After getting through a divorce 2 years ago, moving 4 years ago to Boulder where she had to start over, holding down a full time job and learning how to do it as a single mom, now she is struggling with loneliness and despair and self-blame. Somehow she feels it was all her fault that this happened to her and that she is responsible for the failure of her marriage. And, since her kids are struggling she has another reason to blame herself. She is struggling with being in tears and feeling overwhelmed with these feelings inside of her which keep popping up in inappropriate places and causing her to feel shameful and even more upset.
Do you know anyone going through the changes after a divorce like Maggie? We as women often blame ourselves for our inability to cope with life and the emotions that go along with life. It is normal to have emotions like anger and fear and intense grief, but so much of our training from our families is about shutting it down, being strong and moving on. When you grew up with those messages, how can you ever begin to trust yourself in letting out those feelings and learning how to release them in a healthy way? You have to change those messages to yourself and you have to learn about healthy emotional expression.
So much of the pain of transitions in life, like the one Maggie is going through, is about the confusion, the overwhelm and the lack of clarity that happens when you feel this way. That confusion and overwhelm keeps you from being able to get to the real feelings driving it underneath. It keeps you blocked and stuck. As she began to work with me, she trusted me and the process enough to use it as a tool to get more honest and open with herself. She practiced mindfulness. Sometimes she went back into the overwhelm as events happened, like a new boyfriend and the inevitable break-up that happened, or on vacations when she found herself truly alone. But in each of these instances, she saw a pattern.
She began to see how she was afraid of her feelings. The very thing she got from her family she was doing to herself inside! So much of her was afraid of those strong emotions and those parts were blocking her ability to get connected with the really sad one. As soon as she was able to settle everyone else down inside, she could do the healing work to turn towards the sad part. When she finally met this sad part, the part released pieces of its sadness and Maggie learned how to slow it down so she didn’t get overwhelmed by the sadness. She did this with her new connection to it. This took time but by using the tools of mindfulness and IFS which we worked on in and out of the office, she began to feel the confidence and trust to feel and trust expressing her emotions more openly and lovingly accepting them as an important part of herself. Then her life began to transform…..