Were you the one who decided to ask for a divorce? There's so much help and guidance out there for those who were left behind. But for many women, the reality is, we are the ones who made the choice to leave the marriage. There are hundreds of reasons why we may have made that choice, but in the end, the things we deal with mentally and emotionally are the same.
In this episode, I'll be giving you guidance on how to best navigate your healing if you're the one who left the marriage. I dive into why you may be feeling grief that you didn't know you had, and how that may be the one thing holding you back. You'll learn more about dropping the guilt you may be feeling over your decision; how to let go of the idea that you've been selfish for choosing to get divorced and the most powerful thing you can do to gain authority and control over your own life. Tune in for your guidance on living into your decision of getting a divorce.
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Grief and trauma are the two biggest struggles women deal with as they go through their divorce. It's highly likely that you are experiencing both and don't even realize what you're feeling. I'm here to tell you that it's okay for you to grieve your marriage (even if it was shitty) and it's normal to be experiencing some kind of trauma (which is essentially a disconnection from yourself - your mind, body and soul). I can help guide you through the grief in all of the forms it show up so you can heal. I can also teach you how to ground yourself in healing so you can ease through the trauma. Schedule your free consult by clicking here.
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Interested in the Divorce Betrayal Transformation? Learn more here.
Are you lost and confused about who you are after divorce? Don't worry. I've got 51 Ways to Get to Know Yourself Again. Click here to download.
Want to work first hand with Karin so you can stop worrying about what your life will be like after divorce, and instead begin making it amazing today? Click here to schedule a consult to find out more about working 1:1 with Karin as your coach.
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Full Episode Transcript:
I'm Karin Nelson and you're listening to Becoming You Again, episode number 118. Welcome to Becoming You Again, the podcast to help you with your mental and emotional well-being during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the grief and trauma of your divorce. We're going to do that by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life, so that your life can be even better than when you were married. I'm your host, Karin Nelson. Welcome back. My lovely ladies, i am so happy that you're here. Something that I've been noticing about myself over the last I don't know, probably the last year, but more so the last few months is I've been really just feeling into myself and having authority over taking up space and saying my opinions and letting people know that I'm here and I have a voice. Let me just give you a quick example of what I'm talking about. I had to buy a new dryer this past week. My previous dryer I had had for almost 20 years, which is amazing and it never broke one time, which I think is like maybe the greatest thing ever to have an appliance that worked for that long. We tried to fix it. It wasn't possible to be fixed and so we had to buy a new dryer. The people came to deliver the dryer and when I bought the dryer I had requested that they change the direction that the door of the dryer opens. I didn't want it to open in front of my washer, so I wanted them to change it, which was totally possible. The saleswoman said of course our delivery drivers can do that. They're contracted to do that, they know how. So if there's any problems, you can just give us a call. So they get to my house, they deliver the dryer, they're hooking it up and I sign all the papers saying that they've delivered it and all of the things, and then they turn it on to make sure it works, totally works. And then they get ready to go and I notice that the dryer door has not been changed and I say I had requested that the door be changed to open the other direction. And one of the men said oh no, we don't do that. I don't know how to do that. I've never done that before. And I said well, i definitely don't know how to do it. And I was told that this is in the delivery contract. So I need you to change the dryer door Now. I did it very kindly in the past, because my nervous system gets very activated in moments of confrontation in the past. I would get very upset, my emotions would take over and my brain would completely go offline and my amygdala would be running all of the conversation and I would get upset. But in this instance I just stepped into my knowing and I took up some space and said I was told that you would do this. It's in the contract. I'm going to call the store and immediately it was just so fascinating to kind of watch this happen. Immediately he changed his tune, said oh no, no, i can do this, it will just take a minute, i will figure it out and if I can't figure it out, then you can call. I was so proud of myself for not losing my shit first of all which has totally happened to me in the past before for having a voice and taking up space and using it in a very kind but also authoritative way, and also letting this person know that I'm here, i have an opinion and it's okay for me to take up space and not just him, not just letting him know that, but also letting me know that the more I do this, the more willing I am to take up space with my opinion and recognize that my opinions are valid, my voice is valid and it's okay to be heard. The more I watch myself stepping into my own authority and into really recognizing who I am, and it's such a