Posts Tagged 'Divorce'

What every parent needs in their toolbox

Emergency Chocolate

This is now in a safe place behind glass in my kitchen.

Nuff said.


Cognitive restructuring / Reframing

Since splitting up with boyfriend I have decided to do a bit of a ‘life laundry’.  I’ve decided to focus on what improvements I can make to reduce the things the remain in my life that are any cause of stress.  The biggest issue is my poor relationship and inability to communicate effectively with my ex husband. 

I don’t know whether the strain of work, both my daughter and I being very ill with norovirus recently and the final break up with boyfriend have caused this.  However I’m just tired of fighting with my ex husband.  He continues to do battle with me in every way possible, dragging out the final filing of the consent order settling financial matters with amendment after amendment.  Now the clauses are finally agreed he’s now nit picking over the wording of the clauses. 

Naturally I find it hard to be anything other than cooly civil to him when he collects and drops off our daughter.  Yet continuing to be so angry with him and putting on that cool front, when I’m basically a warm, friendly and forgiving sort, is draining the life out of me.  Its taking huge energy and wearing me out.  I’ve had enough.  I want to rise above it.  So I finally decided to give myself permission to sort this out rather than rail against it.  As I always say to others, if you want more of the same, do more of the same.  If you want something different, change something.  If only I was good at it!

I happened today across a site talking about cognitive restructuring and the damaging thought patterns we get ourselves into.  I’ve been banging on to a friend lately about importance of giving himself permission to let go of some emotional pain he’s feeling.  Yet I don’t seem to be taking my own advice!

After a good bit of navel gazing I’ve realised that continuing to be so frosty with my ex husband it is my way of showing him that I will not ever forgive him for the way he treated me during our break up whilst I was pregnant.  I’ve got myself into a negative, destructive thought and behaviour pattern which goes something like, ‘if I’m polite to him then he’ll think he’s off the hook, that I’ve forgiven him, that somehow he’s got away with treating me like that and got off scott free’. 

This is clearly a breathtakingly dumb ass attitude now that finally, for whatever reason (and who knows why we have these epiphanies when we do) I’m able to take a step back.  No, I probably won’t ever forgive him for the way he treated me and risked my baby’s life by putting me under such unnecessarily cruel stress.  I now realise I can retain that lack of forgiveness and still move on and develop a positive relationship with him, on my side at least.

In conjunction with thinking this I was also pondering that if I let go of that thought process, what it would feel like to no longer have that tension when he collects and delivers my daughter?  The words and sentences that sprung to mind were telling:

  • Peaceful
  • Productive for our daughter
  • Laying the past to rest
  • Adult
  • Proud

I was starting to formulate these thoughts on Saturday night.  I did a test run on Sunday when my ex husband dropped my daughter off.  Instead of avoiding his gaze and talking to him through our daughter (i.e. “right, say goodbye to daddy” etc) I smiled at them both when I answered the door.  I asked if she’d been ok, which I don’t normally do.  He said fine.  I said goodbye directly to him and then got munchkin to say goodbye.  Instead of practically shutting the door in his face after those goodbyes I let her wave him off.

I can’t say it felt comfortable and I still had twinges of feeling like I was being a hypocrit.  However I know from previous experience that retraining your thoughts and behaviours takes practice.  It will feel uncomfortable for a while.  Sometimes I may regress but as long as I spot that and put it right asap it’s ok.  I’m not going to be too hard on myself.  I’m going to take it a little step at a time.  Eventually the awkwardness will pass and it will become more natural. 

The best bit though is that I’m doing what comes naturally to me – which is basically being nice.  I always says that being nasty or angry takes up huge amounts of energy but being nice is energising.  At least I’m starting to listen to myself!!

Mummy Blogging – why would you want to share your personal life online?

This was a comment made by a friend recently.  I blogged recently about setting up a single parent network at work and how my sharing information about myself in the email I’ve sent around to try and get members has provided an amazing response.  That’s why you share your personal life online.  Or certainly why I do it.  It’s partly because I want to try and help others.  If I put some of my learning out there then who knows, it might “do someone a turn” as my mum would say. 

Also it’s about building networks, making friends, meeting people in a similar situation.  You can’t do either without giving some information away to build your credibility, to show you are “in” the situation and not someone commenting off the top of your head.

There are risks though.  Anyone blogging about their personal life needs to be aware of the full potential impact of their actions.  I have shared facts, but very limited ones, about my divorce and what led to it, what I did in the aftermath to move on and learn to cope.  That’s perhaps more than I’ve needed to share but it’s an amount that I am comfortable with.  Giving some thought to what your comfort levels are is important.  It can be easy to get caught up in the emotion of a moment and write a post that you’ll later regret.  To that end I generally blog about a week in advance so I have the chance to revisit posts before they go live.  Just in case.

I am also quite ready to keep this blog under wraps from my daughter.  I have no aspirations nor the talent to become an uber blogger and so I don’t think this is unachievable.  Moderated comments also mean I can delete my name if any of my friends who occasionally visit the blog forget about my desire for anonymity and include it in a comment.

