Happy Holidays!

Adele-Christmas greeting card

If you were feeling warm this Christmas, it’s from all the love we were sending your way!
May this Christmas season bring your closer to all those that you treasure in your heart.
We hope you find Love, Joy and Peace!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Hugs and xxx,
Adele and Divorce Angels

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How To Survive Thanksgiving Tantrums and Torment With Your Crazy Family!

Happy_thanksgiving_funny-7Thanksgiving is less than a few days away and you’re planning a traditional holiday dinner, which includes a golden turkey as the showpiece of the meal. Although the Mercy for Animals Foundation conducted an undercover investigation on the abuse these birds are subjected to – it is NOTHING compared to the amount of stress and anxiety family members endure so they might spend quality time together. I think we need to start a Mercy for Family Members Foundation…

For many, the biggest source of holiday stress is family, so what causes some of this stress?

Unhappy memories. Going home for the holidays naturally makes people remember old times, but for you the memories may be more bitter than sweet. During the holidays, a lot of childhood memories come back and if the memories were not happy ones, this time of year will trigger them.

Toxic relatives and Outlaws. Holidays can put you in the same room with relatives you avoid the rest of the year.

What’s changed. The holidays can highlight everything that’s changed in your lives — a divorce, a death in the family, a son who’s making his first trip back home after starting college. Any of these can really unsettle a gathering and add holiday stress.

What’s stayed the same. For others, it’s the monotonous sameness of family holiday gatherings that depresses them — the same faces, the same jokes, the same food on the same china plates.

More work to be done. During the holiday season, you’re more likely to be stressed out by obligations and errands.

SO, as you begin to mentally prepared yourself for your annual Thanksgiving visit, you might be anticipating some predictable scenes: the Aunt that drinks 5 too many glasses of Merlot? Uncle that wants to summarize the last 6 months of Roy Orbison’s show? Or parents that ask ‘When are you going to settle down and get married?’” On their own, these are all very manageable stressors. Together, though, they create a perfect storm of family-based madness.

If you find yourself in the middle of dueling culinary aunts who constantly criticize each other’s cooking while snidely remarking on all of the dishes or political arguments by opinionated relatives whose lack of facts would be hilarious except for the constant threat of violence and tension: RELAX in the knowledge that you are most certainly not the only person in the world with dysfunctional relatives. If you are lucky, and can find a trusted sibling, cousin or spouse to share your amazement or disgust, then a simple declaration to validate your experience can be a relief. It’s important to keep realistic expectations. Dinner with your family is unlikely to be a magical Dickens-esque Christmas with the Cratchits, but it’s also unlikely to devolve into a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation-like scene of madness (complete with boxed cats, squirrels in trees, and a turkey that deflates with the first cut). If you keep your expectations reasonable, understanding that the day will neither be your worst or best case scenarios, you’ll find yourself prepared to face this encounter with your family.

However, if you find yourself thinking “Am I the only one who feels like there is something seriously wrong with these folks?” then read these tips.

1. Line up some co-conspirators. Chances are you’re not the only one who is irked by your family’s dysfunctional routines. Figure out who you can call on to help make things different. Then do some pre-event strategizing. Agree a game plan with a crew and infiltrate madness before it arrives

2. Ask your co-conspirators to think of brilliant ways to give challenging relatives an assignment: Is someone always critical of the menu? Ask this person if she would please bring that complicated dish that is her trademark so she’ll have a place to shine. Is there a teenager who mopes about, bringing everyone down? Maybe offer to pay him to entertain the younger set for a couple hours after dinner so the adults can talk.

2. Have an attitude of gratitude. Yeah, they may be annoying, but it’s your family.

3. Look for the humor. Try not to take everything so seriously. Sometimes you just have to laugh and say, “It is what it is”.

4. If your Monster in Law is annoying you, tenderize the meat or take some glass bottles to the recycling depot or do some angry baking and knead the dough with enthusiasm. There are some really socially acceptable ways to let off some steam!

5. Resolve previous differences. It is not helpful to go home for the holidays to rectify an old disagreement. Make a phone call, send a text, write a letter with the intention of smoothing out any misunderstanding before you go.

6. Invite a friend: Most people’s manners improve when outsiders enter the scene.

7. Deal with one crisis at a time. If you’re at the table and your aunt is screaming about utensils, an uncle is trying to enlist you in the local chapter of the Tea Party, small cousins are running around screaming, and your dad is asleep on the couch, there’s nothing you can do here except minimize your focus so as to not become overwhelmed. Zone some of this out. In this case, it might be best to offer help with one of these crises, such as the aunt with the utensils. You’ll both be helping reduce another relative’s stress while simultaneously giving yourself an opportunity to get out of your seat to momentarily allow your politics-minded uncle to latch on to another relative (sorry, siblings).

