If you have children, divorce is not an event.
It is a process.
And one that often feels
*out of control* *disappointing* *infuriating* *exhausting*
The support I offer is about this process. I imagine that you have already made your decision to get divorced, that you have already moved through many of the stages that this decision brings forth and that there is something in the way of you calmly moving into a new way of being.
I am here mostly because of the latter phases: acceptance and new beginnings. My experience has shown that in adversarial divorces these latter phases are often wrought with turbulence. Although there may be moments of adjustment and new ways of being that have begun to emerge, there are often residual tensions, such as conflict, hostility and opposition, which make creating “a new beginning” feel nearly impossible.
A dharma approach to managing the experiences of an adversarial divorce
As a Buddhist practitioner for over 10 years and a step-parent for even longer, I rely on the teachings of non-aggression, impermanence, non-attachment, Buddha-nature and sitting meditation to support me through my own challenges regarding an adversarial divorce between my husband and his ex-wife. This includes how to support my husband, how to manage my feelings of anger toward his ex, protection toward him and fear for his children, as well as feelings of helplessness because, ultimately this is their struggle. This also includes managing the beliefs and emotions that arise during periods of estrangement and symptoms of parental alienation and the unforeseen challenges of navigating the uncertain and often uncomfortable terrain of step-parenthood.
Working as a therapist, my approach draws on these years of personal experience, a strong passion for families attempting to cope with an adversarial divorce and/or suffering from estrangement, years of studying and practicing mindfulness and dharma, as well as psychological training in coping skills, self-care, and emotional regulation. I also incorporate parenting support, which includes education on: managing strong emotions (in yourself or your child(ren), managing stress and strengthening relationships with the help of the nervous system, and the importance of self-care, mindfulness, authenticity, and attunement.
Every family has its unique perspectives, goals, beliefs and challenges. My aspiration is to connect with families who are interested in applying mindfulness and Buddhist principles to supplement, modify and challenge their current ways of coping. This approach to therapy is rooted in the principles of basic goodness and radical acceptance and is best suited for people who are not suffering from the challenges of domestic violence, are adequately resourced emotionally, and are interested in utilizing this profound experience of suffering as a vehicle for waking up.
Some typical experiences that you may be encountering could include:
Differing lifestyles, regarding:
- parenting– including discipline, household responsibilities, perceptions of support or lack of support for homework, etc and choices around electronics, exercise, curfew, overnights, etc
- communication– including disrespectful / hateful communication from your ex-spouse to you and communication you perceive as hurtful / misleading / deceitful to your child(ren)
- conflict management– including perceptions of aggression, manipulation, and/or avoidance
- religion– including differing religious beliefs and/or blatant criticism or judgment
- general values for living– including vegetarianism, consumerism, cell phone use and other general decisions not in alignment with your own values
Cautionary matter regarding situations of domestic violence: Although cultivating compassion and non-aggression and finding ways to value your ex-spouse as a fellow human being is also important for people who have suffered from domestic violence, the circumstances inherent in this situation and the underlying pathology that is often involved, makes it important to seek safety and specific support for this sort of situation. Please ask if you would like some referrals.
Cautionary matter regarding Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome: This is a complex situation that usually requires additional support from a lawyer who has experience and training in Parental Alienation. If this is your current situation, please educate yourself about your rights and how you can protect yourself and your relationship with your children.
“The secret of life that we are looking for is just this: to develop through sitting and daily life practice the power and courage to return to that which we have spent a lifetime hiding from, to rest in the bodily experience of the present moment~even if it is a feeling of being humiliated, of failing, of abandonment, of unfairness.”
Charlotte Joko Beck