fun thing to watch. So I just wanted to share that with you, and there's been a couple of other instances just within the last couple of weeks, especially where I've really been willing to use my voice and take up space, and I want you to know that that also is something that you can do. This is not at all what the podcast is about today. I just kind of went off on this tangent. I really wanted to share that story with you. And so there you go, i'm giving you permission to take up space. You definitely don't need my permission, but sometimes we just need to hear it from somebody else that it's okay for you to do that. Take up space, use your voice, you are valid, your opinions are valid, you are amazing. All right, let's jump into today's podcast, where I'm going to be talking about what to do if you're the one that left the marriage. So a while back, a long while back actually I did a podcast episode on what to do if your husband left you, and I think there's definitely some really great information and tools that, if you're in that situation, those that podcast is definitely going to help you. However, i also had always planned on making one from the flip side for those of you who are the ones who decided to end the marriage or to leave the marriage, and then I realized I haven't ever done that podcast yet, which is kind of funny because I am that person. I am the person who decided to leave the marriage. But I know there are many, many, many women out there who are in this boat, right, the one where we have taken the reins, we have made the choice, we have made the decision to file for divorce, to leave the marriage, to get out of the abusive situation, to find our own happiness, to create a better life for ourselves, whatever it is. There's so many different reasons why, right, i'm just going to try and talk about some of the things that we can do to help ourselves if that is our situation. So let's dive in The first thing that I really want you to do for yourself and this is really for anybody who's going through a divorce, but specifically today I'm talking to the women who have been the ones who have decided to leave. I really want you to grieve. Most of us who go through a divorce are inevitably going to feel grief. Whether you're the one who did the leaving, whether you asked for the divorce, whether you found someone new to love, whether your husband left you or the relationship mutually ended like. No matter what it is, there will be grief And you need to feel it. You need to open up to it so that you can heal and move on. I know maybe you don't want to hear this. I know that you think that, like, if you've put up with so much and you just got to the end of your rope and you were like no more, i am done, i am leaving, that's it, you may think, and now I'm not going to have anything to grieve. I grieved it all while I was married, maybe, and if you did, amazing. But I also want to open you up to the idea that there still might be some grief and it might be the reason that you haven't been able to move on. It might be the reason why you haven't been able to create a better life for yourself or why you're still on an emotional roller coaster. It could be, and only you will know the answer to this, but it could be. You still have some grief to process, to open up to and to allow, and if so, that's okay. This is not a problem. This is not a bad thing. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. It doesn't mean that you made the wrong decision. It doesn't mean that you need to go back into the marriage. It doesn't mean any of those things. It just means that you're human and you had an idea of what life was going to look like, and it didn't turn out that way. And anytime that happens, for whatever reason, there will be grief, and it's totally okay for you to feel it and to process through it and to allow it to be there. I was watching a show the other day and two of the characters were talking about their grief. Now, they weren't talking about it in terms of divorce. They were actually talking about it in the terms that we normally think about grief, which is losing someone right. So they were talking about it in those terms. However, this applies to all grief, in my opinion. One of the characters was offering the other character some advice about her grief over the loss of her loved one And she said I just want you to know that the whole never fills, but new life will grow around it. This idea really reminds me of how I like to think about grief, which is based off of the Lois Tonkin model of grief, and in this model it's kind of explained that most people believe that grief shrinks with time or just eventually it goes away, like enough time passes and then you just don't grieve anymore. And I just don't think that's true. What I believe to be true, and how Lois Tonkin explains it in this model, is that we grow around our grief And as we do this we expand and we grow. So if you can kind of visualize it in this way, think of like a glass jar And in the glass jar is a ball and the ball is representative of grief. So in this grief model we've got the glass jar and we've got the ball of grief inside the jar, and as we grow and expand, the jar is getting bigger and yet the ball stays the same. We are growing and expanding and grief is always there And that's okay. There's nothing bad or wrong with that. I am just offering you this idea that you might have some grief, even if you're the one that left, it's okay. Open up to it. Process through it, all right. The next thing that I really want to address is this guilt factor. No matter the reason for leaving your marriage or deciding on it's time to get divorced, right, most of us will feel some form of guilt over that decision. Now I just want you to understand that guilt can be