At the beginning of my divorce, I was introduced to a woman who was on the other side of her own very high-conflict divorce. A mutual friend had introduced us so I could have the support of someone who knew what it was like to be in this horrible situation. It was such a comfort to have someone to share stories with and to give me hope that I might actually survive this gut-wrenching experience. I remember her telling me that she was so anxiety ridden at the thought of going to court at the beginning of her battle, but at the end it was actually fun. FUN ?!?!? I was hopeful that someday this would all be behind me and I would be stronger because of it, but….FUN?
I can’t actually say that I ever had fun. But I do remember asking myself how I was going to mentally survive very stressful situations like court. I did come out stronger. I now live on my own, pay my own bills, have full control over my future, and have a wonderful relationship with my daughters. I live in a stress-free environment, and have a positive, supporting, loving relationship with someone who shows my daughters that their mother should be treated with respect. The healing has been a process of ups and downs and the road has been paved with potholes, but it is a road to freedom, happiness, love, and control over my own destiny. Looking back I can clearly see the things that have helped me get to where I am now. One of them was my Mental Rescue Kit.
One aspect of divorce when you have children is that most likely you will no longer see them as often as you used to. At first this was devastating. When you are divorcing someone who is high conflict, you constantly worry about your children when they are in the care of this person. This may be one of the reasons you have stayed in your marriage so long. You needed to be there to protect them. The reality of our court system is that it LOVES 50/50 custody regardless if that is what is in the best interest of the children. So, even if you have been the primary caregiver of your children, they now spend 50% of their time with the parent that was not the one who knows or understands their needs. I am not claiming that they are not capable of taking care of them, it is just that this is not what they are used to or how their lives were constructed before the divorce.
This is just one of many difficult changes that happen in a divorce. The reason I highlight the situation of having less time with your children is this: When going through this arduous journey, we have to turn disappointments into opportunities.
So, what can you do in a situation like this? Take advantage of it. Use this time for self-care. Let yourself recall all of the things you wished you could have done in the past if you had more time. See your friends more. Read some self-help books. Explore options for work or a business that you have always been interested in. Take walks. Get a dog. When you feel the feelings of dread and despair creeping in, pull out your Mental Rescue Kit.
Your Mental Rescue Kit contains all of the go-to feelings and visualizations you have prepared and are ready when times get tough. Stop, be calm, close your eyes, breathe, and recall the visuals and feelings that you have put into your Mental Rescue Kit. This is so important to stop the negative feelings and curb the fear and sadness of your situation. Think about your triggers beforehand. Predicting what will send you spiraling so that you can have your Mental Rescue Kit ready is also helpful. What specifically is your trigger? Is it your ex’s new girlfriend claiming on social media that she is raising your kids? Is it that all of your friends are gone on holiday weekends with their families and you find yourself alone? Is it a fear of your financial future or how you will make ends meet? All of these are terrifying thoughts if you let them be.
Worrying over any/all of these things will get you NOWHERE. Identify the trigger. Pull out the Mental Rescue Kit. Visualize yourself being successful, let yourself feel the freedom of not worrying about money. Where are you when you feel like this? What are you wearing? Who are you with? Tell yourself it is happening and let yourself feel the positive emotion when all is right in your world. Feel the comfort of knowing in your heart that you are raising your kids and you will always be their mom or dad. Imagine you and your children doing something that brings you joy, imagine the laughter, feel the sheer delight when you are bonding with your kids. Visualize yourelf with a house full of friends. Friends that love you for you. Imgaine yourself in your own safe home with your close, supportive friends. Equally as important, visualize yourself home alone, content with your quiet time, relaxing watching your favorite show or reading a book. Feel the calmness and confidence you have when you are alone and content.
I am someone who completely understands the reality and brutality of a high-conflict divorce. Taking the time to breathe and visualize what kind of future I wanted while shutting out the negative self-talk and letting go of animosity for people who will never care was the only way I could move forward into a positive future. I understand that today may be tough. Here is the silver-lining: You are either on your way to or currently living a life separate from a toxic person. Freedom from their control is within your reach. The power comes from you.
Your power is in your thoughts, it is in your feelings. Take ONE minute, yes just one. Be calm, close your eyes, and allow yourself to SEE and FEEL your future. Give this gift to yourself. You deserve it.
Jackie Miller, Certified Divorce Coach®
After a two year battle in a high-conflict divorce, I knew I had to help others in similar situations. Divorcing a high-conflict personality is like navigating a mine field during a hurricane. Jackie is dedicated to raising awareness about the Post Separation Abuse that is inflicted on the healthy spouse during these divorces. Jackie is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach®, High-Conflict Divorce Coach and can help you create a plan and give you the tools you need to take on a high-conflict divorce.
CDC Certified Divorce Coach ® Directory Listing – https://divorcesupporthelp.com/find-a-divorce-coach/listing/jackie-miller/