Category Archives: healing from divorce

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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Shock Versus Acceptance

Divorce. I’m divorcing you. You’re divorcing me. The words can sting. Bite. They can leave you paralyzed or relieved or with about a million other feelings. Denial. Shock. Anger. Sadness. Even Relief. How can this be happening to me? This state of shock can last from day and weeks to months and years. This also is a time when you will need to make lots of decisions. Yet, for most of us it’s a time when our brains just don’t want to function.

First I suggest making sure your marriage really is over – can you both agree to work on your marriage. Would it be valuable for you each to work on yourselves? Often we blame our marriage when it is actually ourselves we are not happy with. Are you both willing to take a specific amount of time for marriage counseling and to work on your marriage; for example three or six months with both of you giving 100% to the marriage, before calling it quits for good. Then neither of you will have regrets and if doesn’t work you will both know you tried everything. I highly recommend this since only 20% of people are significantly happier five years after their divorce. Don’t threaten divorce unless you mean it. As a marriage coach I inspire couples to have wonderful marriages but this only works if that is what both people truly want.

My spouse wants the divorce and I don’t. The marriage is over. If one spouse is completely out of the marriage there is nothing you can do to make it work. It’s like beating your head against the wall; it feels good when you stop. You can’t heal from a divorce until you have accepted that it will happen. You’re in shock and feel like you are living a nightmare you can’t wake up from. Breathe. Don’t make any major decisions. Don’t agree to anything that you will regret later. Don’t say anything you will regret later.

You can’t make a marriage work no matter how much you want it if the other person has irreversibly called it quits. You can’t heal from a divorce until you have accepted that it is happening. If you are willing, you can get through this and come out better on the other side even if you don’t have a clue how to do it right now.

Call me. I can help.

Until next time,

Amy Barnes, MA MBA LMHC
I empower people to discover their gifts, talents and self worth.

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.

The Power of Forgiveness

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

Forgiveness is a selfish act. I forgive for me. When I forgive my ex I let go of any power my ex has over me. I wish him or her well and I go on with my life and my ex goes on with his or her life. No longer am I entwined in their life. No longer can I blame them for what happens to me now and in the future. I become free and empowered to live my own life.

Forgiveness does not absolve my ex of me responsibility for what happened. If I make a mess I am still responsible for any consequences and any mess resulting from my actions. Forgiveness does not mean taking away the consequences.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. You hurt me and I may forgive you, but I am going to get out of your way so that you cannot hurt me again. I want to protect myself and my loved ones. I won’t forget what happened.

Forgiveness is letting go of the right to revenge. When I forgive I no longer spend my energy plotting against my ex. I realize they are human and I let go. I am free to move on and so are they after they have dealt with the consequences of their actions.

Forgiveness heals me. Energetically when I let go of the hurt, I feel better. The stress and adrenaline are no longer running rampant through my body. I allow my heart, my head, my body and my spirit to heal.

Forgiveness may or may not be a spiritual or religious action. Many of the world religions have a component of forgiveness. For most of us true forgiveness is hard and something we may need to do over and over again.

Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Whether or not I forgive my ex has nothing to do with whether or not I allow my ex back into my life. I may forgive my ex but have no desire to ever see or talk with her or him again. Remember that part about forgiveness is not forgetting.

Forgiveness empowers me. No longer am I allowing my ex or anyone else to control my life. I am in control of me and I am empowered to live my own life.

Forgiveness allows us to let go of the past and to move forward in our lives. As a relationship counselor and coach I work with clients on forgiveness and moving on with their lives. Call me if I can help.

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.