It’s also about talking to your nearest and dearest about what they are comfortable with.  My daughter is too young at a wee 19 months to have a ‘right of reply’ to anything I say.  My ex husband too has no knowledge of this and cannot respond to any comments I make either.  So I do limit what I say about them directly to the most minimum of facts I feel 1000% comfortable and confident making due to the fact they are, well, facts!  But also limited to what the minimum is I feel I need in order to tell my story and share my learnings authentically.

Despite my efforts to try and be as thoughtful as I could before doing all of this though, one person I didn’t check in with was my recent ex boyfriend.  I didn’t stop to consider whether he reads blogs, understands them or the varied and colourful motives of their authors.  I didn’t ask if he was comfortable with appearing on the blog in any form.  Inevitably this caused a few stressful conversations which I hold my hands up were totally my fault.  It’s easy to forget that not everyone inhabits the weird, wired and wonderful online world as much as some of us do.

We both sat down and had an honest, frank but direct conversation about what our worries and fears are.  I was defensive at first.  I’m enjoying this so much I didn’t want anything to threaten it.  But he explained he was a private person and didn’t want his metaphoricals pulled down in public as he learnt how to be in a relationship with a single parent.  We quickly agreed some ground rules.  He didn’t want to feature here.  I respect that totally and that won’t change now we’re apart. 

Acknowledgement to  Salvatore Vuono for use of the photo.

The powerful threat of loss

I spent this weekend with my parents.  I desperately needed their counsel in the aftermath of ex boyfriend and I agreeing that our relationship can’t continue.  With my daughter off visiting her dad, I seized the opportunity for some intensive emotional repair work in their capable hands.

Aside from talking about relationship stuff we talked about what this means for me now that I have to once again consider getting out of rented accommodation and into a mortgaged property.  My equity from my divorce should be coming through in towards the end of May and the tenancy on my flat expires at the end of July.  If I don’t identify a vacant property and turn it around in that 8 week window between end May and end July I’m stuffed.  I can’t afford to get into a situation where I’m renting and paying a mortgage at the same time but my landlord won’t let me do anything other than sign for another 6 months.

Thankfully my parents have stepped in and said if I can get my stuff in storage, my daughter and I can stay with them as an interim measure.  I know this will be hard on them as they are retired and also get very tired these days.  However they know I have little choice and simply don’t have the money to do otherwise.  They also know that I won’t abuse their support and will do my all to get myself off their hands as soon as possible.

I always knew my parents were terrific and this weekend has rammed it home.  Also because I’ve discovered that my father is ill and we don’t know what is wrong with him.  He’s suddenly started veering off sideways when he walks along and can’t control it.  It could be as simply as an inner ear infection or it could be…well, really serious and I can’t even contemplate those thoughts without bursting into tears.  He’s seeing the doctor on Tuesday and that day can’t come soon enough for me.  I’m praying it’s just an ear thing and nothing more.

The power of the thought of losing someone you love is a powerful emotion.  Ok it’s worst case scenario that this thing with dad could be super serious but it’s reminded me of his mortality.  Which is pretty tough to bear right now on top of losing my boyfriend.  Life don’t half seem to throw me some curve balls.  And I never did much like sport.

A tongue in cheek guide to relationship idiot speak

OK, so now the dust is settling, the smiles are slowly starting to return.  I lay in bed last night reflecting on some of the conversations that have taken place in my life when relationships have come to pass.  In my younger days I would have taken some of the statements I’ve heard recently and in the past at face value. 

Once you get a bit more mature and relationship savvy (dare I say once you hit your thirties) you can spot the sub text.  So here’s my attempt at a bit of humour to lighten the mood.  Having debated this endlessly with girlfriends (and boyfriends) over the years, here’s some relationship idiot speak and what it really means.  I’ve said some of these things myself so I feel qualified to reveal their true meaning, as much as having been on the receiving end of some of them and then seen what’s transpired after such statements were made!

And can we all just take a moment to thank the author of Bridget Jones for bringing the phrase ’emotional fuckwittage’ into our lexicon.  Here goes:

1.  What they say: I love you

What they really mean: If said after sex, ignore.  It means that was a great shag.  If said within a short time of meeting you, ignore.  It means they’re in huge lust and trying to get a shag or secure more great shags.  If said some time into the relationship and its met with behaviours and actions that match the sentiment, you can start to believe it.  If said after periods of real strife and the behaviours/actions don’t match up, be supsicious.  It could be their spinning you a line to keep you on the hook whilst they’re working out how they really feel.  I’d much rather have silence than lies as far as this one goes.

2.  What they say:  I’m scared that if we continue and get x no. months/years down the line it might go wrong.

What they really mean: I don’t want to be with you any more but I’ve not the balls to say so.  Any relationship can go wrong at any point.  That’s just someone looking for an excuse to get out.  If that’s what they think, they shouldn’t be in any relationship, let alone one with you.

