I work with a lot of women who are separated but still going through divorce or custody proceedings – and for so many of them, this stage of divorce wreaks havoc on their lives.
Although this person is out of their lives, he is still able to manipulate, threaten, taunt the children, and gain mental control over their estranged ex-wife.
And so often people ask me, “Do I continue to fight him or do I just let it go and walk away with nothing?”
This is certainly a dilemma, but let’s dissect it.
First, check in with yourself to see where your ex holds power over you. When you open an email or text, do you get anxious? Do you start shaking and feel nauseous? When you read his accusations do you feel less worthy, and that perhaps there’s some truth to what he’s saying? Or maybe you’re worried that other believe will believe him, so you cower and feel helpless.
If you answer yes to any of these, then he still has mental control over you – he is bullying you and the system, and when a bully acts so powerful, so many people want to give up and let them win.
The painful irony of divorcing a high conflict person is that you are forced to have boundaries with someone who never respected them to begin with. So after years of abuse and conflict, how on earth will you suddenly gain the strength to win a battle that was never meant to be won?
But you can, if you change your mindset on how you view this person.
Think of your ex as a child, and that they view the entire divorce as a playground, to which they will bully their way to win. When they start to lose, they make threats, but you must look at this as a temper tantrum. The more they lose, the more they cry and whine and try to undermine you.
Every time you open an email or text, you must look at this way. If you’re child comes to you asking to have a candy bar before dinner, you laugh at such a notion, or at least brush it off, knowing that he or she doesn’t know any better. You must do the same with your ex.
When you see your ex as a child, you gain back your power.
If someone walked into your house, and tried to take away everything that belonged to you, would you let this person do it? I would hope not – I would want you to fight for what’s yours!
However – and here’s the other side to it – if your ex is draining you financially, potentially causing you to be homeless and broke – you need to have a long conversation with your attorney, discussing whether you forfeit this game.
But… if you can change your mindset, and not let the divorce BE your life, and just manage it as a really crappy chore, you may mitigate financial drain, because you aren’t controlled by him.
So many people tell me, “Once the divorce is final, I can’t wait to live my life again.”
Wait, why would the divorce prevent you from living now? Yes, your housing may be up in the air, you may be living in a crappy apartment or money is tighter, but it doesn’t mean your life has to be put on hold until this is over.
The more you see this life event as just that – an unpleasant event – you may be able to feel less controlled by it.
In my divorce, I gave up on a few things that I now regret. I let him have a lot of assets that would have benefitted me financially – especially now. But I was intimidated, felt guilty, felt controlled – and I look back on it and think, “What was I so afraid of?” Because I now see my ex as nothing more than someone who lives across town – he holds no power over me anymore.
If had the mindset back then, I’m pretty sure the outcome would have benefited me more.
Your divorce may be tricky and complicated – my goodness, I have heard some awful stories, and I never want to downplay anyone’s distress – but if you put on your big girl pants and tell your inner child that this guy isn’t gonna mess with you, you may find this to be a lot easier.
Choose to live today. Not when the divorce is finalized. Don’t forget to laugh. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life. You don’t need a big vacation to celebrate life right now.