Category Archives: Divorce Counseling Indianapolis

Loss of a Dream

In my own divorce and working with hundreds of individuals and couples one of the hardest parts of divorce is the loss of a dream, of having someone to grow old with or walking your daughter down the aisle together or even the hope or having children. (For some there is a relief that they did not have children with their ex.)

In my own relationship we had tried counseling on and off together for about six years. Neither of us we were happy. I even initially went back to get a masters degree in marriage and family therapy to save my own marriage. It did not work. At that point in my life I did not believe in divorce. I was angry and unhappy all the time which spilled over into my ability to parent and into all my other relationships moreover how I felt about myself. Yet I took years to heal from my divorce. I refused to accept it. My inability to accept the divorce only caused me further pain. I put my life on hold and stayed the victim in my own pity party place way too long.

I also did not allow myself to see the parts of the divorce that were my fault. I blamed him for everything which was not fair to either of us. Yet I also blamed myself and saw myself as a failure for mot being able to make the relationship work. the worst of both world. Ultimately my healing from the divorce involved my accepting the end of the divorce. acknowledging my part in why the marriage did not work, unentangling myself emotionally from my ex, forgiving him and wishing him well, and most importantly my own personal growth.

All these realizations and healings have come in stops and starts. Like taking one step forward and three backward and a few sideways and then a few giant steps forward.

What your divorce looks like, how you go about your healing and I hope ultimately thriving after your divorce will be different from what I did and from what others maybe even your best friend has found helpful. I hope from my personal experience and having coached thousands of men and women and hundreds of people though individual coaching and divorce recovery groups that I can support you in this process of moving through and thriving beyond your divorce.

Step 1. Accept that the divorce is real. you cannot even begin to move on or to take the practical steps you need to take until you acknowledge the reality. When working with clients. I have found that awareness no matter how painful, not hiding your head in the sand is necessary.

Acceptance is the opposite of denial, and with acceptance comes the possibility of hope. Even if you cannot now see it. Yes there is light at the end of the tunnel.

If I can support you in thriving after a divorce or break-up, give me a call.

Amy Barnes

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Transforming Pain to Joy

by Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Divorce causes pain, so does death, loss of a job, cancer, a disappointment or hurt. Some of us bounce back more easily from these places of pain than others. Most of us have a built in resiliency that keeps us going. For some of us we need help just getting back to feeling okay. Most of us need help going from that place of pain to a place of joy some time in our lives.

Counseling and therapy do a reasonably good job of getting people from a place of pain to feeling okay, that is what insurance companies pay for, Mental health insurance companies pay for people with mental health diagnosis to get to a place of okay.

My question is much bigger than that. For me okay is not good enough. I want to feel joy, peace, contentment and even happiness most of the time. As a counselor and coach, I ask myself, what can I do that most reliably helps people get to that place of joy and stay there more and more of the time.

For each of us there are some differences yet there are some consistent things that help us each get to and stay more and more in that place of joy. Now there is an entire field of happiness psychology devoted to helping people feel happier (not just okay).

Would you rather feel joy or just okay?

No this is not a trick question and I have done this long enough and with enough people to know that everyone is willing to move from that place of pain to joy. It takes commitment and a willingness to believe in yourself.

If you answer is YES. I can support in your journey. Give me a call.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC
Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals and couples in transforming pain into joy allowing people to step into their full power and creativity.

Telling Your Divorce Story

by Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals in transforming pain into joy after divorce.

When you talk about your divorce what do you say? How we tell the stories of our divorce and other significant events in our lives can either help us move on or keep us stuck. Whatever the reason for your divorce, whether or not you wanted the divorce, you may feel shock, hurt, anger, sadness, overwhelmed or even relieved.

You may want to share the story of your divorce – your side and what your spouse did wrong and/or continues to do wrong to anyone who will listen. After all you have been wronged, you have been hurt and you have a right to tell your story.

Before telling your story one more time, you might with to consider the following:

Is the person you are telling your story to someone you trust, a close friend or a counselor?

Telling your story to anyone who will listen may cause problems you do not want to deal with. You may become the object of gossip, people might avoid you or feel forced to take sides. Once you have shared information you may find friends or family members or your workplace knows more about you than you want them to know. Once you have said it you cannot take it back. If you don’t say it you can not regret saying it later. Just because people are curious and ask you question you do not need to answer.

Is telling my story hurting someone else?

