I Was a Stay-At-Home Mom: I Didn’t Regret That Until I Went Through a Divorce

I started dating my high school sweetheart when I was just seventeen years old, and he was 16. Our families were friends since childhood.  Our relationship got serious rather quickly. He was the guy that checked all the boxes for the type of man I thought I was supposed to marry.

I had a ring on my finger when I was 19, and married before I even graduated college at 21 years old.  We pretty much grew up together. We were still kids trying to figure out life. Everything we had, we built from the ground up.  Nobody gave us anything that we didn’t work for.

Our relationship lasted 19 years; with two beautiful children to show for it, a custom-built home, a pretty substantial real estate portfolio, and a marriage that most people thought would last a lifetime.

Except that it didn’t. 

I was the mom that ran the household.  I worked in real estate part-time (a career that did not light me up) so that I could be there to raise our children.  I cooked all our meals, I made sure the home was clean, and I brought the kids to and from school and volunteered in the classroom.  Managing our home was my first priority.

I WAS a STAY-AT-HOME MOM

Everything changed the minute our marriage was over.  It was as if this person I built a life with suddenly became someone I needed to protect myself from. I was dumbfounded that we instantly became strangers. I went from a life that felt safe, to thinking “what else could possibly be taken away from me?”

I am the one that asked for a divorce, but I was beat to the punch with divorce papers.  I was suffering and processing the loss of my marriage, I wasn’t thinking that I needed to “protect” what was already mine.  I hired my own lawyer being that I was left with no other option. My lawyer suggested I check my bank accounts to see if our funds were left untouched.  I can’t even begin to describe the feeling that washed over me when I logged into our joint bank accounts only to find that all the accounts had been closed and credit cards canceled.  To say that I felt terrified is an understatement. How did “our money” all of a sudden become “my money?”

Had I not been savvy, and blessed with the grace of God, I would have been at the mercy of a stranger, a person I was intimate with for 19 years, but none of that mattered anymore.  I was left to fend for myself, completely unsupported by my family, awaiting a court date in order to have a judge determine my fate. I still had basic survival needs.  “How do I pay for gas, groceries, the kid’s necessities, etc.?”

What came next was waking up one morning only to find my car key missing.  A car that I had been driving for a year…vanished. I was told it was a “company car” that I was no longer entitled to drive.  No warning, no conversation, just gone!

Everything changed overnight.  I was no longer the primary caretaker of our children.  He went from running a family business fulltime to instantly becoming 50% dad, bringing and picking up the kids from school, and when he couldn’t he enlisted his family’s help during his “custodial time.” There was zero communication in raising our children.  It was your time and my time, and on my time, I will do whatever I please. Mind you it was never my intention to take the kids away, I believe children need both mom and dad in their lives. None of this was a topic of conversation, just action taken fueled by shattered pride and ego.

We were both instructed by lawyers to stay in our home until the divorce was finalized, which lasted a year.  It was excruciating. It felt outer body. I was a stranger in a home we built ourselves, a home we raised our children in, and where we hosted many family gatherings. Nothing felt comfortable anymore.  We both avoided being home when it wasn’t our custodial time. Everything was calculated and documented down to the day and the hour. It was what I call divorce purgatory. Stuck between two worlds; life before divorce and life after divorce.

I write this in no way to place blame or to make myself out to be the victim, because to be completely honest, my attorney advised me to do the exact same thing, but I didn’t want to believe that we had become these people.  I didn’t want our children to be placed in the crossfire of two people who felt the need to defend their ego and pride, but I also wasn’t going to stand around and allow someone to pull the rug out from under me.

My story is in no way unique.  I have heard countless women in this exact predicament, especially when it comes to finances.  Begging for money in order to buy tampons. Meanwhile, their lawyer is unable to do a darn thing without getting in front of a judge, which could take months. Withholding money is financial abuse, and I don’t wish it on anyone.  I was grateful that I had other sources of income that he was unable to withhold from me in the long run, but not everyone is that lucky.

This is what many bulldog lawyers instruct their clients to do… ACT FAST, PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR ASSETS, MINIMIZE FINANCIAL LOSS, and in some cases make the other person out to be unfit and unreliable.  It’s not a lawyer’s job to do what is in the best interest of all parties involved, including the children.  Their only job is to “WIN” for the client. They have no interest in who gets burned in the process. I say this having experienced it firsthand.

I want stay at home moms to be fully aware of the possible outcomes.  If you are financially dependent on your spouse and you want out of your marriage please be aware of the situation and consult a lawyer, preferably a lawyer that isn’t out to win at all costs.  Don’t ever think to yourself that this will never happen to me, that was my first lesson. This can easily be you, too, if you are in a relationship with someone who is fueled by fear and has a bruised ego. Remember healing doesn’t happen in courtrooms, that’s your own personal journey.  Until you are in a desperate state of mind, you have no idea what you are capable of doing.

If you find yourself in this situation feel free to reach out to me for a complimentary strategy session.  Do not try and handle this alone.

Sign-up on my mailing list to get weekly content that will support you in your journey towards healing, and also get notified of my upcoming program coming out soon…Untying the Knots of Divorce.

 

 

Are You Divorced But Still Feel Like You Are Energetically Married?

Are you divorced but feel like the only thing that has changed is your address? Living in two separate households only to find that distance doesn’t always equal freedom? Have you just survived the worst time of your life by the skin of your teeth, yet it still feels like you are in the trenches?

