How to Deal With High Conflict Family in Divorce

Divorce changes you. How can anyone expect us to be the same person we were when we just got married? You’re not the same girl. You walked through some dark places to get here today. You’ve wrestled with some of the most challenging decisions of your life. And depending on where you are in your journey, you have faced some of the deepest and darkest shadow sides of yourself, and they are painful.

Unless someone has walked inside what I call “Divorce Purgatory,” that place you go to after divorce where you are not entirely out the other side, then they have no idea how to support you during this season of your life.

It’s easy for people to say, “Well, maybe there is something you haven’t tried. What about the kids? What will people think?”— As if divorced moms haven’t processed the answers to these questions over and over again every waking minute of their lives.

In a divorce, you’ll face criticism, judgments, and many limiting beliefs. And what you have to continually remind yourself of, if you are going to live a life of truth, is that what these people are saying to you reflects their own internal beliefs and fears, not yours. Believing what they are saying to you is like drinking someone else’s poison.

Are you ok with living a life where you allow others to dictate it for you?

I think the universe must have conspired to have me learn this great lesson multiple times because I have had to learn this lesson with numerous people in my life. I was met with many critics when I asked for a divorce after a 19-year relationship with two children, many of whom were my own family. I often found myself asking, “Why me? Why do I have so many high conflict people in my life?”

There had to be a reason I had so many people in my life that kept me in the energy of fighting and defending myself. Wayne Dyer believed that “You create your thoughts, your thoughts create your intentions, and your intentions create your reality.” If this were true, then how were my thoughts creating my reality? I had to figure this out because it seemed to show up everywhere I went.

I was divorced, and my mom refused to take down my wedding photo.

After my divorce, my mom refused to take my wedding photo down in her home. The picture was larger than life. I’m not kidding; every time I walked into the house, it was screaming at me. The frame was three feet high.

Their excuse was, “The kids. He is still the children’s father, and I want to respect them.” Once again, here I was swallowing my feelings to keep the peace for everyone else. I convinced myself that it was the selfless thing to do, just to let it go, be quiet, and don’t cause any more waves.

That was a pattern that echoed through me throughout my entire life—BE QUIET, DON’T SPEAK YOUR TRUTH, DO WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS IS THE RIGHT THING, NEVERMIND YOUR FEELINGS.

It wasn’t until years later that I finally understood what I had been made to carry when I was in a relationship with a man who loved me from the inside out. The photo was the elephant in the room that nobody wanted to address, until one day my partner asked, “Why do your parents still have your wedding photo in their home?”

I was used to betraying myself, to abandoning myself out of fear of losing my family. That was completely normal for me.  But now it felt different; it felt as if I was betraying the new man in my life that I loved dearly. What I realized was that the photo was not about the kids. The photo represented the decades of silencing myself out of fear of others withholding love from me.

That isn’t loving.

Love doesn’t ask you to be silent. It doesn’t ask you to abandon your spirit. It’s not something used as currency—I will love you when (fill in the blank).

There was no regard for how I felt about the photo. My needs didn’t matter to my family because I was the one who asked for the divorce. The message that I received was, “You asked for the divorce, and now the kids are suffering. The least you can do is put your needs and feelings aside so that you don’t create any more discomfort.”

How I abandoned myself still to this day amazes me. Why is it that we won’t do things for ourselves, but we will walk through fire for the people we love?

I’m a protector by nature, and the lioness was emerging from decades of slumber. “Show me, Marisa, I want to hear your roar, the one you’ve been suppressing for way too long.” My voice exploded. I can’t recall exactly what I said, but it was to the effect of, “That photo better come down, and if it doesn’t, I will not be stepping a foot into this house.”

I did not care how my truth landed. It was no longer my job to worry about how others received my truth. My only concern was to show up for the little girl inside of me that was made to suppress her emotions out of fear of not being loved.

I gave that little girl her voice again. I showed her that she mattered. As Wayne Dyer said, “Your thoughts create your intention, and your intention creates your reality.”

The photo is no longer hanging on the wall, but more importantly, I healed the parts of myself that once were paralyzed by fear. I gave myself a voice that speaks truth without worrying about what others will think.

You will always have high conflict people in your life. They will trigger you and push you to your limits. You may not see it now, but they are your greatest teachers. They are a mirror into those parts of yourself that still need attention.

What I realized is that it was never about them; it was about me. When I learned how to love myself and no longer betray myself, I could stand firm with both feet planted into the ground. In that place, I was able to withstand any storm that came my way.

If you want to know more about healing and finding your voice so that you can live your truth, set up a complimentary call with me. I would love to help you reclaim your power. You can schedule your call HERE.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to Co-parent When The Odds Are Against You? 

How to Co-parent When The Odds Are Against You? 

Trying to co-parent in the aftermath of divorce for me was like walking through fields of landmines, trying to avoid death. That's what it felt like, the death of my attachment to being a mother. It was a label I clung to since I was no longer a wife after almost 15...

It’s Not Selfish to Be Selfish

It’s Not Selfish to Be Selfish

Are you tired of being everything for everyone else?  As a former Good Girl myself, my body still has memory of what it was like to do for everyone else and serve others from an empty cup.  So deep-seated was this belief of needing to be selfless that I have to make a...