How to co-parent during the holidays

Well, it’s the holidays again! I enjoy the holidays, but the holidays are often a reminder of the wrong choices I made that I cannot change. Each year my two older boys are either away for Christmas or Thanksgiving with their dad. Although I am happy that they have a relationship with their father, I always feel guilty because I made the choice to divorce. 

Most years I deal with feeling sad either Christmas or Thanksgiving and I have made a vow to myself “NO MORE”! I am done being sad over making the best decision I could have ever made for my boys and I! Divorce is hard on kids but if I had stayed, they would be seeing two parents arguing, fighting, and there would be no example of love around them. As a mother it is always my priority to prevent the boys from experiencing trauma due to my actions. Since I was raised in trauma, I want to break the cycle for my boys!  So, this Christmas will be joyful because I have accepted my past choices and I stand on them! If I am being truly open and honest, I have had a hard time with clinging to the past. Sometimes I find myself stuck in trauma, replaying certain events and situations over and over in my head. What I am learning through healing and growing is that replaying those memories is a form of self-harm.  It is okay to explore memories, but it is toxic and completely unhealthy to allow myself to stay stuck in the past. Therefore, for the holidays this year I vow to be present and focused on the now!

This year for Christmas I will celebrate with my family that is present! My husband and our two younger kids deserve to be happy and enjoy our holiday together until the boys return. I have decided to look at the holiday visitation as my time to have a small break. It is easier and cheaper to hire a sitter for two kids, than for four kids! (Lol) I have decided to look at the bright side and positives of the situation. I do not want to focus on the negatives anymore because it drains my energy and is not worth my time. On the brighter side the boys need and want a father, and since I have physical custody, it is only fair they spend time with their father throughout the year. When the boys are teenagers and young adults, I want them to have good memories and I want them to know that my mom loved us and only wanted the best for us, so she put us first.

Regardless of how nasty my divorce was, or what was done in the marriage… bottom line is I ended it and the kids should not have to suffer or feel guilty about it! Children are so innocent; they just want to love who they love without any drama or feeling like they must choose. I reassure my boys that they are loved on both sides and there is no need to choose or feel sad when we are not together during the holidays! I remind them we live together and will be back together soon. To make the holiday breaks easier on the kids and us, moving forward we will celebrate our holidays on whatever days we want to celebrate them! There is no particular day or time to enjoy time together as a family! Life is complicated! Things happen, but the best thing you can do is learn to adapt and be resilient, especially when you have little ones watching. No matter how bad your situation gets never allow your children to witness unhealthy behaviors, unhealthy forms of communication, or unhealthy relationships. It is important that children have good examples and role models, so they understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy.

 I know I am not the only parent going through the ups and downs of coparenting during the holidays. Coparenting is one of those things you just must learn to deal with and the quicker you learn to accept your situation, the better it gets! Time apart from anyone you love will be hard but seeing your kids happy should always be priority over your adult feelings. If the separating from your children is too hard and you feel stuck, I would recommend professional help! My therapist, my husband, and mom have all helped me through my difficult co-parenting times. And each of them kind of gave me the same advice: everything does not require a reaction, and silence is golden! Therefore, move with grace and always put the kids first! If the main focus is always the kids nothing can be misconstrued! If you are struggling and want more tips on dealing with coparenting during the holidays, I have posted a slideshow below that give advice coparenting during the holidays.  Also, remember this “Anything or Anyone that does not add value in your life, is not worth your time”! Use your time and attention towards the ones that matter and stay present in the now! We lose so much valuable time with people we love, wasting time on people and things that do not matter. Put what matters to you first (Your Kids)! 

Happy Holidays! 

How to co-parent during the holidays!

And just like that my life changed…..

And just like that my life changed……

How it all started:

I can remember it like yesterday, although it has been 8 whole years. I was in my first marriage, 9 months pregnant, & the most unhappy I have ever been in my life.  When you are deep into a situation it is hard to see the bigger picture. Any person that has been depressed, abused, or in an unhealthy relationship may describe that time in their life as “a fog”. The dictionary defines a fog as “something that obscures and confuses a situation or someone’s thought processes”. The years 2013-2015 were a fog to me. I can tell you that I reported in my Army uniform to work every day, I graduated from college, I had two children I was caring for, but I was not aware of my true feelings. The marriage was for “show purposes only” I was not loved, supported, or respected. Since I was not receiving love, support, or respect I became this shielded person. I walked around completely numb, and I always had this fake smile on my face to keep my coworkers, family, & friends unaware of what I was suffering through on a regular basis.