I thought divorce papers were my ticket to freedom.  I would sign the papers and somehow it would magically dissolve everything… cut all ties.  Boy was I in for a rude awakening!  Little did I know that a piece of paper didn’t guarantee that I would be divorced energetically.

Let me explain what I mean by being physically divorced, but energetically still married.  Marriage is defined by a union of two people…a partnership, which can be dissolved at any time on paper.  Whenever we bond with someone, as in marriage, we physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, as well as energetically connect to that person.  We are energetic beings that create many kinds of attachments.  Although we can physically divorce our partner, that does not mean that we energetically detach from them after the divorce is finalized.

This explains how you can physically be miles apart, yet still, feel like nothing has changed.  They still have the same power over you just like they did while you were married.  One text has the power to bring you right back to the darkest days of your life.  One phone call reminds you why you filed for divorce in the first place.  Your thoughts about them have the power to paralyze your entire body keeping you stuck and unable to move forward.

What you have yet to realize is that you are still CHAINED, still TETHERED to what has rendered you powerless.

Let me paint you a picture. Imagine your intestines being tied into tiny little knots, and all the food you’ve ingested is unable to make its way down into your stomach.  This would stop you from eliminating waste, and your body would quickly build up toxins and make you sick.   This is what it looks like to be stuck energetically to something that no longer serves you.  In essence, you have been tied in energetic knots.  Unable to move and grow, and evolve into the next phase of your life.

So, how do you shake this??!! How can you cut this energy cord after a separation once and for all?!

The first step is knowing your truth.  Put the fight down!  Put down the need to prove or defend yourself to anyone.  See your ex as a mirror.  What are they triggering inside of you that you believe about yourself?  Do you believe that you are unworthy of love, that you are a bad person, that you deserved to be punished? Do you have guilt or shame attached to your divorce? If you cannot put the limiting story down you will keep letting your triggers own you.  This is when you need to work on reprogramming those beliefs of yours because if you didn’t believe them their words would have no power over you.

Subconsciously we believe these ugly little lies.  Most of the time we are completely unaware of it.  Unaware of the inner chatter that has the power to bring us to our knees.

The second step is owning your story and walking away from the victim mindset.  You are not a victim of your divorce! I don’t care who wanted the divorce and who didn’t want the divorce.  So many people feel the need to cast blame after divorce.  They feel the need to make one party the victim and the other party the culprit.  The truth is if you label yourself as “The Victim,” you will disarm yourself of all your power.  Is that what you really want…a constant pity party?

Put the story down!

Your marriage is over…the end! No need to rally the troops to fight a battle only to keep the energetic cords alive.  Do you want to win or do you want to be happy?

The third step is doing the work to figure out what brought you to the unconscious relationship in the first place.  Let me tell you that the answer to this will not be outside yourself.  Ask the questions that you didn’t have the courage or awareness to ask yourself prior to the relationship.  It’s shocking to think that I never asked myself these questions until my mid-thirties, and I know I’m not alone in this! They are the most basic and fundamental questions:

WHO AM I? HOW DID I GET HERE? WHAT AM I INTERESTED IN? WHO WAS I BEFORE I WAS WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE NEEDED ME TO BE?  

Let me tell you how powerful the universe is.  The minute I asked the right questions I got the answers loud and clear…like the very next day! But this doesn’t happen without surrender, without letting go of how you think things should be and accepting what is.  Accepting what is takes work.  It takes courage.  It takes owning your part and wearing it like a badge of honor, not as an anchor.

I am guessing you don’t know how to do the “work” otherwise you would have done it already.  So, let me give you a taste of what doing the work meant for me…

Once I was ready to put down the sword and really step into my power, well this was where the journey began.  I realized I needed support.  The box I created for myself didn’t have the necessary tools I needed to get out.  I sought after counsellors and coaches.  I found mentors virtually because they were far and few between in my circle.  I read books, I went to women’s retreats, I created new friendships that supported my journey, I listened to podcasts.  I did anything and everything to empower myself, and even when I didn’t feel powerful I let this virtual family that I created hold me up until I could do it alone.  And I did it all with grace and compassion for myself.  I wasn’t in a race to some imaginary finish line.  There is no finish line!

The fourth step just might be the most difficult step of all…FORGIVENESS.  I’m not going to lie, my ego will still try and pull one over me at times.  I still get triggered and it brings me to a place of righteousness.  When that happens, I forgive myself for being human and having a human experience.  I have realized that most of these feelings come from generations of women before me. Generations of women living in lack, in fear, in comparison, in the need to defend or prove themselves.  The truth is nobody has the power to make you feel this way unless YOU give it to them.  So, in forgiving my ex I was forgiving myself.

The Hawaiian’s have a beautiful prayer of forgiveness and healing relationships called ho’oponopono, which goes like this…

 

I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  Thank you. I love you. 

 

I know, the thought of saying this might make you cringe, but this prayer really is about setting yourself free.  This is what is going to allow you to cut the energetic cord, the cord that still binds you.

The fifth and final step is to actually cut the energetic cord.  Physical relationships create the strongest of energetic cords.  At one point you bonded with this person in the most intimate of ways, and divorce papers won’t wash that away.  Why is it necessary to cut these cords? So that you can break the attachment that causes you to still react to this person, and step into a place of self-love. It’s a great way to disarm them and empower you.

In intimate relationships, cords are typically attached from the heart center.  Begin with closing your eyes and putting one hand over your heart, or wherever you feel the attachment stems from. You can visualize your ex standing in front of you with an energy cord that attaches you two together.  Set the intention of not allowing any more energy exchanged with this person.  You then move your hand up and down as if your cutting a rope with an axe.  Visualize yourself cutting the energy cord once and for all.

