Tag Archives: family

How Divorce and Death are Alike

divorcing coupleYou thought that when the papers were signed for the divorce everything would be better and you would finally feel relief and calm.  But you don’t.  Somehow the hurt emotions intensify and unexpected emotions of remorse, sadness, and guilt pile on top of bitterness, resentment, and frustration.  This has left you confused, disoriented, and even wondering if you made a mistake.

You begin to relive the marriage all over again looking desperately for answers as to why this happened, what went wrong, and how could things have been dealt with differently.  But you are afraid to confine in friends and relatives because they have supported the divorce and your questioning is unwelcome after they have taken a stance for you.

So you find yourself even more alone than before the divorce wondering if this lonely feeling will ever go away.  And it will, but not today or even tomorrow.  A divorce is more than the end of a marriage; it is the end of dreams, expectations, family, and friendships.  When you divorce, you are leaving behind all dreams and hopes for the future, all expectations for a long life together, extended family on both sides, and friendships that bound you together.

It is not the stuff that is hard to separate; rather it is these things which are far harder to separate.  In this way, experiencing a divorce is like experiencing a death and the process to recovery is very similar.

Denial.  While it may seem odd that you will experience denial after you have divorced, it is likely to occur in strange circumstances.  For instance, you are picking up medication at the pharmacy and the pharmacist asks you if you want to pick up your spouse’s medication.  Or you are at a favorite restaurant and the waitress asks if your spouse is joining you.  Or you are at church and a well-meaning person says they miss seeing your spouse.  In all of these incidents it is tempting not to tell the other person about the divorce and just to pretend that you are still together which you can do but it might provide for a more awkward moment later.  In fact, your first instinct may be to do just that but instead try saying the bare minimum, just enough to get away quickly without over explaining.

Anger.  This reaction is far more familiar as leading up to the divorce you most likely experienced this in spades.  While the name of your ex no longer provokes an immediate angry reaction, you will see some anger pop up in unexpected places.  Perhaps a co-worker displays the same lack of motivation that your ex did, your neighbor laughs like your ex, or your child looks and acts more and more like your ex every day.  You may feel unexpected anger towards your co-worker, neighbor or child that has little to do with them and far more to do with who they remind you of.  Stop, take a breather and recognize where your anger is really coming from so that you don’t project it onto an innocent target.

Depression. No matter how easy it was to divorce, going through the holidays without your ex and the routine and traditions that you developed will be difficult.  Expect to feel even more depressed between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day as this is a time of intense celebration, family activities and getting together with friends.  When you are feeling at your most depressed, get out of the house and go do something.  Do not sit at home thinking about how you were at your ex’s family’s house for dinner last year and what a good time you had.  Rather, start new traditions this year that you have always wanted to try such as going to the mountains for Christmas or feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving.

Acceptance.  At the end of a long cycle, you will finally reach acceptance where you are comfortable talking about the end of your marriage without extraneous feelings.  Similar to the death of a close family member or a friend, this process will take about a year to finally achieve.  Your children on the other hand will not be on the same schedule as they will look like they have accepted it far sooner but a couple of years later will show signs of anger and depression.  Don’t be surprised by this, but expect it and anticipate getting them help if needed.

No one gets married wanting to go through a divorce.  Divorce is hard, painful and demands time for proper healing.  By having a better understanding of your emotions and viewing divorce in the same light as a death, you will better glide through the stages instead of stumbling in the dark.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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What to do When Mother’s Day is the Hardest Day of the Year

The Mother’s Dream

The Mother’s Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many women, Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year.  Perhaps you are one of these women who have little to no contact with your child, outlived your child, tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child, or lost your child through a miscarriage or abortion.  Just the mention of Mother’s Day brings to the surface the emotions you have long tucked away of disappointment, deep sadness, distress, dejection, and despair.

Yet you are torn because in many ways you have learned to move forward.  You avoid the crowded churches, shops, and restaurants on Mother’s Day, spend time with other mothers or your mother, or even remind yourself how grateful you are to have had a child.  But the heaviness in your heart is still there and despite the good moments of the day, you really can’t wait for the day to end.

Will it always be this way?  Yes and no.  Much like other holidays which exist for the purpose of remembering the lives that have been lost such as Memorial Day or Veterans Day, Mother’s Day will be for you a memorial of sorts.  It is a day to remember what was lost or never even gained in the first place.  But just as the anniversary of a person you lost brings back memories and feeling, over time, the emotions won’t be so intense.

