Separation – My journey of learning
This post has been a long time in the writing and if I’m honest not the easiest post to write. The journey I have taken over the last 4 years has been massive and certainly the following are things I wish I had known.
Everyone has different reasons for separation and to be honest the reasons why we separated are only really relevant to us. I know there may be some of you that are reading this who are thinking about it or at various stages of the journey. Hopefully what I am about to share with you will help you prevent making some of the same mistakes I did and help answer a few quesions that you may have.
Am I doing the right thing?
This is definitely the one question I think ever single separated person asks themselves, especially if you are the one that instigated it and to be honest there is no straight answer to this question. I guess what I always asked myself was ‘Is this in my best interest and in the best interest of the children?’ if the answer is yes then you have your answer. For me there was no question over whether separation was the right thing for us, it was and to be honest it probably should have happened sooner. Don’t waste time asking yourself if you are doing the right thing, once you have made your decision, its done, you will need all your strength to get through the next few months and years.
Be prepared for the grief
Nobody talks about this or warns you of the tornedo of emotions from anger, to relief, to grief that hit you. In most situations it tends to be the mother who is the primary guardian and suddenly before you know it, you are on your own, you are in survival mode. You are dealing not only with your own emotions but those of your childrens and if your like me then all your focus will go on them. If you take nothing else from this post – Please don’t let all your focus be on them, you are not doing them or yourself any favours. All you are doing is burying that pain, trust me I know. I wish more than anything I had started therapy immediatly after I separated, I would have started processing what was happening and learning what I needed to do for the me and the kids. You have to remember nobody separates over night, there is usually a long road to get to that point, a road ful of pain, sadness and stress, for most its a last resort. Once you have booked the councelling or in my case CBT Therapy (I will have a post about this in the next week), download the couch to 5k app on your phone, join a bootcamp class, arrange to go walking with a friend, do Zumba in the sitting room when the kids are gone to bed, I don’t care what you do but make sure you do physical exercise and ensure you are eating 3 good meals a day – I promise you will thank me for it.
Always be the hero
I have two great saying that I live by, the first “would you rather be happy or be right” and secondly “every situation needs a hero”. Anger is definitly one of the strongest emotions when we separate, it can fuel so much negativity and prevent us from healing and growing. Stop it, just stop the bitching, the giving out and focus on being positive – I can hear you screaming at the screen right now and believe me I totally understand but holding on to anger, resentment and hurt is only damaging you and right now you need to be your own hero.
Pick your battles
This is definitely one that I have benefited most from. I see time and time again women getting drawn into battles with their ex’s over stuff that really is none of their business. The only things I ever have to discuss with my ex are the children and finances. What he choses to do with his life or how he choses to live it is absolutley none of my business and nor is it yours. If he choses to feed them McDonalds every single time they are with him, its non of your business. Unless you are mother eather or Martha Stewart and lets be honest none of us are, leave it alone – people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Trust me what seems like the end of the world on a Monday will be forgotten about in time and you will be so glad you didn’t take him to task on it. Again if you are in doubt ask yourself – is having this conversation with him in the best interests of the kids? and you will have your answer.
Your kids didn’t ask for this
Alot of the time we can get very caught up in the battle between ourself and our ex, at times it can be all consuming. I remember a therapist working with my daughter reminding me that she didn’t ask for this. She didn’t ask to suddenly have 2 homes and have to split her time between them, packing a bag at least once a week to go and stay somewhere else, so ensure you acknowlege that with them. We did family therapy about a year and half into the process and we are about to enter into it again, just the 5 of us this time. You don’t have all the answers, so go find them and use whatever resources and tools you need. For me having a professional address issues and question the kids have enables me to support them as opposed to felling like I need to have the answers, trust me not having that burden is huge. It will also teach communication, openness, and build a bond you never thought possible, while the process is painful it is also healing. You will learn more in those sessions about being a parent and I don’t know about you but I’ll take all the help I can get. Remember sometimes are kids just need us to listen and give them the space to work out the answer.
Be honest with your kids but be kind in your honesty
Despite how you feel about your ex he is still the father of your children. It’s not your job to inform them of the ins and outs of what went wrong in your marriage or to use them in a battle between you both. But it’s really important to be honest with them in an age appropriate way. Alot of children will cling to hope that you will get back together, ensure you are honest with them and make sure they don’t have hope where there should be none. Remember the relationship they have with their dad is not the same relationship you have with him, allow them to adore him and love him, and always encourage it.
No matter what has happened between you both, you are not together any longer so its time to move on and focus on yourself and your kids. Do yourself a favour and don’t bother discussing him with your girlfriends, save that conversation for therapy where you will heal and grow, listening to a group of friends rip him apart is benefiting no one.
He is the father of your children, respect that. If he wants to see the kids don’t stop him, trust me it will back-fire and only damage your relationship with your kids. Its the one thing I have been adamnt about since I separated that my kids got to see their dad whenever he or they wanted.
We tend to forget the little people we are raising today will one day grow up to be adults. Coming from a separated home is not the problem, coming from a separated home where the two adults are so locked in their battle with each other that the kids become the casualty is the problem. Keep your opinion of your ex to yourself.
Separation is hard and trust me when I say we have had our fair share of ups and downs but my main focus is on navigating my 4 little people through this. At the end of the day I can only take responsiblity for me and once my focus is on nuturing them and healing them I can only hope we will be ok.
All the opinions in the post are my own are are brought about through my own separation.