Do you struggle to get back up when your ex knocks you down?
Many of us are familiar with the stages of grief and the fact that we don’t cycle through them in a smooth, linear pattern. This can be especially true when co-parenting with someone and you can’t help but hear about their life via your children. Like revisiting the scene of a crime, that bandaid is ripped off time and time again, and, if you are anything like me, you judge yourself as being right back at square one. Now you have a situation where the tears are compounded, you are experiencing grief over the ex and life meant for you, and you’re frustrated with yourself.
This past week I had one of these setbacks, arguably the worst since my divorce, instigated by an innocent exchange I witnessed between my daughter and her father. My ex-husband had Facetimed our daughters from Paris where he and his girlfriend were spending the July 4th weekend. He was joking with our older daughter saying that, while America did away with the monarchy centuries ago, there was still a Queen of France, and he was looking right at her. It was a sweet exchange between a couple clearly quite taken by each other, she giggled and blushed at the compliment, he took a proud swig from his chalice. They were most likely unaware that his dethroned queen was within ear shot, and well, let’s just say she took to her chambers the rest of the weekend in a very inelegant fashion.
So how do we recover when this happens? With each blow are we truly right back at the beginning, or will good damage control provide a mental ladder of sorts, getting us back to the top faster? This is going to depend on a few factors, not least of which is the coparenting relationship and the mental strength of the weakest link – me in this case. Here are some measures I took that can help you snap back when your ex knocks you down.
What to Do When Your Ex Knocks You Down
Peel the Onion
Our thoughts have many layers and every problem is a thought problem. Identify the root cause of your pain by asking yourself questions in the same format to uncover new layers of depth. Let’s use Paris as an example. I was his French queen once, and like many fallen queens before me, my head damn near rolled. By asking myself questions like “So what?” “If that happened, what else are you afraid could happen?” “If that happened, what would you make that mean?” I realized what was really bothering me.
At the center of the onion was a belief that I am a burden on people and “incapable of happiness” as I was often told. If they are off reigning over Paris, and I am in bed dressed like a peasant, it stands to reason that I am an unhappy person. Now it was a matter of working through that limiting belief, realizing that it hit a nerve because I am deeply insecure over the grain of truth in it, and committing to working on the parts of myself that need improvement.
Surround Yourself With People That Hold You Accountable
At this point, my family and friends have heard it all and are the drill sergeants at my pity party. While sometimes I wish to extract just a tad more sympathy, I am thankful that they hold me accountable and remind me just how the kingdom suffered under our sovereign rule. A little tough love goes a long way, especially in reminding us that the grass (or pasture) isn’t greener. Ours was a castle that needed to be mobbed by townspeople armed with torches and pitchforks, why the hell would I want to go back there? Make sure someone takes on this role, whether a paid coach, therapist, relative or friend. Work with them on a strategy that can be implemented the minute you feel yourself spiraling, reinventing history into a fairytale rather than the chaos it actually was. Remember, you are still their queen, they are not going to allow your suffering, self-inflicted or otherwise.
Try Something New
This is the fun part and, in my case, it really helped me turn a corner. I knew I needed to do something different, to get out of my comfort zone, or rather, the dungeon of my own mind. The minute my children went to their father, I signed up for a hot yoga class at a studio I had always admired from afar but never felt quite hip enough to try. Tossing all self-judgement to the wind, I showed up to that class and literally felt all toxins and sadness melt away. With each warrior pose, I felt stronger, more alive, and got into queen pose like it was invented for me.
Trying new things has numerous benefits including getting to know yourself better, overcoming fears, becoming more interesting, and increasing creativity that impacts all areas of life and allows you to see everything in a new light. For me, I left the class realizing that while I may never be queen to him, I will be a goddess to someone else. And, I’ll be incorporating hot yoga into all my child-free Saturday mornings.
Did I really need to eavesdrop on that conversation? Must Her Majesty be on Facetime each time he calls our children? Boundaries, whether those we construct for ourselves or others, are vital in these situations. If you can’t protect your own heart, no one else will, so really take a close look at how your boundaries are working for you. If there is a concern that your ex will not respect them, what contingency plans can you put in place? In my case, I took matters into my own hands and realized I need less of a boundary and more of a moat. I made a vow to myself that from here on out I leave the room when a Facetime call comes in, no questions asked. Pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice and, at least for now, this is what I need to prevent further suffering.
If hearing about your ex’s life and having to frequently interact with him opens old wounds, make sure you have some tried and tested self-care measures on hand. In my case, it could have gone from bad to a lot worse, but thanks to these interventions, I have actually come out ahead. Give yourself some grace and get back on that horse when your ex knocks you down, whatever it takes, because while you may have been relegated in rank in that Kingdom, there is a better one waiting for you. And, as for me? My chariot awaits.
This article was originally published on www.lifeinlilak.com.