How can I survive this day?  Reserve a portion of your day for the purpose of being alone with your thoughts and feelings.  Don’t take the entire day to do this or pretend that you don’t need to do it at all, instead take care of yourself and give yourself a gift of remembrance.  This is a good time to journal your thoughts, allow the tears to flow, and pray.  Then choose to spend your day surrounded with people who love you and are sensitive to your feelings.

What do I say to others?  Be honest.  If you really want to go somewhere on Mother’s Day, speak up; if you don’t, say so.   If you are sad, don’t pretend that you are not.  Set reasonable expectations for yourself and for others instead of assuming they already know what you are thinking or feeling.  Then communicate those expectations kindly to minimize the hurt feelings later.

Why am I having anxiety over this now?  Even if your loss occurred many years ago, you might find a sudden resurgence in your emotions this year compared to previous years.  While the intensity may be less than the initial Mother’s Day, for some reason, this year is hitting you harder.  This is perfectly normal.  Take a moment to reflect on your life and see if there is any new circumstance lately in a relationship or your environment.  Your increased anxiety may actually be misplaced anxiety over new things that you are not properly addressing.  By addressing the new things, the old issues will subside again.

Everyone has hard days during the year that are more difficult than others to get through.  Mother’s Day seems a bit crueller because everyone else appears so happy.  Just remember that you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings, many other women feel the exact same way and sometimes it takes the courage of one person to say this is a hard day to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org

10 Reasons to Send Your Child to Summer Camp

summer-camp3I’ll never forget the first time that my husband and I suggested to our kids that they go away to a summer camp for a week.  As parents, we had discussed the benefits of a good summer camp program and spoke with many of our friends who recommended several camps around the country.  We took great pride in presenting the idea with enthusiasm to our kids.  Their response shocked us; instead of being excited they were mortified.  By their reaction, you would have thought that we were sending them away to a chain gang to be beaten and tortured.

So we gave them a year to get used to the idea and talk to some of their friends who already went to summer camp and by the next year they were a bit more open to the idea but still openly told us that we were “abandoning” them.  Fast forward to the day we picked them up from the summer camp and the unanimous reaction was “how come we only came for a week, I want to come for a month!”

Lesson learned:  Sometimes parents do know best.  So here are ten good reasons to send your child away to a summer camp.

  1. Provides your child with new experiences, people, ideas, and environments for your child without out your parental influence.
  2. Expands the friends that your child hangs out with over the summer so that there are hopefully new and healthy friendships being added.
  3. For your child at camp, there are no parents to nag, ask to clean rooms, do chores, etc…
  4. Improves your child’s social skills as they will need to get along with new people in new environments without your input.
  5. Gives your child a break from you and you a break from them.  If you are fighting with your child, this break is long overdue.
  6. Invites new things to talk about so you can get out of the rut of the same conversations over and over.
  7. Keeps your child from getting into trouble at home and watching too much TV or playing too many video games.
  8. There are many camps which specialize in one area of interest such as surfing, horseback riding, space project, dance, photography, science, hiking, rock climbing and many more.  This provides an opportunity for your child to get some advance skills in an area of interest which may even lead to a profession someday.
  9. The camp puts your child on a schedule that is dictated by them and not you; the new routine which will be met with resistance at first will later become a source of comfort.
  10. No electronics!  This is a bonus for your electronic addicted kid.

With all this in mind, here is a list of some of the summer camps available in the Orlando area:

My personal favorite camps:

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Sermon on Depression and Suicide

still_waters

You are exhausted, overwhelmed, and depressed with no apparent way to get out of your circumstances.  Sometimes that depression can sink so low it may seem as if the only way out is to take your life.  You are not alone in your struggle even though it seems that way most of the time.

If you are struggling with depression or know of someone who is, please read this tender yet honest sermon from Chris Erdman about the death of his friend and Pastor Jamie Evans.  I knew Jamie as a child as his parents were and still are dear friends of my parents.  His father, Louis Evans Jr., now deceased, was also my pastor at National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C.  He taught me to have a passionate love for God in spite of my difficult circumstances or struggles.

