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Category: Divorce

E – ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert #AtoZChallenge

E – ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert #AtoZChallenge

“You cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

‘Liberating’ – this was one of the most profound emotions felt after I read the novel ‘Eat Pray Love’. The timing of the book coincided with my separation and with the reality of being on my own. Author Elizabeth Gilbert’s own story of self-discovery across three countries, this book was a revelation of sorts for me….

…That of several possibilities a newly divorced single woman can experience in her life:

  • She steps out of a situation that is toxic and does not serve any purpose
  • She is okay to not feel guilty while looking for pleasure (read food) in another country
  • She travels to India (like many foreigners do) in pursuit of devotion, in search of a Guru

If you yearn sincerely enough for a Guru, you will find one. The universe will shift, destiny’s molecules will get themselves organized and your path will soon intersect with the path of the master you need.

  • She can surrender to her new reality and make peace with it
  • It is possible for her to forgive her ex-husband and more importantly, forgive herself
  • She must learn to control her mind when everything else around her seems out of control
  • She finds herself and then finds love again

The movie based on this book had Julia Roberts playing Elizabeth. She was good as always, but movies hardly ever come close to the magic of reading the books!


Key Highlights:

‘Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water.’

‘When the karma of a relationship is done, only love remains. Its safe. Let go.’

‘The hub of calmness- that’s your heart. That’s where God lives within you. So stop looking for answers in the world. Just keep coming back to that centre and you will always find peace.”

This post is part of the #AtoZChallenge 2017 Blogging from AtoZ: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Have you read the previous ones?

A: A New Earth 

B: Brahma Kumaris

C: Chicken Soup for the Soul

D: Dialogue with Death 

 

Image courtesy: http://www.studio-t.it/en/

C – ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ books #AtoZChallenge

C – ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ books #AtoZChallenge

“We cannot learn without pain.” ~Aristotle

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when we find ourselves in situations we have no control over. Changes in our lives can be daunting. But when we realize that there have been many others before us in similar circumstances, it is comforting. ‘The Chicken Soup for the Soul’ has been a reassuring set of books with inspiring stories of people from all over the world. Many of their books have been a part of my daughters and mine reading ritual together.

There’s always a ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ book for you – no matter what your age or stage in life!

During the process of my divorce, its edition of ‘Divorce and Recovery’ was an eye-opener for dealing with everything related to divorce. Reading personal stories of grief and loss helped me deal with my own experience. I could relate to all the confusion and turmoil within, often with an objective view. The people in the stories were strangers, their situations were in a different context, yet it felt as though we are all in this together. The chosen ones!
This book helped me acknowledge all the crazy emotions running through my mind and heart. It brought forth a reassurance that a broken heart can be healed.

The thought of divorce meant entering a dark place, one I was determined never to know.

Throwing light on the various situations I could possibly face ahead, it helped me to deal with visitation scenario, financial perils, children’s well-being, dating after divorce and more. I was filled with the hope of surviving my divorce and the much needed optimism of thriving thereafter. Divorce can be life’s greatest lesson!

A highly recommended self-help book for divorced women, men and families.

Key Highlights:

‘For the first time I was doing what was best for me. I finally acknowledged that I deserved more.’

“There are all kinds of reasons for two people to stay together and all kinds of reasons for them to move apart.”

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” –Robert Muller. 

Buy this book here:

http://amzn.to/2mUUIKG

 

This post is part of the #AtoZChallenge 2017 Blogging from AtoZ: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Image Courtesy: jackcanfield.com

 

 

What divorced women would like to tell the society

What divorced women would like to tell the society

society

“Those who have gone through divorce know the pain and special challenges of raising a child under such circumstances.” ~Mike Macgavick  

My divorce hit me hard, it sure did. It is after all a life-changing event in more ways than one can imagine. But what hit me harder was the way our society is conditioned to perceive divorce. People have strange ways of reacting and looking at divorcees, especially divorced women.

We divorced women have a lot on our plate, we can surely do without more stressors. As we deal with our situation and with our difficult feelings, these are some of the things we would like to tell people:

  1. We are not victims: Whether we have chosen to end our marriage or our spouse has, we do not want to be seen as victims. Life is not meant to be fair and everyone has their share of challenges. Just like any other relationship, a marriage too can end for several reasons. Do not stare at us with pitiful eyes or call us ‘poor her’. We do not ask for sympathy.
  1. Do not gossip: Divorce tends to become a topic of juicy gossip in our society, be it in private gatherings or social functions. Both husband and wife are analysed and people love to indulge in finding faults. Do recognise that divorce is agonising for the families concerned. We have too many perplexing emotions to deal with, we do not require any mud slinging. Kindly do not add more negative energy into the situation.
  1. Divorce is not a sign of weakness: On the contrary divorced women are strong enough to recognise that staying in a bad marriage can be hazardous – for us as well as our kids. We would have put up with a lot of trauma and suffering before our separation. It would probably have been the hardest choice to arrive at the inevitable decision. But going through the painful process of divorce and its aftermath only makes us more resilient than one can fathom.
  1. Do not judge us: The society tends to put the onus usually on the women to save a marriage. It is assumed that the wife has to work harder to adjust and make the husband and in-laws happy. Yes, marriages are sacred for us and we would have mightily strived to save it. We do not marry to get divorced especially when we have children. But do not think of men as a superior sex who can be excused for their misogyny. Shake out of the long imbibed patriarchal conditioning. Stop expecting us to bend over backwards all the time. Our husbands are not our Gods.

