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Every person in the family is affected by domestic violence. It starts with ideas like, I don’t deserve to be treated like that, and escalates to “I wish he would die” and finally the police may be involved.
When two people get together they don’t even imagine themselves being embroiled in a bitter custody battle, or incarcerated for laying hands on each other. Unfortunately, the best plans of newly coupled parents get set aside as the day to day irritations arise.
I just returned from a workshop sponsored by the Supervised Visitation Network. Domestic Violence and how to work with families in supervised visits was presented. The difficult position of the monitor, who must work with someone who may have been physically assaulted and then work with the “assaulter” and their child in visits can be a daunting experience. Not taking sides after hearing both stories is important for…

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From Parenting Solo- Chapter 15

15

Park Your Anger at the Curb

When anger rises, think of the consequences. -Confucius

 

This handy tool called Letting Go of Resentments is a wise activity for everyone, even those who are not divorced. When we let go, we make room for better thoughts and feelings and can anticipate a happier life ahead.

People will cheat, people will lie, and people will act on bad habits, which interfere with a healthy relationship. The other person’s “stuff” does not have to become your anguish. The solution is to let go of the hot rock of resentment and you will be free.

Most people don’t like to admit they are angry. Ticked, annoyed, stressed out, or a little upset maybe, but not angry. Most of us in the helping professions understand that when you repress or minimize your anger, because it’s such anegative emotion. The point is this: if you got dumped or you had to leave someone and be on your own, then of course you are angry.

Anger is a normal emotion attached to not having your dreams come true. Your expectations that life would go smoothly after marriage crashed and burned and you are angry that you couldn’t make things happen the way you wished. The angry and resentful person says, “If only he would have–”; “If only she could have–”. These words are frequently heard coming from separated people.

People agonize forever before they leave relationships, but the bottom line is they aren’t happy in the relationship, and no matter what they tried, it didn’t work. So they left. When someone leaves you, it wasn’t about you personally; your partner would have left no matter what person they were with, because they just weren’t satisfied with the status quo.

It might help you to know that some people are always a little dissatisfied. Life is always a little off for them and until they can find peace within themselves, life will always be uncomfortable. Perhaps you happened to be there when the dissatisfaction hit its lowest point. That is not to say that you didn’t have anything to do with the ending of the relationship. What you can understand is that if you were left, it is more about the other person’s dreams and less about you.

This story is a story of anger adjustment:

Doug had no idea Kim was seeing another man. He worked at his job conscientiously and was known for his helpfulness to his clients. All of Doug’s neighbors thought he was a nice guy. He was friendly and helpful to the neighbors and to Kim’s family too. He didn’t drink or smoke and attended their church regularly. He was also the disciplinarian in the family. He made sure the kids memorized their Bible verses and, when necessary, did the spanking when he got home from work.

His son Matt and daughter Anna got good grades and obeyed their parents. Anna, eight, and Matt, five, did not want to disappoint their parents. They did what their father wanted them to do. Doug’s soft-spoken manner belied the control he exercised over the family, and it was this control that caused Kim to want to escape for years. Deep inside, the children feared making mistakes because their father would suddenly yell and get mad.

Kim was a very attractive woman who began her affair with a man at work, at first only having casual conversations about the business. Their talks became more intimate and she discovered she liked the attention he gave her. He was a guy who was fun to be with and liked to party. Kim had given up her party lifestyle when she married Doug and was beginning to feel stifled and alone in her marriage. She had known for a long time that something was wrong with the marriage, but she was frustrated that she couldn’t put her finger on what kept their relationship from developing any deeper. She blamed it on the business of the kid’s activities and the many hours the family spent in church.

Kim didn’t know that Doug had religious addiction. He was obsessed with the Bible, scripture and was getting into a very deep cult of people who were very rigid in their beliefs. They told him his wife was not equally yoked with him because she didn’t embrace his religious beliefs. His online activities were carefully hidden in his office upstairs, where he locked himself for hours on end, presumably to do work. While Kim was getting her social needs met at work, she wasn’t aware of Doug’s involvement. Which came first? It didn’t matter; both mom and dad were withholding truth from one another.

When the truth came out, Kim was done. She had put up with his strictness with the children, but she could no longer live with someone who lied all the time. She was devastated because she had hung in there while feeling left out of Doug’s life for so many years. She was angry and couldn’t look at Doug without feeling disgust. Her intense anger was fueled by her friends, who would listen to her talk about her ex with loathing, but all the while, she never told her friends about her special relationship with the man at work.

The rage she felt for his dishonesty and aloofness flared every time she would talk to Doug. The name-calling and screaming escalated, despite that they had previously handled their divorce fairly well. The friction went on for months and years, until the children were in high school.

