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Handling the Holidays During Divorce

Handling the Holidays During Divorce

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Handling the Holidays During Divorce

Our society begins celebrating the ‘joyful’ holiday season immediately after Halloween and straight through New Year’s Eve.  The message is clear, no matter your cultural or religious beliefs, ‘tis the season to be jolly’.  For those of us attempting to handle the holidays during divorce, it can feel like a season of anything but joy.

If you are in the pre or early stages of divorce, there is fear and trepidation around all that is about to change while you simultaneously are neck deep in the conflict and struggle or the upset around your spouse’s’ decision to leave.

If you are in the midst of divorce, you are wrangling with the loss of family and friendships, perhaps not being invited to the annual shindig or, missing your in-laws who now see you as an outlaw.  Your holidays during divorce may include splitting the time you enjoy with your kids.

Either of these two scenarios may also include pasting a smile on your face to make the best of a tough time…often for the kids and sometimes just to minimize the conflict during divorce.

Handling the holidays post divorce brings a new set of challenges. Spending Thanksgiving without your children or the extended family you loved for so many years. Finding yourself alone, lonely and depressed during Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice.

Handling the holidays during divorce equally holds opportunity

In order to see the opportunity we must stop staring at the closed door that divorce represents and turn our attention to the rest of the ‘room’…the many open doors that await us.

“When God gives you a new beginning, it starts with an ending.  Be thankful for closed doors. They often guide us to the right one!”  ~ Author Unknown

Suggestions for handling the holidays during divorce

  1. Still living together? The holidays can feel like an emotional tightrope walk when living under the same roof with an impending divorce. Keep the focus on the kids and on that which you love (decorating the house, making a feast, watching your children enjoy gifts and company).  If there are no children, consider getting away; spending time with friends and family or getting out of town for a few days.
  2. Volunteer:  You will not only be giving, you will receive both gratitude for your time and attention as well as feel an inner gratitude for all that you DO have.
    1. If alone and lonely is your struggle, there is no better way to get out of our own head and feeling sorry for ourselves than to serve others.  If you don’t want to be around people, choose pets and volunteer at a local ASPCA, Pound or other facility to walk, play with and care for a lonely pet.
    2. Find a soup kitchen or food pantry or senior center or children’s hospital and care for those who are needy and unable to care for themselves or see their families
  3. Make plans and Plan Ahead:  Even if you use one activity a day to ‘anchor’ your day, it will get you out of bed and engaged in the world.  Make it something that puts you around other people where you can have a conversation and shift out of your own head.  Do NOT wait for the day to come, planning ahead will give you something to look forward to and ground you in the day.
  4. Get moving:  Walk, hike, swim, yoga, take a dance class…anything to get your body moving. The physical, mental and emotional benefits will be immediately felt.
  5. Pamper Yourself: Give yourself the gift of self love in whatever language speaks to you.  A leisurely morning, a special breakfast, an afternoon bath and nap, a foot, face or back massage.     
  6. Ask for what you need: Don’t be afraid to tell a friend that you have no plans and are lonely.  There is an invitation awaiting you and if you don’t want to be around another’s family, you can still connect via a phone call or drop in for dessert.
  7. Create new traditions:  There may be things you loved about your old traditions that you choose to keep (or adjust as a single person / parent).  Also consider new traditions.  Here are some of my new traditions over the last 10 years…
    1. One year me and the kids made it a pajama day. They played with their gifts and we watched movies  and ordered  Chinese and…it was a perfect!
    2. There is no other family near by and kids are young adults.  They may see their dad, leaving me alone. I cook all day and have all their friends for a late night holiday feast – with many religions represented, they look forward to it and are deeply appreciative. It has become my favorite way to celebrate Christmas!
    3. I love nature and hike on Thanksgiving or Easter while by myself, enjoying the changing of the seasons and sending pics to my kids during the day.

Keep your head above water this holiday season by listening to our 12 Step Divorce Recovery Series so you can respond rather than react, be solution oriented rather than problem focused and stay rooted in the present rather than lost in past regrets and future fears!


 

Karen McMahon, Journey Beyond Divorce Founder

KM1 3_16Our team of coaches at JBD is passionate about helping men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups and divorce. We work together with you to open the possibility that your current relationship challenges can lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience. Together we create a path to clarity. Find out if Coaching is right for you, and accept my gift of one FREE session.