Why I never accepted help:

A week before my second child was born, I was holding onto a stairway pole with a death grip because my then husband was attempting to push me down the stairs. I was screaming over and over “what about the baby?” with no avail at all I was still being pushed. This incident was not the first time & unfortunately for me it would not be the last time. I would never involve my family in our problems but on this night in particular I was so afraid I called my mother and begged for her help. My mother was the only person in my family that was aware of the abuse, & she promised me she would never tell or call the police because I was threatened to have my children removed from my home by law enforcement before. Law enforcement would come to the house when I would call & tell me about all the resources available for me & say “just leave!”. What no one never understood is that leaving was the hardest part.

Why I could not leave:

Leaving is the hardest part. Why is leaving hard? To leave a toxic situation you must first have CONFIDENCE! I was often beaten down verbally, so I lacked confidence and self-esteem. Beautiful was not in my vocabulary, never felt like   I mattered, and I never felt like I was enough. I can admit now that I had become co-dependent, and I was in the cycle of abuse, love, sorry, separate, makeup, & things improving. Then back through the same cycle all over again. Did I think of how I could leave this man yes, but I never would actually leave longer than a month. Even when he cheated on me on a regular basis, I still would make excuses for him and blame myself. The young twenty-four-year-old me thought I could change him, or that he would change if I did better as his wife. He never changed and he never made me and our kids his number one priority. This marriage scarred me so deeply inside and I was so broken that I contemplated suicide just to get out of the toxicity. Before I met him, I was a happy & free-spirited individual that lived life to the fullest. I lost all of myself in him.

How I planned my exit:

When I look back today, I know exactly when I decided I was done, and nothing or no one could stop me from going. March 2014 my grandma passed, and I also was deployed to Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the best thing to happen to me…. sounds crazy right? I was in a combat zone, but it was the first time I felt safe, the first time I felt free, and the first time I realized what I had allowed to happen to me over the las five years. While in Afghanistan I started to think of my exit plan. Although my life was on the line every day, I was still very aware that if I survived this deployment I did not want to go back home to another war. My tour in Afghanistan ended earlier than I expected, and I was thrown back into the lion’s den. My ex had changed while I was gone, he showed me a different side as if he had changed his behaviors, which led us into living together again with our children…only for me to discover that he had not changed at all.

How I left:

We stayed together seven months after I returned from that deployment. I was mentally, physically, & emotionally burnt-out. I had physical injuries from my deployment, but I also had some deep mental scars that I needed help with. Mentally I was a complete wreck, so my first step was to ensure I stayed in therapy. I participated in trauma recovery therapy every week during those seven months and slowly but surely my mind, my confidence, my courage, & my will power began to grow immensely. When I started to look in the mirror, I seen a woman I did not recognize, someone that I was not before I boarded that flight to Bagram, Afghanistan. My first step to leaving was to have all my financials in order. I started stashing back extra funds, I placed my kids in permanent childcare, and I found a divorce lawyer.  Through out this entire process I acted as if nothing was different, and I prepared to go to war again. March 2015, I had him served with divorce papers, and at this point my mind was completely made up. My mind was set, and I was not afraid of what could happen next. I had informed my company commander of everything that was transpiring, and I had support of friends and family, which made the process easier for me and my two boys. My ex-husband did not want the divorce, & he attempted on many occasions to convince me I was not sure. Not even three weeks after I had filed, he had moved into a place with one of the women he was cheating with throughout the marriage…& it was then I knew I had made the best decision for me & my children!

Fast forward 8 years later:

Currently I am retired from the Army, and although my life in not perfect, I am happy & genuinely free. As for my ex-husband he and I share the boys. He currently has visitation rights with some restrictions, and I can say now that he is still the narcissistic man I was married to, but it does not directly affect me as much because now I am confident, respected, loved, & practically fearless. I have remarried an amazing man that loves me & accepted my boys as his own. My husband and I have a daughter & currently we are expecting our baby boy Mj! My marriage is not perfect, but my relationship is not toxic, and I enjoy that. I am still guarded but in a good way. Since my experience I am now aware of who I am. No one can change my perspective of myself regardless of what they say or how they feel. The confidence I have today is unmatched and can not be touched. The hardest part used to be that I had to share my boys with someone who hurt immensely. Therapy has allowed me to separate the relationship him and I had from the relationship that my boys needed with their father. There are days my boys ask why their dad and I are divorced, and I have not given them a complete honest answer, instead I say mommy and daddy grew apart and decided to move on. One day when the boys are older and understand life more, I will have that conversation with them. For now, I just want my boys to enjoy life, and figure out who people are on their own through their actions.

