Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Couples Counselling and the Marital Stretch Marks

I have been invited to be part of a discussion on the BBC next week which I am really looking forward to.  So part of the subject matter is this ... are couples getting divorced too easily... do we not work hard enough at our marriages?

So it got me thinking about some of the pre-divorce work that my Ex and I did and the benefits of couples counselling for us ... how did it help us? Was there any point? Did it just prolong the inevitable? Did we fit the particular personality profile more precluded to the positive processes of counselling? Or had the damage been done? It may be that we are not supposed to be married to one person for the rest of our life... an excuse for me?  No not at all.... But what I did question was the fall out of unexpected life events, happening to each human being that just ever so slightly alters life's perspective. The choices we humans make, at any given time that sub-consciously changes our thinking, our lives and the 'how and why' we are all here.  

I am not here to question the sanctity of marriage for anyone else, but it seems to me marriage has been for many centuries a "control the human tool"... why?...Because of the levels of shame, guilt and lack of self-worth that can stem from it ..... the shackles and control of that legal piece of paper resulting from the glorious joyous celebrations of a feast, a heart given promise and a future of hope.   Has the element of fear contributed to the longevity of some marriages and penalisation of failure of marriage in society, even today.....Really, for all our billions of snowflake differences as humans .... who thought up the one size fits all? 

So having got that bit off my chest I thought I would share with you a little of my own history ... A few years ago, in a Middle Eastern "bright lights gold rush city" there was trouble brewing for my Ex and I.  With long work travel commitments, surreal lives in an emerging city and a loss of marital connection, we both came to the decision that a course of counselling sessions could be not without merit a good, avenue for us.  

As reasonable and intelligent, but unhappy and sometimes very stressed husband and wife, married for 12 years, this we felt was positive and in-keeping with the marriage doctrine we had committed and signed up to.  We were positive, we had the intention to sort our marriage out and more importantly... we had two children aged 4 and 7. Our parents had both divorced and we really didn't want to be part of a "selfishly and sadly they failed" statistic in UK society or actually, anywhere...   

Our counsellor was great, a no messing 'not in my Glen' Scots lady. It worked for us both - we didn't want anyone too meek for a 'nice' couple's chat, we needed moderating by someone who was sure enough in their practice that we would stay the course of sessions. 

Couple's counselling in itself felt shameful ... turning up to the Reception Desk in a counselling centre had us checking in next to emotionally frazzled parents with children needing a lot of help.  We felt small, ridiculous and childish - after all we had healthy children and here we were paying for someone to sort out our adult "stuff". This is the bit where I want to cuss a lot and write strong sweary words, but "stuff" it will be and it stays... So we walked upstairs feeling puerile, like two naughty school children needing to see the Head Teacher and this continued on into the session. We were each individually admonished on several occasions to give the other a respectful space to speak... we felt chagrined, how had we got to this shameful place? 

We heard about the diamond analogy - the one where you start off so together at the base... then working your way to the middle part as you have children, career commitments and money stresses. Then, with the future tip in sight as a couple and the understanding that if you could go beyond that furthest point width ways, you could begin once again to move closer together... we both liked that analogy... 

With clipped accent no nonsense Scot had given us hope, that we as two married adults could look forward to staying married, to becoming a closer unit. That we really were currently able to stretch to the widest of possible diamant√© of places in our marriage and then slowly, avoiding the flaws, the now permanent stretch marks, know that married life could become easier.... We left, grateful that clearly it wasn't either of us that were the problem, it was just life - married life.  

And so we dutifully - because truth be told, our couples counsellor was a little fearsome, returned for another four sessions, each time grateful for the fact that our marriage wasn't over, it was just a big blip.  We could do what so many married couples do and work through it. 
Heart Based Salve

So we wrote our 'future letter of life' together (which coincidentally I found the other day) and signed it with the commitment of a relieved 'not to be getting divorced couple'.  Thus we began to make plans for the next step of our marriage and our sparkly diamond tipped future together with our two gorgeous children .... 

And so for the few years or so, with due diligence we set to the future plan of action and made it happen. We moved home to the UK, the children were healthier, schools better and we had the 'warts and all' comforting support of those that are family and friends.  

