I cannot stress the importance of documenting the events and during your separation and divorce. You may think that you will remember everything, especially the big events, but you won’t, especially if you are suffering from PTSD or depression. Our brain has a very clever way of blocking out painful events!
The way I see it, there are 2 types of journaling that are really important:
Recording the facts as they happen
- try to keep the entries factual and free of opinion
- use an electronic medium such as Notability on an iPad or OFW journal so you can share entries with your lawyer or parenting coordinator if necessary
- these chronological journal entries can be later placed onto spreadsheets that demonstrate patterns of behaviour such as: aberrant parenting episodes, access visits, threats and abusive behaviour, episodes of domestic violence, inappropriate depletion of joint funds
- this is a super-savvy method to provide a succinct and compelling chronology for your lawyer and possibly for a judge
Here is an example of a factual journal entry from early in my Separation:
Oct. 25, 2014 …..On arrival at our home with Ben at about 2pm **** (my ex) saw his brother and nephew getting into their car to leave. They had been parked at the end of my driveway because they helped me put a desk in the office and clean up the electrical mess that **** had left behind. **** drove by very fast and very close to his brother while Ben was in his front passenger seat. He then turned his car around on our street, pulled up behind his brother’s car and purposely smashed into the rear bumper. Ben got out of his dad’s car scared and upset…I did not call 911 but I had the locks changed that day.
I had months of journal material to eventually compile into a spreadsheet of erroneous and dangerous behaviour which I used to secure a restraining order.
Thought downloads for mind management
- take a blank sheet and empty 10-20 thoughts from you brain onto the page
- these thoughts are simply the sentences in your mind
- be honest with the thoughts – no editing required
- this is only for you to see
- focus on one or two thoughts and see what feelings those thoughts generate when you repeat them to yourself
- ask yourself if you want to be feeling that emotion – is it serving you right now?
- if the feeling that the thoughts are generating is counter-productive, consider re-writing the thoughts to something equally believable that can generate a healthier emotion
- practice the new thought – be the boss of your brain!
Here is an example of what I mean:
thought: my ex has replaced me with someone younger
feeling: depressed, angry
new thought: my ex has a long pattern of infidelity because he is insecure, this really isn’t about me
new feeling: neutral, sad but at peace
Same circumstance (your ex has repartnered) but different feelings generated. You can do this just by watching and choosing your thoughts carefully. Why does this matter? First, because negative emotions can feel pretty bad, but also because our feelings generate our actions, which over time generates our results. If we are feeling depressed, angry and disgusting we will choose to eat the carton of ice cream and over time gain weight. We will also show up for our kids as angry and resentful toward their other parent and that won’t serve them.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog where I will go into greater detail about thought work and harnessing our brain to generate the results we want during our divorce.