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Jontie Hays, LCSW & be whole counseling

Natural Solutions for 
the Whole Person


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“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums



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Helping Our Children Through the Divorce Process; What to do with all of anger?

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Who am I? Making the Choice; Super Parent or Hurt/ Angry Spouse (Cause ya can’t be both) I hope you have had the opportunity to read the children’s version of Happy Words. I would like to start by reassuring you this story was not written with the intention of minimizing your struggles or to belittle them in any way. Every day I see parents at my office who are divorced. I am not exaggerating when I say that divorce is probably the most painful, stressful and life altering event a person can go through. I have yet to have met a parent who has said the decision to end their marriage and alter their family’s established structure and everyday life was an easy one. There are those of you who did not make the decision to end your marriage but still must endure this painful process as well as watch your children have to cope with this loss. For most parents the decision to divorce their partner is weighed against the reality of continuing to live with ongoing unhappiness/ conflict/ stress etc. occurring in their marriage. To many, divorce is the lesser of the evils. Either way, no matter which end you fall on it stinks. All too often what follows is a trail of anger, hurt, resentment, grief, bitterness, sadness, and drama... lots and lots of drama... and trauma. 


For most, there seems to be no other way around it. Believing that somehow there is a light at the end of that tunnel keeps you going because this upheaval can’t possibly last forever can it? I find it sadly ironic that so many couples who have had to choose the “lesser of the evils” continue to experience the same if not more emotional turmoil between themselves and their former spouse despite the fact they are no longer married to each other... All of that pain and trauma of going through a divorce and the fighting and the heartache still doesn’t end! I have many families who come into to my office for post divorce counseling. Some families come in on their own accord and many others are court ordered. Some families are only into the first year of the divorce, some families are into their fifth year post divorce and some even ten years! Why is that and how can that be you ask? Because many of the same dysfunctional communication patterns and interactions that contributed to the divorce in the first place continue to play out in the co-parent relationship. Nothing has been fixed or resolved...and you don’t even feel like you got any real peace out of the divorce because the fighting continues on and on and on! Sound familiar? Understanding that this is the case with many divorced parents doesn’t make you feel any better, so what is a person to do?  


Take control of yourself and make a choice to put an end to the drama stuff by refusing to contribute to the pattern any longer. Drama patterns need toxic exchanges of energy in order to continue existing. Your former spouse can feed it all he/she wants but it will never be enough to continue indefinitely unless you are feeding it as well. You might be saying to yourself “what if I do everything I can do to be civil, nonreactive and non-combative with my ex-partner, and it doesn’t do any good? What if he/ she still acts mean, bitter and hurtful to me?” What’s the point? George C. Lichtenberg, the famous German scientist said “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better”. If you truly want a different outcome, you must do something differently. So is there any way to put a stop to this pattern? I absolutely believe there is a way. This is going to require a shift in your thinking however. I am going to ask you from this point on to think from the position of the “Super Parent” and not the “Hurt/ Angry Spouse” and I will tell you why. As a parent myself, I never truly understood what true unconditional love was until I had my own children. 


I believe the kind of love a parent experiences for their child is the closest we ever (on earth) come to experiencing a complete devotion to another with no expectations attached. The most selfless part of our beings is experienced through our children. I realize this sounds very sappy and I feel sappy writing it, but as a parent, you understand how hard it is to put that kind of love into words. As parents, we will do anything for our child even when it means putting our needs second. We will choose to suffer so they do not have to. We would give our life for them. We will hold ourselves to a standard that reflects the best of who we are for our children, even if we will not do it for ourselves. Simply put, the love we feel for our children is the reflection of our truest, most authentic and highest self, our soul. Our souls are not our identity or our ego. Our soul is not our brain or our body. Our soul is the true essence of who we really are, pure love with connection and regard for everything and everyone around us. Now, please don’t take this out of context. I am not saying that as parents we are perfect, or that our kids don’t really get on our nerves sometimes. We are only human after all; or as some believe, spiritual beings having a human experience. 


I have a very dear friend who identifies herself as a “Super Parent in Training”. One day we were discussing just how hard her former spouse was making it for her to be a Super Parent and not react to his constant attempts to antagonize her. Now she could have viewed these “tests” as nothing but a waste of time and just given in to the divorce drama and started swinging back. And oh boy, she could have. But nope, she said that these tests were necessary for her growth as a Super Parent! Uh, what? Was she actually saying she wanted to have to deal with this crap from him? No, she wasn’t she explained. But there wasn’t much she could do about it except change her perception of how awful he was and what a #*^&%^ he was. She went on to explain it as “If we are determined to be a ‘Super Parent’ don’t we first have to become one? Let’s talk about Super Man. If Super Man wasn’t tested with the ‘bad guys’ always coming after him, what would cause anyone to call him Super? If he just ran around all day in a cape and never had a challenge or anyone to rescue, then he would just be some weird dude in a cape. There is nothing super about that. What is it really that we love about Superman or any Super People for that matter? Think about it...what we love about our super heroes is how they overcome what we ourselves believe we cannot.  


How many people on the planet believe they can overcome hatred? Is Jesus one of them? Gandhi? Winston Churchill? Martin Luthar King? Krishna? Mother Theresa? The Dali Lama? Notice that I used the word believe in the last two paragraphs. They were Super because they not only believed they could overcome fear and hatred but all of their actions and behaviors followed their thoughts and their beliefs. Didn’t Jesus say something about what he can do we can also do? Wasn’t there some kind of famous quote made by Mohandas Gandhi that said “be the change you want to see...?” Okay, I know I am using examples of amazing people and I am sure you’re thinking that all these super people are just different then you. They have something you don’t, a gift which allows them to choose love instead of hate. You’re right; there is a difference between them and us. It’s their thoughts, words and actions. All of these magnificent people simply followed through with their decision to choose love over hate by demonstrating the behaviors which were consistent with their intentions. When you say you really do want to try and get along with your co parent, are your words and actions always consistent with that intention? 


That’s it. There is no special kind of DNA or chemical make up in these people. We can be like them. We only have to make the choice to be. Is it always going to be easy? Nope. I bet it wasn’t always easy for them either, but they committed themselves to stay on that path. You can too. One thought at a time. In fact, let’s start right now with a simple step. State your intention. There is an enormous amount of power in the spoken and written word. If you truly want to transcend these negative emotions and thoughts, I want you to express your new thought out loud. Now write that very same declaration!

Great Job! Now you’re probably sitting there saying to yourself okay Miss Know it All therapist I did that and I really don’t feel any different. So now what the heck am I supposed to do??? In my next entry we will start by looking at the obstacles that get the way of your Super Parent Training.


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