As for me…

As for me, I currently run The Pearl Blog, which I started as a place to share my life experiences. I have experienced so much trauma in my short thirty-one years of life. Sharing my trauma, giving life advice, and revealing how I got through it is my purpose now. My goal in life is to help anyone who have experienced trauma or is experiencing trauma. I want all who are hurting to know there can be healing after hurting, and you can grow strength & learn through your life trauma. Trauma does not have to be the end of your life. There is healing and growing after trauma. You can follow my Instagram page @healingandgrowing_ to see how I am healing and growing through my own personal trauma. You can also shop The Pearl Blog merchandise, which was inspired by my life trauma and experiences.

 

If this blog helped you at all, I also suggest the following:

 

 

I am a SURVIVOR, not a victim!

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships… It is only human to want one because most people want companionship, but why do people rush to be in a relationship with someone when they notice red flags from the beginning? The number reason in my opinion is because most people fear being alone. I was most people at a time in my life. My first real relationship was with a boy that I had nothing in common with, but he gave me comfort and he was there when I did not want to be alone. Although he was a nice guy, I never missed him when we were apart, and being only 18 years old at that time I did not notice the red flags and stayed with him another year after that. He and I broke up on bad terms because I moved on to another person (ex-husband), whom I had started to grow a relationship with. He and I had more in common. I thought to myself “Finally, someone I can laugh with & actually have fun”.

I had just turned 20 years of age when I met my ex-husband. I thought I had won a trophy because he was not a street guy, he came from a good family, he seemed wholesome, and he was very charismatic in the dating phase. In the beginning we had fun together. We would play board games, go on fun dates, and hangout together all the time. I thought us hanging together all the time was cool, because I enjoyed the times we spent together. I felt like I was deeply in love with him & those little butterflies and my lack of maturity in understanding what a healthy relationship was lead to so much heartbreak and trauma that I still occasionally deal with today.

The first red sign was that he always wanted me in his sight. I would visit his place that he shared with a roommate, and I would be there 2-3 days in a row without going home. He convinced me that it was because he wanted to spend time with me and his missed me so much when I was not around. I was young and mature, so I did not know at the time that it was not healthy relationship behavior. When someone you are dating take up too much of your personal time and drain you of your energy that is a huge red flag. Two people who can not be away from each other for a few days or even a week while dating, are not mature enough to be in a committed relationship.  

You must know how to be alone and enjoy being alone first before you involve another person into your life, because if not unhealthy attachments can take place. My ex-husband and I had an unhealthy attachment. Looking back now I know for a fact that I never ever loved that man. He and I was just co-dependent on one another. Before him I was very independent, and I hung out with my friends a lot and I would travel on my own. I was living my best life, and he literally came into my life and locked everything down and blocked anyone important to me out of my life.

