Regarding divorce, no one can tell you what your next action will be. You will be venturing into unexplored territory. If you are in a toxic relationship, or out of one, will you do everything you can possibly think of to press forward? Sinking into debilitating depression, sadness, or anger, isn’t a conscious choice people make. It happens to them. You have to stumble upon a way out.

Think of, “Under the Tuscan Sun (the movie),” when the character of Frances says, “Do you know the most surprising thing about divorce? It doesn’t actually kill you. Like a bullet to the heart or a head-on car wreck. It should. When someone you’ve promised to cherish till death do you part says “I never loved you,” it should kill you instantly. You shouldn’t have to wake up day after day after that, trying to understand how in the world you didn’t know. The light just never went on, you know. I must have known, of course, but I was too scared to see the truth. Then fear just makes you so stupid.”

Not everyone dealing with stress and conflict in their relationships, opts for divorce or separation. It depends on the relationship, situation, and the resiliency of the two people involved. Many couples go through difficult phases, resulting in dysfunction, frustration, and disengagement, but are able to mend and heal. Many others have made the journey to lead separate lives from former spouses. It is one of the most difficult decisions you will make. Divorce can cause one of the most profound levels of stress and anxiety. If children are involved, they will often feel responsible, frightened, and wish for a reuniting between the parents, while at the same time feel relieved that the fighting and conflict between their parents has ceased. They will experience grief and bereavement as if there was an actual death in the family. There is tremendous loss and suffering that all family members feel.
It is your body that remembers this trauma, your mind will try to forget, but it is your future life that you must reinvest in. To be a single parent is one of the most difficult endeavors I’ve ever witnessed. At times, you are father and mother rolled into one, a multiple personality.
Some suggestions are:
1. Attend to your physical health. Lose weight, gain muscle, feel strong. Find physical activities that match your interests, or you won’t continue to do them.
2. Bond with children, or other important people in your life.
3. Volunteer your time, someone out there needs your attention, if you have it to give.
4. Find a traveling buddy, and seek new vistas, find the beauty in life, even if you
never leave town.
5. Develop a new positive, life affirming habit, such as a hobby, a hidden talent.
6. Cook for others. Create a feast for yourself and loved ones. Make it a nurturing event for all, including yourself. You don’t have to spend a lot, just get engaged in the moment.

Find that balance, mentally and spiritually, that allows you to develop inner calm and serenity. Break out of the triangulating pattern of victim, perpetrator, and survivor. Flourish, and defy negative, angry monsters that you fear, real or imagined; live the good life. As you carry on, time has a healing effect. Develop the ability to take a compliment.

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Thoughts on Relationships

It’s time to get out in the air. You have to be selfish about
air, you know, breathe deep. Drink a lot of water too. Air
and water, food, and shelter, are essential components to life.
Relationships add that thrill to the ride. You might be longing
for that thrill or you might be involved with someone already,
looking to get that thrill back. Perhaps you’ve reached the
three year stalemate, when your partner begins to have a
certain tarnish, and has lost that golden glow they once had.
Relationships are hard work. A long term relationship needs
attention, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Reaching
three years is now the equivalent to the “seven year itch”
it used to take for couples to start getting tired of each
other. Now is the time you have to set the stage for the
passion that spontaneously occurred between the two
of you in the beginning of the relationship. That means
putting down your electronics, iphone, ipod, laptop, or
other assorted electronics, and look your love in the eyes.

It could be a matter of timing. Timing is essential to love.
It could be the right time, “all systems go,” but that person
isn’t perfect, mannerly enough, or beautiful, and you
count them out. How many chances do you get
when it comes to love? How many lives do you
have to live? Life is short, and you have limited
time. Many answers you will find regarding your
relationship look the same, it’s like not being able
to see the forest thru the trees. You can lose your
sense of direction, get hung up on specific problems,
and sit in a lumpish state of frustration. Not finding
your sense of timing throws you off again, it’s like
having brain freeze, and life doesn’t make sense, nor
does your partner who you have been fighting with.
Too much time spent on arguing about the little
things, leaves you hurrying to address the bigger
picture, the subjects you fear. Address fearful topics
with care, but don’t avoid them. Time will grind you
down, leaping forward would be a better risk worth
taking. Run across the field to your love.

“You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love;
the running across fields into your lover’s arms can only
come later when you’re sure they won’t laugh if you trip.”
Jonathan Carroll “Outside The Dog Museum”

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Teen Life and Pressures

There is much to be said about surviving adolescence. What is going on in the lives of our preteens, and teens?  There are huge pressures on teens today, as in the issues of pairing up, boyfriend/girlfriend drama, drama between friends, sexting, fighting, bullying, suicide, cutting, depersonalization, and being disconnected from a community. Living in an age of technological advances has disadvantages, the practicing of social skills has changed. Now teens rely on skyping, texting, facebooking, and chatting online to have contact with others. Face-to-face socializing has decreased. As good as it is, the current school curriculum can’t address all the concerns that our youth have today. There are huge pressures, budget cuts, community and political support issues on the schools themselves. Teens today have schedules that are crammed, academics are more challenging and competitive than they used to be. Sure there are relief counselors, and support counselors on school site, but is this enough? Are the counselors themselves utilized well? One counselor is responsible for so many teens its astounding.  What about those teens who want to talk, but can’t, due to peer pressure, family issues, or overwhelming fear? The pyramid structure (the “populars” at the top, of course) of our society is still rigid, and there is a general lack of empathy running through our youth. Practicing the reduction of negative expressed emotion, identifying your feelings, becoming sensitized to your mood and its effect on others, is not valued.

Life is complicated. It isn’t as simple as saying technology gets in the way. On the more serious side, this year, there was a teen suicide that affected many young people and adults, and had ripple effects on the lives of others.  Some of those effects possibly will remain unknown to others, because it is so painful to discuss. I know this much, it is held inside those who were affected for the rest of their lives. There is a lot of bravado going on, avoidance, and denial. Many teens were those people who were affected, they needed to verbalize their confusion, sadness, and anger, and sort through the feelings they experienced. There were two other suicides in the area, three years before, the after effects of these devastating deaths seem to have gone underground. 

This is a town like many, that doesn’t know how to address the needs of those who fall between the cracks, and are floundering under the pressure that falls on their shoulders. There are teens here, struggling to find a place in the world, and some are teetering in a death defying balancing act.  Pride can get in the way of addressing what isn’t working in the community. After all, it’s a nice place to live. However, I’m sure that most teens would definitely suggest that more could be going on here in terms of activities, and finding appropriate outlets for youthful energy. A teen found dead, full of drugs, and nobody really talks about it, accidents in cars that result in death, tragedies happening before our children’s eyes.  I am seeing more teens in my practice with depression, more social anxiety, and more bipolar disorder. Yes, I understand that distress is part of our living, but what about the public discussion and exploration of these very profound traumas, and life changing events? 

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