you do now that will ensure it’s a very special part of their lives that you can both share
    7. Just because you and your partner are divorcing from each other does not mean that your children are too. They have a right to love and spend time equally with both parents, their grandparents and extended families as well
    8. Be careful how you speak about your former partner in front of your children. Take some time to think about how you would like your ex to speak about you in front of your kids and even if that is not happening, then remember that you are role models for your kids, and your behaviour and actions will always speak louder than anything else you will ever do
    9. Never use your kids as a means to get revenge for hurts inflicted on you by your former partner. All too often kids are used as bargaining tools in situations where there is absolutely no winner
    10. Life is constantly changing, often challenging and rarely goes according to plan but when we remember the good times we shared as a family and cherish these memories it might just make a difference in how we write the next chapter in our lives

Share your comments or personal story I would love to hear from you.

The best way to reach me is to via email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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FINDING STRENGTH AFTER A SUDDEN BREAKUP

If you have just had one of those life-changing shitballs come completely out of the blue and totally rock your world and how you see yourself then I have a few things to share with you!

One minute everything seems great with your relationship, sharing intimate moments, making plans for the future, enjoying being together, had great sex that morning and wham! Your partner arrives home and says, ‘I need to talk to you about something!’

The actual words they are saying are not registering as you struggle to hold everything together in an attempt to comprehend what the hell is going on. Then the words ‘someone else’ start to register as they tell you they have met someone else, they are leaving oh! and adding pathetic words like, “I really do care for you!”

How women react in a situation like this will very much depend on the person involved. From erupting like a volcano and spewing forth all manner of profanities, to falling into a hopeless heap on the fall begging for this not to happen and everything in between.

It’s interesting after the fact to observe yourself in this situation, (well I thought it was!). Once the words actually registered with me I erupted like Mount Vesuvius and I let fly with a string of profanities that even shocked me. When he left, because that was the ‘thing’ to do, I went into a frenzy of collecting everything he owned and all the things he had given me that I could lay my hands on, piling it up in a big heap on the floor. Then I messaged him and said he had an hour to come and collect it all or I would trash the whole lot. The saying ‘hell hath no fury like a women scorned,’ that was me. If they were making a movie and needed someone to play this part I would have nailed it!

And, yes I then took the really mature approach of having a few glasses of wine that night which ignited a tirade of slandering text messages. Seriously this is one approach that I would not recommend, ever!

I’m the cut and run, ‘fuck you’ kind of girl as a response in some situations, not always useful when the reality is that we have to maintain some sort of communication on a fairly regular basis just to sort through all the practical issues that have to be addressed and the decisions to make on ‘how to separate’ (with our dignity intact :))

Here are some practical tips to help put you in control of a situation that could potentially have you operating ‘out of control much of the time.

    1. You will need those special people in your life now more than ever. Make sure you keep talking, ‘a lot,’ and have them close by to listen, to help you think more clearly and see possible alternative approaches to important decisions you will be required to make
    2. Look at your situation from a practical point of view to determine how you want to move forward. Your self interests come first!
    3. Write down a list of what needs to happen, what you are prepared to do and what you are not prepared to do
    4. Get sound legal and financial advice on exactly where you stand
    5. If you need to see a coach or a counsellor do so! They will be able to give you some tools to help you manage your emotions, practical tips and an impartial ear to really listen to you
    6. Accept that this is real and that the only way out to the other side is by moving through it and the sooner the better
    7. If you prefer not to have any communication other than through an intermediary then do this
    8. Many people are just too upset to eat anything because they are feeling so nauseous. If you are like this force yourself to have a nutritious smoothie with all the goodness you need and sip it over a period of time during the day
    9. Every single day do something for yourself that will help you manage the emotional overwhelm that you will be experiencing
    10. Going to the gym, getting out for a walk, spending time with people who make you laugh, having a massage, begin to feel OK about spending more time by yourself when even the mundane chores can be helpful.
    11. Recognising and acknowledging your feelings! There will be many and they will engulf you from time to time. Allow yourself to really feel them.
    12. Their leaving will rarely be about you!  Working in this field for several years now I have began to recognise a pattern in many people. There is something missing in their lives and instead of doing the inner work they look for a new partner, or a new ‘something’ external things in the hope they these will make them ‘feel better’.

