Avoid S.T.E.A.T.s during your divorce

The way you handle the aftermath of divorce is very important, as this story illustrates.

Imagine a child comes home from preschool with her feelings hurt by an interaction with a teacher. Mom asks: ‘What happened?’ The child responds tearfully that the teacher was mean to her.

Mom says: ‘Don’t cry. Here, have a cookie, you’ll feel better.’

For many of us, from an early age we’re taught, often by important figureheads in our lives that feelings can be fixed with food.

Eating the cookie, the child is distracted and forgets about the incident. However there is no completion of the emotional pain caused by the event.

The event and all feelings attached to it have been buried.

One thing to guard against is to ensure you are not avoiding dealing with your emotions by burying yourself in things which either numb the pain or distract you ongoingly. These are called: 

Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactics

Don’t get me wrong, in the early days of your divorce, the S.T.E.A.T.s are probably the things which help you feel better in each moment. BUT the thing to be aware of is that it’s not feeling better for real – it’s a false sense of security – a false feeling of recovering. It fits into the false healingcategory.

Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactics are things you do to avoid feeling the pain or to numb the pain or to take the pain away in the short term. They are often ‘escapism’ type activities where you keep SO focused and ‘busy’ that there is not time to think about how you are feeling or doing. If you fill your life up with lots of S.T.E.A.T.s, your healing will not progress.

The sad thing is that for most people who struggle to get over their divorce, they are engaging in a cycle of feeling the pain – applying a S.T.E.A.T. – feeling the pain – applying a S.T.E.A.T. etc. until over time they feel numb and they think this ‘numbness’ if them healed from their divorce.

Other S.T.E.A.T.s include:

>>  Food

>>  Alcohol and drugs

>>  Excessive anger towards others

>>  Clubbing or partying

>>  Over-exercising

>>  Fantasy or escapism activities (books, TV, movies)

>>  Isolation

>>  Sex

>>  Shopping/retail therapy

>>  Work and becoming a workaholic

>>  Spending countless hours with your children under the guise of being a good parent but the actual agenda is using your children to help you feel better

The problem with Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactics is that they are short term. They do not last, and they do not deal with the true emotional issue. S.T.E.A.T.s are distractions that either damage or delay the recovery process.

Exercise

>> Try to identify at least two examples of short-term relief you have used to displace your feelings. This is not as easy as it appears. It could be your first chance to demonstrate your commitment to total honesty in this recovery process.

Sending you a big hug!

Top tips for how to behave at work whilst you are getting divorced

Keeping your career on track while coping with a divorce is like juggling eggs. You have to remain focused to continue performing. Falling apart is not an option.

The naked divorce has been designed to provide a structure for your healing while you work and, if you have children, manage your family. In The naked divorce you will proactively tackle your healing every day, in the mornings, in the evenings and over weekends, so that your emotions do not ‘sneak up’ on you. The office is no place to give vent to your repressed feelings, but if that’s where you find yourself when a rage attack threatens, there’s an exercise at the end of this chapter that will help you remain calm and at peace.

Etiquette for dealing with your boss and colleagues during your divorce

Some people find they need routine to carry them through a crisis. But the general rule of thumb when facing divorce is that you should take leave from work to gather yourself. Even three or four days will do. Not only will you need this time to be alone to think, but you’ll need privacy to do so. The comfort of routine is one thing, but be wary of throwing yourself into work as a distraction.

Here are some pointers for handling your boss and colleagues:

¤  Firstly, tell your boss what you’re dealing with. Do this in a brief and matter-of-fact way. Ask for time off. Deal with any urgent matters that won’t wait until your return to office. If you need to, write a formal email or letter to your boss. Here is a suggested template:

Subject: CONFIDENTIAL

Dear Mary

I regret to inform you that my husband and I are separating. Consequently, may I request a few days’ leave on compassionate grounds? I need to organise my living arrangements and ensure that my children are taken care of. In terms of my urgent accountabilities, may I suggest the following?

1.

2.

3.

When I return I will endeavour to perform my duties to my best ability. Please keep this information confidential for the moment, as I would like the opportunity to tell my colleagues when the time is appropriate.

I will be back at work on (fill in date) and appreciate in advance your patience and understanding.

Kind Regards

NAME

¤  If you have the option to work from home, do so. It’s easier to maintain professional integrity via email and remotely than to be around the colleagues and people you work with every day when you’re dealing with raw emotions.

¤  Inform the accounts department as soon as possible as your tax code may change. If you feel nervous about calling and aren’t feeling organised, prepare a list of things to communicate and email this through. Ensure that you include your current tax code in the email.

