When I first met my ex-husband it was quite a love story. We fell deeply in love and it pained us to be apart. We needed each other. He even looked at me one day on the subway and said, “ I have an addictive personality and I am addicted to you.” Rather than seeing that as a red flag I fell even more in love with him. He was providing me with an unconditional love I had not experienced, so I was falling hard and fast. I ignored all the signs of his increasing alcoholism.
Fast forward 8 years and I am married to an alcoholic husband who cannot stay sober for more than a day at a time while raising a 2 year old and six month old baby. It was absolute hell. I tried everything I could to make it work and to help him until one day after he put one of the children at risk, I found the courage to kick him out.
I felt angry, scared and overwhelmed. I felt broken, unmoored, and shattered. I did not know who I was without my marriage and the life I was leaving behind. I had spent years building that life and, in what felt like an instant, it was all over. I could not imagine a future or even the next day. It was excruciatingly painful and I felt somewhere deep inside that it was all my fault.
I remember one night another recently divorced girlfriend and I had put our young kids to bed and started Googling support groups and retreats for divorced women.
We were so desperate for answers and guidance. We were like starving animals searching for their next meal. We wanted to relieve the pressure of feeling like such failures. We were searching for compassion, support, and skills to handle what was coming. We wanted a community to help us feel less ashamed and less alone. We were hoping for knowledge of what to expect with co-parenting, dating, friends, and our senses of selves.
Believe it or not, we found NOTHING.
We could not find a comprehensive program anywhere!
I had to piece together a healing program for myself using my clinical knowledge and, honestly, pure willpower.
The first thing I did was stop the way I was talking about my situation. Naturally, I felt the deep desire to talk badly about him and I did, a lot. I told people what a jerk he was and what a victim I was. I had many colorful horrific stories to share. However, at some point I realized I had a choice, I could blame him (which was justified) or I could look at myself and why I chose to marry someone like him.
I turned inward and looked at my patterns. Trust me, it felt way more uncomfortable to do this, but I knew that I could at least do things to change myself and couldn’t change him at all.
I felt scared, but capable of working on me so I went head first into it. If people would say “ I am so sorry to hear about your divorce” I would say, “I am actually glad it is happening as I am learning a lot about myself.”
I enrolled in kickboxing to release my anger. I had a therapist who sat with me as I processed the grief. I turned to supportive friends for help with my kids.
As a determined person I put together scraps from different programs, healing modalities, therapeutic approaches and went to work on myself.
I needed to allow myself to feel my full range of feelings; anger, fear, sadness, loss, and relief. I needed to move my body, challenge my thinking and quiet my mind.
Slowly—very slowly— and with many ups and downs, my life went from dark to light.
Getting to the light ushered in honestly more transformation than I ever thought possible. I have found a life I never dreamed of having.
I discovered my true worth and I find myself actually feeling grateful for my divorce!
Now I have a loving 10-year marriage, a good relationship with my ex-husband, ease with co-parenting, a strong sense of myself and my needs, a thriving business, and nurturing relationships with friends and family.
Because of my experience and the need for a comprehensive program on living a wonderful life post-divorce I created Afterglow: The Light at the Other Side of Divorce . This program is based on research supported strategies. The strategies presented in the course draw from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
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