Will telling my story hurt others including other family members or my children? Your children are 50% you and 50% your ex. If you tell negative stories about your child’s other parent you are in a sense telling negative stories about your child. The child then feels devalued. The best gift you can give your children is allowing them to love both parents. Telling your stories to family members or friends may cause them to take sides in a way that is harmful to you or your children.

Is telling my story repeatedly harmful to me?

When I retell a story of how I have been wronged or harmed, feel the same feelings – anger, hurt, sadness as when the original event happened. In a way it is like reopening a wound each time I tell the story. Retelling a story is great if I feel happy each time I retell the story of something that made me happy such as a wonderful vacation of hiking with my kids in Maine, but not so great if the story brings me down each time I tell it.

You may need to tell your story and feel all the feelings a number of times before you are ready to move on. Yet there will come a time will telling your story and bringing up those feelings again and again will no longer be useful to you and you might be served better by focusing on moving on.

Tell your story to safe people.
Don’t share your story when it is not appropriate or harmful.
Consider when it is no longer useful to tell your story.

Let me here from you. How has telling your story helped or harmed you?

Until Next Time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Conflict with Your Ex?

By Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals and couples in transforming pain into joy.

Nothing can be more infuriating than dealing with an ex who just won’t cooperate, but then that may be why you got a divorce anyway. All too often we want the other person to change: to see our point of view. We believe we are the one who is right. So does the other person. This causes conflict.

You may feel like you need “to walk on eggshells” to not upset your ex. Giving in and not taking a stand when necessary only perpetuates the problem and makes it worse. Then you really are letting your ex control what you do. We each have the ability to move on and to reduce the level of conflict in our lives. Most importantly we have the ability to heal ourselves. Our healing is not dependent on what someone else does or does not do. Taking responsibility for your own life is empowering. This may also feel overwhelming and scary. We may continue blaming others for our current plight in life to avoid accepting responsibility for our own actions or just because we do not know how to approach life differently.

Asking for help when you need it is a healthy behavior. As a relationship counselor and coach many individuals come to see me about conflict with their ex. I assist people to let go of the conflict, to move on and thrive after their divorce, whether or not they wanted the divorce. Learning how to deal with your ex without the drama is an important part of your healing of allowing you to let go. As long as you are still in conflict with your ex your are still in relationship with him or her.

Learning to trust yourself, to trust your gut, to make healthy decisions regarding your life allow you to feel empowered and good about yourself. You can choose to regain control of your life and eliminate the conflict and the drama. Let me know if I can help.
Copyright 2011

Until Next Time

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Healing From Divorce

By Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC

Why is healing from a divorce necessary?  Divorce can leave you feeling devastated in a way that many of your single and married friends do not understand no matter how hard they try.  Being divorced is like a death.  Like a death, a divorce needs time to be grieved. You need not only time but also must be willing to do the work of healing. Time alone does not heal.   Until you have completed the healing process, you may be incredibly vulnerable and easily hurt again or you may have hardened your heart so much that you are unwilling to let anyone in. 

Neither place is healthy emotionally. I am certain you have each met someone who is bitter over a divorce that happened many years ago.  This does not have to be you.  You can heal and life can be good! 
The healing process is different for each person but generally includes the five steps listed below:   

1.  First is denial.  This is really not happening to me.  You may wish to think everything will be fine – nothing has changed.  Accepting that the marriage is really over may feel devastating.

2.   Dealing with the emotional pain.  Not just denying it. You may feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster.  Feelings may include sadness, anger, fear, loneliness plus dozens of other feelings.  You may feel like your heart is breaking.  It may even be hard to get to work or to take care of daily tasks.  Unfortunately this is usually also the time that all the legal work and finances and child custody issues need to be taken care of.

3.  Discovering who you are all over again.  As a single person you are not the same person you were when you entered this relationship.  What do you like to do now? What do you like about yourself?  You may even need to rediscover simple things like what type of food you really like to eat or rediscovering hobbies or trying new activities. What do you like to do now?

4.  Understanding your part in why the marriage did not work.  At this time, this may not seem necessary or possible to you.  This is not about blaming yourself or your spouse but about learning and growing as a person and improving your chances for a better relationship.  You may wish to restore relationships with your family and children if necessary. To make peace with the past and forgive yourself and others. Forgiving does not mean forgetting or allowing yourself to get hurt all over again.  Forgiving is for YOUR benefit. 