This is what worked for me in order to sever the chords that attached us.  It is a process that takes lots of intention.  You will see for yourself that the power they once had over you will disappear, and you will have new-found freedom you never thought possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Got Over The Death Of The Family Unit After My Divorce?

 

 

Life after divorcing with children is never what anybody imagines it to be.  In a perfect world, we would all get along and make our children top priority, maybe even celebrate events together as a different kind of family, and there would be a smooth transition right into co-parenting.

Yeah…that didn’t happen.

I think I was delusional; telling myself that we are both adults, we both love our children very much, we can rise above our emotions and do the right thing in the name of parenting.

That’s when the expectation hangover kicked my butt, as author Christine Hassler so perfectly coined.  You know what they say…expectations lead to suffering. Those expectations came too fast, too soon, and they definitely led to suffering.  It took me some time to realize that the family unit I once knew will never be what it originally was, and if I didn’t want to continue suffering I had to mourn its death.

The death of the family unit was very traumatic.  The firsts after my divorce were the worst! The first holidays, the first birthdays, the first vacation, the first school event, the first family get-together.  While every other family was celebrating with their children, I was torn to pieces.  Parts of me felt incomplete.  There was a sense of unfamiliarity that I never knew before.  We had traditions.  We celebrated holidays year after year with our families and friends.  We went to school events together.  We were a picture-perfect family.

When the dust settled and everything went quiet, I was left with…NOW, WHAT?!

I thought to myself, “So this is what people meant when they would say divorce was like death?” Actually, I think death would have been easier.  There is closure in death.  Divorce didn’t give me closure.  It needed constant navigation.  It was as if I had to navigate through a path of landmines, not knowing when I would be triggered by the next explosion of emotional trauma. What came up when I was left to pick up the pieces was much more than I anticipated.

 

What came to the surface was my baggage of not-enoughness; the baggage of me not being a good enough mother, not being a good enough daughter, not being a good enough wife, not being a good enough friend.

It’s easy to be stuck in blame mode after a divorce.  Nobody wants to point the finger inward, but the truth is relationships are 100%/100%, and it was time to own up to how I got here.  It wasn’t just the death of the family unit I was mourning, but the death of blame, shame, and guilt.  Until I accepted responsibility I couldn’t put the pieces back together to create a new family unit.  A stronger more powerful one; one that is built on authenticity, built with me standing in my full power and not in victimhood, built in self-love.

 

I got rid of the disempowering beliefs–  “Poor me, I’m a divorcee now.  I’m a terrible mother who doesn’t get to have her kids for every holiday.  What will people think of me when I don’t show up with my kids?” This sort of thinking paralyzed my ability to grow and connect with my children in a different way, or connect to anyone for that matter.  I had to ask, “Is it true that I am a terrible mother if I can’t be with my kids for Christmas every year? Is it true that my divorce has shamed me and my family?” I didn’t see how my divorce made me a terrible person.  I realized that it was guilt and shame, two very useless emotions, that were keeping me in the death of the family unit mentality.

 

Once I realized that I needed to put the labels down, along with guilt and shame, I thought about ways I could create new traditions with my family.   Something that we can look forward to and call our own.  The disempowering beliefs only created a wedge between my children and me. We didn’t have to be together for every event in order to be in each other’s lives.  With curiosity and patience, I was able to cultivate something more beautiful, with a greater sense of appreciation than I ever had before.

It was then time to get back to me, the real me.  The woman that was inspired, had a passion for life and helping people, who had put all that aside for the sake of being everything for everyone else.  This was the first step in my healing process.  The reason I suffered so much after my divorce was that I lost sight of myself in my marriage, and when my marriage failed I didn’t know who I was anymore without my husband. My relationship isn’t what made me whole, I am whole as I am, standing in the truth of my being.

Healing is possible, and you can come out the other side with a strength you never knew existed.  It requires self-compassion and self-love, and time to allow emotions to settle, and it starts and ends with YOU.

What To Do When Your Partner Says ‘I Need Space’

Has your partner come to you and said these three gut-wrenching words? – I NEED SPACE. These are not the words anyone wants to hear in a relationship. They bring up feelings of fear, panic, and also uncertainty about where you stand in all of it.

Your self-talk might consist of questions such as:  What did I do? Are they trying to call it quits? Is there someone else in the picture?

This kind of self-talk can lead to sabotage if you let it take you down the road of assumptions.

There are multitudes of reasons why any one of us needs space.  Time apart can be a good thing, for our partner and for ourselves.  It’s easy to get caught up in the relationship and lose sight of our own needs and desires.

Lets first start off with talking about what making space looks like:

Don’t call or text every five minutes fishing for clues wondering if they are over needing their space.  Don’t try and scroll through their cell phone, computer, or social media when they aren’t looking trying to find information to validate the story you may have created in your head. Don’t give them the cold shoulder if they open up a dialogue and share their feelings and thoughts with you.

Nobody likes someone breathing down his or her neck, or constantly checking in as they would a toddler.  This is exactly the opposite of giving someone space.

Here are my tips that will help you take a pause during this time and not go down the rabbit hole…

 

The first tip is Do Not Fill In The Blanks With Assumptions. 