Finally, Kim decided to talk to a professional. Kim found that her part in the ongoing anger game was her inability to let go of resentments that were her own replays of prior hurts. She noticed that many of her thoughts had to do with things that had happened years ago. With the help of the professional, she decided to let go and stop reminding herself of what Doug had done in the past. The history she was replaying in her head was keeping her from enjoying the day she was in. The gift of the present became her motto. No more morbid sagas of hurt and sadness for Kim.

Kim also addressed the fact that she had had secrets herself. She came clean with her therapist, and was able to have a more balanced perspective on the marriage, which had long ago dissolved.

Meanwhile, those great kids of hers were reacting to their parents’ covert anger by being deceitful and sneaky in ways the parents didn’t understand. It wasn’t until the parents got in touch with the way they were dealing with their own anger with each other–being retaliatory, acting from their secrets and built up resentments–that they were able to pinpoint where their children’s anger came from. They had been watching the king and queen of withholding information and harboring resentments, and finally saw its effects on their children.

Kim’s journey of self-examination and learning new tools for change included having projects that kept her so busy that most days Doug wasn’t even on her mind.

Holding on to a grudge hurts most the person who is remembering; it is not remembered with that same intensity at all by the one who did the hurting, but it is important to reflect on the effect holding grudges can have on children.

TOOLKIT ACTIVITIES

Write down some of the old hurts you carry from the divorce.

Then ask yourself the following important questions:

1. How does it feel to remind yourself of the old hurts?

2. If you were to stop reminding yourself of the old hurts, what do you think you would do instead?

3. Are you telling yourself to let go?

4. Can you change the past?

5. Are you still worried that your ex’s behavior is impacting your child?

6. Have you talked to your child’s parent about the issue?

7. Does your child have a way to reach you in an emergency?

AFFIRMATION

Just for today I will let old angers surface and try to let them float past me, like cans in a river. I will not hold on to old angers, and I will refuse to replay old memories that show I was a victim. Today I am no longer a victim, and I stand up for myself. I have good boundaries in my life. Today I will breathe in fresh thoughts and be grateful for my life as it is this moment.

 

 

 

Domestic violence is a Family Affair

Every person in the family is affected by domestic violence. It starts with ideas like, I don’t deserve to be treated like that, and escalates to “I wish he would die” and finally the police may be involved.
When two people get together they don’t even imagine themselves being embroiled in a bitter custody battle, or incarcerated for laying hands on each other. Unfortunately, the best plans of newly coupled parents get set aside as the day to day irritations arise.
I just returned from a workshop sponsored by the Supervised Visitation Network. Domestic Violence and how to work with families in supervised visits was presented. The difficult position of the monitor, who must work with someone who may have been physically assaulted and then work with the “assaulter” and their child in visits can be a daunting experience. Not taking sides after hearing both stories is important for the monitor as they navigate between custodial parent and visiting parent. The pain in the eyes of each parent is seen, for entirely different reasons.
The one parent, who may have even spent a few nights in jail for the assault, is now having to schedule visits with their flesh and blood. This is the child who they helped cut the umbilical cord, or walked the floors with at night. This is the child that, up until a couple of weeks ago, jumped into the car when dad picked them up from school or daycare. The visiting parent is still reeling from the shock of having his child in a “System” that tells him he must attend services to work on his violence and visit his child while someone else watches. It doesn’t seem fair.
Turn the page and see the frightened escaped survivor, who has finally left a really abusive situation and watch while she has to hand off her bring her precious child to visit with the man who shoved her down the stairs! She stares in disbelief that anyone would make her drag her child to see such a human being. No, it doesn’t seem fair.
Violence is something we see in the streets, we hear violent words spoken in congress and the house, with finger pointing and blaming going on day after day as we innocent voters look on. Can you relate to those children who must pick sides or try to comfort a parent when they might not have even seen the violence, only the aftermath?
As an advocate for peaceful transitions for families, I hope we can all see that little violent words and a few misdirected facial or hand gestures can escalate our fellow man, and be on the side of safety for all mothers, fathers and children in our country.

Care Packages by Mary O’Connor

When I was a little girl, with five kids in our family, our relatives and friends would give us their hand me downs, good ones! We were thrilled when my mom announced a friend had given her a care package for us to go through and see if we wanted anything. I loved all the stuff that family handed down!

At that time CARE was a world service organization that was sending packages to the poor in other countries. Since we were semi poor in this country, we were grateful to get our CARE packages.

When I became a mother with five kids, I was lucky to have some friends myself who helped out with the clothes shortage at times. I would even shop at garage sales to pick up extra jackets.