In all honesty my mother was never favorable of the relationship her first thought was that he was controlling, and he wanted too much access to me. It should have been obvious to me because I changed my morals and life plans while dating him. Since I was a teenager I never dreamed of children or marriage. My plans were to join the military, travel, educate myself, and live my life freely. I am naturally a free spirit. I like to march at the beat of my own drum. I do not like being held down and feeling controlled because of my childhood trauma. Being with my ex-husband made me feel victimized all over again. My ex-husband always spoke about marriage, and children. He spoke of kids the second month we were dating & I felt pressured to be married, and to have children for him. I know today he wanted a child with me to feed his own ego, because he definitely did not want a child out of love. We were married & pregnant within 4 months of meeting/dating each other and it was definitely forced into my head that he wanted this because “he loved me”, and “he had never loved anyone or met anyone like me” He always gave me compliments and said I was beautiful, and he was proud of me because I did not act like I was “from the hood”. He would belittle me and uplift me in the same sentence.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Once the manipulating, verbal abuse, and lies started he and I was already married, and I was already pregnant with our first child. I believed in my heart that marriage was sacred, and I felt like I had to make it work for our son. The very first year of marriage he was sneaking behind my back speaking to an ex from high school. I trusted everything he said and believed everything he did was in our best interest, so I rarely ever questioned him or what he was doing. Another red flag was that he did not want me speaking to the opposite sex at all, he was jealous pf past friendships and he needed to control who I was able to interact with, but he would do the complete opposite. He would sneak and text, call, or video chat his ex-girlfriend behind my back. The same ex-girlfriend he spoke down on. The same ex-girlfriend he said was promiscuous, broke his heart, and was not worth him marrying or started a family with…so supposedly he left her because she lacked morals and the character he wanted in a woman. When he would speak badly of her I thought, thank God he meet me! But now I know that him belittling her was a part of his lies and his manipulation. He had been lying and manipulating me, but he was also lying and manipulating her. During our marriage I blamed her for the infidelity between them. I felt like she was the cause because she knew he was married, with a wife & two kids. Now that I am older and wiser, I know that he was the cause, and he was to blame, and she owed me no loyalty at all.

After the infidelity I felt so insecure because I had babies, and I felt like he cheated because the children and I became too much for him to bear, but I know now his cheating had nothing to do with me. He cheated out of selfishness. He cheated because he wanted to cheat, and the children and I was just a casualty of war. He washed his hands of us, and everything was about the mistress. Somedays he would say he wanted his family, others he would sneak behind my back and reach out to her. The funny thing is the cheating was never a breaking point for me until he mixed cheating with being an alcoholic, drug addict, and an abusive spouse.

While in that marriage I experienced mental, verbal, and physical abuse. During my first pregnancy I was held against a wall, and pushed on my stomach 9 months pregnant and the doctors thought my child was in diesters, which led to a traumatic labor that was life threatening for me and the baby. I lost out on my dream job in law enforcement because they checked my background and seen I was a victim of domestic violence and they did not want a weapon in our home, therefore I was not hired. I missed out on so much just for forgiving and trying to keep my marriage whole for my kids. Nothing he did never really pushed me to the edge, and I stayed with him almost 6 years before I divorced him.

I hated that I had to deployed to Afghanistan and leave my children, but it was a gift and a curse because that deployment changed me in ways I could never understand. And it was after that deployment when God spared my life that I decided to end my life with my ex-husband. I filed for divorce, and I decided to start my life over with my two boys! It was the hardest transition medically retiring from the Army, becoming a single mother, in a new place with no family, and no help…But I did it! I did it for me and my kids. The arguments, abuse, deployment, PTSD, and other issues at the time made me numb. Before Afghanistan he could get into my head and pull on my heartstrings. After Afghanistan I had a different aura. I felt stronger, wiser, confident, and ready for whatever it took to get my freedom back! Looking back today I could have avoided all this if I had paid attention to his controlling and co-dependent ways in the beginning. I could have escaped him before marriage & children tied us together for life. That marriage broke me down to the ground, and I had nothing left in me. I literally hit rock bottom, and before the marriage was officially over he told me “If you divorce me, I’ll go be with her” and when he said that I felt NOTHING, I actually felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders because now she would have the headache. He did end up with her, they are married today, and I have no negative feelings towards it because I believe in source energy and a higher power.

I have no urge for revenge or no anger towards either of them, and trust me that did not happen overnight. It was like two years after being divorced that I stopped depleting my energy on my ex-husband and his wife. I realized that it was a lose-lose battle because in his eyes he has done no wrong, and in her eyes, she is always right. I believe the two of them are actually perfect for each other, and they should have been together from the beginning. I appreciate her for removing the disease (my ex-husband) from my life, she helped me to cure & heal myself by taking the away the person that was poisoning me and breaking me down. My experience with my ex-husband taught me so many lessons about life and people. It taught me that everything that glitters is not gold. Because of my ex-husband I have a different type of strength, and I have been more abundantly blessed than ever before. After I divorced him, and once I officially forgave him for myself God brought joy into my life. Nothing but good things has happened for me and my children since I decided to divorce him and walk away. I am financially stable, mentally stable, physically stable, in love with an amazing man, a new daughter that I prayed for, and I could not ask for anything better! I am finally happy! I wrote this to encourage someone that may be in a unhealthy relationship right now, someone who is staying in a relationship for their kids, someone who is afraid to walk away, someone who do not have confidence in their ability to make it on their own after a divorce… This post is for YOU! You can do it! Do not accept mistreatment, abuse, or anything other love from someone who says they love you!  Love is not supposed to hurt! Love feels good, and although no love is perfect… There are healthy was to disagree in a relationship. Never accept physical, verbal, or mental abuse. I am a survivor, and I know it is not easy… But it is POSSIBLE! No matter what you are going through please remember you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13), and do not allow anyone to tell you different.

