Tag Archives: relationships

7 Ways To Support Loved Ones Going Through Separation/ Divorce

Separation/ divorce is a period of great life upheaval and emotional turmoil. It’s heartbreaking to watch loved ones suffer through it, and it can be stressful trying to figure out how you can help, and what you should or should not say or do. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. The best way to help your loved ones is actually pretty simple: it all boils down to empathy.

7 Ways To Support Loved Ones Going Through Separation/ Divorce:

1.) Realize You Don’t  Have To Choose A Side:

It takes two people to make a relationship, and it also takes two people to cause a relationship to end.  Whatever the story may appear to be from the outside looking in, chances are the reality is much different. You truly never know, nor do you need to. The details of everything really aren’t your business. Being a supportive friend is your business though. If you loved both spouses before their split, it’s okay to love them both after. Losing a husband/ wife is painful enough, they really don’t need, or deserve to lose their friends too.

2.) Let It Be All About Them:

When experiencing great life upheaval and loss, what a person needs more than anything else is to be heard. To tell their story to a fully engrossed, empathetic, nonjudgemental listener. A listener who keeps the story focused on their friend, without constant interruption, or interjections of anecdotes of their own relationship troubles. This can be tough to do, but if you are able to do it, you will be giving your loved one a rare gift indeed.

3.) Try Not To Take Their Distance Personally:

If your loved one withdraws during their time of separation and loss, please try not to take it personally. Perhaps seeing you would cause them too many emotions they aren’t ready to face just yet.  Perhaps most of the time spent with you in the past was with their spouse, and the memories are still too raw and painful. Whatever the reason, if your loved one seems to be avoiding you, they probably are doing it to protect themselves during an extremely vulnerable time.  They still love you. They still think of you often. They still need you, and they will come around in time, I promise. Please just be patient and give them that time.

4.) Remember Every Situation Is Unique:

When confiding in someone, nothing is worse than being met with a “been there, done that” sort of attitude. Yes, hearts have been breaking since humans first walked the earth. Yes, separation/divorce has happened millions of times before, maybe even to you. This is the first time it is happening to your loved one though. Every headache, every heartache is very unique to them.  Please be sure to dignify their experience, to honour their feelings, rather than diminish them by reminding them how common their situation is. Your loved one is aware they are not the only person to ever go through this. Reminding them is unnecessary, and sure doesn’t make them hurt any less. Please honour their feelings. Treat their suffering as something as individual as they are, rather than with stereotypes and generalizations.

5.) Remember They Are Mourning A Loss As Real As Death:

Experiencing separation/divorce is very similar to experiencing a death. It’s death of day to day life as you know it. It’s death of a future you had planned and taken comfort in. It’s loss of arms that held you, a partner you thought would be there unconditionally. It’s loss of materials, family members, time with children, family traditions and inside jokes. Years of once pleasant memories become torturous. A social status you took pride and comfort in vanishes, and is replaced with potential judgement and loneliness.  Despite separation / divorce being a choice, it’s still a huge loss that causes very real grief. The fact that it’s a choice can also make it even harder, when feelings of guilt and self doubt creep in.  Help your loved one by acknowledging how huge heir suffering is. What they are going through is a really big deal.  As serious as death is. Remind them of this, and offer your sympathy often.

6.) Offer Advice Only When It’s Requested:

If your loved one is looking for advice during their separation/ divorce, they will ask for it. Even then, it’s very likely they won’t do what you say, unless deep down they have already made the decision to do it on their own anyway. Giving unsolicited advice (unless of course, you feel their safety is at risk) to your loved one during a time of such turmoil is likely to make them feel misunderstood and disrespected. Instead, you can encourage them when you think they are doing the right thing, and be there to offer a hug when they realize they have made (very importantly, their own) mistakes, which will teach them far deeper life lessons than following your advice ever could.

7.) Give An Abundance Of Encouragement and Praise:

It’s very easy for those going through separation/ divorce to feel like they have failed somehow. Remind your loved one that the real failure would have been to continue on living life feeling miserable, resentful and hopeless. To admit something just can’t work any more, and resolve to make extremely difficult changes in the hope of long term happiness is very brave. To face the emotional and financial consequences of separation, and dive all alone  into a new life that is completely unknown takes guts. Never stop reminding your loved one of this. They have not failed. They have taken control of the one life they get to live on this earth. They are carving a new path. Praise and encourage your loved one every step of the way. Be their greatest fan. Most importantly, be you. Their life has completely transformed. That doesn’t mean your relationship with them has to.