Within a few months, things will begin to settle down and although you have a little way to go to really get back on your feet again implementing some of these tips will make a big difference.

In time we all find our way through it, some of us left feeling a little battered and bruised from the experience, life lessons that we can take on board to ensure we move into the next relationship more discerning in who we chose to share our life with, an inner strength to support us as we shape our new lives and the gift of wisdom that comes from any life changing experience.

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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HAVE YOU SHARED YOUR SECRETS?

Am I way off the mark thinking that we all have our own little secrets? I know I’ve got a few that I have never shared with anyone and nor do I ever intend to.

Doesn’t everyone have some little secret that they have either never shared with anyone or only ever shared with a very close trusted friend?

Then there are those secrets I would describe as the ‘deep and dark’ ones which can take things to a whole new level.

Let’s keep on track here with secrets in relationships because they can and often destroy many long and short term relationships when something from our past comes to light, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

In any fairly new relationship I would really question if it is necessary to bare your soul about decisions and actions that were made in the past? If a guy started asking me some really personal things about me and my life within the first few weeks of seeing each other, for example, how many people I have slept with, I would seriously have to question 1. why they would want to know for a start and 2. what does it matter?  These sort of questions very early on would be sending me some warning signals.  If however, it begins to look like developing into something much more then this is not just a good time but the very best time to clear the air.  If you aren’t starting off a relationship feeling safe to share your biggest fears, your biggest mistakes, your deep dark secrets you are not only setting yourself up for living in fear of being caught out but this is not just about you, it is being disrespectful of the other person and giving them the opportunity to make a decision that is the right decision for them and how they feel about moving forward with the relationship with this new information.

We are all human, sometimes we make a really bad error of judgement that might well have a detrimental impact on a relationship and we are just plain scared that we might lose someone we really love and care for.

As I thought about more about this topic I started to question what might be some of the key reasons that a relationship could be severely damaged as a result of one or perhaps both parties withholding certain information.

In so many situations guilt, shame and fear are the reasons most of us would keep quiet about some aspects of our past and at the time it’s all seems perfectly understandable when we look at what is at risk if we disclose all.

Here are just a few of the things that might just come back and bite us some time down the track if we don’t deal with them right up front and at the most appropriate time.

  • If we are carrying a whole lot of guilt and regret about a particularly difficult decision we made when we were younger.
  • If we have a criminal record or have served time in jail
  • If we have either a current or previous drug, alcohol or gambling addiction
  • If we have a pretty substantial debt
  • If we have been married before
  • If we have placed a child up for adoption
  • If we have suffered emotional trauma of any kind

These type of issues are far too heavy for most people to carry around with them on their own and the price you pay living in fear of one day being found out will take it’s toll physically, mentally and emotionally.

Way up there on the list is of course ‘infidelity’. Can you tell this is a really big thing with me?  I have been on the receiving end of it and I see so much of it each and every day with the work I do as one of the most common reasons for the breakdown of a relationship. From my perspective there is a very fine line between sexual and emotional infidelity. Emotional infidelity is when one partner fosters emotional intimacy with someone else and maintains a secret or semi-secret friendship when there is a clear mutual interest or attraction.

Or, as someone I have been in contact with recently, finding out that the person you have been living with for the past 10 years has been living a double life with his legal wife at the same time.

If you are living with a secret that might have a serious or even slightly negative impact on your relationship I believe it’s time for you to have ‘that’ conversation.

Difficult conversations are never easy and these are the ones we must have, regardless of the outcome, which brings me to the question, ‘is there ever a right time to reveal a secret?’

If your relationship is at risk of your partner finding out from some other source then you must have the difficult conversation as early as you can. The person on the receiving end of the news may need some time alone to process the information so they can come to terms with what it means for them and you have to be prepared to accept the worst and pray for the best.

Yes, it’s scary and yes it’s risky, but so is living with the fear of being found out sitting at the back of your mind all the time and more importantly hurting the people you love the most even more.

People can and do constantly amaze us when we put aside our guilt and shame and share our secrets. It can open up a much deeper level of conversation and trust and give your partner the space to share more about themselves too. Knowing that it’s safe to be totally honest and truthful, not just about your past is what strengthens and deepens a relationship.

Whatever you decide to do involves taking a risk and being vulnerable and sometimes being prepared to risk everything brings with it the biggest rewards.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Brene’ Brown

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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Lauren’s Story of Divorce and Lost Childhood

I had the pleasure of meeting Lauren on the weekend – this is her story!