-Toni

I am a SURVIVOR, not a victim!

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships… It is only human to want one because most people want companionship, but why do people rush to be in a relationship with someone when they notice red flags from the beginning? The number reason in my opinion is because most people fear being alone. I was most people at a time in my life. My first real relationship was with a boy that I had nothing in common with, but he gave me comfort and he was there when I did not want to be alone. Although he was a nice guy, I never missed him when we were apart, and being only 18 years old at that time I did not notice the red flags and stayed with him another year after that. He and I broke up on bad terms because I moved on to another person (ex-husband), whom I had started to grow a relationship with. He and I had more in common. I thought to myself “Finally, someone I can laugh with & actually have fun”.

I had just turned 20 years of age when I met my ex-husband. I thought I had won a trophy because he was not a street guy, he came from a good family, he seemed wholesome, and he was very charismatic in the dating phase. In the beginning we had fun together. We would play board games, go on fun dates, and hangout together all the time. I thought us hanging together all the time was cool, because I enjoyed the times we spent together. I felt like I was deeply in love with him & those little butterflies and my lack of maturity in understanding what a healthy relationship was lead to so much heartbreak and trauma that I still occasionally deal with today.

The first red sign was that he always wanted me in his sight. I would visit his place that he shared with a roommate, and I would be there 2-3 days in a row without going home. He convinced me that it was because he wanted to spend time with me and his missed me so much when I was not around. I was young and mature, so I did not know at the time that it was not healthy relationship behavior. When someone you are dating take up too much of your personal time and drain you of your energy that is a huge red flag. Two people who can not be away from each other for a few days or even a week while dating, are not mature enough to be in a committed relationship.  

You must know how to be alone and enjoy being alone first before you involve another person into your life, because if not unhealthy attachments can take place. My ex-husband and I had an unhealthy attachment. Looking back now I know for a fact that I never ever loved that man. He and I was just co-dependent on one another. Before him I was very independent, and I hung out with my friends a lot and I would travel on my own. I was living my best life, and he literally came into my life and locked everything down and blocked anyone important to me out of my life.

In all honesty my mother was never favorable of the relationship her first thought was that he was controlling, and he wanted too much access to me. It should have been obvious to me because I changed my morals and life plans while dating him. Since I was a teenager I never dreamed of children or marriage. My plans were to join the military, travel, educate myself, and live my life freely. I am naturally a free spirit. I like to march at the beat of my own drum. I do not like being held down and feeling controlled because of my childhood trauma. Being with my ex-husband made me feel victimized all over again. My ex-husband always spoke about marriage, and children. He spoke of kids the second month we were dating & I felt pressured to be married, and to have children for him. I know today he wanted a child with me to feed his own ego, because he definitely did not want a child out of love. We were married & pregnant within 4 months of meeting/dating each other and it was definitely forced into my head that he wanted this because “he loved me”, and “he had never loved anyone or met anyone like me” He always gave me compliments and said I was beautiful, and he was proud of me because I did not act like I was “from the hood”. He would belittle me and uplift me in the same sentence.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Once the manipulating, verbal abuse, and lies started he and I was already married, and I was already pregnant with our first child. I believed in my heart that marriage was sacred, and I felt like I had to make it work for our son. The very first year of marriage he was sneaking behind my back speaking to an ex from high school. I trusted everything he said and believed everything he did was in our best interest, so I rarely ever questioned him or what he was doing. Another red flag was that he did not want me speaking to the opposite sex at all, he was jealous pf past friendships and he needed to control who I was able to interact with, but he would do the complete opposite. He would sneak and text, call, or video chat his ex-girlfriend behind my back. The same ex-girlfriend he spoke down on. The same ex-girlfriend he said was promiscuous, broke his heart, and was not worth him marrying or started a family with…so supposedly he left her because she lacked morals and the character he wanted in a woman. When he would speak badly of her I thought, thank God he meet me! But now I know that him belittling her was a part of his lies and his manipulation. He had been lying and manipulating me, but he was also lying and manipulating her. During our marriage I blamed her for the infidelity between them. I felt like she was the cause because she knew he was married, with a wife & two kids. Now that I am older and wiser, I know that he was the cause, and he was to blame, and she owed me no loyalty at all.

