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Divorced Parents, Where is Your Focus?

Life is like a camera
Image courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/explore/inspirational-quotes/

As a Life and Divorce coach, I am sometimes misunderstood and misjudged.  Over the years that I went through a high conflict divorce, I brought myself out of a deep dark place and into a life of joy and happiness.  I have successfully shown many others how to do the same and focus on finding their way beyond what has happened in the past and to the life of their dreams  I’ve been able to help many people, but not everyone.  Some people want to stay stuck.  If an individual wants to stay stuck in something bad, there is nothing I can do.  There is also nothing a psychologist, lawyer, or judge can do either.  They may try, but ultimately they will have to leave you behind and move onto helping the people who are willing to do the work that will get them where they want to be.

I work mostly with people in the Family Court System.  These are parents who find themselves in a high conflict divorce situation, getting beaten to a pulp (legally) by the confounding judge, who is unable to understand what the heck it is that drives them to do the things they do.

I understand domestic violence.  I understand parental alienation (which is not the same as Parental Alienation Syndrome).  I understand Domestic Violence Organizations.  I understand Father’s Rights Groups. I understand the parent who lives under a microscope for years in family court proceeding after family court proceeding.  I understand the legal community.  I understand the psychologists.  I understand a lot of what happens in Family Court.  I understand how people got into the mess they have gotten themselves into.  Understanding all these things does not mean that focusing on them will make anything better.  In fact, putting a focus on what is wrong in Family Court can be a huge waste of time and hurt you in achieving your custody and parenting time goals.

There have been times when I have either lost a client or lost a client’s respect and trust  when I have had to tell them that they and their attorney are putting too much emphasis on domestic violence in their family court case.  I have also angered parents when I’ve had to tell them the parental alienation syndrome argument won’t get them far.  An honest statement like that mistaken to mean that I don’t believe parental alienation happens.  I know it happens.  I have even experienced it for myself.  It happened to my youngest son and I, at the hands of a manipulative father, but my son and I are closer than ever now because I always trusted him to know truth and to figure out what was happening.  I did what I could, left alone what I could not do, and put my energy into waiting for my son to be ready to restore our relationship.  I had faith that I had raised him in a way in which he would see truth, and now, we are closer than ever.  He does know the truth and bears some scars.

It was a long journey from my naive beginnings in family court.  I went from being blind sided by the nastiness of Family Court to getting to where I am today.

More than believing in parental alienation, I believe that co-dependence, childhood trauma and unhealthy relationship patterns are likely the underlying cause of on-going family court nightmares.  A good psychologist should tell you that as long as there is one strong parent, your child can overcome the trauma, regardless of what your ex throws at you.  I have seen this to be true.  In my own case, I stopped being the victim of domestic violence and stopped adding to the drama.  I wanted a better life for my children and myself.  That meant that I would have to pull myself up by my bootstraps, get healthy, and work with the professionals in the Family Court System at their level.  They were not going to listen to me if I only spoke to them when I was at the point of hysterics.  I was never heard when I screamed and swore at them, and you won’t get far with that either.

They were also not going to allow me to educate them.  These were educated professionals and in their eyes, I was the one who was uninformed.  If I was so smart, how come I couldn’t put an end to this conflict for my family?  Why did they have to make decisions about my children?  They could not understand and I was not able to make them understand.  I found them to be obstacles in the way of me being able to move on with my life.  They were also, definitely,  hindering my children’s development, but they would not have ever wanted to hear that.  Over the years I came to realize,  that they were not the answer to the problems and they should not be my focus.  Instead, my focus needed to be on myself, and my children.  That is when I began to turn that ship around, and in doing so, I freed myself and my children of those professionals forever.  No more obstacles.  No more hindrances.

This is what I help my clients as well.  Please don’t think that means that this can happen overnight.  It is a process.  I help my clients through that process, but they determine the pace, I cannot.  I connect with many clients through a free consult, but not every consult turns into a client.  Some people think I am nuts and they never come back.  They do not want to give up that crutch of family court.  That is sad because most people come to me due to their frustration with how the Family Court is not helping the situation, but is instead, making it much, much worse, but when told that they may need to take the focus off of family court professionals and onto their healing and gaining skills, they don’t want to refocus their energy inward.  It is a lot of work to explore what has happened to you, and it is painful and ugly to peel back the layers of who you are you, and so some people cannot stomach it.