for a myriad of reasons. It might be a story like I just didn't try hard enough, or I'm ruining my kids' lives for making this decision, or I was just being selfish for wanting to be happy, or for wanting something better. It could be coming from expectations of those outside of us who think you just don't get divorced or that's not what makes a good family. Now you've created a broken family, or something else. It could be religious expectations. For me personally, growing up in the Mormon church, there was definitely religious expectations around staying married and staying in a family unit. Like if you got divorced, that was kind of putting your eternal existence and happiness in jeopardy because you're choosing to break up the family. So you could have any of these stories. You might have something else that is creating this guilt inside of you, and so I think the most useful thing here to help you let go of some of that guilt that you might be feeling is to first understand what is real guilt and where is it coming from and what is probably actually not guilt and why you actually may be feeling something else entirely. We often take on feeling guilty based on what society, what culture, what our religion thinks, sometimes even what our family is thinking or might be thinking, and so, for example kind of to go back to my example of religious guilt it took me a long time to come to my final decision that I wanted to divorce. And part of that, when I really think about it and really break down why it took me so long to step into that decision and own that decision. Part of that was because I was raised Mormon. So taking it back to that religious expectation right, even though I had left that religion years before, i still had the religious belief that had been instilled in me from the time that I was little. That you don't get divorced in this church, you just don't do it. Family is forever And if you break up that family unit, that is going to result in losing blessings, possibly not being able to live together as a family for eternity, which is totally what the Mormon church believes. When you're married and you have a family together, it's not just for here on earth, until death do us part, it's for eternity, your whole life and beyond. That whole idea was ingrained in my brain and definitely that played a part in holding me back from making this decision of getting a divorce. Now don't hear me wrong here. I'm not saying what I just told you as Mormon doctrine. What I'm saying is that is how I interpreted it. Okay, that is what my brain was telling me and it was keeping me stuck. Even long after I left the church, even long after I had let go so much, so many of those religious beliefs, i still had many of them happening in my brain. I still have some of them happening in my brain that I consciously have to work to let go of and to unravel from my belief system. So you could say that I was holding myself back from making that decision because I felt guilty. I felt guilty about my future. I felt guilty about my family's future. I felt guilty about what my parents and my siblings, who are still members of that church, might think. But what I want to offer you is this idea that this type of societal and cultural or religious or familial expectation that is piled on you from the outside sources. That is not actually guilt, it is expectation, it is maybe judgment, it is some other kind of uncomfortable feeling, and the minute that you can start to recognize that and open up to it, you'll be able to let go of that guilty feeling. Where actual guilt might be coming from is when you make a decision that is out of line with your values, and so the best thing that you can do for yourself to recognize well, is this actual guilt or is this just a societal expectation that I'm just holding myself to and that I can just let go of? is you just want to be really clear about what your values are and then either be willing to stay in line with those values, question whether or not it's a value you want to continue to keep, or be willing to fill some guilt over your decision and then just trust yourself that you're going to do what's best for you as you make this decision and heal along the way. And now I want to talk about selfishness, often times when we leave a marriage and of course I know the majority of my audience is women, and so this very much plays into a women thing. But if we are the levers, we are often accused of being selfish. You're so selfish that you did that. How could you make that decision? It's so selfish of you to do that, and we'll tell ourselves these things too. It's not just coming from the outside. We tell ourselves I'm being so selfish for doing this thing. I want to talk about this idea of selfishness for a minute. That is a really kind of hard. There's a lot of S's in that word selfishness, selfishness, oh, my goodness. Okay, i'll see if I can get through it without stumbling over the S's a million times, so, but it's kind of an interesting idea. So, first of all, the word is thought to have been coined in the 1600s by Presbyterians, and it was used to describe a lack of empathy, which I think is fascinating, because when we talk about selfishness in these kind of terms, where we're talking about lack of empathy, i'm gonna go out on a limb and say that, that the majority of women who are leaving their marriage are not lacking in empathy, and that is not the reason they're doing it at all. In fact, most women that I know, who have been raised in Western culture have been gifted from birth. just because you're a girl and this is the society that we live in, something that has been coined human giver syndrome, and this is where we are taught, from the time that we are little, that as a woman, it is our job to give to others, to