¤  When you return to work, be selective who you tell about your divorce and when you communicate with them. Avoid crying sessions with your colleagues in the bathroom. This is not easy to come back from!

¤  If possible, don’t discuss the details of your divorce with your colleagues. Even if they’re good friends, discuss details outside of work and only with those you know will not make your divorce the office gossip of the day. Having the details of your divorce batted about the office will only add to your stress.

¤  It’s very common to feel foggy and unclear during the first few weeks of a divorce, as your mind is preoccupied with feelings. It’s a good idea to write down all action points and notes from meetings so that you have a reference. Ensure you communicate clearly about what you are willing to take on and what timeframe you can commit to for those outputs. Add on 30% to your deadline as you won’t be your usual, productive self.

¤  Communicate very clearly with your boss about what they can and can’t count on from you.

¤  Make a point of taking a lunch break each day for a few weeks. Leave the office and take a walk. It’s important to take time out when you’re under severe stress.

TIP: Take eye drops and good, soft tissues to work. If you find you need a good crying session in the bathroom, have the eye drops handy so that your emotional state is not overly obvious to everyone.

¤  To remain calm at work drink a great deal of chamomile tea and use Rescue Remedy drops on a regular basis.

¤  A great way to remain calm and focused at work or to relax when heartbreak threatens to overwhelm you is to listen to the naked divorce Break Up Reboot. It’s a 26-minute audio recording (perfect for your lunch hour) designed to refocus your mind and realign the neurochemicals in your brain. Listening to it every day for 21 days will dramatically increase your healing process and make you feel good about yourself again. If you want to know more, go to this link: www.breakupreboot.com.

Exercise for handling your emotions at work

When you feel you need to put your emotions aside to focus on your work, practise the following exercise. Cycle through the four ‘A’ words:

¤  Be Aware of the emotion.

¤  Accept the emotion.

¤  Acknowledge your right to your emotion.

¤  Act normal.

This is how it works:

  1. When feeling overly emotional, first stop.
    1. Stop doing anything.
    2. Just sit.
    3. Be still.
  2. Breathe.
    1. Breathe long and deeply, right into your belly.
    2. Let the breath fill your lungs like the ocean surging up the shore.
    3. Breathe like this for 20 breaths. And if you cry, you cry J.
  3. Become aware of what is happening. A neurotransmitter in your body called Dopamine is what’s kicking around and making you feel crazy. This is what causes that ache within your body. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but it will pass if you let yourself ‘be’ with it.
  4. Visualise. See the craziness as a puppy that has run off without a leash. Understand it and stop allowing it to control you. Allow the emotion to be just like a puppy bounding around inside your head. But don’t engage with it. Just notice it. Watch the puppy and stay calm. You know the puppy will tire soon. Notice its colour, texture and shape. Give that part of yourself that feels crazy a label, or a name: Red Dragon, or Mad Dog. See that craziness as not part of you. See yourself disengaged from it.
  5. Accept and acknowledge the craziness and anxiety. It’s there and it’s okay that it’s there. But see it as a visitor that will eventually leave.
  6. No matter how you’re feeling at that moment, behave normally. You know that the craziness will pass.
  7. Make yourself a hot water drink. Add some lemon and two teaspoons of honey to a cup of boiling water. Drink it slowly. With each sip, sense the craziness retreating, like a tide. Calm down.
  8. Take a walk outside if you can. Walk slowly and gracefully, as if you’re gliding. While walking, cycle through your five senses and ask yourself: What do I see, hear, touch, taste and smell? Keep the focus outside your mind and on what’s around you. Be vigilant about this.
  9. Remind yourself that there will be an opportunity to feel your emotions when you’re in a safe space later.

Remind yourself that everything will be okay. Think of all the things that people have overcome in their lives. Think of someone who has overcome great obstacles to achieve greatness and beauty in their lives. This can be you.

Sending you a big hug!

So, does time actually heal all wounds?

Today I want to talk about this idea that time heals wounds. I think we can all agree that divorce causes huge chaos. It’s the end of something that was born of love, cemented at a ceremony and carried the combined hopes and dreams of those who shared your relationship and rooted for you. Those who haven’t been through divorce can’t fully comprehend the pain, humiliation and sense of confusion, loneliness and failure.

During my divorce I saw a therapist for a while. She told me that as I had been married for seven years, it would probably take me at least 18 months to get over the relationship and that I should ’take my time’. She commenced the therapy sessions by taking me back to an incident from my youth. I was four years old and had been abandoned by my parents outside Sunday School. She linked my feelings related to the divorce to the fear I’d felt then.

We explored that incident for some time and after two hours of deconstruction (and a hefty bill later), I left feeling thoroughly disempowered and confused. Not only was I annoyed with my former husband, I was now annoyed with my parents too.