5.  Moving on!!! Finally after you have dealt with the past and the pain and understood your part in what happened and know who you are and what you want to do in life and you’ve actually started to feel good about yourself  (Yes, this can actually happen!)  It’s time to move on.  It’s time to put the past behind you and move forward to look ahead to the life that awaits you. 

Many people would like to move straight from step 1 denial to step 5 putting the past behind. Failure to complete the healing process could be why the divorce rate for second marriages is estimated at 60% or higher than the divorce rate for first marriages. 

As a divorce counselor and coach, I have led many divorce recovery programs.  I also work with many individuals who are in the process of healing from a divorce.  We heal best with the support of others.  The healthier you are and the more you know about yourself the more likely your next relationship is to succeed or you may find that do not wish to be in a relationship and that is ok also!  Being divorced does not have to ruin the rest of your life.  If necessary seek help and be willing to do the work of healing.  What you do with the rest of your life is up to you. 
Copyright 2011

Until Next Time,
Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC

Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals and couples in transforming pain into joy.

Are You One Of “Those People”?

By Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC

Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals in transforming pain into joy after divorce.

I have always been drawn to certain people. These are the people, that after I have met with them, I feel better than I did before. Do you know people like that? They seem to have a zest for life and a certain inner glow. I used to meet “those people” with a bit of cynicism as they just didn’t seem real. No more. I want to be one of “those people”. I always enjoy working with a client who wants to be one of “those people.” “Those people” have good and bad days just like the rest of us, they just seem to handle it differently. After a conversation with one of “those people” I feel up for days!

Particularly when we are going through a difficult time: an illness, loss of a job or divorce, we may think that how we feel is beyond our control. We all have problems, bad days, losses, disagreements and we all make mistakes. After all we are all human and being imperfect is part of the human condition. Our imperfectness and our humanness is what connect us at a deep level to every other human being on the planet. It is not that these people have less adversity or fewer problems than you or I do. So what is it that keeps these people going? What’s the secret? I want to know it, discover it, and possess it as if it were some quantifiable, tangible substance that I could bottle and take as needed. I’ve come up with two key ingredients.

Are “those people” just lucky? “Those people” seem to have the ability to make lemonade out of lemons. They have a love and a zest for life that most of us only dream of. Or perhaps long ago we even stopped dreaming. We have created our own box and we have defined ourselves in a self limiting way. How do you define yourself? What limitations have you given yourself that you now believe? Some are realistic – At 5”2” and well over the age of 29, I am not going to be a pro basketball player or the next Olympic figure skating champion. Knowing what our true limitations are is being realistic. Most of our self imposed limitations are not realistic. They have come from outdated views of ourselves that were usually given to us by others. You may have been told you would never be any good at something and for whatever reason you believed it. Many of us have come to believe for one reason or another that we are not worthy of good things. Try challenging some of your own self-limiting beliefs. You may be pleasantly surprised.

“Those people” also seem to have something else even more important in common. They have a certain resiliency. They don’t wallow in their problems but make a commitment to thrive and make the best of life no matter what is handed to them. They given up trying to unrealistically control their lives and others. They have a faith in God’s goodness. Sometimes my ego and my pride get in the way. When I try to take the credit and control the outcome, life can be hard. When I am able to get out of the way, let God in, ask for God’s guidance and help, wonderful things can happen. Some days, I just need to put a smile on my face and trust what God has in store for me. Ironically those are usually the days that turn out best.

I want to thrive no matter what. I commit to not focusing on my problems but focusing on the solutions. I commit to taking 100% responsibility for what happens in my life. I commit to asking for help when I need it and for taking full responsibility for taking care of what I can control. I commit to stepping into my full power and creativity. I want to be one of those people. How about you?
Copyright 2011

Until next time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Does Your Life Seem Out of Control?

Does Your Life Seem Out of Control?
By Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC

Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals in transforming pain into joy after divorce.

The alarm rings. Everyday seems the same. You hit snooze. Why bother? What’s the purpose? It’s hard to focus. Life lacks a sense of purpose, a sense of direction. You go about your days with a kind of numbness. Your whole world has changed and everything seems out of your control. You either keep constantly busy or you do nothing or find yourself fluctuating between these two extremes. Life holds little meaning and there may seem no way out. If you have felt this way before and do so no longer: Congratulations! If you have never felt like this before I hope you never will. Perhaps you have a friend who feels like this. For those of you who feel stuck in this place, I wish to offer hope that life does not have to continue to feel like this.