I attend a prestigious private girls school, and my brothers attend the all boys’ school. We live in an impressive private, gated estate, in a mansion, complete with housekeepers, dog groomers, an ironing lady, gardeners, window cleaner and as many hired help as you could imagine. Life really couldn’t get much better. My parents entertain wealthy business people, are extremely influential and as I am told repeatedly, successful.
My father is always busy though, either at the races, lunches, on boating excursions or on our horse stud. My mother is always trying to make sure everything is perfect, too perfect. She is either sewing designer clothes for us, cooking or making sure our every need was catered for. We were like a normal family and my parents had a normal marriage.

That was until cracks started to appear. It was like an earthquake, first there was nothing and then everything changed forever. As my parents prepared to go out got a social event, the specialist called with my medical report, although I didn’t know it at the time, this was about to change all of our lives. It wasn’t the cause; it was the catalyst to a whole other world of endless problems. The next morning, I saw my father with his bad walking out the door. My mother was unusually calm. I was chasing my father repeating, “Why are you leaving?” He mumbled something that just didn’t make sense. In my confusion, I turned to my older brother, who hugged me and reassured me that everything was okay.

I didn’t understand what had happened, I didn’t understand why; I did see all the happiness that followed though. My mother started dancing with us, playing and it was surreal, it was fun, we were so happy at the time and the obsession with everything being perfect was no longer. I had no idea how life was about to change again. With no money to provide for us, leaving my school and all my childhood friends behind, devastated me. The promises of still staying in touch with my dad were never a reality. Life had changed in more ways than anyone could imagine.

My father continued to visit for a time, thinking that my mother would be forced to return to the marriage. The sight of my father pulling up in the driveway was like Christmas, time and time again. My mother became more and more withdrawn; I went from having two parents living together and a stable life to feeling that nothing would ever be the same. I felt so insecure. I looked on bewildered as my mother frantically tried to earn money. I felt so guilty whenever I needed anything.

At one time I overheard my mother saying she accidentally left a birthday present at home. Knowing we couldn’t afford one, I was so deeply distressed, I started making up stories as to why I couldn’t accept birthday invitations from that day on, further distancing myself from my old school friends to avoid embarrassment and the stress my mother would have to go to-to try and provide for my needs.

My father still seemed to have plenty of money so this taught my brothers and I to become manipulative and arrange visits when we needed things. It’s just what we had to do to survive. Knowing how desperately my mother needed money I felt ashamed to say I took to searching his car for coins to help my mother manage financially. At this time every dollar was important.

Even the smallest of things changed, like every meal. Instead of a cooked breakfast and freshly packed gourmet lunches that used to be prepared for us, along with our uniforms all laid out perfectly, mornings consisted of fending for ourselves, and wasting time searching for socks, shoes and uniform pieces, along with leaving out mother to sleep considering she would work all through the night. Previously we all enjoyed family dinners around the table prepared so precisely that restaurants would be envious, and changed to us preparing toasted sandwiches, boiled eggs or omelets and being left at home whilst she worked. It rapidly reached the point where I started cleaning up when I knew guests or friends were coming, and taking the responsibility of organizing the boys for school. Our mother was now working seven days and nights and constantly stressed about debt collectors and bills. She was totally unavailable and if she was awake she was on the phone arranging appointments. This required me to step up even more, giving up what little leisure time I had left, to help keep the house running in some kind of less than perfect order. It bothered me so much. I felt as if my childhood was being missed and I was required to mature to an age I was not, just to keep on surviving and pushing through to tomorrow.

Visits to my fathers turned into more of an inquisition than family fun. The stress on us children was massive, even the smallest comment could be involved in an impending court battle. He kept diaries and asked questions constantly. Even innocent comments were diarized. At this point I found it impossible to feel at home and have fun anywhere. Where was my childhood? Christmas and Birthdays brought out the magnitude of our family tragedy as I wanted to spend time with both parents, like it used to be, with laughter, excitement and fun. These special days that are meant for children to enjoy had become days that posed greater problems for me than any other.

Both parents insisted that they wanted the best for us children, and despite every effort, life as a child ended on that one fateful day. The day my parents separated was the day my childhood ended, and my adult life began, far too early.

The fallout of divorce spreads far and deep.

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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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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