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Thank you for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk

The Thing About Grief

It’s a deep, twisting, vertical cave, and you cling somewhere to the side of it. The Rock is slimy, cold, covered with a residue of something quite foul. You are frozen, unable to climb up toward the light.

You can hear them calling you from the light at the top of the cave. You rest your cheek for just a minute against the icy rock. You despise it here. You wish you could feel their love, and that it could save you. You wish you actually wanted to live, for them. But right now, all you want is to let go of that jagged rock, and be free. You are desperate to stop hurting. You didn’t know this type of torture was even possible.

The thing about grief, is that it can be caused by many different things:

Death of someone you love, care for, admire.

Loss of a beloved pet.

Loss of a close friendship.

Loss of/ ending of a career that gave you a deep sense of purpose.

Loss of a romantic relationship.

The end of a marriage.

A parent leaving.

The ending of a dream, vision you had of the way your life would be.

Loss of your life as you know it, as you are comfortable with, as you have come to depend on.

Love and care in any form that you had once relied on, suddenly taken away.

Those things all cause grief.

And the thing about grief, is there is absolutely nothing that can be done to make it go away. Grief is awful beyond belief. Period.

You have to feel it, in all it’s miserable, hellish agony, before you can even begin to think about healing. That means for a certain length of time, you will exist without joy, without a sense of hope, without anything except your will to keep clinging to the inside of that cave.

And that is okay.

Don’t you dare put on a fake smile to make others feel comfortable.  Don’t you dare pretend you are okay. Don’t you dare let anyone tell you “it could be worse.” Don’t you dare let anyone tell you to “be strong.”

Because, my dear, the very fact that you still live, enduring the hell on the inside of that cave, clinging despite your stiff, tired hands, and exhausted heart. ……..that, my dear, proves you are very, very strong.

As you exist, feeling ill, exhausted, angry, full of sorrow on the side of that cave, take comfort in the fact that you are strong. Yes, you feel helpless, because pretty much, that’s exactly what you are. Helpless. Unable to gain back what you have lost. Unable to escape your pain, except during sleep, if you are lucky.

It sucks very, very badly. It probably will for a long time. The last thing you want to hear is some hopefull, flowery quote telling you to think positive and it will be okay in the end. So I won’t do that.

But I am going to say that one day (when you are ready and not one moment sooner,) you will remember that you are alive, and that your life belongs to you. You could not control the devastating loss you have suffered, but you can control what you do with the life that still exists within you.  It is your life that those voices coming from the light at the top of the cave are calling for. Over time, those voices will get stronger, and that light will get brighter, because you will have started your careful climb upward.

An important part of your heart, of who you are, has died. The suffering you have endured is indescribable, and you deserve every ounce of sympathy you receive.

But, you have not died. You still live. You have full control over what you do with the days you have left on this Earth. I really hope you choose to (eventually) have some fun, find a new purpose, and love again. You deserve love. And just because you have lost love in the past, does not mean you will lose it again.

The thing about grief is, the reason it hurts so badly is that at one time you had something very, very special. At one time, you had something that made your soul happy. Try to remember that. And keep gripping to the side of that cave.

 

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Thanks for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk

10 Ways To Repair An Injured Self Esteem

If you suffer mental illness, chances are pretty high that you also battle low self esteem. Self esteem is very hard to change.  It sure isn’t a matter of waking up one morning and deciding to love yourself. It takes a lot of conscious effort and perseverance, but it can be improved. Whether your self esteem has been damaged by traumatic life experience, a less than stellar upbringing, or the wear and tear of physical or mental illness, here are 10 things worth trying to help repair your injured self esteem.

 

1.) Spend Time Doing Things You Love: 

Doing what you love automatically makes you happy, which helps you feel better about everything, including yourself. The things you love doing are likely also the things you are good at. Be brave, and choose hobbies and work with your heart. You get one chance at this thing called life. You might as well spend it doing what you love, and being awesome at it.