Divorcing a Narcissist

Divorcing a Narcissist

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Divorcing a Narcissist and Winning

While divorce is inherently overwhelming and emotionally challenging, those of us who are faced with divorcing a narcissist experienced a heightened level of fear and frustration.  By the mere definition of a narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-centered, it is impossible to engage in a dialogue where both parties needs are heard and acknowledged.

I am divorced from a narcissist.  Often our ‘conversations’ are simply me listening to his monologue. His ability to dialogue, to hear my perspective and consider it is severely limited by his narcissistic personality disorder.  The other challenge is because their perspective is the only one they are capable of  seeing, they are 100% sure and confident that they are right.  A healthier person considers the other perspective and as a result might question and adjust their own.

An understandable question is how to divorce a narcissist and win when the narcissist is wired to need to win and often will fight to the detriment of the children and finances.  They may even feel like the victim throughout the process, again due to their single minded belief that their needs and opinions are right and are all that matter. They also see your concerns as unfair criticism and are unable to look at the possibility that they are part of the problem.  

So what can you do if you are divorcing a narcissist?

First, it is vital that you have a healthy sounding board.  You most likely have ‘lost yourself’ amidst your spouse’s certainty that s/he is right and you are wrong.  You also need to look at your ability to set boundaries…and uphold them as most narcissists are boundary oblivious.  Finally, you are well served to notice your own behavior.  

  • Are you surprised or angered each time he or she does not acknowledge your perspective or needs? 
  • How long has this been going on for?  
  • And why would you expect them to behave differently now?  

I am speaking about acceptance.  When you accept that a narcissist cannot and will not see your perspective (because that is how they are wired) you stop trying to shove a round peg into a square hole. By accepting the limitations of your narcissistic spouse, you free yourself to find new solutions.  He or she will continue to behave the same way.  

When divorcing a narcissist, notice your insanity…doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

It is up to you to change the dance you have been engaging with your spouse.

One thing I changed was I began to hang up on my ex (after numerous warnings that I have to do).  It stills feels bad.  However, I know that if I don’t I will be kept on the phone for hours.  It is my responsibility to set my boundaries and to uphold them.  

  • Where are you still feeling like the victim of your narcissistic ex?  
  • What is your role in your frustration?  

Find new ways of behaving to minimize the pain of divorcing a narcissist.

Finally, for those who feel deeply victimized by the narcissist, a shift in perspective is valuable.  Your narcissistic ex did not ask to be born with this personality disorder.  There is no talk therapy nor pharmaceutical drugs that can help him or her heal from this disorder.  When I learned this, I found my way to have compassion for my narcissistic ex.  It took a long time and it feels great to be rid of my ‘I am a victim of him’ mentality.  He must live with this disorder for the rest of his life and all the damage it does to his relationships.  I on the other hand, am healthy and free. He is my teacher, my Buddha, my Cross and I get to work on my patience, compassion, acceptance, expectations and boundaries  regularly because we will be connected for the rest of our lives through our children.  I no longer hate.  I no longer hurt. I am at peace.

You have a choice about how the rest of your life will be impacted by your narcissistic ex. Create a healthy support network, join a community of peers today.


Karen McMahon, Journey Beyond Divorce Founder

KM1 3_16Our team of coaches at JBD is passionate about helping men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups and divorce. We work together with you to open the possibility that your current relationship challenges can lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience. Together we create a path to clarity. Find out if Coaching is right for you, and accept my gift of one FREE session.

Divorce and Faith Divorce and Religion

Divorce and Faith

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How do you reconcile the differences between divorce and faith?

While navigating the Holy Land with Rabbis, Ministers and Imams the conversation turned to divorce and faith. The four who spoke (both men and women), recalled their reasons for divorce and the day they decided to take the first steps in the divorce process. While their paths and circumstances were different, they all agreed it was among the most difficult decisions they had made. The sense of failure was immense and palpable, old wounds reopened, scars not yet faded. However, all recovered and most had remarried, finding themselves in balanced, purposeful, and loving relationships. They survived without being shunned by the congregations they led, though that does not always happen.

Sometimes the reasons for divorce are clear and justified by your religion. These can include abuse, adultery, and faith based indiscretions. Though more often than not, the reasons for divorce are more subtle and less easily defined. Mistrust, an absent spouse, or a lack of emotional intimacy. Many times it is a confluence of factors that are not easily corrected, especially when both parties are not invested in doing so.

