Have I Ruined My Kids’ Lives Forever Now That I’m Separated?

Have I Ruined My Kids’ Lives Forever Now That I’m Separated?

When I was contemplating my separation, my greatest fear was that I would ruin my kids’ lives forever. Thankfully, the universe intervened, showing me that I felt I had no other choice but to leave. It was time – no more excuses and no more hiding away from the things that were happening in my life at the time.

I had an idealistic view about what my family life would look like and the life that I was in was far from that reality. My entire world and patterns of behaviour that I had grown to know had become foreign to me.

I felt deeply unhappy and restless within myself. The vibrant, energetic mum I had imagined myself to be was nothing more than a past desire. I was closed off, stressed and in many ways so uncertain about who I was.

Like all mums I’m sure, I wanted the best for my kids. I was conscious they were getting older and I knew that as the years went on their life experiences and influences would become more cemented. What they had grown to know at that point about their family dynamic was not what I wanted them to experience ongoing.

On the surface life looked OK, but beneath, the environment around them was not harmonious. People kept telling me that kids were resilient and they’d manage if I separated, but I was scared of the unknown.

Being a single mum of two-year-old twins (at the time) was not what I’d signed up for and with my mum and sister going through their own troubles I knew the support around me would be limited. What I have come to learn is that if a separation is handled in the right way – and what I mean by that is that your kids’ well-being drives the process of separation rather than your own ego – it is possible for your kids to transition well.

My kids have been incredible during the transitions and upheavals.

Why?

Fundamentally, because I allowed their needs – not the hurt and anger I felt at the time – to drive the process. Our kids are here to teach us many valuable things about ourselves, some of which we won’t like, but if we embrace this knowledge we can learn to heal and, eventually, to love who we transition into.

I won’t lie. Of course there have been heartbreaking moments where my kids were upset and could not be consoled for a while. In that moment the only thing you can do to soothe them is to sit quietly with them, cuddle them and reassure them that you are there.

To me, there is no point in brushing their feelings away by saying it’s OK, because clearly in that moment it’s really not OK for them. I want to encourage my kids to express their emotions, to allow their emotions to rise, not to push them down and pretend all is well.

I stuffed my emotions down for years and I can see the impact that has had on me. Rather than learning to express the underlying emotions and get choked up or make myself vulnerable, I tended to raise my voice to prove that I was handling it all. The consequence of stuffing down my emotions was that my behaviour was misconstrued as being aggressive at times.
Now, almost two years post separation, I see that I am a far better single mother than I would ever have been in my old family dynamic. I want my kids to see, feel and express love, and when two people are fighting their own insecurities it’s not possible for kids to have that in an authentic way.

The most precious gift and life experience you can ever give to your kids is to focus on yourself and your own healing. When you do that, every area of your life will transform and flourish in ways you couldn’t have anticipated.
That road, of personal development can be lonely and difficult at times, but the more you slice through the layers to get to the true essence of who you are, the more gratifying the journey. Most people live unconsciously and move through their lives not ever knowing what drives their behaviour.

I look at my kids each day in awe. I hear what others say about them and I watch them socialize with others and realise that, yes, they are incredibly resilient and well-adjusted. They don’t need to live in the fanciest house or attend the best school.

They need boundaries, security, consistent routines and your unconditional, authentic love to thrive in life. So each time you doubt your own abilities, thinking “I should”, come back to the basics and ask yourself, Do I have firm boundaries in place? Are my kids safe and secure? Is there consistency in their lives? Do I demonstrate unconditional, sometimes tough, love?

If you’re doing your best at fulfilling those areas, then know this: You’re well on the way to raising resilient, well-adjusted kids of your own.

Ten Reasons My Separation Became My Biggest Blessing

Ten Reasons My Separation Became My Biggest Blessing

When you’re in a world of turmoil and going through a separation, it’s hard to image that you will ever escape the stress, anxiety and uncertainty you feel. I have always been a big believer that things don’t happen randomly to us.
We are thrown these curve balls in life because there is something we need to learn. Get too cocky and watch the universe or life throw something your way to knock you off your pedestal. But make the best out of a bad situation and I do believe the rewards will come.
I wouldn’t continue to do what I do unless there was a greater purpose behind it all?
Here’s what I have uncovered since my separation:

1. I have a new-found respect for myself. I knew I was resilient and strong, but my willingness to take a look at myself and make some serious changes in my life is something I feel proud of. I wouldn’t have had the incentive to do so if I was still in my relationship.

2. l feel comfortable making decisions and choices that support my path in life rather than those that detract from it. I strongly believe that the people that have been in or around me have been my greatest teachers. They have taught me so many things about my personal boundaries and how to maintain them.

3. I see life through a different lens and feel nothing but gratitude for where I am today. I couldn’t say that before my separation. I felt like a victim of my circumstances, burdened with expectation and responsibility.

4. I’ve given myself permission to invest in my own well-being. I have learnt to listen to my body, surrender when I need to and be OK with doing nothing. I have let go of the fallacy that I need to keep busy all of the time.

5. I have an incredible kit bag of tools to draw upon when I need them, whereas before I felt trapped in my own small certainty. Now my knowledge and awareness is so much more expanded.

6. Life is much more harmonious and peaceful and I can see that’s how it’s supposed to be.

7. Feelings of fear, anxiety, worry and stress are slowly dissipating and I have a greater sense of trust that I’m exactly where I need to be.

8. I’m triggered less. I don’t feel the need to fight or defend myself as much as I did before. If people don’t like certain things, but I’m honoring myself, then that’s a matter for them to deal with – not me.

9. I see now more than ever that I am in control of my life and of my path. I am able to live on my own terms and not by someone else’s rules.

10. I have come to understand my own worth again. Next time around, when I’m ready for love, I know I will be more of a whole person and won’t settle for something that doesn’t feel right to me.

My separation was the greatest wake-up call I’ve ever had. If I hadn’t experienced what I did, then I would have been playing a role in life that would have left me feeling empty and even more of a victim. I see so many things that I couldn’t see before about myself, my family and all the relationships that I had been in the past, but now I have the opportunity to do something about it.

Five Ways to Help Your Kids’ Transition Between Visits and Time Away from You.

1) Make the transition a positive experience. No matter what you feel towards your ex or their girlfriend etc., keep those feelings aside momentarily and make it about your kids. Whether you’re picking them up or dropping them off for a visit, be enthusiastic about the changeover.

Your kids will pick up on the energy and if the dynamic becomes negative or tense they will more than likely resist going. If you’re OK with the situation, then there is a high chance your kids will be too.

2) Take your time with the transition. If you’re picking your kids up after they have been away from you, take a little extra time to collect their belongings, allow them to say goodbye with ease to the other parent or even hear them out if they have things to tell you about their weekend or show you. Perhaps they have been to a party and have made something that will stay there, but they want to show you. Be interested and in the moment with them.

3) Allow your kids to talk when they are ready. Save the Spanish Inquisition. Your kids will tell you what they want in their own time. Your job is to create a safe environment around them, so that they can share with you what they need to.

They will decide what they want to disclose or not and it may not come at that very moment. It could be the following week. Or they might not have anything to share with you at all.

Be receptive and without judgment to what your kids share with you. Your kids feeling comfortable talking with you is healthy for their well-being. If they feel as though they are being questioned, it could have the opposite effect and they may clam up on you. If you hear something that concerns you, take it up with the other parent when you are alone.

4) Do something fun to reconnect with your kids. There is a break in the bond that you share with your kids when they are away from you, so find something to do that’s enjoyable to re-establish that connection between you.

When my kids were younger and were dropped off after a weekend away, I found that they would fall into a heap as soon as they got in the door. There would be a massive outpouring of emotions that became difficult at times to manage alone.

After some time, I realised that I was the parent and needed to do something different about it. It used to cause me so much stress because I had spent the weekend trying to be calm, but when the kids would come home I felt like everything was undone.

Now, whether I pick them up or they get dropped off we usually go to a park, play a game or cook something together, so we get a chance to come back together in a fun way.

5) Keep the adult conversations with the adults. If you and your ex need to discuss something that could get out of hand, save it until the kids are out of earshot. You know your patterns and triggers, so be prepared to step up and put into practice your personal boundaries.

Have your exchange over text or email and not in front of the kids. No kid wants their parents to be talking about them in front of them or hear their parents arguing about something like being late, or not returning clothing or toys or money that’s owed.

Keeping your emotions in check can be difficult. If you or the other parent messes up, try not to beat yourself up about it or make the kids pay for it. Realise your best intentions and take small steps each week to allow your kids’ needs to be paramount in these moments.

Later on when they are in bed, then you can scream into a pillow or release your frustration in a constructive way. It’s not easy to go back into the place you left behind or allow your ex into your safe haven, but it’s a momentary situation that will have a lasting impact on your kids’ lives, so try to do it well.