I’m not knocking therapy, but after trying out several therapists in the early days of my divorce, the process of therapy didn’t work wonders for me for the following reasons:

> I had no understanding of what I was going through and going to therapy didn’t give me any power in taking charge of my own healing

> The healing process didn’t feel transparent, it felt like the therapist had the secret to healing and the only way I was going to find out the secret was to commit to being deconstructed on a weekly basis for 18 months.

> I felt that there was no goal or focus to my healing. The focus was instead on me fitting in whatever I needed to say within 1 hour.

> I was surprised that therapy didn’t encourage or talk about the necessity in creating a ‘container’ to ensure I was held together during my divorce.

> My healing also did not fit into the ‘let’s meet once a week for 1 hour’ structure. I required a phone call here, a text there, an email at 1am or a session with 1 day’s notice. I wanted a friend to walk with me through the process and not interact in a conventional way. Everything in my life was moving so fast that by the time my weekly session arrived, everything had changed and I spent the session catching her up versus actually making any real progress.

I decided that there had to be a better way and created the naked divorce process to eliminate these specific issues.

Over time and working with countless clients, I have found that like me, there are people who wanted to explore alternatives to therapy and an alternative to, as one of my clients put it; ‘washing myself in the same dirty water week in and week out’.

I am sure you are familiar with the old adage that ‘Time heals all wounds’. This concept has become so synonymous with healing, that the thought of healing quickly feels fake and unbelievable. Therapy has consequently based it’s practice and disciplines on the premise that you need a great deal of time to heal.

I prefer Rosemary Kennedy’s thoughts on time…

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But the wound remains.”

 
 

 

Without running the risk of sounding too philosophical, time is an artificial structure, much like a state, provincial or country line. Have you ever seen a state or provincial line? I used to look for them on the ground when I was a kid and never found one.

What I tell my clients when they say ‘Time heals all wounds’ is that time doesn’t heal anything, time simply passes. It is what we do with our lives while time is passing that either helps us, heals us, or mires us in the past.

Whenever anyone encounters major trauma, there is an inevitable period of chaos. One of my clients actually said;

“I feel like a piece of fabric fraying at the edges, one piece of thread at a time. I can only really handle what is right in front of me – one thing at a time, one thing at a time – like tunnel vision”

Many people, mistaking the turbulent transition for the change itself, decide that they prefer the bad old days. They lose faith and go back to the old way of life where they are avoiding the pain or finding a comfort zone in their healing. 

When we do that, when we run counter to our gut knowing that change must come, we have to rationalize our cowardice. “Better the devil you know,” we say, “than the devil you don’t know.” And so we cast out the world that might have been and remain stuck in old ways.

Maybe this passivity is itself the devil it fears. It pretends to be our ally, but it is really our tormentor. The timid part of ourselves fails to realize that more solutions would be found if more of us participated — if we didn’t “wait and see.” Seeing and doing are joined at the bone.

In my work with men and women in the area of divorce coaching, I’ve noticed that some seem to have an ability to accept the hurts and disappointments of life and move on. They are goal orientated and know that the future is where they’re headed, not the past.

Others, however, seem to get stuck. They remain in the past and in their pain, as if those events had just happened, playing the “wait and see” game. Time played no factor in the one group moving on and the other group remaining stuck. It had to do with what they did within that time that made the difference.

Likewise, I could have taken six years to get over my divorce, but the steps would have been the same had I taken 21 days, 21 months or 21 years to do so. There are no shortcuts to getting over a failed marriage or life-changing trauma, but there are guidelines you can follow to get through the trauma efficiently and effectively.

When I considered my therapist’s advice to ‘take my time’, I decided it was probably in her best interests that I do so as her livelihood depended on me needing her inputs every week.

Time is an important factor in healing, but consider that telling people you ‘need lots of time’ is often an excuse to delay healing.

The question is not how much time it takes to heal, but rather how you spend that time. I had to reach an understanding that it was only myself putting the brakes on my healing. 

So if you put this concept of time aside, imagine how amazing it would feel to have the new life you dream of. The new you. The woman who is over her old relationship, empowered, happy and at peace? This book is an invitation into a world where life and healing is not a struggle. Where living your dreams is a way of life, not an unreachable destination.

To many of you, this might sound like a fantasy. But I promise: No matter what brought you here, no matter how deep or painful your emotions are or what your personal story is, success is possible.

So I have an exercise for you, if you are willing:-

Write down:

> Take some time to think back on your life. How have you dealt with loss in the past? (Whether it was the loss of someone special or a beloved pet)

> What steps did you take that were healthy and healing?