8. Give kids a way to be included. Then set them free. Kids are simply not going to enjoy being trapped at a table with adults (especially dysfunctional adults) for extended periods of time. They get restless. They get whiny. They slump in their chairs. Yes, they should be expected to behave with at least a minimum of decorum during the meal but head off complaints and tantrums by planning something for them to do while the adults linger at the table.

9. Be as cool as a cucumber. Master the art of smiling and nodding. Polite agreement can go a long way in helping you escape rough situations.

10. If they try to parent your children – yes this is very infuriating but it is what it is. Use the Sandwich technique: Surround your feedback with lots of compliments, so they can’t get angry or offended by what you’re saying. So, for example, ‘The kids love being with you and we really like having you over for lunch but when you shout at them for playing with their food, it upsets them and it hurts us. So can we work out a way for us all to help the kids eat properly?’

SO stay sane and try to enjoy the time you can. The final swan song is to simply wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

If your family drive you crazy, may your turkey at least be tantrum-free and golden crispy.

Till next time

AdeleSign2

How to help your children through divorce…

Learn some great tips on helping your children through divorce including…

  • Getting yourself together
  • Not using your child as a weapon
  • Not using your children as a way of dealing with or processing your own emotions
  • Letters to write to children
  • For an interview with a parenting expert, go here

Lots of hugs

How to support someone going through a divorce or break up

Divorce or a really bad break up can be classed as a trauma regardless of how much notice one is given. If we consider the things that help us feel secure in life, our jobs/homes/relationships/family and health are our core foundations.

Going through a divorce or break up, for whatever reason, can come as a shock – even if you knew it was coming. It’s a massive change and as human beings, we don’t take changes very well. Yes, there are opportunities which arise out of the change but first you need to process the feelings of rejection, grief, anxiety, panic, worry, loss of self esteem (as sometimes the rejection experienced is taken personally) and loss of ‘self’ as you probably linked your self-worth to your relationship.

In this blog, I am not going to handle divorce from the point of view of the person going through the divorce but from the point of view of the person who is supporting a partner or loved one through a divorce.

It may be that your partner, parent or close family friend has just told you they are getting divorced and you are watching them spiral slightly out of control.

Many feelings will arise including moodiness, upsetness, depression, anxiety, panic and insomnia. It is very hard to know how best to support someone through the roller coaster of emotions and if they are your close partner, you will almost feel like you are on the roller coaster with them.

It’s tempting to want to make them happy, distract them or tell them to stop being gloomy and feel different/ look on the bright side of life. A common human trait is to try to intellectualise the emotion:

“think of the opportunities”

“you never liked your ex anyway”

“there are lots of fish in the sea”

“God will never give you something you cannot handle”

“don’t be sad, this is a chance to really examine everything from a fresh perspective”

Although all these statements are probably true – it’s ALL about timing. Delivering these messages in the first few weeks is not going to go down well.

In the first few weeks, it’s critical for the ‘soon-to-be-divorced person’ to just feel their emotions. Emotions, when fully experienced, naturally evolve along the path of healing but its often the people supporting the person being made redundant that interrupt this healing pattern.

The initial state before the cycle begins is often quite stable, at least in terms of the
subsequent reaction to hearing the bad news (compared with the ups and downs to
come, even if there is some variation, this is indeed a fairly stable state).
And then, in the calm of this relative paradise, a bombshell bursts…

The naked divorce grieving cycle

1 Denial stage: trying to avoid the inevitable.
2 Anger and betrayal stage: frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
3 Panic and negotiation stage: seeking a way out. Making deals with your
ex.
4 Humiliation, fear of failure or looking bad stage: gradually sinking into
a spiral, feeling embarrassed and avoiding seeing people.
5 Despair stage: realization that something awful is coming your way and
you’re strapped into the rollercoaster and helpless.
6 Loss, grief and depression stage: a final realization of the inevitable,
surrendering to the grief.
7 Space and nothingness stage: once you have grieved and grieved, experiencing
loss and pain, you’re left with a feeling of nothingness. It’s different
to numbness because you feel very present and can notice things around you.
Your senses are heightened. You may also find that you cannot cry anymore.
You experience an emotional vacuum.
8 Acceptance stage: seeking realistic solutions and finally finding the way
forward, it’s not a feeling of resignation. It’s a feeling of profound understanding
of the way things are and the way things are not.
9 Responsibility and forgiveness stage: taking responsibility for where you
may have caused cracks in the relationship and contributed to its subsequent
breakdown and divorce. Forgiving your ex and yourself for any failings during
the relationship is a critical part of true and real healing.
10 Gratitude stage: transformational experience. Learning from your divorce
and seeing positives and negatives from the experience. This stage completes
the healing.

