Every week, we get a text or email from someone using CaseKeepers to create custody logs. “I’m going through a divorce and custody battle and I have been really confused and hurt. How do I deal with everything?”
Divorces are painful. Woman’s Divorce.com, “They trigger all kinds of emotional pain and unsettling feelings. It totally disrupts the life you knew and launches you into uncharted territory. Everything changes; your routines, your ability to trust another person, the loss of your self-esteem, and uncertainty about the future. Along with these changes, you may be blown away by how devastated you feel (even if you wanted the divorce). Allowing yourself to feel your emotions and move through the pain of your losses is what can help you let go of your old relationship and move on with your life.” Divorces involving children are even more difficult. “Child custody battles are among the most emotionally fraught parts of any parent’s life, much less “just” the divorce process.”, The Gucciardo Law Firm, PLLC.
Even divorces that start calmly often become bitter and ugly when couples argue over the children. In fact spouses often become so bitter that their hatred of the other spouse trumps their judgement about what is in the best interest of the children.. They begin to use parental alienation and false allegations as ways of getting even. Bitter custody battles can result in limited or withheld visitation. Often one parents goes to the courts claiming that they children don’t want to see the other parent, “I can’t make the kids see them.” Custody, visitation and the kids become the ultimate tool of revenge. This can leave the other parent distraught.
What are you to do?
- Take action. Instead of being a deer in the headlights, take action. Create custody logs. Document everything. Work with an attorney. Develop a strategy. Demonstrate to the courts or the mediator that it is in the best interest of the courts for the child to spend time with you.
- Build a support system. Find friends, join a support group, reach out to church members. Hire a therapist. Find people who will listen to your story and validate your position. Don’t go it alone. Sitting at home is dangerous and can lead to deep-seated bitterness and depression.
- Accept that this is your life. It is important that you accept the situation for what it is. You can’t make it go away. You can’t eat, drink, drug or sleep away the situation. You won’t get over it. You will need to live with the situation.
- Practice self-soothing. Take care of yourself. Try relaxation techniques such as prayer, meditation and yoga. Eat a healthy diet. Get lots of exercise. Focus on getting good sleep.
- Journal. Journaling gives an outlet for your emotions. Write down your thoughts, feelings and emotions. You can chronicle your day or you can vent, scream, cry and yell. Research shows that writing about our thoughts, feelings and emotions is much more healing than simply writing about our day. What we write matters. Keeping a gratitude journal can improve mood. And during a custody battle, anything you can do to improve your mood is a big win.
- Get on with your own life. In addition to accepting your situation, focus on moving on with your life. Focus on your career. Spend time with your family. Develop new relationships. Start new hobbies. Take this time to make yourself a priority.
- Believe in the future. Don’t ever stop trying to connect with your children. Even with the worst parental alienation cases, the kids eventually understand the situation and reach out to re-connect. And when they do reach out, remember to give them space to develop the relationship at their own speed.