I know this is hard for you to do because you want answers, and because the situation makes you feel uncertain, but assumptions will only create further distance between you and your partner. Your head will want to create stories about why they need space, and “what did I do to push them away?” This is the time you want to take these words at face value…THEY JUST NEED SPACE…period.

 

The second tip is Don’t Chase Make Space!

At first, your partner may be turned on by the chase because it may meet their need for significance, but I can promise you, in the long run, it will get very suffocating and juvenile.  This will not create the lasting connection that you desire.  When someone is in a place of needing to reflect and wanting time to take a pause, the last thing they want is someone turning the heat up. When has there ever been a positive outcome when chasing someone that needs to be left alone? I can guarantee that if you keep chasing them you will only push them further away.  This is the time you want to love them, more than ever, unconditionally, with no strings attached.  Why? Because you are a person who loves no matter what anyone else does or says.

 

The third tip is to Practice Self-Care. 

If you do not practice self-care (taking care of your mind body and soul), you cannot be fully present for your partner.  It is not your partner’s responsibly to have to manage your mental state, especially at a time when they “need space.” So use this time to learn something new, get your workout on, cook a healthy meal for yourself, spend time with friends, read a great book…  Your partner will love you for it! And you benefit from having your own quality time with yourself.  Distance apart will only create more passion and desire in the relationship.  Who doesn’t want more of that?

 

The fourth tip is to Stay Neutral When Your Partner Is Ready To Open Up To You. 

I get it! How can I stay neutral when I feel like they just shut me out? If you let yourself go into the “I” mode, meaning what did “I” do to deserve this, then you allowed yourself to go into your EGO.  The space that your partner needs isn’t about you, it’s about them.  Staying neutral will allow them to come back into a space that doesn’t have any tones of guilt, shame, or blame.  You invite them back into a space that is playful and loving.  Be curious when they are ready to open up.  Sharing your thoughts from a place of curiosity is a far better place to invite someone back in.

 

The fifth tip is Use This Time To Reflect On What Your Needs Are In The Relationship.

This can be a great time for you to ask yourself if your needs in the relationship are being met.  And not in a way that is vengeful, meaning my partner needed space so now I need to create a problem so that I can take back control of the relationship when they return (that’s your ego trying to repair itself).  Sit down and be honest with yourself.  Is this relationship meeting my needs? Do I like who I am with my partner? Am I being my highest self in this relationship? We sometimes get caught up in being a couple that we forget to take care of ourselves.

 

It’s important to handle this time with respect, integrity, and a gentle heart for your partner and for yourself. Be open and have clear communication for what this means to both of you.  There is no rule book, but if treated with care and compassion you will get through this together.

 

 

How To Turn F*** You Into Thank You

Yes, I just went there! And now that I have your attention it’s time to get real.  But before we have this conversation I want you to stop and think about that one person in your life that knows how to trigger you like no other; the one that is the source of all your pain.  The one that you envision falling off the face of the earth because if they did your life would be utterly BLISSFULL.

It didn’t take long for you to envision that person…am I right?

We all have someone in our life that we wish would F off.  Whether it is a family member, an ex, in-laws, a coworker… There are some people that we can’t avoid and we can’t get away from.  For whatever reason they are in our lives and avoiding them isn’t always an option.

Ever wonder why they are in our lives? Is it just to cause suffering? Or, is there something cosmically greater at work here? Think about it.  If we are all here to grow and evolve as compassionate beings, then how would we do that if we didn’t have people like this in our lives.  If life just handed you perfection on a gold platter, would you really appreciate the life you had? We can’t know bliss if we don’t also know anguish.

Pain is an emotion that every single one of us will experience.  We can’t avoid it! And it’s an emotion that many of us want to find a target for.  It’s easier for us to say that someone else is the source of our pain or that this person did me wrong because pointing our finger towards ourselves is too painful.  The reality is that we are triggered by a deep insecurity that we already have brewing inside ourselves.  We are reactive because they are triggering parts of us that are unresolved, parts of us that feel that we are unworthy, and parts of us that feel that we are not good enough.

So yes…THANK YOU!

Thank you for showing me what unresolved parts of myself still need attention. Thank you for allowing yourself to be a mirror for what I need to work on so that I can grow.  Thank you for pushing hot buttons that I didn’t know I still had.  These people that trigger us are our greatest teachers.  I know you may not see it that way right now, but trust me they are.

The truth is nobody can make you feel a certain way unless you allow them to.  Nobody should have that power over you:  the power to control your emotions.   So put that finger down and know that you are worthy and you are enough, and believe it!

 

 

How Setting Boundaries Can Help You On Your Journey Towards Forgiveness

Forgiveness is such an emotionally charged and powerful word. For many of us just hearing that word makes us cringe.  There is so much meaning attached to it, and we might not be in a place of wanting to let go of the stories we are holding onto, of the wrongdoings that were done to us.  We want to hold on for dear life, to that pain, because frankly, we are so accustomed to having it as a companion, that we might not know who we are without it.  We might be thinking if we put the pain down, if we let our guard down, we may open ourselves up to being hurt again, and that’s just not an option.

 

What does it mean to forgive? For me, it meant that I needed to stop drinking the poison.  I needed to stop allowing the other person to have an emotional grip on me.  It meant severing the energy source that was paralyzing me so that I could stop giving my power away.

 

Forgiveness was about me.  It was the greatest act of self-care.  To be in a place of total freedom, and not allow anyone control over my emotions, my thoughts, or my self-worth.