Think about this for a minute.  Maybe it will make sense to you and maybe it won’t.  I can only put it out there and hope that you can make some sense out of it.  When you are a victim of domestic violence and look to the family court to help you with it, that is your focus.  If you keep your focus there, and run to and fro, in search of professionals who will understand, that is taking your time, energy and money away from having the life you want.  You may think that you cannot have the life you want, but I am here to tell you, it is just not true.  You are the one keeping your life and your children’s lives in the family court.  Your ex may stay there, and he or she may use it against you, but if you really get yourself strong, stay confident in your truths, and put your focus outside of the court, you will see miracles happen.  The people I see who beat this system at its own game, refocus on their life and their children and slowly shift their thoughts and energies away from their nasty ex and the confusing court people, are the ones who succeed in getting saving their children from an imprisoned life.  The people who latch on to their domestic violence experience or try to expose parental alienation will find that  they ramp up the conflict, get more deeply embedded in the Family Court System, and feel more and more stuck over time.  I am not saying that domestic violence or parental alienation should be tolerated or ignored.  I am not saying that at all.  What I am saying is you cannot push those memes the entire time because there are only certain ways to successfully use those arguments in family court.

Not everything involved with the conflict is related to domestic abuse or parental alienation.  Some things are communication issues and related to how you speak to or correspond with you ex.  Some issues are related to those Mars-Venus, male-female issues, too.  Some issues have to do with the stage of development your child is in, as well, and so you need to really consider what is driving the conflict for each particular issue that arises.  You cannot blame everything on domestic violence or parental alienation because the professionals don’t always have any recourse, even if they do recognize those issues are present.  You still have the court orders you have and their roles are limited as far as what action they can take.  You are the driver of a family court battle,  not them.  You want to make sure you are focused on which direction you want to go and where the journey will lead.  If you know your desired destination, you cannot go around in circles.  That will not get you there.  Instead, map out how you are going to get there and come hell or high water, keep traveling in that direction and don’t stop until you get there!

This post may anger some people and intrigue others.  It’s hard to really explain it all in one blog post!  If you are interested in finding out how to free yourself of the family court, as much as possible, please contact me through High Conflict Central.  I’d love to consult with you to tell you more.  There is nothing more rewarding for me than to see a client who grasps these concepts and takes their life and their children back!

Susan

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How to Stay Positive When Everything is Negative

Think Positive by jesadaphorn
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at freedigitalphotos.net

In challenging times one can often feel hopeless and stuck in a downward spiral of negativity. If anything doesn’t go according to plan or it takes your time away from doing what you need or want to do, you go on the attack. Everyone is a target. You start finding yourself labeled as psycho, angry, disturbed, etc. If you are involved in a court battle you could be labeled as a bad parent or with a mental diagnosis like bipolar, histrionic, schizoid or other, even if you have no such diagnosis in any medical record. The courts throw these terms around at the mildest suggestion by an ex or a court authority. It is extremely upsetting for the accused when people who are not doctors or psychiatrists or therapists to start writing labels into your court documents. These labels will then stick. You may even start to wonder if they are right! If you haven’t been diagnosed outside of the family court arena, in most cases those labels are NOT right!

So what can you do? The courts view you as something you are not, your ex bad mouths you all over town. Sometimes your kids act kind of distant. You get upset about everything and everyone. Work becomes a hostile environment also. How do you have a positive attitude and stay out of the negativity trap?

First of all, take time to nurture yourself. When things get really intense, have a great workout, take a walk, do some yoga, ride a bicycle, or a motorcycle, go hang out with a friend, watch a movie, use some kind of distraction to separate you from your problems. Have you colored in a coloring book lately? Do this with your kids and see how creativity uplifts you. For just an hour or two, do not allow yourself to dwell on the negativity at all.

Next, make sure you are taking care of your body by getting enough food and drink and get the amount of sleep you need. A strong body supports a strong mind. If you’re not able to sleep without dwelling on your problems, sit and meditate, or listen to soothing song that makes you feel good. Take some deep breaths. Think of anything positive in your life. Make a list of positive things or goals. Think of how it will feel to accomplish those goals.  Read some scripture.  Pray.  God is always on your side, even when you think no one else is! Then go to sleep on a positive note. This takes a lot of practice, but you can get yourself to where you can always pull yourself out of negative and into the positive thoughts anytime the negative tries to creep in.

Use good body language. Walk tall. Hold your head up. Have you ever tried it? It is amazing. If you stand up straight and wear a smile on your face, people will see you as confident and happy. Say, “Hi”, to people as you walk by. See the reaction. Don’t slouch, it comes off as the appearance of defeated, you don’t want to look weak or defeated, especially when you are dealing with the court or court authorities.

Use positive words. When I decided to go for sole custody, I used words like “when” i am granted custody, rather than “if” I am granted custody. “If” was not in my list possibilities. I use that when going on a job interview as well. I act as if I already have the job! This is very important. Believe in your ability to do whatever it is you want to do. If you are going for sole custody, know you can and will do it. Believe in yourself. If any doubters try to bring you down, let them know that you WILL prevail in court. You WILL do everything humanly possible to achieve your goals. Know that whatever happens in life, you will get through it. Negative times are temporary. A Positive attitude is permanent.