put others first, no matter what, and that whole idea first of all just usually will open us up to having more empathy. We want to help others, we want to fix things, we want to help make other people feel comfortable. None of those things are bad, but what happens with human giver syndrome is this whole idea of put everyone else first and then maybe you can think about yourself, but only if it doesn't actually infringe upon anyone else's comfort or needs or anything else. And so those of us who have decided to leave a marriage, we feel that crushing weight of I'm being selfish if I do this, because it means that I am thinking of myself first and that is not allowed and I can't do that. It might hurt someone else, it might take away from their needs and that is bad and wrong. I'm not saying any of that is true. I'm just saying that is what this idea of human-giver syndrome has done to us as women, that we don't think of ourselves as worthy of having choices, of doing something that is for us, of doing something that is for our best interest or for our own happiness. But what's really happening is this idea that putting our own needs, our own desires, our own wants, our own happiness first. That's all bad, that that's all wrong. And so, again, when we do that, it must mean that we're selfish, it must mean that we lack empathy and that we are bad. There's something wrong with us. We've made a wrong choice. I'm going to offer the idea to you take it or leave it, as with anything on this podcast that choosing yourself and what you know to be best for you, that is not selfish. That is being a fully living human being. Most of us who leave the marriage, we are very concerned about how our actions and our choices are going to affect those around us, especially our kids, especially our family. Most of us are still very concerned about our ex and if they're going to be okay. Most of us, what we really want is we just want to feel happy, we want to feel safe And, in some small way, we want to feel in control of our lives. That is not being selfish, that is a basic human right. And just because you are a woman, that does not mean that you are not allowed to feel happy, to feel safe and to feel in control. So, this idea of selfishness, do your best to unwind the story that what you're doing, that the choice that you've made, means that you're being selfish. And then, lastly, i just want to offer you this idea of leaning into owning your decision. This can be, i think, one of the hardest and yet most powerfully authoritative things that you can do for yourself after divorce. I remember way, way back when my ex and I were still technically married, but our divorce was in process. We'd been separated for a very long time. We were still living together at the time. But I remember this one point my ex to be came to me and he was just like I don't want the divorce. I think this isn't right. I think this is the wrong decision. I don't want to go through with this. I really want you back. I'm going to work harder. Everything's going to change. We can make it better. I really think that we should make a go of it again. Something like that It was something around those lines. I don't remember specifically exactly what he said, but it was sounded something like that And I just very kindly but firmly said no, i don't want that. I don't want that. I don't want to stay married, i want to move forward with divorce. I know that this is the right decision for me And I owned it with every fiber of my being, even though I knew that it was going to hurt him. I knew that me saying that was going to hurt him again. He was already kind of hurt when I told him I wanted the divorce in the first place. I knew that this decision was hurting my kids. We had already told them we were getting divorced. It was a blow to them And I knew that. And still I owned my decision. I felt peace about my decision And I knew that stepping into that acceptance over and over again, when my brain was telling me to feel guilty, when people outside of me were judging me, when there were times when I was feeling selfish or whatever was happening, i knew that stepping into that acceptance and owning my decision felt right And it felt powerful. And I, finally, when I would step into those moments where I owned my decision, i felt like I had actual authority over my life, which was something that I hadn't felt in a very, very, very long time. Now I'm not saying that you're going to feel exactly like me, and I'm not saying that you should get divorced if that doesn't feel like the right decision for you. Do what feels best to you, but whatever it is, own your decision. That is where the acceptance and taking authority over your own life is going to show up and allow you to create the kind of life that you want. All right, my friends, i hope this helps you if you are navigating being the one who left the marriage. Thank you so much for being here And I will be back next week. Hi, friend, i'm so glad you're here And thanks for listening. I wanted to let you know that if you're wanting more, a way to make deeper, more lasting change, then working one-on-one with me as your coach may be exactly what you need. Together, we'll take everything you're learning in the podcast and implement it in your life, with weekly coaching, real life practice and practical guidance. To learn more about how to work with me one-on-one, go to KarinNelsonCoachingcom. That's wwwKARINNELSONCoachingcom. Thanks for listening. If this podcast agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow and give me a rating wherever you listen to podcasts And for more details about how I can help you live an even better life than when you were married. Make sure and check out the full show notes by clicking the link in the description.