 

Not being able to forgive carried consequences of still being attached in a negative energy space, and the only way to release that negative attachment was to be in a place of neutrality, a place where the wrongdoer was neither good nor bad.  A place of understanding that their actions are only a result of what’s going on in their reality, and it had nothing to do with me.

 

If you’ve read my blog post https://marisalupocoaching.com/butterfly-magic-the-story-of-me/ , you know how difficult my divorce was. Dismantling a long-term marriage with children was no easy task, especially in the Italian community.  A community where your suffering becomes the topic of conversation in every household, and not in a way that is supportive and loving, but in a way that is meant to hold your head under water.

 

I felt as if I had the world against me.

 

Lets just say that forgiveness wasn’t on the top of my list of priorities.

 

The anger raged inside of me for the things that were being said about who I was, what sort of mother I am, and about things that were said that were meant to damage my character.  This sort of sabotage not only landed on my ears, but they also landed on the ears of my children.

 

This was the moment where I knew that I needed to establish a relationship with my new best friend…BOUNDARIES!

 

Now, some of you may have grown up like me, in a family where boundaries are nonexistent.  A place where lines are crossed and your life isn’t your own.  So, you can see how establishing boundaries may require you to get a little ugly.  It may seem out of left field if all of a sudden you speak your mind and let someone know that they are crossing the line with you, but nothing good comes out of not speaking your truth and allowing others to hurt you.

 

Learning to find my voice and my power was the only road to creating boundaries, which ultimately allowed me to let go and forgive.  It was easier to forgive from this place because I was no longer a victim.  I had the power to dictate how others were going to treat me, and if there was something I didn’t like, then I had the power to remove myself from the situation.  

 

Setting boundaries puts you back in the driver’s seat.  You get to be in a place where you can trust yourself again.  A place where you have choices.  A place of knowing that you are worth more than holding onto the story that is weighing you down.  I am asking you to forgive because you are worth so much more and because freedom is on the other side waiting for you to let go.

 

Four Tips To Finding Your Flow After a Difficult Divorce

Are you stuck in divorce purgatory? It’s that place where your marriage has died, but you’re not really sure what’s next for you.  The end of a marriage is something that I don’t wish upon anyone, especially when there are children involved, but it is sometimes the necessary option. The unravelling of a family unit brings on so many emotions, and after a divorce, you are left with the question, “What now?” The body is still warm and the mourning process has just begun.  Things may be good for a bit because you are trying to minimize the damage, but when the body turns cold this is the time emotions start running hot.

It’s hard for the ego to not get involved when going through the aftermath of a divorce.  It’s as if you never knew your partner at all, and they act like they didn’t just share a life with you for so many years.  All of a sudden you may not be a reliable and trustworthy parent any longer.  Both parties start feeling like they need to “protect” themselves from the enemy.  This is especially true for anyone dealing with a narcissistic ex.  You can read my previous post about how to handle a narcissistic here https://marisalupocoaching.com/howtohandleanarcissist/  Or, like me you may be in and out of court, having to deal with court counsellors and judges tell you how to handle your own kids, using them as tools to win your battles. In these situations, things can get a little sticky, and finding your FLOW is the only way to give you back the peace you deserve.

 

F is for FORGIVE

I know this is hard as hell when all you want to do is make the other person suffer as much as you are suffering.  “How do I forgive someone that made my life a living nightmare?” Forgiveness is never about the other person; it’s about setting your soul free and allowing yourself space for love to fill you up, and not anger or spite.  It is very easy to get yourself into a victim mentality; the place where the other person did this to you, but the fact of the matter is you have choices, and it’s time to start making better ones.  Being a victim will only render you powerless.  I’m not asking that you don’t do what you need to do if you are in a volatile divorce that requires you to take the necessary action to defend yourself, but I am asking that you forgive someone that is unconscious.  Forgiveness allows you to elevate yourself to a place where only love remains, and nothing else matters.

 

L is for LET GO

Let go of expectations.  Expectations always lead to suffering!  We all have expectations after divorce.  Expectations that the other person will do “The right thing,” that the other person will have the best of intentions.  NO, THEY WON’T! I don’t care if you were in a 20-year marriage, after a divorce you are on your own.  Detach from the outcome and there will be no suffering.  Nobody owes you anything.  It’s up to you to create the life you want.  Clearly, the life you had wasn’t working out, so go out and get yours.  Don’t wait around for someone to pick up the pieces.  Pick them up, and move on to the life you are destined for! This is the place you reclaim your voice and your power… remember those things you lost in your marriage?  Letting go is so freeing to your soul.  You will eventually see that you do not need to control and that letting go of the need to pull the strings is liberating.

 

O is for OBSERVE

Observe your thoughts.  Your thoughts can easily take you down the rabbit hole after a divorce, or grow you to a level that you have never seen before.  The choice is yours!  If you stay stuck in the past on how things should have been, or how you should have handled things differently, you will never be able to get to a place of pure joy, and all you have accomplished is you shoudling all over yourself.  On the other hand, if you can take the lessons (which are abundant after a divorce) and learn to manage your thoughts and get the help you may need, you will be able to find the freedom that you surely deserve.  Consciousness is key; be conscious of the stories that you create and the labels that you give to this experience.  The lessons are neither good nor bad… they just are.  Divorce is just simply that…divorce.  Get rid of the labels and judgements that you attach to that word, and create new meaning to it.  You are no longer married- The End.  Stop telling yourself that divorce is bad, and that you are damaged goods, and that nobody is going to want you.  Trust me, life will move on and you will get through this even stronger on the other side.