Take time to read struggling marriage scripture. The Mosque, Temple, Church, Synagogue or Cathedral you are a member of can be one of the best support groups for any kind of pain. Whether that is an illness, mental health issues, work challenges, and especially divorce. Do not be ashamed of your situation, speak privately with your religious leaders and gain their advice. You’ll often be surprised how relatable and understanding they are.

However, this is not always the case. Certain Christian denominations will ostracize divorced people, and others will prohibit remarriage. In Judaism, divorce is a better solution than a life of bitterness and conflict, though not to be taken lightly. In Islam, it is a step of last resort.  Hinduism also deeply discourages divorce while permitting it in some situations. Regardless of your religion, there is help and guidance available to you outside of your place of worship.

Only once you acknowledge and accept the wounds of marital strife, can you begin to heal. If you are uncomfortable seeking struggling marriage advice at your place of worship, please reach out to us. Our certified coaches come from diverse backgrounds and are available to help you navigate the turmoil of divorce and faith. Talk with us for free today.


Mary Burns Hoff, Journey Beyond Divorce Coach

Our team of coaches at Journey Beyond Divorce are passionate about helping men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups and divorce. We work together with you to open the possibility that your current relationship challenges can lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience. Together we create a path to clarity. Find out if Coaching is right for you, and accept my gift of one FREE session.

Domestic Violence Signs

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How you can help someone with domestic violence signs?

domestic violence signs

October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. Awareness being the operative word. That said, I wanted to share a personal story about domestic violence, and how you can help yourself or someone else. 

 

I was starting out as a young acupuncturist in Cambridge, Massachusetts when Eleanor, a lovely young woman in her mid twenties, came in to see me.  She complained of headaches.  Over the six week I treated her headaches I noticed bruises of varying colors on her arms, legs, and torso.  When I asked about them she offhandedly mentioned that she and her fiancé fought.  The bruises were byproducts of those fights. Eleanor explained that they hit each other when arguments got heated, which they often did.  Curious, I asked how she felt about the damage they inflicted on each other.  Her response was “if we did not get mad enough to hit each other it would mean we didn’t love each other.”  My response, “where did you get that idea from?”  Hers, “this is how my parents relationship was and they’ve been together for 28 years.” The behavior she was both experiencing and engaged in was what she was accustomed to. It was her norm.  

This is just one of the examples of domestic violence. What is your norm and how can you change it? How do you leave if you are told you’re told you or your children will be ruined, hurt, or killed if you try? How do you leave if you feel worthless, helpless, and pitiful? Fear, self-loathing, and exhaustion, while powerful barriers to freedom, are the very restraints keeping you captive. As hard as it will be, you do have the power to break them.

Domestic violence is physically, emotionally and spiritually damaging.  Leaving an abusive relationship without support, powerful support, is difficult at best, impossible at worst. The National Domestic Violence Hotline and  Center Against Domestic Violence can help you with temporary housing and financial guidance. Journey Beyond Divorce is here to help you create your plan, process the emotions, and support you in emerging from domestic abuse a renewed, strong, and confident person. There is help. There is support.  Reach out to our certified relationship coaches for free today https://journeybeyonddivorce.leadpages.co/emergency-lifeline-session-website/  

If you or your childrens’ lives are in immediate physical danger, please call 911 or contact your local emergency services.


Lisa Brick, Journey Beyond Divorce Partner

Lisa Brick

Our team of coaches at Journey Beyond Divorce are passionate about helping men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups and divorce. We work together with you to open the possibility that your current relationship challenges can lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience. Together we create a path to clarity. Find out if Coaching is right for you, and accept my gift of one FREE session.

Saving a Struggling Marriage Advice

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What makes for a successful marriage? How do I fix my struggling marriage and rediscover the magic?

Responses to these questions are as varied as the individuals who ask them. However, they have a commonality. The person asking them is a person who is experiencing a struggling marriage, yet remains invested in experiencing a rewarding relationship, and at some level feels it is possible.