It may feel strange at first, if you have been struggling for years, but you will get the hang of it. If you need something tangible to hold to remind yourself, get yourself a good luck charm, either a necklace, bracelet, key chain or something that you keep on your desk at work or in your car. Find something that will bring you back to your focus if you start reverting back to the old negative ways. Retrain your brain to stay on some kind of movement forward in your life so that you are not stuck and you are not going backward.

Life is a balancing act. When you allow yourself to obsess over one part of life, while not allowing time for the good parts, you will feel hopeless and want to give up. Sometimes you will have to focus on the court battle. That will be unavoidable. For times when you don’t have to focus on those spirit draining things, don’t. No matter what. Make sure that you schedule time with a friend or doing some activity you really enjoy at least a couple times per week. That gives you something to look forward to and helps you move forward.

You don’t have to stay stuck. You really don’t. You can always think of something positive in your life if you really try.  Focus on the good things and put the negative in a closet where you only let it out if you must.  Get unstuck in life by moving forward. You will notice a difference and you will feel a new strength that helps you achieve all of your goals.

 

 

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The Best Revenge on an EX

Best Revenge
When hit with divorce some people decide that their life is over. They think that in order to be a good parent, they must make sacrifices.  They decide that dating has to wait until the children are grown, or they decide that they must be alone FOREVER.

There are always those people who decide that “all men are scum!” or that “all women are man haters!” While it certainly feels that way as you try to heal the wounds of divorce, those statements are blatantly false.  Just because one person hurt you, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a loving man or woman out there who has been hurt just as badly, and would love to find someone like you.  Many people are looking for a decent, loving individual, with whom they can build a new life, but instead, they do not allow themselves to seek out a potential mate.

It is called fear, people.  Fear holds them back from true happiness.  Those who live in fear never get to live life to the fullest.  They miss out on the joy life can bring.  They miss out on sharing a life with someone wonderful.

We can take our past experiences and let them continue to hurt us, or we could chalk it up to experience and hop right back on that bicycle and try it again.  What I think people find through dating, especially when they are a little older and have been through divorce, is that they matter, and that they are more beautiful and desirable than they think they are.

The period following divorce can be a chance to learn about yourself.  It can be a time to figure out who you are and what your interests are.  You can try people on for size and it will help you find the right one for you.  Just because the last one turned out to be the wrong one, that is no reason to give up and hide under the covers.  I truly believe that there is someone out there for everyone.  Just make sure that you have examined your part in the failed relationship and that you are emotionally healthy and ready for a new relationship before you get deeply involved with a new mate.  It will save many headaches later if you get your act together!

I have another take on that whole “sacrificing for the children” belief.  I think that when you swear off dating, you are robbing your children of a good example.  Here’s why: Since you ended up divorced, that was probably not the best example of a healthy relationship.  Did you fight? Was there chemical dependency involved? Was your ex physically and verbally abusive?  Children learn by modeling.  They observe the relationships they see and it leaves an impression on them.  The kind of relationship they witness will be the relationship they seek out in their own lives and they will do so without even knowing they are doing it.

One day, they will choose a significant other and have a relationship just like their parents had. Why? Because this is what a relationship looks like to them. Do you want that? Would it be better to show your children how to date selectively and then hopefully find that special person with whom you can have a healthy, lasting relationship with? What a great model to give them, especially if all of the relationships around them haven’t always been the healthiest! Do this for you, but also for your children, and for that new person you have yet to meet, the one who is just as lonely as you are. You just might surprise yourself and find the right one. I know I have.

Keep in mind that there is another reason to open your heart and mind to love, and all of the possibilities in life.  Your ex.  While I would never recommend dating just to get back at your ex, I do think the best revenge on an ex is for them to see you blissfully happy and successful in life!  Go ahead.  Have the last laugh.

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Saturdays for Your Spirit

Ah, those who don’t work weekends can finally relax.  It’s Saturday!  Whoo hoo!

A great way to recharge and fill up your spirit is to watch a movie, especially an inspirational or feel good movie.  We are going to call Saturdays spirit days.  Spirit is for refilling your life with:

SMILES

PEACE

INSPIRATION

REST

INTENTION

TRANQUILITY

We want to recommend movies with a message to help you recharge on the weekend after life has worn you down.  Our first SPIRIT movie recommendation would make anyone feel inspired.  Today’s movie title is, “The Ultimate Gift”.  Check it out if you have Amazon Prime!  You can also find it on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel or on Tubitv.  It is also on Redbox.com on demand.  Of course, you can always purchase the DVD on Amazon.com, too, but then you may have to plan to watch it next Saturday.

Here is the trailer: