Heal Your Broken Heart...Even If You Have Children
By Susie and Otto Collins
Renee does not have time for a broken heart. Yes, her husband of 13 years just left her for another woman. Yes, she is devastated and overwhelmed by all of her emotions coming up (and more).
But, her kids have got to be the priority. Whenever she feels sad or heart broken about her husband leaving and his affair, she reminds herself that her #1 focus needs to be her kids.
The trouble is, Renee is so torn up about her marriage ending, she isn't always the kind of mom that she wants to be. She gets easily irritable, depressed and sometimes has a tough time getting out of bed in the morning.
She wants to be a strong foundation for her young
children but isn't always able to be that.
If you are going through a divorce or if the divorce has already happened, you might be dealing with similar conflicting emotions.
Your children may be confused and upset by what is going on in your family. They may be worried about losing (or not seeing as much of) either you or your ex.
Your children may be acting out, directing anger at you or withdrawing from you as they try to process this big change in their lives. It makes perfect sense for you to make yourself available to them and to try to be a source of support for them.
Through all the turmoil that your kids might seem to be going through because of the divorce, you may put your own needs and feelings on hold.
It might appear to you that there is just not enough time, energy, resources, etc. for you to be both the kind of parent you want to be AND to make sure you have what you need to heal your broken heart.
Put the "oxygen mask" on yourself first.
If you've ever flown in an airplane, you may have noticed these instructions for what to do if there's a problem with the flight: Place the flotation device or the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST before assisting a child.
In a time of crisis, you can be of most help to your children if you are meeting your own basic needs first. We consider basic needs to include not just food, water, shelter and oxygen, but also taking the
time for your own healing.
It is understandable that your impulse might be to shove down your feelings in an attempt to be "strong" for your kids. However, you simply cannot not be there for your children if you aren't caring for
yourself first and foremost.
Does this mean that you should neglect your kids or tell them to deal with their feelings on their own?
What this means is that you make time in your day-to-day life for what you need AND for what your kids need. It might not always be easy or convenient to do this, but the way you all transition through these changes is the big pay off.
Open up to support you can trust.
If you're not accustomed to asking for of receiving help and support from others, isn't now the time to start?
A great way to help both you and your kids adjust to the changes going on in your lives is to allow yourself (and your family) to be supported.
Get clear about the specific kinds of support you believe would be the most beneficial to you and to your children and then open up to the possible sources of support that are probably already around you.
You might have friends or family members who want to help you and you've not wanted to impose on them before.
Trust that the people in your life will honestly give you the support they are able to give. If someone is unable to do something for you, don't take it personally. Instead, ask yourself if there's another way this need could be met, maybe by someone else.
There are all sorts of ways that you can let yourself be supported. These might include: child care, child care trades, carpooling, potluck dinners with other single parents, a phone tree when you need someone to talk to and more.
You can get creative and you can expand your circle of friends and family.
If you're concerned about leaving your children with people you don't know all that well, don't. Get to know these people (and their kids) better and ask mutual acquaintances for honest information about the person before you ask them to babysit or trade child care.
If you are willing to barter or offer a trade of some sort, know what you have to offer.
Don't sell yourself short and don't over-commit either. You probably have skills and talents that can help another person who has something to offer you that feel doable too.
The bottom line here is that not only do you most likely need support-- of various kinds-- right now, your kids need it too.
As much as you love them, your children can sometimes more freely and openly confide in people who aren't their parents about how they're feeling and what they most need.
While it's wise to pay attention to who your children (especially if they're very young) spend time with, it's also wise to let your child decide when and who
to go to with personal feelings about the divorce.
If you'd like more advice to help you heal your broken heart, click here for our FREE mini-course.