After the infidelity I felt so insecure because I had babies, and I felt like he cheated because the children and I became too much for him to bear, but I know now his cheating had nothing to do with me. He cheated out of selfishness. He cheated because he wanted to cheat, and the children and I was just a casualty of war. He washed his hands of us, and everything was about the mistress. Somedays he would say he wanted his family, others he would sneak behind my back and reach out to her. The funny thing is the cheating was never a breaking point for me until he mixed cheating with being an alcoholic, drug addict, and an abusive spouse.

While in that marriage I experienced mental, verbal, and physical abuse. During my first pregnancy I was held against a wall, and pushed on my stomach 9 months pregnant and the doctors thought my child was in diesters, which led to a traumatic labor that was life threatening for me and the baby. I lost out on my dream job in law enforcement because they checked my background and seen I was a victim of domestic violence and they did not want a weapon in our home, therefore I was not hired. I missed out on so much just for forgiving and trying to keep my marriage whole for my kids. Nothing he did never really pushed me to the edge, and I stayed with him almost 6 years before I divorced him.

I hated that I had to deployed to Afghanistan and leave my children, but it was a gift and a curse because that deployment changed me in ways I could never understand. And it was after that deployment when God spared my life that I decided to end my life with my ex-husband. I filed for divorce, and I decided to start my life over with my two boys! It was the hardest transition medically retiring from the Army, becoming a single mother, in a new place with no family, and no help…But I did it! I did it for me and my kids. The arguments, abuse, deployment, PTSD, and other issues at the time made me numb. Before Afghanistan he could get into my head and pull on my heartstrings. After Afghanistan I had a different aura. I felt stronger, wiser, confident, and ready for whatever it took to get my freedom back! Looking back today I could have avoided all this if I had paid attention to his controlling and co-dependent ways in the beginning. I could have escaped him before marriage & children tied us together for life. That marriage broke me down to the ground, and I had nothing left in me. I literally hit rock bottom, and before the marriage was officially over he told me “If you divorce me, I’ll go be with her” and when he said that I felt NOTHING, I actually felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders because now she would have the headache. He did end up with her, they are married today, and I have no negative feelings towards it because I believe in source energy and a higher power.

I have no urge for revenge or no anger towards either of them, and trust me that did not happen overnight. It was like two years after being divorced that I stopped depleting my energy on my ex-husband and his wife. I realized that it was a lose-lose battle because in his eyes he has done no wrong, and in her eyes, she is always right. I believe the two of them are actually perfect for each other, and they should have been together from the beginning. I appreciate her for removing the disease (my ex-husband) from my life, she helped me to cure & heal myself by taking the away the person that was poisoning me and breaking me down. My experience with my ex-husband taught me so many lessons about life and people. It taught me that everything that glitters is not gold. Because of my ex-husband I have a different type of strength, and I have been more abundantly blessed than ever before. After I divorced him, and once I officially forgave him for myself God brought joy into my life. Nothing but good things has happened for me and my children since I decided to divorce him and walk away. I am financially stable, mentally stable, physically stable, in love with an amazing man, a new daughter that I prayed for, and I could not ask for anything better! I am finally happy! I wrote this to encourage someone that may be in a unhealthy relationship right now, someone who is staying in a relationship for their kids, someone who is afraid to walk away, someone who do not have confidence in their ability to make it on their own after a divorce… This post is for YOU! You can do it! Do not accept mistreatment, abuse, or anything other love from someone who says they love you!  Love is not supposed to hurt! Love feels good, and although no love is perfect… There are healthy was to disagree in a relationship. Never accept physical, verbal, or mental abuse. I am a survivor, and I know it is not easy… But it is POSSIBLE! No matter what you are going through please remember you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13), and do not allow anyone to tell you different.

-Toni

Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace….

