Relative Evolutions - Evolve, Don't Dissolve
Sep 19, 2016 - divorce    No Comments

I Thought It Was Love…

Time for love

Time for love

I thought it was love. In the moment, I was sure of it.

Time stood still as I fantasized about the two of us on the couch, on the beach and in the bathtub. It was a glorious vision that filled me with warmth and contentment. Gently, I reached out to caress the shiny cover of the book that beckoned to me. It seemed to be gleaming with sparkles of divinity. I held it and flipped through the pages, captivated by the words that kissed my gaze.

I must have this, I thought.

I pulled it closer and began to pivot toward the cashier who’d been waiting for me to pay for the cacao powder I’d placed between us. “And…” I started to speak as I turned the book over, but stopped with a sigh when I saw the price tag.

Confronted with the stark reality of the situation, I asked myself, Am I willing to pay that price?

I was not.

“No,” I said aloud as I returned the book to its display station. I turned back to the cashier and nodded toward the cacao powder. “Just this.”

“Good for you,” she told me. “Buy food. We have libraries full of books you can read.”

She was right, of course. I walked out of the store and contemplated the priorities in my life.

“Buy food,” the cashier had said.

Yes… food is important. And what is food? It’s not merely something to eat… it’s not entertainment…not a momentary gratification…real food is nourishment with a long-term payoff.

As I continued to meditate on the merits of physical, spiritual and emotional nourishment, I thought again about the shiny little book that I didn’t buy. I thought about the shelves in my house that are heavy with similar shiny books I haven’t read. And I recalled how much I thought I loved each one of those when I made the purchase.

(I loved them, yet never read them? Hmmm…. no long-term nourishment, there.)

I didn’t yearn to know them. I only wanted to possess them.

That wasn’t love. It was lust.

And what about the books I do truly love? Some sit on shelves in my home. Others don’t. Owning them is a convenience, but not a priority. Many times, I’ve purchased copies of my favorite titles only to give them away. Of the ones I’ve kept, many are worn ragged.

True love isn’t sparkly. It’s not intended for display. It doesn’t require acquisition and proprietorship. Love is not a contract.

Love requires the investment of time, not money. It’s about reading the book, not buying the book. Love intensifies between the covers. And, in some capacity, it lingers after the story ends.

I didn’t love the shiny little book at the health food store.

I do, to some degree, love my ex-husband.

 

 

 

 

 

Ex Loves …Why Don’t We Speak of Them?

Do you ever mention your ex loves? I’m asking because a few days ago, I witnessed the following exchange:

Husband (to a group of people):  Someone once threw me a surprise party…

Wife (with genuine curiosity):  Who was it that threw the party?

Husband (hesitates): it… well, that was a long time ago.

I assumed the party-thrower was an ex. In the moment, the group laughed and made jokes about the event happening in another era. The conversation moved forward without another glitch.

Later, I gave the scenario more thought. I wondered why the husband was so hesitant to speak the name of someone who once cared enough to plan a party in his honor. Would his wife have been upset because he loved someone else before they met?

ex loves

me… and an ex love from a previous millennium

I realize this man’s action/intention isn’t uncommon, but I don’t subscribe to the same ideal. If it’s pertinent to the current conversation, I don’t hesitate to speak the name of someone from my past. Why should I? Those I’ve known and loved continue to be a part of me. They put wrinkles in my brain, scars on my body and light in my eyes. How could I pretend those relationships didn’t happen? And why should anyone else?

But this issue isn’t all about me.

Beyond my own personal preference, I also think the practice of suppressing the past presents a barrier to healing after a divorce. The final stage in the Grief Process is Acceptance. Refusing to name ex loves is more an act of Denial (and that’s the first stage). Call me crazy, but I think we should all strive to say his/her name without shame, blame and pain.

Furthermore, failing to speak the Ex’s Name can create an acute hardship for children of divorced parents. How can a child feel secure in his family if his parents are trying to erase each other? Not to mention… a child is biologically comprised of both parents, so how can he feel self-confident when he must consistently deny a part of himself depending on which parent is present?

I get it:  Separation can suck. And people change. And 20/20 hindsight has a way of igniting some not-so-pleasant emotions when we think about days-gone-by. But ending a relationship isn’t about dissolving the past. It’s about evolving toward a new future. Naturally, as time goes by, memories of ex loves will fade into the distance, but they won’t disappear. And we shouldn’t attempt to eliminate them, because who we were holds the key to who we are.

 

 

 

Interview with Christina Vinters, J.D., Family Law Mediator

Pathways to Amicable Divorce

Pathways to Amicable Divorce

Earlier in the summer, I was delighted to learn about a new book about divorce. The book was called Pathways to Amicable Divorce, and it was written by Family Law Mediator, Christina Vinters. At the time, the book was being offered for free as part of a launch promotion, so I quickly clicked and added it to my digital library.