               You alone cannot save your marriage

  1. We don’t have to remarry: Marriage is not the be all and end all for a woman. Break free from old thinking that a woman cannot remain single forever. Or that she needs someone to support her. Whether we choose to date anyone or live in with someone or decide to remain single or even remarry, it is completely our choice. If we have male friends, do not jump to conclusions or malign our character. Our relationships are our choice and we do not seek outside advice.
  1. Spare our kids: Kids from a divorced family go through too much stress. Do not label them or make their parents’ divorce their identity. They don’t need to hear any insensitive chatter or blather from others. Nor do they need to hear any bad-mouthing of either of their parents. It is not their fault, they have absolutely no control over the situation. So please do not ask them anything that is difficult or embarrassing to answer.

              How children see their family

  1. We have our own identity: Our identity does not stem from being someone’s wife or daughter-in-law only. We are complete in our own ways. Just ‘cos we are single also does not make us easy prey for men to flirt with. We are okay to go out alone be it the movies or dining or shopping. We do not always need a shoulder to lean on. Being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely.

What we really need is for people to be sensitive. To understand and to give us our space and privacy. We need time to rediscover ourselves, renew our confidence and our self-esteem. What the society can do is to let us be and not decide for us. What we truly want is to heal from the trauma and build our lives back together.

 Image courtesy: Pexels

How to help children feel comfortable in school after separation

How to help children feel comfortable in school after separation

help

“Together may we give our children roots to grow and wings to fly.” ~Unknown

When parents get separated or divorced, children either get to continue in their same school or inevitably have to move schools depending on the circumstances and logistics. Changing schools during separation ensues a different set of challenges, a situation that I did not have to face and hence do not have insights. This post examines the scenario of helping children feel comfortable in the same school post separation or divorce.

School is like a second home for children. So when there befalls a crisis situation at home, it becomes a place of refuge for many kids. Since they spend most of their daytime in school, it provides a safe environment of routine and familiarity.

Here are a few ways we can help children readjust and feel comfortable in their own school during separation or post divorce:

1. Teachers: Meet with the class teacher (and not all the individual subject teachers in the Indian schools) and inform her/him about your family situation. It would be worthwhile to even confide in your child’s favourite teacher, someone he/she looks up to and who is sensitive enough to empathise with. Discuss with the teacher about the emotions your child feels at home and to look out for possible behaviour changes he/she may exhibit in school. You don’t need to disclose all the details about your personal life. Just maintain the relevance in context to your child’s well being. Teachers usually contact parents only if an issue escalates in school. Maintain regular contact with the concerned teachers apart from the time spent during parent-teacher meetings. Work closely with them and heed to their advice.

2. School counsellor: School counsellors are qualified to address several emotional and mental issues children face at different ages. Most of the schools would either have a full time student guidance counsellor or have someone coming in part time. Some schools may not have either, in which case the school authorities will recommend counsellors outside of school. Confiding in a counsellor helps the child and the parent deal with the changes at home and the whole new set of feelings. I have been truly fortunate to have access to our full time school counsellor who is compassionate and easy to talk to. Just the thought of having her as someone my kids could talk to in school, someone looking out for trouble signs, was very reassuring to me. She continues to be a sound support in dealing with several issues that I now face with my teenagers in school. School counsellors provide an opportunity for children to discuss their feelings in a stable environment. Counselling in school or outside does go a long way in helping children build their own coping mechanisms.

3. What to say, how much to say: Children are often subjected to many difficult questions that can be painful to answer. ‘Why do you not live with your father?’, ‘Why did your parents divorce?’, ‘Which parent do you love more?’, ‘Do you miss your old home?’, “Is your mom a bad person?’…so on and so forth. People are and will always be curious to know more. This is a reality children coming from a divorced family have to deal with for life. It’s important to teach them that they need not answer difficult questions if it makes them uncomfortable. They need to know that it’s perfectly okay to say they do not want to talk about it. Alternatively, subtle answers can be suggested that do not divulge too many details. It’s equally important for adults to handle this with care, sensitivity and tact.

4. Official formalities: It is essential to update all school records with the new address, contact nos. and change in mother’s name (where relevant). If the bus route has changed, update that as well with the bus authorities and inform the concerned in-charge on the bus. It is extremely important to update the emergency contact numbers, especially that of the family doctor or physician. The school diary usually needs to be signed by both parents. If one parent is not available or refuses to sign, let the school authorities know the reason.