Fast forward to today, I also see my daughters handing down gently used grown out of clothes to their other sisters with smaller children. This lovely caring gesture warms my heart.

I would like to pass on this care package. My vision of unconditional spiritual love that I picked up over the years in my church and support groups.  You may have whatever parts of this wonderful spirit that you like and leave the rest, just like our Thanksgiving dinner.

This spirit, which is somewhere inside of you in your brain, is loving you so much and is so kind. This loving spirit doesn’t forgive, because you are perfect to the spirit. It’s your own dark alley in your head that wants to remind you often of your shame, guilt and critical thoughts. These thoughts keep you at times in a dark place and stop you from forgiving yourself.

Think about how lovely it would be to receive a care package of the spirit of unconditional love today. Wear it and remember, it’s been slightly used!

The frustrating days of summer

When kids are home and don’t have anything to do, they look to their parents for direction

Music, dancing,

Never underestimate the wonderful impact of music in your life. Play the music you love, sing it or dance to it, it will get your mind in a different place. Worries go away, and you breathe more deeply.

Give way to music and let the songs fill you up. You can always get back to worrying later. Right now I’m listening to the Fenians and lovin’ it!
Having my own private party!

You can fine them on Pandora Radio!

Come on in

ImageProbably the most courageous action that people take is to ask for help. Your child seems out of control, your marriage seems to be teetering on the brink of destruction, or you don’t feel like doing anything and you seem to have lost your motivation. Whatever the reason, counseling with another person can relieve some of the stress you are going through, handling things alone. Our sliding scale services are just that; depending on your income, you pay what you can afford, based on our scale. This is a big deal, coming in and talking to a professional about your private concerns, and we are here to listen and help you sort out the problems. Give us a quick call and we will set you up with a professional who cares.

We offer the discounted services because our therapists are in training for their MFT license and gaining more experience toward that license. The therapists are supervised by seasoned licensed therapists who work collaboratively with the counselor to provide the best service possible for you.

 

Everyday Victimhood

Most of us don’t realize it when we crossed the line from self sufficient to dependent, from self assured to insecurity, from self respected to feeling victimized. Sometimes it was getting into a relationship with someone who was indifferent to our needs or wants. Sometimes it was getting involved with someone who wanted to control us. And sometimes it was just taking a class where the teacher was using her power to be demeaning and critical. Whenever the change took place, you might have started believing the lie that you didn’t matter, that if only you tried harder you could make that person love you, or that the teacher was probably right, you are stupid.
Resigning from Victimhood.
It only takes some brain power to begin a positive self talk program that recognizes your worth as a human being and gives you the courage to push against those negative forces that try to bring you down.
A harsh remark, a sour look, or a sigh could be the trigger that, in the past would send you to a world of hurt.
When you resign from victimhood, you act like a duck and let it roll off your back. Shake it off and keep going. You are worth a world of self respect.
If you want self respect, it is alway helpful to give respect. Respecting yourself could come in the form of staying away from people you know will be rude or unkind to you.

14 Days in Ireland – Day 4: Slieve Donard Overlook (again), Tea with Violet, Cushendall, Cushendun, Torr Head, and Dunluce Castle

14 Days in Ireland – Day 4: Slieve Donard Overlook (again), Tea with Violet, Cushendall, Cushendun, Torr Head, and Dunluce Castle.

If you want to get away from it all, enjoy!

Tired Single Parent Syndrome

Too many single parents have the always tired feeling. No wonder, you do so much! It isn’t your imagination, you are bone weary because you are trying very hard to get it all done and don’t have that extra helping hand. You juggle so many details every day, and it can sometimes be overwhelming. Now that school is starting, you have even more appointments, and yet at the end of the day, you will have gotten it all done.

Give yourself an atta girl or atta boy for all the many things you do as a single parent. If you are waiting for your kids to appreciate your full plate, you may be waiting until your hair is grey! Do yourself a favor and after work, and a minute listening to kids’ day, sit in a quiet place and just veg for at least one half hour. If your vegging is to take a walk, then do that, but you have to have some fill up time. I read a mediation book to quiet my mind. Some people watch the cooking channel! Whatever you need to fill up, do it without guilt. You will always be there for your kids, but if you don’t put that oxygen mask on first, you will have a too run down parent on your hands, and that’s not good.

Many single parents who are in a relationship don’t want to bother the other adult in the house because it isn’t their kid. They feel they must take on all the responsibility, for fear they will overwhelm, bother or burden the other person. Why don’t you ask and see?

I’m in your corner. I am your best cheer leader. You are an amazing parent. Now you just have to realize that yourself!

Talk to you soon…