Category Archives for "Lifestyle"

Losing the Dead Weight for the New Year!

January is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, and if you are like me, weight loss is at the top of your list. By all means, proceed with the usual weight loss goals, but this year also make plans to drop a different type of weight… the emotional dead weight that may be holding you back.

When a marriage comes to an end, there will almost certainly be pain. This is true whether you choose to end the marriage or that choice is made for you. In addition, marriages rarely come to an end for positive reasons. Usually, the spouses have been in conflict for some time, resentments have built up and/or there is some painful, terminating event like infidelity, irresponsibility with money or emotional abuse. Whatever the reason for your separation and regardless of who made the ultimate decision to end the marriage, it is likely you are dealing with some very heavy emotions and a great deal of pain. This is perfectly natural, especially for a finite period of time. At some future point, however, you must make a very important decision:

Will you make healthy choices that will help you process your pain, learn from it and emotionally slim down so that you can truly move on; or

Will you continue to feed your pain with an unhealthy diet of resentment and anger so that emotionally you grow heavier and heavier, never able to move forward or create the new life you deserve?

I hope your initial instinct is to choose the first option. Even so, you may be thinking actually exercising that option may be easier said than done. You are absolutely correct to have that concern, but this is where the healthy choices come in:

1. Get into therapy. If you are already in therapy, congratulations, you have taken the first step toward a happier, healthier you. If you are not in therapy, get into therapy immediately. Some people have the view that therapy is an admission of mental illness or the mere fact of attending therapy could have a negative effect on custody cases. Neither is true. In fact, therapy is for everyone and there are very few people who would not benefit from the process. Regardless of how sane, grounded, intelligent and educated you are, a good therapist can help you process complicated emotions, put things in perspective and prepare you to move forward with your life. For those going through traumatic or stressful events like divorce and separation, this is especially helpful. In terms of custody cases, judges generally recognize therapy as a positive step and even in cases where a parent has a diagnosable mental illness, regular and consistent treatment for that illness will be a significant bolster to their custody case. In short, if you are not in therapy, start immediately. If you need a recommendation for a good therapist, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

2. Join a support group. Never underestimate the power of people who understand you and your experiences. There are many divorce support groups that meet in Raleigh and surrounding areas on a regular basis. These are attended by people who are at various stages in the process and they lend both support and a listening ear. These groups also give you the opportunity to help other people through the process and it may surprise you to find that helping others with your own hard-won experience and knowledge may be even more beneficial to you than to them.

3. Keep a balanced view of the relationship. When a relationship ends, there is a common tendency to dwell on the past relationship and to view it in extremes. For the person choosing to end the relationship, they may be hyper-focused on all the negative aspects of the past. For the person who had the choice made for them, the past may seem far more positive than it actually was, seeming almost perfect in their memory. It is extremely rare that any relationship is all good or all bad for either participant. Viewing it from either extreme, however, may be a useful tool to distance oneself from unpleasant thoughts or emotions. For example, an unfaithful spouse may claim they were either unhappy for years prior to the affair or that they never loved their spouse at all. Essentially, this is a justification of the affair and may be an attempt, either conscious or unconscious, to shift the blame for the affair to the spouse, allowing the unfaithful spouse to avoid confronting difficult feelings and emotions. On the other hand, a spouse who is cheated on may view their marriage through rose colored glasses, declaring it was perfect until the affair partner destroyed the relationship. If the cheated on spouse is harboring any hope of reconciliation, even if that hope is one-sided, it may be too “dangerous” to view the past through a balanced perspective or to accept the unfaithful spouse is at fault. Either extreme view of the past relationship may create unrealistic expectations, increase resentments, and prevent the hard work necessary to move forward. A therapist can be particularly helpful in putting the relationship in a more balanced perspective, bringing you a degree of peace and freeing you to concentrate on your future.

4. Forget “fair.” Do not dwell on making things “fair.” Most likely you have been injured or let down by your spouse and it is not fair. Unfortunately, the process of separating and divorce is not set up to correct the wrongs done to you. You may put your faith in karma, life or a higher power righting the wrongs done to you, but realistically, that may never happen in a way that is observable and obvious to you. Even if you were guaranteed the revenge you may so richly deserve, spending your life waiting for something bad to happen to your former spouse takes the focus from the good things in your life and, instead, channels your energies in a negative direction. Keep a positive focus on yourself and your children and concentrate on building a great life, not on waiting for past wrongs to be made right.

Dropping the emotional dead weight that so often hangs around after a relationship has ended is never easy. It can be a long, difficult process, but the end result is a lighter, healthier and happier you. So, when you make your New Year’s Resolutions this year, remember my advice and be sure to include a plan for dropping the emotional dead weight along with those other unwanted pounds.

5 Tips for making transition easier during the holidays by Jessica Middleton, M.A.

Tis the season?
We have entered one of the busiest seasons of the year. Halloween is a faint memory, and we are all gearing up for more celebrating, more family and more fun!…right?

Well, not all of us.What do you do when you are dealing with the grief of divorce? How do you balance managing your child’s holiday schedule? How do you deal with questions about why your partner is not with you at the family dinner this year? January 1st feels so far off, how do you make it to the finish line? The first step is to know you absolutely can and will make it through.

