Guest Blog – Caroline Marshall, The Cheshire Life Coach
A friend has shared the deep sadness she felt during and after her divorce from losing people in her life that she loved and peole she thought loved her. In this case my friend was referring to her mother-in-law. A woman that had become a surrogate parent to her after the death of her own Mum. But whom upon hearing that the marriage between her son and daughter in law was over, cut all ties with the person she once professed to loving like a daughter.
Sadly, this story is not uncommon, one of the hardest aspects of divorce can be the ripple effect it has on your support network. At a time when you are perhaps at your most vulnerable, most in need of help from those who you would normally turn to for emotional care and compassion. You find yourself alone, these people gone, or unavailable to you. In an expression used by Mum, divorce definitely “sorts the wheat from the chaff” when it comes to those you can count on.
As is human nature, too often, you can take to heart this sudden departure from your life. Playing over and examining in your mind the reasons this could have happened, was it something you said or did? Did you inadvertently push them away? But the reality is the reasons for this happening can be many and varied. Sometimes, it’s through a sense of loyalty (misplaced or otherwise for your ex-partner). Or because of pressure to take sides by their own partner to demonstrate their commitment to them. Fear can play a big part, that divorce maybe contagious in some way, that the unhappiness and discontent you experienced in your marriage might somehow spread and infect them or their partner and put their relationship in jeopardy too. Or alternatively it can be plain old-fashioned insecurity that as a newly single person you may be a threat in someone way, plotting and waiting to steal their partner away. These are just a few examples, there are many others I could list.
So, what can you do if this is happening to you?
The crippling fear of losing friends and family members can often prevent or certainly delay people taking the step to separate from their partner and can make the whole process of divorce that bit harder. But there are things that you can do to at least try to minimise or address the fallout.
Lead by example
People will, whether they realise it or not, follow your lead when it comes to your divorce. If you and your ex can be amicable, and supportive of each other through the process. Not engaging in negative talk about the other to those around you then it is far less likely that people will feel pushed into taking sides.
Be the bigger person
If a particular person is still important to you, despite the hurt that their pulling away has caused, and you miss them; reach out, send a card, letter, or email just to say you are thinking about them and you miss them, and you would love the chance to continue having a relationship with them. The worse that can happen is that they either don’t respond or politely decline. Either way you are no worse off. But only do this if you are prepared for further rejection, and you are clear you are not just doing it to ‘win’ them back from your ex.
I often describe divorce as an opportunity to spring clean your life, to make changes and emerge a fresher, happier version of yourself. So, if along the way you find that a friend or relative has distanced themselves, stop to consider if you truly miss them. Does their absence really leave a huge void in your life or did that relationship include a good dollop of habit, circumstance, and convenience. And further, are you sure you aren’t just irked that they haven’t ‘picked’ you!
But what if they abandon you anyway?
Being completely honest, there isn’t always a way to ‘fix’ this problem. People sometimes just instinctively pull away from you during divorce no matter what you say or do. I often coach clients on how to let go of the resentment they feel about losing these relationships. So, if you are currently in this position, there are a number of things you can do that can help you to move forward:
- Accept that having feelings of resentment is natural, but rather than harbour it negatively, view the feeling as an indicator that something wasn’t right about the situation, and you are now free to move into healthier relationships.
- Consider the situation from the other persons point of view, growing in empathy and understanding of their position can help you to move forward.
- If possible, see if you can talk things through with the person involved, not to accuse or to confront them. But to grow in understanding of their point of view and to enable you to get some closure on the relationship.
- Try to forgive them, even if you don’t reconcile with them, doing so can have a powerful effect on reducing your stress and boosting your mental health.
- Carve out time to embrace gratitude for the people, things, and scenarios in your life toward which you don’t hold resentment. This can really shift your outlook, making the things you do resent seem less significant as a result. Not to mention, practicing gratitude has its own share of mood-boosting, stress-melting effects that can place you in the right state of mind to let go of your current resentment, once and for all.
Divorce can be hard, even in the most amicable of break ups, it is the end of a chapter of your life. And is a time when more than ever you need people you can rely on, so look to those who have stuck by your side (not chosen your side). And keep in mind the ever-wise words of Oprah Winfrey who once said, “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
Caroline Marshall, otherwise known as The Cheshire Life Coach, is a qualified life and divorce coach, certified through the University of Cambridge, and a member of the Association for Coaching with over 15 years professional experience in coaching and mentoring.
She helps her clients to navigate through their divorce, working to make the process less overwhelming, and more manageable. Acting as a thinking partner and sounding board, in order that they can communicate what they want clearly. Whilst also exploring how they would like the next chapter of their life to be post-divorce, empowering them to see the possibilities and feel confident, positive, and optimistic about their future
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