 

W is for WORK

Do the work! Don’t just jump into another relationship and expect the other person to “Complete you.”  You aren’t Jerry Maguire. YOU are the only person that is responsible for YOUR own happiness.  Don’t insert another person into this equation and then dump expectations on their lap.  Remember what I said about expectations? Yes, they lead to suffering, and that will lead you down a path of another failed relationship.  Get the help you need and start looking at how you got here.  Start owning your part.  Divorce is never one-sided.  I don’t care what the situation was. Divorce isn’t overnight.  So many clients say they don’t understand how they got here, but when they take a deeper look they can see all the red flags and warning signs they turned their head to.  Doing the work requires getting raw and vulnerable, and being honest with yourself.  It’s time to get to the core of the problem, and you may not see it when it’s so close to your face.

I know how hard the road to recovery is.  I, too, had to learn the process of letting go after my divorce.  It’s not an easy task, but I was willing to own my part and do the work.  This has led me to living a life I love.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  A life with no regrets, where suffering is no longer a companion of mine, and where freedom is possible.    I can help you, too! Contact me for a complimentary session so that I can help lead you to a place where your life, too, can FLOW.

 

How Does “The Good Girl” Archetype Put Out The Fire In Your Relationship

Let me first describe to you the characteristics of, “The Good Girl.”  She’s a beautiful soul that learned at a very young age how to please those around her.  She is always very polite, and would never want to hurt a soul, even if it’s at the detriment of her own spirit.  She would rather sacrifice her own happiness in order to go unnoticed.  The word NO is not in her vocabulary, so she learned to always say YES to the world around her.  She worries about what other people think and say, which taught her to suppress her own dreams and desires.  She isn’t always honest about her feelings, because having her own opinion isn’t valued. She carries the expectations of those around her like an anchor on her feet. Her religious and/or cultural upbringing shames her for being a sexual woman, and for having desires of her own.

 

 Growing up female isn’t easy…is it? Especially when you are “The Good Girl.”

 

As a young girl, we were taught who we needed to be and how we needed to behave.  We were groomed to be impeccable because anything less than is unacceptable.  “You must dress a certain way or people will think you are a slut, you must cross your legs or someone may get the wrong idea, you must not use foul language because it is not ladylike, you must not talk to boys because they only want one thing, you are not allowed to date because you might get pregnant, and you can’t have sex out of marriage because God will forsake you.”  The list was endless, and the fears were engrained.  There were no conversations about our body and about sex because abstinence was the only option.

 

At some point in our childhood, we may have believed some of these outrageous beliefs. How does this happen?! It starts off by something so innocent, such as mom walking into her daughter’s room while she is exploring her own body, and mom gives her daughter a horrified look and tells her that it’s not ok to do that.  There you have it! The first scar that her daughter will carry forever. Now the child equates touching herself to shame and disgust.  Or, maybe you went to a school where the dress code was very strict, and you received a message that you needed to cover up your body because it was too distracting for the boys.  You may have been raised in a family where having sex outside of marriage gets you a one-way ticket to hell, so you carry this guilt and shame your entire life, into all your relationships.  Eventually, we learn to build walls around us in order to stay protected from the outside world. The outside world is unsafe, boys are unsafe, and my body is unsafe.  Words like….SHAME, BAD, INAPPROPRIATE, DIRTY, SINFUL…are words you may have associated with your body.

 

We’ve been taught that it’s not safe to be a female and that we have to protect ourselves from men. That we need to cover our bodies like a shield.  We weren’t taught that the female body is something that should be celebrated, loved, cherished, and explored.  We weren’t taught that our body is sacred and that we should embrace every part of it. We weren’t taught to accept it, and love it for all it was created to be.  We weren’t taught to enjoy the pleasures that the body was created for (and YES it was created for pleasure).

 

How do carrying these beliefs around wound your romantic relationships?

 

If you were never taught how to be a sexual or sensual woman, a woman with desires of her own, because that part of you needed to be turned off and disconnected (because it was considered dangerous), then you aren’t experiencing love to the fullest.  You aren’t letting the veil down and exposing your true authentic self and vulnerable self to your partner.  How would you have been able to automatically tune out all those fears that you were conditioned to believe?

 

This is a pattern that I have witnessed in my coaching practice.  So many women, in long-term relationships, have never truly and fully let their partner in.  They have never experienced the joy of connecting and touching their own body, of being fully naked with their partner, or of even looking at their body in the mirror.  This causes a sense of detachment to our own body, a sense of powerlessness. We have never owned our own body! It has become an instrument that needs protection.

The good news is that it is not too late to reclaim these parts of you!

 

The feminine can be healed by nurturing every aspect of her, especially those that were shamed and shut down by the dominant culture.  The first step is recognizing the stories you are telling yourself.  I get it! I, too, was “The Good Girl.” I know how hard it is to unlearn everything you know to be true and to not let fear, shame, and guilt get in the way of a thriving relationship.  Go back to your younger self and see where these thought patterns started. When did the stories of fear and protection around your body start taking shape?

The next step is to start having a relationship with your body.  You can’t expect your partner to be connected to you if you yourself aren’t connected.  Find out what makes you feel sexy…maybe play some loud music when you are alone and dance around the house! Maybe start touching yourself and see what feels good. Baby steps! I realize you aren’t going to go from zero to sixty overnight.

Another extremely effective tool is to unveil your body in front of a mirror and look at it daily. It sounds crazy for some of you, but this is the only body you have, and you should embrace it for all the miracles it has given you!