I have nothing but fond memories of Jamie, his son, as he would often pick my brother and I up to attend youth functions at our church.  He was always so full of energy and life, so much fun to be around.  In fact, my first motorcycle ride, much to the dismay of my parents, was on the back of his bike.

This wonderfully written sermon is a testimony to Jamie’s life and struggles with ADHD, dyslexia and depression.  It reminds us of the importance of treating mental illness and not pretending everything is OK when it is not.  It is well worth your time to read and hopefully will be an inspiration to reach out for help when you are feeling depressed.

http://chriserdman.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/God-and-Suicide-Luke-13.31-35.pdf

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Related News Post:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/04/07/church-members-open-services-with-prayer-for-pastor-rick-warren-after-suicide/?test=latestnews

The Curse of the Overly Responsible Exhausted Woman

Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of PaperIt is such a huge burden when you are the only responsible person at work and home.  Why can’t everyone around you just see how much work you do all day long?  If only your co-worker would do what they promised, you spouse would finally clean out the garage and your kids would do their chores then everything would be fine.  But no… You have to finish the project for your co-worker so the “team” does not get impacted; you have to clean out the garage so you can park your car in it; you have to finish the kid’s leftover chores because your in-laws are coming over for dinner.  Why can’t everyone just do their fair share?

Doing everyone else’s work is exhausting and often provokes you to anger which manages to come out at the most inappropriate times.  But secretly, when you are really honest with yourself, you actually enjoy being the person who gets it all done.  After all, if your co-worker did their job, you husband helped out, and your kids participated in something other than video games then how can you be admired for all the extra work you do?

The curse of being overly responsible is that without irresponsible people around, how can you be overly responsible?  This means that at some level you actually get satisfaction from being overly responsible or you would not keep doing it.

So, what does it mean to be overly responsible?  It means that you take on more responsibility for things or people to the point of excluding others from taking on their own responsibility.  This exclusion of others sometimes comes if the form of criticism for how a task was accomplished.  For instance, say you were at a budget meeting where everyone was to analyze their own areas and then present suggestions at a meeting.  You may not like the manner in which your co-worker chooses to complete the task claiming that it is insufficient.  Instead of teaching them how to do the task, you find it easier to “just to it myself so that it is done right”.  This is overly responsible behavior and you are driving everyone around you crazy.  So what can you do?

Stop taking on other’s tasks.  No matter how hard this is, you must stop doing things for other people just because it is “easier”, they won’t do it “right”, or you are just trying to “help”.  Pretending to “help” someone out by doing something for them when they are responsible for doing it is NOT helping either them or you.  The only thing you accomplish by “helping” is creating an unnecessary and unhealthy dependency which ultimately only serves to feed your ego.  Your ego likes to be “needed” because that is where you get your self-worth from but this is not healthy.  A positive self-worth comes from understanding you not comparing yourself to another person.

Stop comparing yourself to others.  At a much deeper level, when you take on another person’s tasks you are saying that you are better than them.  Being better or being more responsible than others sets you apart from the crowd and allows you to stand out but this is not servant leadership, rather it is self-motivated leadership.  Everyone has their own journey to follow, in their own time.  By insisting that a person be at the same level as you, you are really saying that you know better where they should be rather than allowing them to follow their own journey.   Sometimes, a person has to suffer the consequences of their own decision in order to make better decisions going forward.

Stop saving others.  There is only one Savior, Jesus Christ, and you are not it.  By focusing on other people’s issues, you steal energy away from caring for yourself and then begin to see this process as a sacrifice you make for them.  The problem is that the sacrifice has already been made in Christ and He doesn’t need you to sacrifice yourself for others.  Rather you need to offer your life as a living sacrifice to Him.  Jesus will save them.  You can pray, encourage, guide, teach, and love but you are NOT to save them.  This is why you become angry when someone does not appreciate your “help” because you are really trying to “save” them and it isn’t working.