3.  What they say: I don’t have the confidence in myself to give you what you need / you deserve to be loved completely and I’m not enough for you / you deserve better etc.  In fact any variation on the theme of ‘it’s not me its you’ (this sucker can appear in myriad forms!)

What they really mean: I don’t want to be with you any more and this is my attempt at softening the blow by blaming the break up on me rather than acknowledging simply that I don’t think we’re right for each other.

4.  What they say: I’ve done some really stupid stuff and I don’t think you’ll ever forgive me

What they really mean: Either they’d like to start fresh with someone new so they have a blemish free sheet  (normally said by someone who has trouble getting over stuff themselves and has a tendency to hold onto things – bad in itself) or again, this is someone looking for excuses to get out rather than just admit they don’t want you anymore.

5.  What they say: you’re fantastic and I love you but I’m just not ready for this

What they really mean: this is a tricky one.  If dating a widower, this could be a geniune acknowledgement that they aren’t gone grieving yet.  If uttered by anyone else this is just another attempt at depersonalising the situation instead of just saying they aren’t into you.

6.  What they say: Our lives aren’t compatible, you live here, I live there, I can’t see how we’d compromise etc (or any variation on a similar theme).

What they really mean: I’m not interested in finding any compromise because I’m too selfish or too stuck in a rut to want to change and accommodate you in my life.

Interestingly a chap called Drew has blogged about this and says he’d rather have silence than what he calls bullshit rejection lines.  I’d disagree.  Silence leaves you wondering.  At least if someone has an attempt at explaning how they feel it gives you the chance to assess whether they are spinning you lines or not. 

Spinning lines doesn’t always happen and sometimes the real truth is spoken.  In fact because bullshit rejection lines are so easy to spot, I’d say even when they are spoken if you have a bit of savvy you can unpick the meaning behind the words and get to the truth.  It just takes a bit longer.

Et voila.  Feel free to send me any you’ve heard or said and I’ll add to the list.  These are just my particular gems.

Single parenting: would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Munchkin has to get up at 6.40am for the nursery run three days per week.  Or rather I stand there for 30 seconds feeling guilty and terrible about it and then try and rouse her from her slumbers.  The poor thing is whisked out of bed, into her clothes, into the car and dropped at nursery before she can say “hey mum, what the flippin ‘eck are you trying to do to me here’.

Blissfully we have a later start on Mondays and Fridays and when left to her own devices munchkin will sleep in until about 7.30am or so.  If she wakes sooner, sometime around 7am, we’re into the habit me putting her in with me for a sleepy cuddle and nuzzle before getting up around 8am.

This morning she awoke at 7am crying which is very unlike her.  So I padded into her room, scooped her up in her grobag and took her back to my bed.  Unusually as I was dozing next to her I noticed she’d rolled over onto her side and was staring at me intently.  So intently that I couldn’t doze anymore and so gazed back into her gorgeous brown eyes.  This went on for about 20 minutes.  It was beautiful.  Peaceful.  Otherworldly.  Moments like this remind me of the closeness of carrying her during my pregnancy.  The bond is so strong I could almost weep.

Eventually I got up and unzipped her grobag.  At which point the beautiful moment vanishes as I see that her nappy has leaked – just pee – but all down one side of her pjama leg.  I feel terrible and hurry to get her stripped down, washed and into a clean nappy and clothes.

I’m aching for her to talk.  I felt so awful.  That she would lay there not saying anything, just gazing at me and waiting for me to take some action is incredible.  Most children would have been screaming by then.  I’m not wishing her life away but I yearn for her to be able to communicate to me when she needs something.

When she was newly born I (in my ‘I’m still a rocker and go to festivals’ denial phase) I refused to learn any nursery rhymes.  I used to sing Coldplay’s Yellow or Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars to get her to sleep.  This moment, with her love and patience as she lay next to me, reminded me of that Snow Patrol song.  It’s something I need to remember more often when I let life get to me:

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

I love that girl so must I could burst.

Single parenting: tips for when your child is away

Onespace seems like is has the potential to be a practical, useful site for single parents (though I wish they’d change the Latin on their ‘about us’ page and actually tell us who the hell they are!) 

They’ve posted a nice list of things to do when your child is away having contact with the absent parent.  I’ve obviously got enough to do with my 101 things in 1001 days exploits – I’d like to see them add that one!

It is always a dilemma between do I take advantage of the time to get some R&R or do I rush around doing all the things I can’t do when little one is with me.  I almost feel compelled to go out when often I just want to collapse in the chair.  I talk to parents in couples and they say I’m lucky to have the time but I think it balances out because I have to bust a gut all week to do the nursery run on my own which can be exhausting.  It’s compressed me time though so I should try and enjoy it.    More than anything though I just miss my girl and can’t bear to be away from her.

Acknowledgement to Graur Razvan Ionut for use of the image.

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