As you probably know, I’m highly passionate about productive, mindful, respectful (amicable) divorce processes. I’ve read a lot of books about divorce, and they can be a bit clinical (really boring), especially the how-to guides. But Pathways to Amicable Divorce was different. It was simple and succinct. Truly, an easy read.

Vinters begins by discussing the culture of divorce: traditionally, it’s an adversarial process that takes a long time and drains resources from families. She illustrates the cultural negativity, the “war” mentality and the jokes that serve to dehumanize the humans we once cherished. She also points to studies and statistics to show why adversarial divorces are detrimental to individuals and children. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As Vinters states, “You and your partner have the ability to shift your mindset from divorce as a combat at the cost of the family to divorce as a respectful re-structuring for the benefit of the family.” (Yes, yes, yes!!!  A benefit to the family. I love it!)

Deeper into the book, readers receive an overview of the process as well as lessons in cooperative alternatives. One thing I was delighted to see was the inclusion of “kitchen table negotiation” as a process for reaching an amicable agreement (Chapter 5). The number one key in having an amicable divorce is for exes to talk to each other, and encouraging them to connect one-on-one is priceless. After all, the relationship doesn’t end with a divorce decree. Coparents will have to communicate in some way for as long as they share children.

While I was hooked on the book from the beginning, the suggestion that STBXs speak to each other without a professional middleman impressed me to no end. Soon after I finished Pathways to Amicable Divorce, I asked Christina if she’d be willing to record an interview with me and she said yes. Check out our chat below to hear more about the book and Christina’s work as a mediator.

I’m grateful to Christina Vinters for sharing her wisdom with the masses. Her experience as an attorney, combined with her intentions as a human have come together in a easy-to-read, inspirational companion for healthy progress. And I was delighted to read, at the end of her book, that she’d made the choice to focus fully on productive processes instead of litigation. Countless families stand to benefit from her work.

Pathways to Amicable Divorce is available on Amazon. And you can learn more about Christina on her web site, VintersMediation.com.

Jul 26, 2016 - divorce, family, marriage, media    4 Comments

Author Interview with Lisa Thomson

Recently, I read The Great Escape:  A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage by Lisa Thomson. As you might have guessed by the title, The Great Escape provides a lot of hints and tips for women looking to start a new, unmarried, chapter of their lives. I found the book to be both relatable as well as informative.

Today, I’m excited to share an interview with Lisa Thomson. Let’s get to it…

Lisa, thanks for taking some time for an interview with Relative Evolutions. Your book, The Great Escape: A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage is the perfect blend of your own experience coupled with information about what to expect, vocabulary lessons and recommendations for relief. I think it’s a great companion piece for women navigating a separation. Before we dive in to the matter at hand, can you tell the readers of Relative Evolutions a little bit about yourself?

Lisa Thomson

Lisa Thomson

I was married for 18 years and was a stay at home mom after the birth of my daughter.  After my separation and trying to put my life back together, I returned to the University’s ‘Faculty of Extension’ and pursued a certificate in Residential Interiors. During that time I penned the self help guide, The Great Escape; A Girl’s Guide To Leaving A Marriage.  I live in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. I write for Divorced Moms and Huffington Post Divorce.  As well, I am currently editing my short story collection, The Icing On The Cake. The collection of stories explores relationships, love and loss. When I’m not writing I love to paint, go to yoga, enjoy wine and explore the beach with my Beau.

I’m also a fan of yoga and the beach! But let’s talk more about The Great Escape. At what point did you start writing the book? When you were in the trenches of your process, did you know you wanted to share your story?

Actually, it was in the middle of my divorce that I began writing ‘pieces’ and realized it could be a resource guide for women starting the process. I began taking excerpts from my journal as well and combining it with ‘tips’. I realized I wanted to share my story about 3 years into the process. I began with an outline and worked from there.

Prior to your divorce, you seemed to have the kind of lifestyle many people dream about. You had an abundance of luxury, comfort and convenience. What did you need that you weren’t receiving?

That’s a great question and the answer really speaks to the heart of the problem in my marriage. I was missing intimacy. I was missing full acceptance of who I am, the real me. I was missing love.

I think many of us can relate to that. I certainly experienced a lot of *feels* as I read the beginning of The Great Escape. As you moved forward, what was the hardest part of your divorce process?

The hardest part was co-parenting. I wasn’t prepared for the friction and games that were involved. I naively believed my ex and I could remain friends but what ensued was a kind of battle I hadn’t expected. That battle extended to our parenting time. It also brought out the worst in both of us. Secondly, I’d have to say the legal process of the divorce. It was protracted and complicated with some of the business issues that were involved.

What was the most rewarding thing that came from your divorce?

