Posts Tagged: emotional support

Some sensible strategies from Vivienne Smith for wading through to the other side…

Wallowing in Misery, or Wading Through to the Other Side? By Vivienne Smith

There are so many ways to cope with the loss of a relationship, but some of them will just leave you feeling worse. 

In this interview with Transformation Coach and author of “The Single Mum’s Survival Guide“, Vivienne Smith shares a few examples or how we deal with relationship breakdown, and what better choices we can make.  All of these choices will lead to more success in mediation.

Denial

You assure everyone you are fine but you realise that you are drinking too much, eating too much or laughing just a little too loudly. You may even be dating again with a vengeance and using – often unsuitable – other people to make you feel better (this is not fair on the person you have picked for this job, and it’s not worthy of you).

Work out what went wrong last time, check for any recurring patterns in the partners you are attracting or attracted to. Are there some red flags here to warn you that this potential relationship could be a disaster? Whilst I understand that you may want to find someone to “kiss it better”, a failed relationship now – even a casual one- could leave you feeling raw and vulnerable and perhaps set you back into a bad place again. Or you may be pretending everything’s fine but inside you feel like a jelly that’s slowly dissolving into a puddle.

Quit pretending and ask for some help. You don’t have to share this with everyone, but it’s important that you tell someone the truth (even if the first person you admit this to is: yourself!) Once you’ve done this, get some help. You might pick a couple of close confidantes that you can talk to when things get really bad, or you can write it down and use a diary or journal to help get some of the angst out of your system. If you are unwilling to unburden yourself to a loved one, come and see a professional – we are paid to listen and we actively enjoy the process of assisting you in processing what you are going through.

Obsession

You are stalking your ex online, or pumping his friends or family for information about him, even if that information serves only to make you feel more miserable and depressed about your split. No contact is the best way to go here and if you have to communicate over the kids: do that but only that.

Don’t use your children as a way to initiate unnecessary contact or prolong a bitter or emotional dialogue about what went wrong and who did what to whom. That way madness lies! Work out a strategy to communicate with your ex so that you don’t feel bruised or battered after every exchange. Again, it’s something that a professional often help clients with, so that they can step aside from the drama.

The rule here is: if it feels hurtful or upsetting, don’t put yourself through it. It can be like having a sore tooth otherwise – your tongue keeps returning to the source of the pain! Satisfying though it could be, if you fondly imagine that having the final word on your broken relationship will bring him to his senses or make him realise the error of his ways, then you may be waiting a very long time for this to happen! There is certainly some merit to writing him a letter and telling him exactly how you feel – just remember that it’s not necessary to send it – just the process of getting your feelings on paper will be cathartic and healing.

Withdrawal

You have become a recluse. You’ve stopped going out or seeing anyone and you have started to withdraw from even the most innocuous of interactions. You need to heal and some alone time is a must but beware of becoming too lonely when actually a visit with a friend or family member might be just the tonic you need.

If you are afraid of breaking down and weeping all over anyone you speak to, practise a phrase that you can use when your lower lip starts to tremble – something along the lines of “Anyway, let’s change the subject- tell me about you!” And then do just that. Don’t keep returning to the subject, give yourself a break. Once you have mastered the skill of going out and having a great time without having to relive the pain you can start to enjoy life again, look around and see what the world has to offer the new you.

Are you Wallowing or Wading?

So are you wallowing in it, or are you wading through it? It will take time, but make sure that you are taking a small step every day in the right direction. You may not be running yet, but you can find help to get you to the other side!

Family Mediation Week 2018: Day 3

I’m a bit late with posting…. yesterday was a busy day!!

The theme for Family Mediation Week Day 3 was: “Listen, be listened to and stay in control!”

Again, there have been some very interesting articles, all of which can be found on the Family Mediation Week Blog.

This, from Bill Hewlett, is an insightful look at the benefits of including children in the mediation process:

So why should children be included in mediation?

Written by Bill Hewlett

I have been thinking about the many reasons that separating parents in mediation should be encouraged to give their children an opportunity to talk about how they’re feeling. Giving children a voice in mediation allows the parents to make decisions from an informed position. If they know how their children are feeling, they can, with the help of the mediator, work to make things better for all the family, creating a better parenting relationship that will leave the children free to grow and develop without concerns about how their parents are getting on with each other.

Parents usually try to shield their children from conflict, but invariably the children know that something big is happening when their parents separate and they can often feel left out. Including children in the process and letting them feel that their views and feelings are important is a very positive thing and can help alleviate their anxiety and confusion.

Bear in mind that these parents are probably struggling to understand and appreciate each other’s perspectives and they may also be finding it hard to focus on how their children are coping. The challenge is that, even though these parents are currently unable to talk to each other constructively and reassuringly about their children, they still have responsibility for making decisions that influence where the children live, what they eat, what school they go to, how they feel about themselves, how well they sleep, the list goes on. It appears that nothing matters more to children than what their parents think of each other.

When parents are fighting with each other they seem to lose their ability to be fully aware of how their children are feeling. The children may not want to say anything because they don’t want to add to an already stressful situation.

I often feel when we hear parents speaking harshly about each other, that we are hearing a description of a world that must be very difficult and dangerously stressful for their child and I feel that we should be reacting with immediate and urgent concern. This is what we should be thinking about when we hear the lack of respect that the parents have for each other, when we hear them question each other’s morality, when they tell us that they hate each other. The dangerously toxic environment that these children are living in could cause them lifelong harm, seriously compromising their wellbeing and their capacity to thrive now and in the future. We know that these parents are often so stressed and full of anxiety, thinking catastrophic thoughts, terrified about their future and afraid of what the other parent might do, that they are often only barely coping. And, while they are going through all this, they have absolute and ultimate responsibility for the mental, emotional, physical wellbeing of their children. In mediation, we take these concerns really seriously and want to do all we can to help the parents make a safer world for their children.

The Bottom line is, that regardless of how the children are choosing to talk about how their parents are managing their separation, if things aren’t good between their parents, then they won’t be good for the children. The reality is that ‘there’s no such thing as a still child around chaotic parents’ (Winnecott).

We need some way to draw the attention of the parents to what is happening to their children. When the parents are aware as to how their relationship is impacting on their children they will naturally be concerned and want to create an environment where their children can thrive

Children don’t want to be the decision makers on what arrangements are made for their care and welfare, but generally, (if they don’t think it’s going to make things worse), they would like to talk about it. If they could talk to someone who is committed to taking their perspectives into discussion with the parents, someone who they can feel confident will not make it worse, someone who can tell their parents things that maybe they haven’t been able to, then they often feel like a heavy burden has been lifted.

When children are helped to talk about their feelings, they begin to understand more and more about what’s going on for them. Children have a need to talk through things so that they can get a sense of how they should think and feel. They are designed to link up their young brains with a grown up adult brain to help make sense of things, to get a bigger picture perspective. When someone helps them to put a word to something they have been feeling but not perhaps not fully understanding, they feel better. We call it ‘naming it (the emotion) and taming it (the fear)’ (Seigel).

If you are thinking of using mediation to help you work out your parenting arrangements for your children now that you have separated, why don’t you ask your mediator to arrange for a child consultant to meet with your children? This will help you both to make plans that will allow your children to thrive, safe in the knowledge that they will appreciate being asked.

Bill Hewlett