These are just a few tricks to try out. If you would like to know how to take this even further, send me an email! I would love to hear from you.  I realize there are so many layers to this conversation, and we are just getting started.  So, be sure to get on the email list that way you don’t miss out on more of this conversation.

 

 

 

 

How To Handle A Narcissist: Three Of My Top Tips For Keeping Your Cool

Each one of us has had to deal with a narcissist at some point or another:  Whether it was an ex, a boss, or a family member.  Dealing with a narcissist can be extremely difficult and exhausting as all hell! The recurring question that I get asked is “How do I deal with someone that has to win at all costs?”

Narcissists have this amazing ability to make you feel like you are the crazy one, like you are wrong for thinking the way you think, and for feeling the way you feel.  It’s as if they have this super power; a gift that plants doubt inside you that makes you second guess your choices. How do they do it?! Let me first paint a picture of who you are dealing with here…

Narcissists are ego driven; meaning everything they do is to feed their ego. If you have encountered someone that has the need to win, that has to be right at all costs, that needs to be superior, that has their worth tied to their achievements, that needs to control others in order to support the outcome they desire, and the need to be seen as “the good guy/girl”…you may be dealing with a narcissist. 

 

 

Here are my tips on how to handle a narcissist:

1.  Don’t fight back! You already know that you will never win, and you will never get them to empathize with your point of view.  So why do you keep fighting it? If they say the sky is red, then let it be red.  Narcissists thrive on anyone that supplies them with the drugs they need, and that drug is being right.  You will keep spinning in the hamster wheel of getting nowhere with someone that will never say to you, “You know what Amy, you are right, I didn’t see things your way.” And continuing to fight will only mirror more of what you don’t want, which is a narcissist in your face.

2.  Let go of any expectations.  What do I mean by this? I realize some of you have no choice but to deal with a narcissist, so going radio silent on them may not be a viable option.  If you are forced to deal with this person, then having expectations will be the death of your sanity. Expectations that they will do the right thing, that they care about your best interest (or the interest of anyone other than themselves for that matter), that they are able to carry a conversation that doesn’t have their interest at the top of their mind.  IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!

3.  Remember who you are and what you value.   It’s easy to get sucked into a vicious cycle of crazy when you are dealing with a narcissist. You feel like you are constantly having to defend yourself and prove yourself to everyone.  You may be constantly defending who you are as a mother, as a partner, and a daughter.  Why are you defending yourself? Because a part of you may be feeling that they are right, or that you need to prove your self-worth.  You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone.  You are worthy just as you are, and anyone that doesn’t see it, well they don’t belong in your life.  You need to remember what it is you value.  Do you value peace and harmony? Do you value love and acceptance? Do you value REAL connection? If so, then put the gloves down, and understand that nobody can take your self-worth away.

If what you fight against you get more of, then getting in the rink with a narcissist will only get you more blows to the face. Narcissists need people to inflate their ego, so if you cut the supply they will find another victim to feed on.  Take the path of least resistance, and surround yourself with people that love and support you, with people that know your worth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Magic: The Story of How I Found My Way Back to Me & Emerged into A Whole New Life

There is a butterfly in each and every one of us.

But before she can emerge from her cocoon, she must first go within – she must retreat from the world of noise, chaos, and control to reclaim her ultimate purpose: to fly without limitations, with total release and abandon.  In flying, she is able to see for the first time a world of possibility, freedom, joy, and passion.

She reminds me of my own sacred unfolding.

Sometimes, it seems as though that journey began so long ago.

I yearned for that vibrancy, that freedom embodied by the butterfly who roams as she chooses.  I wanted to fly away from limitations, away from others’ expectations – from needing the approval of everyone around me, from living a life that wasn’t mine.

I wanted out of the cultural chains that held me back: the very same chains that anchored generations of women before me.

What made me think that I could be the first in my family to break these heavy chains? I had no role models to show me the way.  I had nobody encouraging me to follow my dreams, my passions.  Nobody around me recognized the suffering that I had brewing inside of me.  I was led by generations of women who had guilt as their constant companion: “Marisa, you need to be a good mother, and a good wife, and keep your house clean, have dinner ready on the table, and tell your kids what to do, and always stand by your husband’s side.”

Is this it for me?

Where am I in all of this? How did I get here? How did I become so robotic? How is it that I am going through the motions…without any emotion? How did I lose the vibrant, passionate, creative girl that I was, the person that so desperately wanted to help other people?

When did I stop valuing her? When did I lose her? Or…did I give her away in exchange for a cage made up of other people’s expectations?

You can’t contribute if you don’t know you matter.

THAT’S IT!   How could I follow my passion for helping others, for making a difference in the world, for being fully present with my loved ones…if I didn’t value myself?

How could I keep everything the same – not challenge my beliefs, continue living according to everyone else’s expectations, constantly hustle for approval – and expect different results?

I needed to recover the real passion of my life. I needed something that was going to light me up from within.  I needed to get real in my relationships, get clear about what I wanted and needed, and then ask for it.

Most of all, I had to be willing to go inside that cocoon so that I could EMERGE and fly. Only then would I be able to fully contribute from a place of knowing that I matter.

As all of this whirled inside me, my soul cried for help with a roar that burst out of me. It was beautiful and terrifying, all at the same time.

It was the cry of generations of women buried inside my soul, needing to be expressed, to be seen, to be heard for the first time ever.

Letting myself feel that absent presence was an act of courage that I didn’t know I had within me.  It felt like a volcanic eruption that needed to be released.  Once I surrendered to that yearning, only then could I see the suffering that wasn’t just mine, but all of ours.