5. Visitation schedules: In many cases, children tend to spend their time between two homes after separation. The teacher needs to be informed of the custody and visitation arrangement. For there may arise situations where children forget to bring along school essentials or leave behind important documents, etc. at the other home. If the teacher is well aware, it would mean sparing the children from scolding or further embarrassment. It is also important for teachers to be aware of extremely hostile situations when the non-resident parent may get invasive or intruding in school. If the child is to be fetched by an adult after school, kindly arrange so with an appropriate identity card to ensure safety.

6. Activities: Some children shy away socially and may avoid extra activities, recourse to being in their own shell. They need to be encouraged to take part in as many activities as possible, fostering their development and confidence. Despite moving further away from school after divorce, the extra distance did not deter me to drive my kids early in the mornings to ensure they participate in school sports (It’s a proud feeling that they went on to be a part of their school teams at various levels). Normalcy and consistency in maintaining their routine is key to their wellbeing.

7. School events: When children of divorce know that both parents love them unconditionally, it does a world of good to them. While it is essential for the custodian parent (usually the mom) to be present for all the school events, the presence of the non-resident parent provides a morale boost to the child. If the situation is amicable between the parents, their equal involvement in the child’s life is healthy. But if the situation has been acrimonious and the parents do not communicate well, the child can be spared of seeing them together in school.

Children are usually quite adaptive and find ways to cope with the changes in school. With love, right guidance and support, they eventually figure out what best works for them. So do single parents!

‘Letting Go’ can be very hard

‘Letting Go’ can be very hard

cliff

jump

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” ~ Hermaan Hesse

What you see in these images is a small cliff and me jumping into the water. What you do not see here is what preceded this jump!

The adventurous side of me decided to do something I had never done before – cliff jumping in the cold waters of Rishikesh. With all enthusiasm I climbed up to the top of the cliff with friends who had done it earlier and swore by the fun. “Its an experience you must have!” they had said. It was only once I reached up and looked down at the water that all my gusto was taken over by nervousness. Was I insane – how could I possibly jump from this height! I wanted to turn back and go down the hill but it was too late. Scores of people had queued up behind me to take their turn, patiently waiting for me to jump in. And I simply couldn’t let go! I was scared and landed up creating a scene for about 10 minutes, when normally people take only seconds to jump in. Until finally I couldn’t do it on my own and had to ask the person behind me to push me!

But that’s me. I have always had difficulties in letting go or have a strong habit of holding on – whichever way you look at. How I treasure my precious collectibles for years – the books that I loved reading and revisiting; my innumerable photo albums, both in print and digital; cannot let go of my favourite outfits until they are shamefully tattered; holding on to the colourful stationery and art supplies from college days; saving those heartfelt letters and cards from childhood days. Speaking of which, it was hard to even let go of the cards from my ex, despite all the bitterness post divorce.

How then was I supposed to leave my marital home, whose every nook and corner I had tendered to (the Bollywood fan in me was reminded of the scene from the Hindi movie ‘Astitva’ when actress Tabu was hugging the floor of her home for the last time before she was leaving her husband). Familiarity brings comfort and I wanted to hold on to my comfort zone. The people associated with me in the neighbourhood – the librarian, the girls in the salon next door, and the smiling lady at the grocers. My favourite walking parks by the sea and the shops down the road that I frequented. My yoga class in the vicinity, my friends, and all that I was attached to.

How was I supposed to let go of everything that was built with so much love, dedication and trust in marriage. Of a bond whose foundation began with vows around the sacred fire. How could I let go of all those memories built over days and months and years!

Life surely has its ways that are sometimes beyond our comprehension. When it gets you to the point where its best to leave behind everything and move on, then you gotta let go. Even if it means being pushed into letting go!

How children see their family

How children see their family

Reticulated Giraffe Family

“Once you bring kids into this world, its not about you anymore.” ~Tony Gaskins

One of the harshest outcomes of separation of a married couple is its inevitable impact on their children. As adults, most of us have already faced disappointments and changes, losses and challenges, at different stages in life. We have been in stressful situations in one-way or another, and we have developed our own coping mechanisms to deal with them and learn from them. But for small children, their parents’ separation and the disintegration of the family unit would perhaps be their first apparent life crisis! When as adults the situation can be excruciatingly painful, it is unimaginable to fathom the agony children can go through.

The way small children see it – family means the entire world to them. In the eyes of toddlers, their parents are truly their universe and there isn’t anything else, literally. Even older children, however detached and rebellious they can be, continue to define themselves in terms of their family. Their family is an intrinsic part of who they are. Their parents are the two most important people who mean everything to them. They perceive both mom and dad as a single entity, rather than seeing them differently as a mom and a dad. It is from this single unit that their family was created. No wonder then that children view their parents’ breakup as the end of something fundamentally significant.

When children see and absorb that their family is not what it used to be, that alone can shake them. It can evoke emotions of being unsure, anxious and insecure. Separation can seem like a catastrophe and be a devastating feeling!

We all feel a need to belong and there is no better sense of belonging than that which comes from being a part of a loving family. It becomes extremely crucial for a parent or both the parents, given different circumstances of separation, to help these children navigate through the painful process in a reassuring and healthy way.

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