Struggling Marriage Advice

What’s possible has a lot to do with imagination and innovation. Einstein is quoted as saying a variation of, “you cannot solve a problem using the same thinking that created it”. If you are interested in experiencing the magic rather than the muck of interrelating with your spouse, and are unwilling to shift your thinking, you’ll be stuck in a repetitive pattern that is impossible to escape.

Unless you are in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship there may be a way, if you have the will. This way necessitates you to take stock of the following:

● What you respect about yourself
● What you respect about your spouse
● What you appreciate about yourself
● What you appreciate about your spouse
● How healthy and productive are your reactions are when something occurs that upsets you?
● How you could respond that is healthier and more productive?
● How mindful are you of what you say BEFORE you say it since once it leaves your mouth it can’t be taken back?
● What is more important to you, the past or the future?

The mind collects negative impressions. It’s a hard wired survival adaptation that is maladaptive for the long and complex lives we now live. Until we begin to consciously counter the negatives with the positives, we are stuck with a pattern that is neither beneficial nor constructive for ourselves, or our relationships.

Dr. Rick Hanson has an informative and engaging TED Talk on finding and accumulating “positive grapes” and changing our perception of ourselves and our world.

Getting beyond your martial problems is possible. It’s a process that takes inner work first and foremost. It’s time to clean up your side of the street so you can see the other side clearly. Until you do so, you are looking at your spouse through the filter of your garbage.

We all have garbage. You can all choose to own it and take it out, or wait for someone else to. When you do, you’re relationship has much better odds.

We offer a free questionnaire that will let you know if relationship counseling would benefit you, or if you should start seeking other alternatives such as separation or divorce. Click the link to find out. https://journeybeyonddivorce.com/what-is-divorce-coaching/


Lisa Brick, Journey Beyond Divorce Partner

Lisa Brick

Our team of coaches at Journey Beyond Divorce are passionate about helping men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups and divorce. We work together with you to open the possibility that your current relationship challenges can lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience. Together we create a path to clarity. Find out if Coaching is right for you, and accept my gift of one FREE session.

financial stress

Senior’s Financial Stress Coping Guide

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Guest Post By Jenny Holt



Divorce is one of the leading causes of financial stress in seniors along with health, downsizing, and taxes.

Financial stress is compounded by the relative reduction in financial options, especially for those of retirement age and older. Stress can manifest itself physically and mentally as lethargy, anxiety, chest pains, headaches, insomnia, and upset stomachs. Long term this can lead to a cluster of health and depression issues.

It is important, therefore, to find coping mechanisms to deal with these issues. These can be split into two:

The first one is naturally to work with family and financial institutions to address the financial challenges caused by divorce. Of course, amicable and fair settlements are best for both parties in terms of both finances and well-being.

The second one is to adjust diets and exercise routines in order to reduce the effects of stress and to produce a clearer mind for dealing with the problem as a whole.

You can find a vast array of information on this topic here: Financial Stress Coping Guide for Seniors.

Loneliness, lonely

Loneliness: The Hidden Gift Behind The Pain

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Guest Post By Halina Goldstein


Do you ever say, to anyone, “I’m lonely”? How does it feel, not saying it, or saying it?

If you’re like most divorced people, you do feel lonely, at least some of the time. And you are not proud of it. You may even feel ashamed, as if it was your fault, as if something was wrong with you. Even if it’s not.

Whether we are aware of it or not, and whether we admit it or not, loneliness is part of life. For some, it’s a passing phase that is experienced through certain stages of life, such as divorce. For others (every third American, for example), it’s part of life as such. It never goes completely away. And yet, we’re not supposed to talk about it.

In Mother Teresa’s words, “Loneliness is the leprosy of modern times.” We are afraid of it as if it were contagious.

And so, because no one talks about it, the natural reaction towards loneliness is to pretend it’s not there, to hide it and to resist it.

If you’re like most of us, you have tried to resist loneliness too. Perhaps by keeping yourself busy with work or chores. Perhaps by numbing your feelings with food, or TV.

If you have, you know that none of it works.

As you resist, loneliness persists.

And, in a sense, that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing that loneliness is still here, because it actually comes with a gift, a lesson, a discovery. And life won’t let you off the hook until you have accepted the lesson and received the gift that follows.

So what is that you need to learn, you may wonder?

Because, at first sight, loneliness seems easy to understand: You’re alone, your ex is no longer there, perhaps you have lost your friends too, perhaps you’re in a new environment because you had to move. No wonder you’re lonely.

