My ugly story
Looking back at my toxic marriage, I was a lot like a frog being boiled in slowly simmering water, unaware of the danger in which I lived. I was eternally hopeful that things would get better.
There were periods of separation, and even a restraining order, but I always let him come back. We had a son together who had been diagnosed with Autism, and I did not want to subject my child to any further challenges like a divorce.
Eventually I had no choice. After 12 years of marriage, my husband had a girlfriend and he had no intention of giving her up. In retrospect, I think I was afraid to leave because I knew he would be a difficult opponent. Boy was that an understatement!
Our common challenge
Most of us here in this tribe have felt the same sense of desperation and fear in leaving a toxic marriage. We simply feel trapped until we just cannot stay in our marriage any longer. Physical violence, emotional abuse, infidelity, and years of bad behaviour. At some point, the poison can no longer be tolerated.
We don’t have a crystal ball to guide us, and we worry that our kids are at risk if we leave. We have a brain full of doubt and fear.
What if there is no guarantee you will get sole custody?
It doesn’t matter. We have to do something, even though there are not promises of the outcome.
What I have learned from my battle
Somehow, everything works out, regardless of the mistakes I made and how long it took.
When something fails, I have to pick my self up, figure out what went wrong, and try something else. The mind drama about failing is completely optional, and I have learned to eliminate it.
Feeling better now is the greatest gift you can give your kids. As the healthy parent, you are the barometer of your house and they will feel better by osmosis. Learning to love yourself sets the best possible example for your children.
What I want for my Tribe in 2020
I want you to think “I’m figuring this out” rather than spin in confusion.
I want you to decide not to quit on your goals. I am right here to help you keep going. Quitting will only remove the discomfort temporarily. Stay courageous by committing to feel difficult emotions.
I want you to allow pain and grief if you have not yet processed those emotions. Marinate in it rather than distracting yourself with food and drink. Observe with curiosity and compassion instead of self criticism. Give yourself time so that you can eventually move forward.
I want you to manage your fear and anxiety by questioning the thoughts that inspire these feelings. Thoughts like: I cannot handle this, my kids should not have to go through this, this is so unfair. Consider if these thoughts are really true, and if they still serve you.
I want you to drop you ‘Manual’ for how you expect other people to behave. Especially your ex! “He shouldn’t do that” is not a helpful thought and it is completely optional. The only person this punishes is you.
I want my warrior parents in custody battles to acquire confidence. I want them to see their battle as an opportunity to feel discomfort and move toward it as their curriculum. I want my warrior parents to believe that they can outsmart anything and anyone who comes their way when acting from a place of calm confidence.
Divorce is difficult, but difficult is not a stop sign. We can do difficult things. Bring it on.