If your loved one wants to know where they are within the divorce healing cycle, take them to this test:

FIND OUT HOW HUNG UP YOU ARE

What you don’t realise, in offering intellectual platitudes is that you are only doing this so YOU can feel happy again. It’s your own discomfort with their emotional state being so linked to your own emotional state that upsets you. If you resist their emotional state, it will persist because it has no avenue to be expressed.

So to survive and be happy in the first few weeks of supporting your partner, it helps to stop linking your own happiness to the happiness of this person – move to your own orbit and allow them to simply ‘BE’ where they are. Break your dependence on them and instead of fretting, go play tennis, go for a walk on your own or go shopping and allow them to be.

Here are a few tips of what to do and what not to do in supporting someone through this change.

Don’ts

  • Don’t give pep talks. Its not your job to pump them up and ensure they are happy again. Understand their need to express their emotions and use the BUCKET exercise below to give them an avenue to express these emotions Don’t intellectualise their emotions or offer any ‘sage’ advice – telling them to look on the bright side of life or telling them that ‘everything happens for a reason’ just invalidates the pit of despair they are looking into. Allow THEM to come to this conclusion on their own – this way, they will own the conclusion on a deeper level Don’t orbit around them or link your own happiness to their happiness – they are entitled to their process and way of dealing with things.
  • Don’t tell them to snap out of it
  • Don’t tell them they are being ridiculous, self indulgent or dramatic – use the BUCKET exercise to hear them – sometimes people just need to vent their emotions – its not necessarily about you.
    They will want to indulge in what I call STEATs (short term emotion avoidance tactics) so they can feel better and run from their emotions. They will want to avoid dealing with their emotions by focusing on decorating, shopping, partying, drinking or being super ‘busy’ with something or other. Rather than rejoice in these activities with them, encourage them to stop and feel their emotions. Validate their right to their emotions. If they engage in STEATs for too Long, they may end up depressed due to repressing their emotions

STEATs EXPLAINED

One thing to guard against is that your partner does not avoiding dealing with their emotions by burying themselves in things which either numb the pain or distract them. Don’t get me wrong, in the early days of divorce, the S.T.E.A.T.s are probably the things which help your partner 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 healing category.

Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactics include but are not limited to:

Excessive eating
Alcohol and drugs
Excessive anger towards others
Excessive socialising
Over-exercising
Fantasy or escapism activities (books, TV, movies)
Isolation
Random sexual encounters
Shopping/retail therapy
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.

Do’s

Once 45 days have passed, if they are still moping around – get them to see someone to process their feelings so that they can move on

BUCKET YOUR FRUSTRATIONS

    • Go fetch a bucket (a real one) and sit together with no TV or chaos in the background with the bucket between you both You start by encouraging your loved one to express their frustrations, feelings and emotions into the bucket – you not allowed to respond except to acknowledge that you hear what they are saying and ask if there is anything else to go into the bucket – encourage your partner to ‘put all their frustrations into the bucket’ and vent everything that is pissing them off about life and how life should be.
    • Your job is – JUST LISTEN
    • Keep asking if there is anything else and keep going until the bucket is full and they can think of nothing else
    • When done, you both pick up the bucket and throw out these frustrations out of the window or door
    • Now it’s your turn It’s good to say how you feel but I recommend not sharing your worries about their divorce – focus on other things that annoy you or frustrate you — this way, your loved one will feel they are not alone in being frustrated but they will feel that you are not pressuring them to snap out of their emotions
    • When done, you both pick up the bucket and throw out these frustrations out of the window or door

GRATITUDE

Now you both take turns to say what you are grateful for about your life. Your lives are actually very rich and amazing BUT because you dont focus on that, you dont see this. I want you to come up with at least 5 things you are grateful for

CREATE TOMORROW

Now you both take turns to say what you will accomplish tomorrow. This is important because at the moment, life is happening and things are not being created. Creation has a beauty to it

So, I hope that helps a bit. It is very challenging to go through a divorce, but even more challenging if you are the partner or close person of someone in that situation. If you have a specific situation you would like reviewed, contact the naked divorce team http://www.nakeddivorce.com/contact-us.

Till next time!

Why your friends and family are sometimes the worst support during your divorce

Although your friends and family are an important part of your life, you may find that they’re ill-equipped to support you through your loss. I found that even though my friends and family were well meaning, they often said or did things that were inappropriate.