Have you recently experienced the break up of a marriage or a serious relationship, the death of a loved one, or loss of a job? Each can leave you feeling out of control and not in charge of your life. You may feel numb, or angry or sad or scared or even relieved; or a combination of all these feelings at the same time. You may not feel valued, heard or respected. How do you treat yourself? You are worthy of respect, of being heard, of being valued and yes, of being loved. You may have had a recent situation that has temporarily left you feeling discouraged or you may feel deep down that you are not worthy of love or respect by others or by yourself. As a relationship and divorce counselor and therapist I often see individuals who don’t feel good about themselves. My job as a therapist is to create a safe place for these individuals to be heard and to feel valued and respected. I enjoy helping people feel empowered and in control of their lives.

Letting go and moving on is rough but quite possible. Allowing yourself to feel and deal with those unpleasant feelings is a necessary part of healing. Perhaps the hardest part of healing is to treat yourself as you wish others to treat you – to love yourself. Would you treat yourself differently if you really cared about and loved yourself? Would you take better care of your body, your mind, and your spiritual life? Each day allow yourself to play, to laugh and to be with friends. Each day becomes a balance of both taking care of yourself and being there for others. Have you ever tried to pour lemonade out of an empty pitcher? Just like the empty pitcher, if you do not fill yourself by taking care of you; you have nothing to give others.

You don’t need to stay stuck in this place. Talk with friends, get some help, call a counselor who specializes in relationship and divorce issues. You are worth it! You are worthy of being loved, of having a wonderful life. Life can be better.
Copyright 2011

Until next time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Flirting Is Not A Four Letter Word

By Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC

Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals in transforming pain into joy after divorce.

What comes to your mind when you think of flirting? Several people have asked me to do a workshop on flirting. I have two reservations. First I am not a natural flirt. I don’t even claim to be very good at flirting. Second for me, growing up in a conservative German family, “flirting” as a dirty word – only something the “fast” girls did.

So what is flirting? Webster’s defines flirting as “acting amorously without serious intentions.” I do not like the definition of a flirt, found in Funk and Wagnall, “a woman who tries to attract men merely to gratify her vanity.” Susan Rabin, author of How to Attract Anyone, Anytime, Anyplace: The Smart Guide to Flirting, was recently featured on Good Morning America as a flirting coach. I was so intrigued that I read several of her books. According to Susan Rabin, “flirting connotes action – being playful, conversant and charming.” She adds that flirting is not manipulative. I think it is that possibility for manipulation that has given flirting a bad rap. Flirting is not about misrepresentation or coercing or forcing anybody into anything.

Before you even leave the house comes preparation for flirting. Be well rested, clean, put on your make up, give your shoes a shine, get a haircut and remember your mouthwash. Have something interesting to talk about. Read the newspaper or watch the news, have you seen at least one or two current movies, read a best seller or do you have a hobby or a special interest to talk about?

Flirting can be learned! Would you want to talk to you? Does your body language, smile (or lack of one) and eye contact send out a signal that you are approachable or not? Are you receptive? Are you a good listener? Do you notice whether you are making a connection with the other person or if they can’t wait to move on? Did you learn something interesting about the other person or did you do all the talking?

If the object of your flirting was not responsive, move on; don’t take rejection personally, after all, that person did not get a chance to know you. If you are the person that moves on too quickly, slow down, give the other person a chance.

As a relationship and divorce counselor I encourage people to make and deepen their connections with others. People with strong circles of friends actually have been shown to be healthier and to live longer. I also encourage people to not take life too seriously and to play more. Flirting is a playful way of connecting with others. In future articles we’ll explore other ways of making and maintaining connections with others. For now I encourage you to give flirting a try, and see what you think.
Copyright 2011

Until next time,
Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Letting Go

By Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC

Amy is a relationship counselor and coach with over 15 years experience, specializing in supporting individuals in transforming pain into joy after divorce.

Do you remember going to the circus? I was always fascinated by the flying trapeze. I loved watching the performers swinging to and fro, so high in the air. Then effortlessly, or so it seemed, the performer leaped, almost flying from one trapeze to the next. As far as I was concerned a big leap of faith was needed to “let go.” For a brief moment the performer seemed suspended in the air neither connected to the old trapeze nor having caught the next one. The performer had to completely let go of one trapeze before grabbing the next. Likewise we need to completely let go of the past before we can move on and grab the new yet unknown and unfamiliar adventures that await us in the present and the future.