2.) Use Social Media Wisely:

Participating in groups, making plans with friends, keeping in touch with loved ones are all positive ways social media can affect self esteem. Comparing your posts to others’ , or depending on a certain number of “likes” of your selfie or status update to feel good about yourself, or spending so much time on social media that you aren’t meeting your responsibilities, might not be so great.  When you log off of Facebook, ask yourself honestly if the time you just spent put your heart at ease, or made you feel low. Then adjust your habits accordingly. (Easier said than done, I know. But try! Try hard. You are worth it.)

3.) Help Others:

It’s hard not to feel good when your actions have improved someone else’s day/week/life. Just make sure the helping you do is on your own terms, and not the result of someone guilting/ pressuring/ taking advantage of you. The important thing here, is the acts of kindness you practice must be for people who will appreciate it, and done because you just really felt like doing it.

4.) Throw Negative Thoughts In The River:

If your self esteem is low, there are probably a lot of negative thoughts running through your head at any moment. When you catch them happening, visualize yourself physically taking those thoughts and throwing them into a fast flowing river. Picture them flowing far away from you, down the river. It might sound silly, but with practice this technique can become an effective tool to help fight the negative thoughts that torture you when your self esteem is low.

5.) List Evidence For/ Against:

If the river thing doesn’t work for you, try confronting negative thoughts head on, with logic. Maybe you think nobody likes you. Write that thought down. Then, list all of the evidence you have in favour of that statement, and all of the evidence against it. Think of everything! This should help you see that your negative self talk is not accurate, or logical.

6.) End Toxic Relationships:

This can be a tough one, but it’s vital for self esteem.  If you dread interacting with someone, if they put you on edge, if they treat you unfairly (directly or passively) the relationship is toxic, and you must get away from it. This takes a lot of courage, but if you can manage to let the person go, you will feel free and empowered.  Remove them from Facebook, delete their phone number from your phone. Walk away, and don’t look back. You NEVER have to entertain someone who brings you down. Cut that crap out of your life.

7.) Nurture Positive Relationships:

If someone makes you feel cared for, respected, listened to, important, hold on to them and never let them go.  Whether it’s a family member, friend or romantic partner, take time to show the people who make your life better that you care. Remind them how thankful you are for the things they do. And of course, spend quality time with them whenever you can.

8.) Take Care Of You:

It’s tough to feel good about yourself if you haven’t showered in a few days, or your toenails are an inch long. Eating nothing but chips and ice cream for 3 days is also not ideal for self esteem. Care for yourself as you would a newborn baby. Keep yourself clean, hydrated, nourished with healthy food. Make your environment comfortable and soothing. Moisturize your skin and floss your teeth. It takes effort, but the energy you put into caring for yourself is so worth it, because it comes out as improved self esteem.

9.) Forgive Yourself:

its way easier to say it than to do it, but you have got to move past your regrets and mistakes if you are ever going to have healthy self esteem. Admit to yourself that you messed up. Take whatever steps you can to correct things, then LET IT GO.  Promise yourself to learn from the experience, then leave it in the past. Agonizing over what you should have done, putting yourself down for wrongdoing is like poison to your heart. Forgive yourself. Yes, you have flaws, but so does everyone. You are worthy of forgiveness. You are worthy of love.

10.) Follow Your Heart:

If you suffer low self esteem, you likely try hard to make other people happy, at your own expense. Continually putting your needs and desires below someone else’s kills your identity. It drowns the fire deep inside that is who you are. Listen to what your heart feels. Muster up all the courage you have, and follow it. This is the only way you will ever figure out who the amazing, strong, loveable you truly is.

 

 

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Thank you for reading!

Be Brave, and Talk

If Only They Had Known

She is 18 years old. She sprawls out on her bed, reads his letter for about the 9th time that day. His words make her shiver with excitement, and her heart feel heavy with loneliness and longing. She gazes at the calendar. Only ten more days until she will see him again, thank goodness. This long distance relationship is killing her.

Her brow furrows as she rereads a concerning part of the letter.