The space that opened up within me when I let out that gasping roar of pain and lack and loneliness called me. That was when I knew I needed to go within myself in order to heal what had been eclipsed inside of me.  I couldn’t help others if I was in a place of unworthiness, a place where my life wasn’t as important as the lives of those around me. How could I help other women if I was still drowning in my own limiting beliefs? Until I addressed the suffering within me, I knew I couldn’t rise to my calling, when I was suffering deep down inside.

It was time to retreat, to go inside the cocoon, in solitude, to seek my life within.

Journeying within was unfamiliar. But I’ll tell you this: it is where the quiet is – such a difference from the reactive environment that I was deeply accustomed to.  Within, I found a place where nothing on the outside exists; a place I could go to find my truth.

It’s where my voice met my spirit, and their conversation was stillness.

My body disappeared, and my thoughts became distant. This was the true self-care that I desperately needed.  This was where I found the real me.  It was the place where I recovered my purpose.

Before that day, the day when I went within and sat with the stillness, I thought I knew what self-care meant.

It meant going to the spa and getting a massage or getting my nails done; planning a lunch date with my girlfriends; going to the mall and buying a new outfit.

Although all of these things are great and they serve their purpose, in the end, they only afforded me the illusion that I was in charge of my life. In reality, keeping a busy social calendar only made my cage more spacious.  But a cage is still a cage, and our spirits cry, “Freedom!”.

Self-care starts within you.  You can’t keep doing and doing all these things on the outside to fill the deep gaping hole inside of you.

Only by spending time in the cocoon can you find true healing.  Unless and until we do, we’re just putting a Band-Aid on an open wound that won’t close. This is why the same issues arise over and over again and no amount of mani/pedis seems to help.

Again, and again, you know deep down that you’re resisting the lesson, the message, the yearning that goes unanswered until you turn back toward yourself.

It starts with a decision to stop turning your back on yourself, your spirit.

Although my life was incredibly busy – and seemed ‘perfect’ on the outside – I was not healing the core of my being.

I needed deep self-care, the kind that reconnected me to my truth, to my passion, and to my purpose for living.

I armoured myself with courage and focused on what was true: I was created for some purpose. And the truth of who I was at my core must be inseparable from this purpose. I didn’t belong to anyone other than myself.  The battle for my worthiness, this fight, was, at first, internal:  I had to shed the layers of lies that I had to be anything other than who I was created to be.

I owed this to myself.  And it wasn’t about anyone or anything other than reconnecting to my spirit.

But…people do not like change. Human beings are wired to be afraid of the unknown.  We thirst for certainty, predictability, and the comfort of expectations met: “If you leave your marriage what does this mean? How will you support yourself? What will happen to the children? What will people say about you, about our family?”

It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? When the soul tries to break free, it is almost always met externally by a force of opposition, one that is the cumulative result of other people’s unresolved fears about themselves, their worthiness, their ‘reputation’, their need for certainty.

What did other people say about me?

They said I was a drug user, a stripper, and a lesbian.  I must be a lesbian for wanting to leave my husband, right?

And THIS was the small-minded mentality that I had been living my life for? That I was seeking approval from? That I lost myself to?

This was one big kahuna of an aha moment!

Of course, after any devastation or apparent loss…comes a chance for new growth: a rebirth, a transformation, and wings to fly. It was time for me to EMERGE.

Even the tiny caterpillar has the wisdom not to grieve its outgoing form, doesn’t it? For it expects the miracle that’s to come.

YOU are that miracle, just as I am. We all are!

I cannot tell you how my life changed once I did the work: and I continue to grow and evolve.

Once I declared my commitment to return to myself and recover my deepest truth, my most authentic being, and my highest purpose…then and only then was I able to experience real relationships and deep, powerful, growthful connection.

Before, I wasn’t really IN my relationships because I was showing up as persona: the good daughter, good wife, the good mother (according to everyone else).

But when I turned back toward me, my spirit, I was finally able to BE in my relationships…as me. The real me. Not Marisa 2.0…but me, walking with purpose and embodying my spirit.

I am living my life for me, and I model for my children that they must do so also.

And I am able to be more present and to love unconditionally.  I have no time, no space, no more eff’s to give for conditional love.

Human beings who have not recovered their spirit and their purpose demand conditions be put on love…because the idea that we might not have to do anything in order to be worthy of love and respect is a surprisingly radical one – still!

Because having traded chains and a cage for the ecstasy of flying, we’ve had to learn to tell ourselves that we NEED our chains because to fly without restraint or regard for convention is dangerous, reckless, selfish. Especially if you’re a woman.

But the chains that bind our freedom to live with infinite possibility do not make us safer, just as they do not guarantee that we will be able to control life. They do not, as it turns out, create more responsible citizens: just sadder, more isolated ones.

The counterfeit values and shaming, finger-wagging warnings to color inside the lines only delay the moment when we return to embody, fully, the miracle that we are.

Because my life is a gift that was given to me, so is yours, and it is time to open the present.

The freedom that comes with the gift of a life lived fully is priceless.  And you deserve this! We all do!

Being able to help other women recover this same freedom is my passion – first, supporting you to create real connection to yourself; and then in your relationships.

Let me make it easy to help you get started: I’m offering a limited number of complimentary, 45-minute Butterfly Magic Strategy Sessions. Simply send me an email at marisa@marisalupocoaching.com.

 

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