Letting go of our past is much like moving from one trapeze to the next. It is an act of faith to let go without knowing what lies ahead. Breaking up is hard. Letting go is harder. If you are still talking or thinking about your ex frequently, you have not let go. No matter how long ago the relationship ended!!! Have you ever met someone who is still bitter and angry over a past hurt in life some 10, 20, 30 or even more years later. Your life does not need to be like that.

Grieving past relationships and past hurts is necessary before the letting go can be completed. Grieving requires dealing with the hurt and the pain and a wide variety of emotions. People often move on to soon, staying in denial, not wanting to deal with the pain. You need to face the painful feelings before you can move on. The only person you hurt by not moving on is yourself. If you try to let go too soon, you stop the healing necessary to successfully move on. Also, you will most likely find yourself repeating past mistakes and dealing with similar relationship problems in the future.

So how do you know when to let go. Have you completed the grieving process or are you just in denial? To let go of the past is to accept complete responsibility for your part in what happened to bring your relationship to the point of the break up. In no case is it all someone else’s fault. Letting go requires forgiving yourself and forgiving the other person. Not for their sake but for yours.

Being stuck in this place is unfortunately fairly common. Do you really want to go out on a date with someone who spends half the evening complaining about their ex? If you feel you are stuck or not where you would like to be or if you would like support in moving through the phases of divorce or the breakup of a long term relationship, I can help as a relationship counselor specializing in divorce.

Letting go allows you to see life more clearly and more realistically. Most importantly letting go allows you to move on with your life and to be able to look forward to the future. Who knows? You might even find yourself smiling!

Until next time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Are You Open To New Possibilities?

By Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC

Are you open to new places, new things, new people, new ways of doing things, new experiences…?   Has divorce left you with a sour taste in your mouth?  I’m asking if you are open to ALL the possibilities this New Year brings.  Are you willing to move beyond your divorce?  Most of us aren’t!  Five years after divorce only 20% of people are significantly happier.  We tend to spend most of our lives living, working and socializing within a very small comfortable and very familiar space even if we don’t like it.  I am asking you to think about stepping out of your box in 2011.

Life may seem safe inside your box.  Most of us would rather stay inside our box and stay safe than risk trying something new.  Being open, trying new things is scary.  Most of us talk about doing something different, yet few of us are willing to actually do something different.

  • Are you open to new people?  Does your body language, eye contact and smile (or lack of a smile) say you are approachable or not?
  • Are you open to new activities?  Have you tried dancing, hiking, skiing, Yoga, a book club or a Meet-up group?
  • Are you open to helping others?  When was the last time you did something for someone else with no expectation of receiving anything in return?  Volunteering is a great way to meet people!
  • Are you open to learning a new skill?  Perhaps cooking, or word processing, painting, or something else either for fun or for your job?
  • Are you open to following your dreams – to expanding your horizons?  What are 100 things you wish to do in your life?  Make a list and start now.  What are you waiting for?
  • Are you open to increasing your spiritual life?  Attend a worship service, read,  or join a study group.
  • Are you open to improving your physical health?  Walk, join the Y and use it, get that check up you have been putting off, drink water and eat your veggies.
  • Are you open to improving yourself?  Self help books, laughing more, workshops, journaling, serious self-reflection or even counseling?
  • Are you open to suspending judgments about people (and dates)? Chemistry is not always instantaneous.  Your soul mate may not come in the package you are expecting…are you more interested in the wrapping paper or what’s inside?
  • Are you open to being in charge of your life?  Will you accept total responsibility for your life and where it is headed, no longer blaming others for your problems or misfortunes?
  • Is your heart open or closed?  Are you so hurt by past relationships that you feel you could never get close to anyone again?  Be open! Risk!  The potential reward is enormous.
  • Are you open to the possibility that life may not be as you expect but may actually be much better than anything you can now imagine?

Life is a journey.  Nothing ever stays the same.  You may not be in control of what happens to you, yet you are in control of how you respond, what you choose to do with your life.  Are you open or closed to the possibilities?  It’s your choice.  It’s January, 2011, a new year and you are in charge of your life!   Happy New Year!!!

Until Next Time,

Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC

Copyright 2011