….as long as you are with me, I will always be the luckiest guy in the world. I don’t know if you know how much you have shown me and taught me. You made me realize how great life can be and you showed me how life should be lived. I am so much more full of joy. Remember that time I got all quiet and wouldn’t talk? That was the only time it happened while we’ve been going out, and it only lasted a couple of days. It used to be so bad before. It would happen constantly, a lot worse and last for days, even weeks. The feeling is so awful, and I’ve always hated it. The more I’d hate it, the worse it would get and usually I wouldn’t feel like living, or feel I deserved to live. But it will never happen again. If there is one thing I can promise you it’s that it will never happen again in my life. I have no reason at all to feel that way, and in fact I have every reason in the world to feel the exact opposite, because I have you. …..

She breathes deeply to relieve the tightness in her chest. Why did those feelings happen to him? Is she really going to be enough to keep it from happening to him again?

She subconsciously clenches her fist and decides that she is enough. She will love him with all of her might, and it will never happen to him again. She will save him.

If only they had known.

In their innocence, these young lovers believed the torturous thoughts and feelings that plagued the young man could be cured by love. They believed it was in their control. They believed life circumstances determined if his days were good or bad.

They had no idea what the terms “mental illness” and “bipolar disorder” even meant.

He was okay for a while. His visit at Christmas was romantic and passionate as ever. They decorated his family Christmas tree together and he whispered in her ear that she belonged atop the tree, for she was the true angel.  He drank a bit too much, but she shrugged it off as typical college student behaviour. Sometimes she felt embarrassed by his often inappropriate intensity in social situations, but she shrugged that off too, accepted it as part of who he was.

She did start worrying though, when he suddenly stopped returning her calls. As if a switch went off in his heart, he went from Adoring, Dedicated Boyfriend to Arrogant, Cruel Jerk.

He seemed to have a headache all the time.

He made rude jokes.

He got angry at her if she said the wrong thing.

He hung up on her when she was in the middle of a sentence.

He went days without sleeping.

One day she came over and found him standing in his underwear on the steep roof in the pouring rain, hands stretched out to the sky, screaming.

He missed her prom and her high school graduation because he was lying in bed, unwilling and unable to get up.

She thought it was because he didn’t love her any more. She thought she had failed him, and it broke her heart.

If only she had known.

They had no idea what the terms “mental illness” and ” bipolar disorder” even meant.

If only they had known.

All the love in the world would never have been able to help this tortured young man.

Awareness and Education could have though.

Mental illness is not a feeling.

Mental illness is not a choice.

Mental illness is real. It rips lives apart. It breaks hearts. But it doesn’t have to.

Awareness, Education and Acceptence. Let’s keep striving for these things in the field of mental health. It very well could stop a heart or two from breaking.

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Thank you for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk

The Story of Your Life

Somehow, somewhere along the line you started feeling like your life mattered a little less than everyone else’s.  You started assuming everyone else was just a little better than you.

You took responsibility for the happiness of the people you love the most.

To you, love started to mean doing whatever it took to keep them safe, to keep them happy, to be by their side as the story of their life carried on.

Somehow, somewhere along the line the story of your life got lost.

You were comfortable that way. To be the loyal, caring companion who gave control over to your Love freely was what you knew best. You felt safe that way. If you could make your Love happy that meant you were good enough. Pretty enough. Worthy. If you could make your Love happy that meant you were also happy. Didn’t it?

There is no doubt about it, you are a caring, nurturing soul. Empathy pours from your heart and overwhelms you all the time. People love that about you.

But you have this habit of tying your life to someone else’s.  You live in their shadow, one step below them. A loyal servant.

It’s okay if sometimes you get forgotten.

It’s okay if sometimes you get hurt. Your pain doesn’t matter nearly as much as theirs does. They must never be disappointed. They must never be in pain. It’s your job to keep them happy, so you press on beside them in that lonely shadow.

You try to ignore the heavy feeling that grows within your chest. You try to ignore your white knuckles and clenching jaw.

Every now and then guilt threatens to boil out of you. You swallow it down, ignore the deep burn and wonder what in the world is wrong with you.

You pretend you don’t know the answer. But you do.

Somehow, somewhere along the line you’ve got to realize your life matters just as much as everyone else’s.

You’ve got to stop believing that everyone else is just a little bit better than you.

You must learn that love means being true to yourself before anyone else.

Although it may end up being quite uncomfortable for a while, somehow, somewhere along the line the story of your life must be found.

And the only person who can find it, is you.

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Thanks for reading!

Be Brave, and Talk