We still had the matter of some pretty deep stretch marks in our marriage.... They were new, raw and we did what is mostly done with stretch marks; we oiled and rubbed them, lovingly imbuing ours with matrimonial salve. Sometimes we ignored them, mostly living with them, forever reminded of the marital stretch we had experienced... but on sunny days we chose to hide them away, shameful that they were a forever judgemental reminder that we had nearly failed ... 

so the vows we weave
the vows we say
the vows that hang weighty and judgemental over us
that society never takes away ...

With love x

So in my next blog I reveal how salve can ease ... but does it always heal .... x 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Blab Interview -Divorce and Healing Your Life with Mindfulness

Hello all you lovely people ....

I have been a little quiet of late... much being worked upon behind the scenes .... learn a little more about this and about me on The Entrepreneurs Journey being interviewed about life, experiences and my journey .... follow the link here .... x

Healing Your Life With Mindfulness

Friday, 25 December 2015

Divorce - My First Christmas Without My Kids

This is my first Christmas without my kids as a divorcee and in truth I am finding this really hard..... 

I like to think I am usually a positive and cool, accepting and generous parent about my kids. The Ex and I have so very few arguments, disagreements or quarrels about our children. The Ex and I are mostly in agreement about visits, holidays and we really make it work.  So why have I felt so utterly sad at the prospect of waking up on Christmas morning, in my new home that the kids and I now so happily share with a gorgeous man, with no little voices squealing with delight at finding treasures at the end of their beds?....  

So this little unexpected 'saddie', is it because these times do exist in all our lives, just differently, whether you are divorced, separated or married.... acknowledging thoughts of past, unhappy and married Christmas days making my skin prickle. The thing is, it is my first Christmas without my kids and it is hurting... not because my Ex is enjoying their happiness, excitement and mirth, but because my home will just be .... well a whole lot quieter and a lot more different ....

We as humans are so adverse to change, the children included too, no matter how accepting they are, we are all feeling the weirdness of a first Christmas without each other. It is hard for us all.  I am mindfully aware to not allow my wobbled energy to seep into my children's thought arena, I want my beautiful children to enjoy their Christmas.  Despite a different dynamic... mindfully I want to let it go, just be without that little part of my brain and ego shouting for what I know has always been and for what is going to console 'me'...

What is now a normal Christmas in a divorced or separated world? Is it two Christmases, two turkeys with Boxing Day as now the added Christmas Day extra? Does the prospect of this upset children as much as it may do the parents? Of course it does, if there is one day of the year that my kids wish life was different it is Christmas Day. 

Letting that part of human control freakery go is an important step in accepting that life is different after divorce or separation and embracing the differences in all our new lives with positivity and possibilities a kinder and more generous way forward for all.... 
So here is a question.... would as many parents swop a possible day in bed, eating and drinking, being totally and selfishly indulgent, doing whatever they wanted with their Partner, for the sing song laughter of their children opening up their stockings on Christmas morning with a day of cooking, noise and busyness?  

Currently I am working on getting my head and heart around the prospect of a wonderfully self-indulgent mischievous Christmas Day.... to have gratitude that I am handing my children over to my Ex and his Partner who love and adore them and who too want this Christmas to be as special and wonderful as can be...

Have a wonderful Christmas, sending you all love, joy and happiness ....


Sunday, 8 November 2015

7 Ways a Good Divorce is Like Strictly Come Dancing

 I am kind of an old fashioned girl at heart, I like dancing as a couple, a pretty frock and good music and so I took myself off to Strictly Come Dancing with my Daughter for a night to remember.

We were royally treated to a marquee, a few previous featured celebrities and a whole load of supportive friends and family.  All very, very excited about the next 6 hours ahead ....

So I am sitting in my seat in the 'oh my goodness I am here' audience watching Strictly Come Dancing. It a show that has become a dear part of many lives, a regular topic of conversation in coffee bars, on buses, news and internet and I was struck by how a good divorce can be so like Strictly.  

Now no doubt a big whoa will be uttered by some in shock but read on, see how you feel, have I allayed your fears and curiosity ...let me know did I get this right?

First up is the "I never thought I could dance" ... Yup I get that, I never thought I could divorce well and neither do any of us on hitting the divorcing dance floor. Just as the Strictly dance floor looks so much bigger on TV, divorce is also so very different in real life. There is no rule book for having a good divorce and it is a gut wrenching business. We each have a designated pro guiding us on how the process works, however, our personal reality is a dance floor of potential slip, slide and a screw up coming out of divorce, with little or no measure of self-empowerment and kindness to self for all to see.