If I was given a $1.00 for every time I was asked “How did you move on with kids?” “Were you scared?” “How do you co-parent with a new partner involved?”. First let me state this, when I said vows and became a wife, I never thought it would lead to a divorce. I filed for divorce because I knew the relationship was no longer healthy & I knew it would not improve. Filing the divorce was the easy part, but once it was complete, I kept thinking I would be single forever because who would love me with children! I thought every single negative thought you can imagine. I also felt very ashamed because my marriage had failed.

When I met my current partner, it was random & believe it or not I did everything in my power to run this man off, just to see if he could stay through ups & downs. The fact that he seen me & my children as a “packaged deal “was how he stole my heart. My partner never tried to replace their dad, he never stepped on the other parent toes, & he always kept it respectful because he only wanted to see me & the children happy!

Love after divorce is the hardest because learning to trust, being open for love, & accepting that even this new relationship could also fail was not easy! The uncertainty is the scariest feeling in this world. The uncertainty and the emotional/mental health of my children was a major concern. I did not want my children to feel like me having a new partner, means that their dad was replaced. I was scared to trust my own judgment. I stepped out on faith & decided to give love another try, and I can now say it was the BEST DECISION of my life!

In the beginning it was uncomfortable because I had never done this before, and I did not know if I should introduce my ex-husband and my new partner or if I should just let things flow. My ex-husband moved on quickly after the divorce, and he never properly introduced me to his new partner & because she was the mistress while we were married it was already an understanding that her & I would not be interacting. But I felt the need to have the two of them met each other. Now that I have more experience, I would say your ex and new partner meeting is not a necessity for a healthy co-parenting relationship, especially if the divorce between you and your ex ended with hostility. I learned that keeping everything between my ex-husband and myself was easier than involving all parties. There was less conflict when only my ex-husband and I communicated about the children.

Although my partner was an active parenting partner for the children & the children were with us 90% of the time, my partner still never crossed any boundaries with the kid’s dad. My ex was hostile and often rude about my new partner being so involved with our children. My ex often spoke badly about my new partner and his new partner was often rude & disrespectful towards me. It was not easy navigating all these different people, and trying to keep the kids unaware and happy. Trying to keep everyone peace and all parties on the same page became way too much work. We even tried combining a birthday celebration by going to a movie as a “blended family” & we tried to show the kids we could be “blended” but that was not realistic because of the hostility & anger that was still in place due to how the marriage ended. We would do good for a few months, and them BOOM there was drama again.

So my new partner and I came up with the perfect solution on how to co-parent when there is a new partner/role model involved. For us we only cared about the welling-being of the children. We wanted the children to know that they have two homes, two new extra supporters, & they can love us all because we all love them. The goal was to not place any aggression, pressure, or any form of negativity around the kids. So, we started to simply follow the custody agreement to the T. We did everything legally right, and if there were any issues, we handled them through the courts. We stopped all unnecessary conversations and only spoke when it was necessary to speak about the kids. My partner and I decided that emailing was the best form of communication because it can be traced, and the co-parenting with my ex started to become more peaceful. The children seem to be enjoying the peace, and it is simpler for them and us. When I divorced and then moved on, I had this tv image of us all being “blended” and on family vacations together and having holidays together like Mashonda & Alicia Keys have done with Swizz Beats and their children. But the reality is… All divorces & co-parenting situations will not end in peaches and cream. It is important to know that your situation will be different from mines, and the next person. My only suggestion is that you focus on what is best for your kids, yourself, and the new person you love. Do not allow the other parties to control your life. “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” —Dalai Lama. There is light at the end of the tunnel, & there is sunshine after the storm!

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“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” —Dalai Lama.

 

A high conflict divorce is where marriage ends, and war begins…

A high conflict divorce is where marriage ends, and war begins…

To those who have experienced divorce/breakup with kids we all know how difficult it can be once you have decided to part ways from someone whom you have built a life with and have created children. It can be emotionally draining, stressful, & full of high conflict for the adults. Imagine what it does to kids?

Being a divorcee, I know how hard it can be to divorce, and the after math of it all. In the beginning of the process it can be so intimidating and heart-breaking because you do not know what to expect. This week on Majorie Blog I will be discussing the 5 most important things that has helped me co-parent after a high-conflict divorce. If you are not sure what a high-conflict divorce is I will sum it up.. A high conflict divorce is where marriage ends, and war begins…

For me I felt as if I was going to war, but I will let you know now co-parenting after a high-conflict divorce does not have to be war for you or your children. There is some peace, and although there will be bumps in the road, and may be some days when you feel defeated, if you follow the following tips I promise you co-parenting will not be a war, instead it will be peace for yourself & all children involved.