But there is more to loneliness than what is immediately visible.

In fact, loneliness is a very old friend of yours, even if you may not recognize it as such. Loneliness has been with you most of your life. It’s just that it’s been hiding.

80% of teenagers feel lonely. We know that much. What we don’t know is how many even younger children feel it, and what happens with that feeling as they grow up. Apparently, it shows up in teenage years again, and then at countless other occasions. Such as divorce.

But what if we knew it? What if, when loneliness emerged, you knew where it really came from and who or what you were really longing for?

What if you could really understand, really, that your heart was broken long before the divorce (and before the marriage too)? Then you’d have a chance to heal that broken heart for good.

This is important.  If you don’t heal that fundamental cause of loneliness within, it will stay with you and be with you in your next relationship too.  It will cause you trouble.

Plus, there is such value in healing a broken heart. Here’s how Emily McDowell put it into words:

“In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. Consider this when you feel broken.”

Healing that original crack in your heart and turning it to gold starts by being willing to see it like it is. It really is like contemplating a vase or cup. You look at it and then you discover a crack. But the crack didn’t happen the moment you looked at it – it’s been there for a long time. Now that you are seeing it you can appreciate it and you can repair it with the gold of your love and your awareness.

And that is the ultimate gift of loneliness – that it cannot only take you to the original wound, but also to the source of love inside you. When you have found the love and the joy in your heart and have learned how to keep it flowing, loneliness’s job is done and it disappears forever, giving you the freedom to connect with others in new and loving ways as well.

That’s how it works – and it’s a journey. Download here a free gift for the journey called “Unwinding loneliness.” It’s designed to help you take a gentle look at that crack causing you to feel lonely.

Halina Goldstein is a Loneliness To Love Mentor, working with women who feel deeply lonely after a divorce. Halina helps them effortlessly connect with people who will love, appreciate and support them. Halina is also the founder of Solo Souls, dedicated to turning loneliness to love and joy.

Acting from Commitment

Take Action When Acting From Commitment

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By Lisa Brick


Anger and fear…two strong emotions showing up in spades, especially since the election in November. Now, more than any other time in my life, is when slowing my reactions, feeling my feelings, and discerning between what is and what I fear is vital. It is up to me to remain crystal clear on what is important to me and how to best advocate for it.

When I, when any of us, react in fear or anger situations get muddier, not clearer. By all means take action, yet wait until you are communicating from clarity and acting from commitment rather than in fight or flight mode.

There is an immense amount at stake NOW regardless of what happens in the future.

Consider taking on this commitment for yourself:

I am committed to keep now as clear and clean as possible and being conscious of the beauty and love around me while being engaged and proactive emotionally, socially and politically.

If you lose track of what is promising and beautiful because of fear and ugliness you’ve lost and become part of the ugliness. If you  ignore the ugliness and pretend everything is beautiful you are foolish. Keeping that balance, being aware of both and appreciative of that which nourishes is vital for both well-being and being effective.

Here’s to efficacy and balance as we advocate for the society we are committed to living in….may the Force be with us all.


Lisa Brick, Journey Beyond Partner

Lisa Brick

Our team of coaches at JBD is passionate about helping men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups and divorce. We work together with you to open the possibility that your current relationship challenges can lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience. Together we create a path to clarity. Find out if Coaching is right for you, and accept my gift of one FREE session.

What do you Choose to be?

Who Do You Choose To Be?

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By Carrie Doubts


The historic Women’s Marches that took place all over our country last weekend were inspiring and thought-provoking to me personally. Looking at the photos and posts on Facebook, one sign grabbed my attention more than the rest. It read, “Make America Kind Again.” Wow. That’s my vision for what is possible for our country as we move forward from January 20, 2017. Continue reading

handling holidays post-divorce

Handling the Holidays as a Post-Divorce Parent

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Guest Post by Katie Vessel on the Elephant Journal


This last holiday season was hard.

This was the second round of holidays after what was a difficult divorce, following an even more difficult marriage.

Things have been processed for the most part, about as processed as they can be at this point. I have moved on with my life in many healthy ways, have discovered and renewed passions that have been in my blood since I was a young girl, have made many soul friends and am truly enjoying my life on the other side of what was nothing short of a life-changing experience.

But, something was different this year. Continue reading