There is a small verse in Galatians 6:5, “For we are each responsible for our own conduct”.  You are responsible for your conduct and you will receive the rewards or consequences of your behavior.  Others are responsible for their conduct and they will receive the rewards or consequences of their behavior.  Being overly responsible is not being godly; it is trying to take the place of God in the life of others and that is how you are cursed.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Disrespect your Husband and Cause Problems in your Marriage

black-woman-giving-man-the-handNo, I am not a man-hater and this article is not meant to be taken seriously.  Rather it is written tongue-in-cheek to demonstrate the obvious and not so obvious ways a you can show disrespect to your husband.  Sometimes the best way of understanding something is to begin with what it isn’t.  While this can be a roundabout way of addressing a subject, it can also establish some necessary boundaries from which to form a better understanding.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for demonstrating disrespect the next time you are alone or out with your husband.  You can do this over dinner, in front of his friends, better yet your friends, and best yet in front of family.  Make sure you temper your comments with sarcasm, mockery or cynicism to add an extra dose of disrespect.

  • His work – Try making a joke about what he does for a living, where he works, or how much he earns.  This can be even more disrespecting if you add a comment or two about how great your career is going or how much more successful your dad was in his line of work.  After all, most men get some satisfaction from what they do as a profession even if they don’t enjoy it because they are providing for their family.  So attacking their work is one of the easiest targets for disrespect.
  • His dreams – Take one of his future aspirations or a desire to become something and then tell him how stupid it is and how he can never accomplish it.  Better yet, don’t even discuss it with him, just roll your eyes and talk behind his back especially to someone who is likely to tell him about your remarks.  It most likely took a lot of trust to tell you about his dreams in the first place so ridiculing even one dream drives the disrespect right to the heart.
  • His sexuality – It really does not matter how frequently he wants sex because if he wants it too much: harass him, too little: tell him he is inadequate.  While you are at it, joke about what he likes sexually and over-expose him to others around you.  No matter what he says about sex, most men fear that they are not performing well enough sexually for their spouse so attacking this area is very personal.
  • His worship – One of the easiest places to show disrespect to your husband is in how he worships in church.  Make sure you poke him when the pastor is preaching, compare him to other men in church or demonstrate how much more you know about spirituality than him.  If he goes to church, he has been told that he is the spiritual leader of the family so under minding him and taking over the leadership role becomes disrespectful.
  • His leisure activities – Whatever he likes to do for fun can be a target for ridicule, especially if it involves a sport of sorts and requires that money be spent for him to have fun.  If there are other men involved then this is an even better opportunity to not only make fun of him but his other teammates, especially if you can tag team with another spouse.  As any self-respecting spouse knows, the money he earns and extra time he has should go to the family and not towards doing something he enjoys.
  • His appearance – Insecurities regarding receding hairline, pot-bellies, changing body, and outdated clothing should be exposed and highlighted just to make sure that he fully aware of his inadequacies.  Some men age quite well, so make sure that you compare your husband to other men who are aging better than him.  While he has been repeatedly told that you don’t like him to comment on your flaws, his are open game.
  • His moods – Since most men are raised to be strong and take things on the cheek, any sign of weakness, moodiness, depression, or anxiety should be the talk around the dinner table especially with a few of your not so close friends.  By highlighting any mood swings you can literally cut him off at the knees and cripple him for the rest of the evening.  It is a moment of disrespect that will be noticed by everyone in the room.
  • His morality – Another opportunity for disrespect is to exaggerate the number of times your husband has made immortal or embarrassing decisions.  Of particular interest are any past times of infidelity, hospitalization, use of pornography, drunkenness, or drug use just to name a few suggestions.  However, if there are few of these events in his past, making up a couple to add some interest to a conversation by putting him down can be very disrespectful.
  • His decisions – Most wives have this area down to a science as nearly every decision their husbands make can be questioned.  Eve taught us this well as just before she ate fruit from the tree she mistrusted her husband by not agreeing that God had told Adam not to eat the fruit.  Wives can do this in many little ways such as questioning his driving, asking and re-asking the same question, questioning the tie he picks or what he decides to eat.  All of this can be disrespectful.
  • His authority – If you are blessed to work with your spouse at work, on a project or part of a charity, then you have an excellent opportunity to attack his authority.  Just make sure that you do it in front of others adding some sort of intimate touch or glance to maximize the insult.  Minimizing his authority thereby increases yours and creates a natural disrespect with your viewing audience.  This is especially powerful if your husband is in an influential position.
  • His reputation – Gossiping about your spouse especially in a negative manner is highly effective form of disrespect.  Everyone loves gossip and it can spread like wild-fire to all kinds of people destroying a reputation that has taken years to develop in a matter of minutes.  The best people to receive your gossip are the ones who already gossiping about others, after all they are the pros at disrespect.
  • His children – When all is said and done, even if you fail to disrespect your husband in any of the above ways, the easiest and perhaps most sneaky way to be disrespectful is to talk bad about your husband in front of his children.  They could be your children or his by another woman, no matter which one, the impact can be destructive beyond comparison.  By disrespecting your husband, you are modeling behavior for his daughters to imitate and his sons to repeat.  If you can paint your husband in a bad light to his children, then you have truly passed on an inheritance that can last beyond your generation.  It is the gift of disrespect that can keep giving.