2nd - The whole of your world is watching, married family members, friends that have been through a divorce and those with fearing anticipation waiting in the Facebook wings. Everyone watching checks out your every move, whether it's a Foxtrot Feather Step and the initial meeting with a lawyer, the Rumba Side Break with the mediation route beckoning or Paso Doble Drag with delay tactics and games. It takes practice, commitment and a generous laying out of your soul on the dance floor of life every week.  Removing your ego from the divorce or dancing process helps focus on what is really important. That is learning fundamentally as a human to become a little kinder and better at it every week.  

Thirdly - The Art of Discretion and not airing your laundry in public...it happens... does it need to?  Strictly Come Dancing has a policy or golden rule of respect, sanctity and discretion. There is the understanding that even in this social media fuelled age, no one gives the result away before the Sunday night showing (it is recorded on Saturday night), everyone in mutual agreement that this would in some way debase this institution. Do we as divorcing peoples need to give our game away? Is that little social media contribution necessary? Does it make us feel any better giving energy to actions that cause hurt, mistrust and disappointment?  Karma, kismet, fate, power ... really do we feel any better in ourselves for wielding the social media sword?  Strictly doesn't seem to think so... I like that...

Fourth - Support is there - everyone wants your divorce to be okay, kind and respectful for you and your kids if you have them, for your family and friends.  Divorcees and dancers on either the dance floor of life or Elstree are all learning, feeling their way and ever so bravely taking on the challenges presented in their different formats every week.  It is our intention to have a good divorce that can keep us on that path, one full of support and admiration. Working on having a respectful, kind and gentle divorce heralds the same emotions from your loved ones as the audience does with Strictly. Know this, be proud of what you are achieving, being part of a movement to change the way we look at divorce and life. Know and believe it is supportive not lonely, understanding not judgemental, kind not harsh.   

5th - It gets uncomfortable... so the seats are small, 4 hours into recording there is a quick loo break, a gleeful handing out of a chocolate bar and a carton of juice.... With divorce it gets uncomfortable, it can be a long process sometimes especially when trying to get it right for everyone.  The offerings may be small along the way, but with the intention and the energy directed towards the end result of an experience that is truly positive is what keeps us focused.  Working together in your divorce for the good of the situation, for the final 'kindful' result is the binding, cohesive twine that exists in a life Waltz, a good divorce need not just be an illusion. There can be decorum, poise and a sense that with respect and kindness, a jettisoning of feel good emotions onto a visible dance floor can be a good journey ... 

No.6 - Be gentle with your brave, amazing and extraordinary self. Accept that some days are easier, as humans we don't always get it right, go with the flow and listen to your intuition. Understand that even with the best intentions choosing a Tango too early or risking
failure with a Progressive Side-Step Reverse Turn helps us learn.  

As Strictly shows us, the power of happiness, pleasantries and glamour hand in hand without the copious amounts of booze seen elsewhere on a Saturday night is a place we can all learn from. Hurting our bodies, our minds and souls with endless bottles of wine, unhelpful amounts of chocolate and no exercise is a well worn path to lack of self worth and feelings of failure.  Happiness can be found everywhere we choose to look; in a smile; a phone call; a walk in nature; giving someone you love a hug or telling someone you love them...

Finally as my 7th comparative we have the judges.  Life is full of judging types; there are those here to gently nudge and guide you; others with their straight talk with the necessary touch of the serious and judges that remind you of the lighter side of life.  Of happier times when we are feeling the creeping waves of failure, of self-doubt and judgement.  

In the end it is we, is it not, who are our harshest judges? We so often enshroud ourselves with the negative bias, this self-belief that we are worthy can be hard work and take much commitment. Taking those small steps, those empowering moves forward, every day, learning to be accepting, present and human is the big WORTH IT, we know this ... deep inside.

Time is a healer, it gives us space to reaffirm our good intentions, it helps us change our thinking, to believe in a future which is brighter, happier and easier.... we are not so different as divorcees trying to be kinder, than as the world of Strictly Come dancing; we are all learning processes which ultimately can benefit us; make us laugh again and shine a brighter light out to all those that are watching.

With love x

To Radio Times for Strictly Image