This week’s question comes from Tanya in Springs: “Like many women, I’ve been raising my children alone after my divorce. I was the one who wanted out of the marriage. There is much I would like to say to my ex-husband, but I can’t, because I need maintenance for the children.
"In the interim, I feel overwhelmed with emotions. What do I say to him? Do I say anything at all?”
This is a very good question, that many women, like you, ask after a divorce. The realisation sneaks up on you unexpectedly when you discover that the very thing you wanted to get away from, is still between you. After a divorce you are only dealing with it from outside the boundaries of a marriage.
When there are children that need to be raised, you still need a relationship with your ex-husband. If he was in charge of the money before, he will still be in control and try to use it to influence things his way. Just because you are divorced does not waver any prior issues that needed to be addressed before.
I’m guessing that you’re asking this question because you are feeling out of integrity? What you did by leaving was supposed to deal with the issues, but it did not. The frustration that initiated the separation is still there. If you are not being let off the hook the question remains - how do I deal with this now?
When situations keep coming back and we can’t get rid of them, realise that you are dealing with big life lessons. When you see the lesson, it will resolve.
But, unlike what you anticipated, you need to deal with it inside of yourself and not outside.
Although you acted, the issue was not resolved, because the inner work has not been done.
We deal with situations by pretending nothing is wrong, dancing around it or learning from it as part of our life lessons.
A divorce did not "deal with it" and you can’t seem to get away from it. Your next step is to accept that your ex-partner is reflecting something to you, that you need to deal with on an emotional level.
Start with the emotions that you are feeling - acknowledge how you feel as honestly as you can.
Notice what was there before the divorce and what is still there.
How do you feel about your ex-husband and what happened?
Does it hurt?
How much does it hurt? Can you forgive yourself for allowing it?
When can you sit with the emotions and start to let it go?
Emotions are more intense when they are ignored.
By acknowledging what you’re feeling, you start to take your power back. You will eventually be able to separate the facts from the feelings.
This is when you need to make a list of what you need from your ex-partner.
When you are calm, decide what are reasonable requests to put to him.
Men tend to respond more to the tone of your voice when they are under pressure, than reason.
When you become clearer about what you need, rather than blame him for what you chose to give up, you are in a more empowered position to move forward.
With time, as you heal, your message to your ex will change from "I am angry" to "thank you for the beautiful children we created together".
Use your emotions to continue your life lesson of personal growth. Everyone is a teacher and a student.
What personal growth we get out of our experiences are up to us.
* Adelé Green is a Transformation Specialist Coach and author of Can You See Me Naked.