By the way, if you find that you have mastered just a few of these areas, just know that you are not alone.  Over half of all marriages end in divorce and yours is likely to be headed in that direction.  Many divorced women have long mastered this list with their ex-husbands and some are working on marriage number two or three or even four.  If this scares you, good.  Now go over the list again, admit what you have done wrong, ask for forgiveness, and decide to be the model of respect instead of disrespect.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Why are You Instantly Angry Over Little Stuff?

couple-arguingAnger happens.  You are driving down the left side of highway slightly faster than normal because you are already late and suddenly someone cuts right in front of you causing you to slam on your breaks and almost hit their vehicle.  Instantly, you are angry.  Or your spouse promises he will be home by a certain time and you have made dinner on that time frame but he doesn’t show up, answer the phone or even call.  By the time your spouse arrives home, dinner is cold and so are you.  Better yet, you  ask your child to do the simplest of tasks only to be met with defiance, back talk, and ungratefulness.  The result is instant anger.

You have several bad ways of handling anger, all of which you most likely have mastered by now including the silent treatment, intense aggression and smile now but pay later.  While these methods felt good in the moment, they resulted in poor long-term resuslts.  So you are open to trying a new method.  Here are two.  One is to think about it overnight while remaining silent in the moment of anger and the second is to address it immediately without aggression.  Either method works depending on your personality or the situation but first some common misunderstandings about anger need to be cleared up.

Defining Anger.  Most likely, you have experienced a time when everything seems to be going just fine and then all of a sudden something happens and you feel this rush of intense emotion causing your heart to race, your voice to get louder, or your fists to clench.  And then it happens, you say or do something that you normally would not do if the intense emotion had not occurred.  That is anger.  And while anger in and of itself is a God given emotion, it becomes wrong when it controls your behavior.  This emotion is quite useful in life and death situations as it propels you into action motivating you beyond what you would normally do.  But it can be destructive in personal relationships as it leaves a path of disaster much like the path of a tornado.

Blaming Anger.  Just because you are feeling angry, and this emotion in some cases may be justified, it does not give you license to harm anyone in your path. How many times have you heard someone say, “You make me so angry”?  The reality is that they are responsible for getting angry just as you are responsible for your own anger.  Anger as an emotion and left to run rampet over your life can control you if you let it.  However, no one can “make” you angry unless you choose to be angry.  Sometimes that choice is not a conscious one but an unconscious choice based on experiences and decisions made in the past.  Nonetheless, it is your choice to allow anger to control you.

Managing Anger.  The two methods mentioned above have two different ways of dealing with your anger.  One is to not speak and think about your anger overnight.  The other is to confront your anger.  However, neither method even slightly hints that your spouse must be involved in either.  If you are responsible for your own anger and letting your anger get out of control is wrong then it is not the responsibility of your spouse to resolve your anger rather it is yours.  “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” is about your behavior and desire to hold onto things that should be let go or dealt with accordingly.

Reconciling Anger.  Once you have defined your anger, accepted responsibility for it and managed properly managed it, then you can begin the process of reconciliation.  Since anger destroys relationships, it is likely that there is a trail of failed relationships in the quake of your anger.  Even if the relationship may seem to be fine, unreconciled anger limits intimacy.  Your present anger may have less to do with present circumstances and more to do with your past.  Take the time to reconcile old relationships and you will find that your anger is less intense the next time.

Anger can be one of the most useful tools in helping you to grow and deal with your past but it can also be one of the most destructive if not addressed properly.  If you know of someone who needs help with their anger, speak up kindly and lovingly in a safe environment but make sure you have already addressed your anger issues first.  This effort while draining just might be one of the best things you do for your relationships.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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