> What steps did you take, or not take, that hampered your recovery?

> Keeping all that in mind, how are you spending your time day-to-day in healing from your divorce?

Consider if you are still feeling some anger, hurt, upset that perhaps you are not over your divorce and perhaps taking some steps towards healing could be beneficial for you…

Sending you a big hug!

Postcards from the Edge…

I recently received a letter from someone who went through a very bitter and twisted divorce. She says she’s ‘over’ it and although she never talks to her ex is in a great relationship now with someone who hates his ex too.

Her question was about her concerns about whenever her ex talks about his ex, he talks about taking her ‘to the cleaners’ financially and his vengeance worries her. She also feels very closed down to her new guy and doesnt feel free to let him into her heart.

Here is an excerpt of what I wrote to her – maybe there is something for you to learn too?

………………

Thank your being honest with me – I appreciate straight talk.

You are right, I do give a shit about people. So, as requested I will therefore be bold and offer some coaching – its unsolicited so feel free to take onboard – as you wish ;)

I will be honest with you and share that you are still carrying alot of pain and incompletion from your divorce and I am sorry for that. I can see you are very strong and resilient but a bit like a coconut – sometimes this strength is on the outside when on the inside there is a different picture.

I think because you are a survivor and you did the best you could at the time but i can also tell you didn’t allow yourself to feel too much emotion. I reckon the worst book EVER written was ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel whatisface.

Intellectualisation of emotions, closing down your heart and deadening of emotions can lead to a prickly and brittle disposition – a cynicism and inner anger. Not your fault – alot of powerful women suffer from this post divorce but its still there. Some aliveness was lost as a little flame within you got extinguished. This is what is sad. Yes u are tougher, but it’s also easy to spot you are divorced. This is why your friends tell you you ‘look’ divorced. The biggest compliment for someone of your character is to stop ‘being and looking divorced’ in your disposition because something else is possible for you. ‘Looking’ divorced is when you still carry the pain, bitterness and resentment with you – the paranoia, the hurt, the prickly feelings…

The path to healing?

1) FEELING emotions and allowing yourself to feel them again – many of us run away from our emotions BUT did u know that when fully experienced, no emotion lasts longer than 15 minutes before it morphs into something else…?
2) opening up your heart again
3) getting complete with your ex husband – not condoning what he did but letting him go with no animosity or hatred – I can give u an exercise for this if you would like to learn more…
4) being honest with your partner about your abhorence of his hatred towards his ex
5) supporting your partner in getting complete with his ex so you are both free and can be new and with both feet inside your relationship

After this, u will be free. Happy, carefree ‘you’ will return and inner conflict will subside.

So u have a choice: continue being tough chick who can handle it all and do battle and become more angry and bitter with time (whilst telling yourself you are over it) or walk into the valley and push yourself through the eye of the needle.

Whatever you choose to do, I am here to support you if u wish because you are worth it!

Sending you a big hug!

The Vow Break – Breaking the ties with your ex powerfully



When two people get married, there is a beautiful ceremony and celebration with all your friends, family and community involved. Everyone is willing you on to succeed. Sadly, when two people get divorced, it’s akin to seeing tumbleweed rolling across an empty road whilst crickets sing gently in the background. There is literally nothing out there which enables us as women to have a ceremonial breaking of the sacred vow we made. For some of you, who are very spiritual or religious, you may really be battling  but nothing  with the concept of divorce, so this process will support you in achieving a level of completion.

This exercise will help you sever the ties with your ex in a healthy and supportive way.

  • Start off by journaling the following about your ex (do this as if you were talking to him):
  • What can I acknowledge you for in our relationship?
  • What was awesome about our relationship?
  • What hurt me and what did I need to hear from you back then?
  • What parts of you did I not see, acknowledge or accept whilst we were married?
  • What are all the things I learnt from our marriage?
  • What are all the things I learnt from our divorce?
  • What do I need to hear from you now? (do this AFTER your letter from him to you)
  • What I wish for you now
  • What promises and commitments do I make to you for the future (if applicable)
  • What promises and commitments do I make with regards to our children and your relationship with them (if applicable)

Separately:

  • Review your marriage vows and look at the promises you made. Acknowledge which promises you did and did not keep
  • Forgive yourself for any promises you broke and acknowledge yourself for all the promises you kept

When complete, here is a bonus opportunity for you.

Bonus Opportunity

Write a completion letter to your ex saying everything you want to say from the Vow Break above.

When complete, pack up all of your ex’s things and put them into a box to be stored in the attic or away from your daily living. Take off your wedding ring (if you haven’t done so already)

 

 

 

Well Done! Chat soon