When I first got divorced, I focused a lot on what was done to me, how I was abused, mistreated, and hurt throughout the years. I focused too much on the pain I endured from the marriage and I did not realize the major changes and hurt the divorce was causing my kids. So that is where my first tip of advice stem from.

1. If you are hurting because of a bad divorce then please seek counseling for you, but no matter what the other parent does to push your buttons or make your life miserable, ALWAYS put the well-being and happiness of your kids first. Putting the kids well-being first allows you to heal just from seeing the happiness in them. Seeing my children happy is what helped me to ignore and disengage from a lot of unnecessary drama.

There will be occasions where something may take place that is negatively affecting the children, or there may be situations where the other parent is acting against what you feel is the best interest of your children. In my case the other parent was often in and out of jail, and was an addict, and disciplined in a way I felt was too harsh. In these cases, it is best to seek legal advice & handle your situation through the court system, but NEVER ever interrogate your children about the other parent & make them feel stuck in the middle.

2. Do your very best to not put the children in the middle of adult drama, adult drama can make the kids feel like they have to choose a side or make them feel like the situation is their fault. The more you can hide from your children, the better.

Co-parenting consist of co-existing with another person with whom you are no longer with. Co-existing could be phone-calls, drop-offs/pick-ups, or events where the children are involved and both parents are required to be in attendance. There will be occasions that require you and your ex to be present for the sake of your children. I suggest making these times as simple as possible and this leads to tip #3.

3. Always attempt and make every effort to work together for the best interest of the children. When you are present with you ex, always make sure there is no inappropriate behavior displayed while the children are present. Children pick up on behaviors, and energy of adults. So work together and be an example for them!

When relationships end, there are occurrences where it ended on really bad terms and you may genuinely dislike the person you have to co-parent with. The person I co-parent with was a serial cheater, and abusive so of course there was animosity and hate towards the other parent in the beginning. I really did not want to co-parent with him, and I did not want to share my children with such a person. I had to realize that I chose this person to procreate with and now I must deal with them and accept the choices and decisions I made that led to this. In doing this there were times when certain things were said about the other parent and the kids would ask questions or want to know the whys? The biggest things I learned is that the kids will not remain kids forever…let the kids determine who the other parent is without your opinions of that parent. Children are big on energy and actions. Let them decide!

4. Do not speak badly about the other parent while the children are present. The children will resent you, and the children will be upset because they love both parents. They are not aware of what happened between daddy & mommy. Even if they are aware, stay neutral and let them figure it out. If they need further understanding a neutral party/ therapist may be a good option. Whatever you decide bad-mouthing the other parent is not the answer.

My final and most important tool that helped me was disengaging. My divorce was high-conflict and there was a lot of disagreeing and I felt like I was treated so badly, and I felt like although we were divorce there was still tension, disrespect, yelling, anger towards me, controlling behavior, verbal & mental abuse, and I would always try to combat back and forth with my ex until I realized silence is the best medicine for a high-conflict ex. I only speak to my ex when it is ABSOLUTELY necessary. I understand now that I divorced some one who may never change for the better, but I am not in control of anyone but “MYSELF” when I realized that I am not responsible for my ex behavior toward me, I changed and I THRIVED for the better of myself & my kids.

5. DISENGAGE…If your ex is someone that like conflict and enjoys making your life hard…I suggest you disengage. Disengaging is one of the easiest ways to end conflict because the other person needs someone to engage with them in order to keep the conflict going. Remember you are no longer with him/her so there is no need to argue or prove yourself to them. Remain silent for your peace and your children peace.

I am not a therapist or professional, but I have experienced a high-conflict divorce and high-conflict co-parenting until I changed the narrative for myself and my children. I have used all the tips I gave, and they have worked for me. Divorce does not have to destroy you or your peace of mind. When you realize that war with your ex, is like war with your children it will make you look at co-parenting so differently. Before you can mentally be okay it is important to know you are not alone in this. People divorce every day, and co-parenting does not have to be toxic. You are only in control of you! Never allow another person to live rent free in your brain!

ThePearlBlog