Whenever we hung out together, my friends would try to distract me from the pain I was feeling, invalidating my emotions and my right to feel lousy. I’d leave feeling superficially better but also feeling as if I’d moved 2 steps backwards. I soon realized that I’d have to get divorce support elsewhere.

Before you chuck up this well-meaning lot, remember that although they’re trying hard, they’re just not equipped or trained to help you. Society has conditioned them to deal with loss in a particular way. It’s not their fault. They love you very much and they hate to see you suffering. They’ll try to take the pain away and will do whatever they can in the moment to achieve this.

Here are some points to bear in mind about some of your friends and family (you’ll probably recognize some of these points):

They are afraid of our feelings

It’s not popular in today’s society to express negative emotions in public. This represents being ‘out of control’ and can be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Friends and family may feel uncomfortable when we express strong emotions. Expect comments like:

  • “You can’t fall apart.”
  • “Be strong for the children.”
  • “Keep a stiff upper lip.”

These are attempts to take the pain away, moving you ‘out of’ your emotions and intellectualizing your experience. You’re left with a sense that it’s not safe to display your emotions. This is unhelpful and damaging to your overall healing. Remember that in our society we’re taught that emotions are unpredictable, feared and need to be controlled.

They offer intellectual theories and want us to stay positive

Common intellectualizations include:

  • “Thank goodness this happened before you had children.”
  • “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
  • “You’ll find someone else.”
  • “There’s someone special out there for you.”
  • “It’s better to have loved and lost than not loved at all.”
  • “Be grateful you were married and knew love once.”
  • “Now you are free to relive your teenage dreams of being single.”

These are awful platitudes designed to make you feel better. But they don’t! Intellectualizing the situation will not encourage your healing.
They have no idea what to say, so they change the subject or pretend to not hear.

When I was young I attended my best friend’s mum’s funeral. I felt so awkward. I was standing next to my friend, both of us in black and her face was a picture of despair and grief. We’d been playing dolls a week earlier and now I had no idea what to say. I stared at my shoes. I couldn’t wait to get out of the church and away from the coffin and her pain. I looked at her and cracked a joke, trying to lighten the atmosphere. She didn’t look up. She simply turned and walked away.
You’ve probably experienced this with one or 2 of your friends. When you talk about your divorce, they change the subject or, pretend not to hear you, or crack a joke. They do this because they love you, they want to make things better for you, but they have no idea what to do.
Understand their ineptitude!

They don’t want to talk about divorce

After a while you’ll realize that some of your friends and family simply don’t want to talk about your divorce and will encourage you to do things to ‘get over it’ so that hanging out with you is fun again.
The bottom line is: You need to talk. You need to be heard. You do not need fixing. There is nothing wrong with you or the fact that you’re emotional or struggling.

They are afraid of ‘catching’ this disease called divorce

I remember coming home after a night out with a girlfriend, feeling awful and deflated, like an insect that had been squashed and scraped across a pavement.

I had just recounted my divorce story (OK, it was the second time) but halfway through, she looked out the window, absorbed in her own world. I was shocked. Had I said something wrong? Was I boring her? Was she disinterested?
She then changed the subject.

While I sat listening to her rattling on about her cat, the conversation in my head went something like this:

  • It’s OK for everyone that I feel the pain, but I cannot appear to be floundering
  • I am expected to discuss the divorce with my friends only once (don’t overdo it as no one wants to hang around with a basket case).
  • I mustn’t mope around because it’s not ‘healthy’. It also makes people feel awkward.
  • But while falling apart I can’t seem ‘too happy’ either. That would brand me as ‘insensitive’ or ‘immature’.

I realized that I was alone in my divorce. I had ‘caught the disease’ called divorce and this made me persona non grata.
When I mentioned my ex husband’s indiscretions, I knew she was wondering about her own husband. I could see that all she wanted to do was go home to check that they were OK. (Months later she admitted this was the case.) I excused myself and gave her the opportunity to do that.
Friends are fantastic, but all have their own lives and issues. I was the only one that could help me.

I know my friend felt awkward. She wanted to help but didn’t know what to say. I remember the same feelings of inadequacy at my friend’s mother’s funeral.

Here are some common phrases that my clients have told themselves in the past or have heard others say:

Give your family and friends a ‘Weirdness Pass’

Give the people in your life a Weirdness Pass. This is a ticket allowing them to say weird or inappropriate things while you’re dealing with your divorce.

They don’t know any better and no one trained them how to deal with the situation.

NOTE: Remember not to take on board anything that they say. Remain aware of what they are saying, and of the myths and possible generalizations in their comments, to guard against becoming enrolled in their intellectualizations.

Till next time

Lots of hugs!