When you got together, you probably thought it would be for life. Dreams of a happily ever after, a home, perhaps raising children and growing old together are gone. If children are a part of the picture, how is this impacting them? Will they be okay? What is the future going to look like?
You may have seen it coming or it may have been a complete surprise. If your relationship ended suddenly and you wanted to stay together, anger, depression, stress and feelings of loss can be overwhelming. Whether this was anticipated or you’re leaving the relationship to escape physical, emotional or verbal abuse, you may feel a sense of relief but still have a great deal of uncertainty and fear about the future. How you are feeling now depends on many factors and the reason for the break-up or divorce.
Becoming a parent or becoming an "Empty Nester", both are common life transitions. Although both of these events within the family life cycle are considered normal, they amount to considerable change in your life. Even positive life events can be very stressful.
When you have your first child or are in the early years of having children, life is completely different from when just you and your partner were in the home. While having children is often an exciting time for families, the reality of being a parent with young children sets in quickly. You are probably more tired now that you have ever been in your life. Demands of young babies or children mean that you probably have not had a good night’s sleep in weeks or months. If you are part of a dual-career family you may struggle with staying focused at work because you are so tired. Once home from work, you may not have the quality time you want to have with your children and partner. What’s more, having intimacy with your partner may be difficult.
Conversely, when children leave home, it may be the first time in years that you and your spouse have had the house to yourselves. It feels empty and lonely, like a part of you is missing. Time you once devoted to sports, lessons and activities is now free. Yet, financial stress is still there. There are concerns about paying for college,retirement and managing your monthly expenses.
Moving to a new town, changing jobs, increased responsibilities at work, coping with an unexpected illness or developing a disability are also difficult life transitions. Research has shown that when stress accummulates, and your physical and emotional resources become depleted, illness and emotional struggles are common. Most of the time you don’t even realize the stress has piled up because it increases gradually – until unexpectedly you begin to lose your temper a lot, can’t sleep or just feel overwhelmed and depressed. It’s likely that what you’ve done in the past to manage stress no longer seem to help and you are not sure where to turn or what to do.
For some, a job represents financial security, stability, and has likely become a big part of your identity, particularly if you spent extensive time at the organization. You have given your time, talent and your life to the company. You may have put up with difficult co-workers and an unreasonable or even abusive boss. You may have helped the company succeed, grow and increase its revenue. Your job was a big part of your life, and some of your closest friends may still be employed there. Perhaps you feel the company took not only your job, but also your security, future, friends and even your identity. You might not feel stuck, unsure of where to turn next.
My counseling approach varies depending on how the changes are affecting you and your individual needs. Sometimes knowing what to expect and having a map for the journey ahead is helpful. Very often, my assessment reveals a need to replenish physical and other resources. I can help you strengthen your resources. We may build a plan for better self care. I may redirect and challenge your negative thoughts and perceptions that are perhaps standing in your way of feeling and functioning better. I can also encourage you to replace ineffective coping strategies with ones that are healthy and productive.
When you don’t know what to do next, you feel like you have lost your identity or feel yourself getting more angry, frustrated, depressed, anxious or hopeless, I will compassionately travel this journey with you. You can learn better ways to manage stress, gain a more positive outlook on your situation and handle depression with greater ease. Ultimately you can recover the energy and emotional resilience necessary to move through divorce, job loss and other difficult life transitions. Please contact me to ask any questions you may have.