The most rewarding thing that came out of my divorce was my independence. It was my freedom to finally be myself and to live without constant scrutiny and criticism.

In the book, you talk about Parental Alienation, what’s the number one piece of advice you’d give a parent who’s been alienated from his/her children.

The Great Escape

The Great Escape: A Girl’s Guide To Leaving a Marriage, challenges the notion that women should stay in an unhappy marriage. The book takes the reader on a journey starting with taking stock of your marriage, to starting the process of divorce, to enduring the inevitable social changes.

My #1 piece of advice is to ‘never let go of your children’. It is very painful but the reality is that if you let go, then you risk a complete break. The only time I suggest letting go, is when you’re suffering so much that your health and happiness are jeopardized.

Your path through divorce was pretty rough. Can you share one or two little triumphs you experienced along the way? How did you find the motivation to keep going?

One of the triumphs was writing the book. In fact, it empowered me to get through some tough phases. My motivation came from the support of a few good friends and a good therapist. I also, eventually found the love and support of a good man (who I am still with today).

Has your experience changed your view of marriage?

Yes, indeed it has. It’s easy to ‘get married’ but very difficult to ‘get unmarried’. Even so, I think marriage is right for young people who want to start a family and are truly in love. I don’t feel it’s something I need to try again.

Because your ex worked for your family business, you experienced some unique conflicts as a result of the separation. What advice do you have for those who aren’t close to, or don’t have the full support of their family?

Find family where you are. Recognize the people in your life who are providing unconditional support and don’t ever take them for granted. It’s a rare human who is capable of that kind of love and support and they may not be blood related.

How’s your relationship with your ex and children now?

My relationship with my children is actually really healthy, strong and loving. We have overcome quite a bit of conflict together. The conflict hasn’t necessarily been between us but it has been around us—if that makes sense. We have grown through this together. We have an honest communication going but it’s not perfect. We are long distance and sometimes I fear I’m missing out on the daily grind with them. However, that said, we really make the best of our time together. They come visit and I go to them, plus we plan special trips together periodically. They are 21 and 23 now so have established their own lives. I’m certainly very proud of them.

I don’t have a relationship with my ex. If something comes up regarding the children we communicate through email.

When you began this journey, you were a full-time mother and wife. You’ve come a long way since then. How does it feel to let go a little and embrace yourself more fully?

It feels amazing. Honestly? That has been the best part of the divorce process, is embracing my authentic self. It’s a process though and not always an easy one. The difficulties and challenges are worth it though—the reward is living a more authentic life.

I couldn’t agree more about the rewards of living a more authentic life after divorce. I think that’s a benefit for all of us, whether children are involved or not. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Lisa!

 

The Great Escape:  A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage is available for purchase on Amazon. If you’d like to continue to follow Lisa as she learns, grows and evolves in her post-divorce life (I do!), her website is LisaThomsonLive.com. You can also check out the following social connection points:

Facebook:  The Great Escape:  A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage
Twitter: @lisalisathom
Tumbler: The great escape
Pinterst:  Lisa Thomson
YouTube:  Lisa Thomson

If you have a question or comment for Lisa, leave a comment 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

For a Child of Divorce, This Sucks

I say it often:  I love divorce. This stance comes mostly from my positive personal experience both as a child of divorced parents and an ex-wife. I’ve listened to plenty of conflicting opinions, and I’ve heard lots of horror stories. Still, I love divorce because I know it can be a solution for families in crisis.

It’s not often that I feel emotionally triggered around the topic. I frequently refer to my parents’ divorce and the benefits that came from it. I believe it was one of the best things to happen in my family. I think of myself as a well-adjusted adult who learned a lot from the experiences of my childhood. I never wished my parents would reconcile. I don’t feel damaged. I’m not devastated because my family doesn’t resemble some cookie-cutter image of what I’m supposed to believe a family is supposed to look like.

But, yesterday, I saw this:

IMG_8546

And I felt sad. It wasn’t my parents’ divorce, specifically, that precludes me from enjoying this idyllic fantasy. In fact, for several years of my adult life, the above scenario was my reality. I didn’t live at home anymore, but I still had a key. And I didn’t think twice about helping myself to a snack.

Then my mom moved away… and then she got married. She married a man who’d been part of her life, but not mine. They live in a small town I’d never heard of prior to their relationship. My mother’s house has never been my home. When I visit, I knock on the front door, because that’s what guests do.

It seems I hadn’t really thought about it until now. Before reading those words, I’d lived day after day, blissfully ignorant to any sense of loss. But… I guess divorce did, indirectly, leave a void in my life. I no longer have that same sense of home.

This bittersweet nostalgic longing isn’t going to change my opinion of divorce, of course. However, it might have made me a just a little bit softer.

 

 

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