Here are 5 tips for making this transition a little bit easier:

1. Be gentle with yourself: You may experience a myriad of emotions including anger and sadness. This is ok, so you should be sure to nurture yourself, and give yourself the same compassion you would give to someone else.- Be sure to eat well and find time for rest and relaxation.- Allow yourself to grieve, and talk to others, but try not to wallow.

2. Do something different!– You don’t have to be locked into traditions. Use this time to determine what traditions you want to maintain, and, establish new traditions and memories.- As your life is going through this transition, it can be a good time to take inventory of what you want and identify what genuinely makes you happy.- It’s ok to say no!- Set healthy boundaries with family and friends. Let them know that things are different for you this year, and you may not be up for everything they ask of you.- Don’t feel the need to take on too much. Set limits without feeling guilty.

3. Ask for help/develop a support network: Even if you are someone who is used to being the “shoulder to lean on” now is the time to realize when you need the help.- You may find support in a close friend, clergy, a counselor, etc. Do not let pride interfere with asking for help. This may feel like an isolating experience, but you do not have to go through it alone.- While social networking sites can be helpful for support, they also tend to lead us to compare ourselves to others. If you find yourself feeling jealous, angry, or sad, then it might be time to put down the iPad.

4. Be ok with not being ok: The process of divorce and post-divorce can be life altering for you and your children. The holiday season magnifies emotions, positive and troubling.- You do not have to have to be “picture perfect.”- Let go of expectations and take it one day at a time.

5. Practice gratitude: Even in the most trying time, it can bring comfort to celebrate and reflect on what wehave.- Giving back to the community can be a good starting point for turning resentments into gratitude. Sometimes the smallest things can bring the greatest joy.Have fun! – Have lunch with friends, catch a movie, have fun shopping, or take a quick getaway.Embrace each smile and the sound of laughter. This is a great time to discover yourself all over again

Out with the old and in with the new this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year. It is a day out of the hustle and bustle of normal fast-paced life to be with family and give thanks for everything you have, and in some cases, give thanks to what has come to an end – like an unhealthy marriage. However, even if you are happy to be divorced, Thanksgiving and other holidays may still be a difficult and emotional time. Traditions that were made as a family are now painful reminders of what ended, and holidays may be spent without the presence of your children. If you are dealing with divorce or separation, here are a few ways that can help you be thankful and enjoy Thanksgiving again.

Create New Traditions

Holidays after divorce and separation will be filled with nostalgic memories of previous holidays spent with your ex. Maybe your ex-spouse always cooked the turkey while you entertained family and friends in the home you no longer live in. New traditions will help keep you focused on the future and the things and relationships you have maintained throughout the hard times. If you have the kids this Thanksgiving, create a new tradition for just you and them, which could be anything from a certain craft project to a trip to the mountains. For those wanting to give back, consider volunteering with a charity or local soup kitchen this Thanksgiving. And for the athletes and adventurers, sign up for a turkey trot in your area or perhaps a place you have been wanting to visit.

Surround Yourself with your Support Team

Holidays are a busy time for everyone, especially Thanksgiving, but friends and family may be surprisingly eager to pull up an extra chair and break bread with you this year. Just because you are feeling down doesn’t mean you should spend the holiday alone. If a friend or family member offer an invitation to join them this Thanksgiving, accept that invitation. Not only will it keep your mind off the poignant memories of the past, but will help you be thankful for the relationships you have now. If you are concerned you might bring the party down, try talking to someone beforehand so that negative feelings are kept at bay and you can relax and enjoy the festivities.

Treat Yourself

If your ex has the kids and your friends and family are off celebrating on their own, or you just don’t feel up to socializing, treat yourself this Thanksgiving. As always, there are myriad of businesses open on Thanksgiving, and the day after, offering the best deals of the season. Take some time to catch up on reading or movies you have wanted to indulge in, or tackle that house project you never seem to have time for. If the kids are away, coordinate a phone call or face time visit with them. Remember, they will be coping with the change in tradition as well. However you spend your Thanksgiving, make sure you take care of yourself.

Life transitions are never easy, and holidays may escalate your emotions. By taking steps in a positive direction and embracing your new life, you’ll be able to begin enjoying the holidays again. This Thanksgiving remember to give thanks. Make a list of everything and everyone you are thankful for, I bet the list is much longer than you expect.

Trick or Treat Tips for Divorced Parents

  1. Take the children Trick or Treating together.

    If there are lingering tensions between you and your Ex, this is definitely not the solution for you. Children quickly pick up on stress or tensions between their parents and it is important to allow your children to enjoy a stress-free Halloween. On the other hand, if you and your Ex have a calm and cordial relationship, Trick or Treating with you both may be a way to create memories your children will always cherish.

  2. Divide the Trick or Treating route.

    Plan the Trick or Treating route ahead of time with one parent walking with the children for the first half and the other parent walking with the children for the second half. This arrangement allows the children to spend time with both parents and to avoid any tensions that may still exist between you and your Ex.

  3. Take the children to a party or event.

    Many businesses, churches, and organizations offer Halloween activities and parties at times other than traditional Trick or Treating hours. If you cannot be with your children for Trick or Treating itself, take advantage of one of these events.

  4. Plan a Halloween party.

    Plan a Halloween party for a time your children will be with you. With a few spooky decorations and Halloween themed snacks, you can create a Halloween your children will never forget.