Thursday, March 31, 2011

Does it Really Take Two to Tango? Kimberly A. Kick, LCSW

Common wisdom asserts, 'it takes two to tango', but does it really? How about relationships that end and one partner feels slighted? What if the 'wronged' person feels that payback is in order to teach the now ex-partner that 'you just can’t treat people that way'? When couples break-up, usually one person initiates the break-up and the other person feels hurt and betrayed. Sometimes both parties may agree that ending the relationship is the right thing to do, however still place blame on the other partner for the failure of the relationship. Many people are able to grieve the loss of the relationship and move on, but for a small majority this proves quite difficult. In these situations revenge may be sought as a way to get back at the now ex-partner.

Revenge can take many forms, as anyone who has gone through a break-up can attest to. When children are involved, they may be used as pawns by one parent to punish the other parent. This will cause lasting psychological damage to all involved, especially the children. What is one to do if one parent is pursuing a relationship full of conflict and the other parent is attempting to establish a balance?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer. If one parent refuses to act in a reasonable way, there is little the other parent can do. Some individuals try to manage this by acquiescing to even the most outrageous demands of the other parent, so as not to 'rock the boat'. This ends up causing lasting resentment and a point at which the parent’s anger 'boils over' and fighting ensues. Another individual may attempt to assert his rights and may find the other parent denying visitation, phone contact, or adjustments to the schedule. At this point the parent may feel that his only recourse is through litigation. This ends up costing time, money, and giving control of decisions about your children to the legal system.

So now what? Professionals must realize that it doesn’t always take two to tango. Referrals to therapy are essential in cases where one parent is acting in a destructive manner. The children should also be involved in therapy to help them sort out their feelings surrounding parental conflict. Transparency is essential to illuminate what is really transpiring between the parents. Professionals must be able to access a running record of communications between the parents, otherwise manipulations can continue. The easiest way to do this is encourage parents to sign-up for Professionals have 3rd party access to monitor exactly what is happening and then make decisions based on facts, not fiction.
Lets Communicate...
about our children.

Copyright © 2011 Divorce Communications. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mediation and the Good Wife

Mediation is gradually being included as part of the plot in movies and TV. The movies Juno and the Wedding Cashers and the television shows Fairly Legal, Once Again and Starter Wife come to mind. The March 22, 2011 episode of “The Good Wife” includes divorce mediation. In the show there are witnesses giving testimony including a child and the mediator says he will make recommendations about custody. There are also attorney present and the mediator exercises no control. It is good that the public is being made aware of mediation as an option. The problem is that mediation is not portrayed accurately or positively. The mediators are either wimpy or inappropriate. They are rarely impartial. They usually evaluate instead of facilitate. I don’t know if this is because the writers don’t really know mediation or the writers portrayal of mediation is more entertaining. The problem is that it gives the public the wrong idea about mediation. Although more people may use mediation, they will have the wrong expectations. Hopefully, the mediator will be able to correct these misconceptions. The more I think about it, the more I realize this is true of most movies and television shows. For example, in law shows, the trial is always instantaneous. This never happens in real life. As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (216) 4/23/11

Postcards from the Edge...

I recently received a letter from someone who went through a very bitter and twisted divorce. She says she’s ‘over’ it and although she never talks to her ex is in a great relationship now with someone who hates his ex too.
Her question was about her concerns about whenever her ex talks about his ex, he talks about taking her ‘to the cleaners’ financially and his vengeance worries her. She also feels very closed down to her new guy and doesnt feel free to let him into her heart.
Here is an excerpt of what I wrote to her – maybe there is something for you to learn too?
Thank your being honest with me – I appreciate straight talk.
You are right, I do give a shit about people. So, as requested I will therefore be bold and offer some coaching – its unsolicited so feel free to take onboard – as you wish ;)
I will be honest with you and share that you are still carrying alot of pain and incompletion from your divorce and I am sorry for that. I can see you are very strong and resilient but a bit like a coconut – sometimes this strength is on the outside when on the inside there is a different picture.
I think because you are a survivor and you did the best you could at the time but i can also tell you didn’t allow yourself to feel too much emotion. I reckon the worst book EVER written was ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel whatisface.
Intellectualisation of emotions, closing down your heart and deadening of emotions can lead to a prickly and brittle disposition – a cynicism and inner anger. Not your fault – alot of powerful women suffer from this post divorce but its still there. Some aliveness was lost as a little flame within you got extinguished. This is what is sad. Yes u are tougher, but it’s also easy to spot you are divorced. This is why your friends tell you you ‘look’ divorced. The biggest compliment for someone of your character is to stop ‘being and looking divorced’ in your disposition because something else is possible for you. ‘Looking’ divorced is when you still carry the pain, bitterness and resentment with you – the paranoia, the hurt, the prickly feelings…

The path to healing?
1) FEELING emotions and allowing yourself to feel them again – many of us run away from our emotions BUT did u know that when fully experienced, no emotion lasts longer than 15 minutes before it morphs into something else…?
2) opening up your heart again
3) getting complete with your ex husband – not condoning what he did but letting him go with no animosity or hatred – I can give u an exercise for this if you would like to learn more…
4) being honest with your partner about your abhorence of his hatred towards his ex
5) supporting your partner in getting complete with his ex so you are both free and can be new and with both feet inside your relationship
After this, u will be free. Happy, carefree ‘you’ will return and inner conflict will subside.
So u have a choice: continue being tough chick who can handle it all and do battle and become more angry and bitter with time (whilst telling yourself you are over it) or walk into the valley and push yourself through the eye of the needle.
Whatever you choose to do, I am here to support you if u wish because you are worth it!
Sending you a big hug!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Divorce is a Unique Opportunity to Transform Yourself Completely…

Consider that instead of biding your time to get over your divorce or waiting for ‘time to heal all wounds’, you could use the intense force of this divorce and change in your life to your advantage…
Ilya Prigogine, who won a Nobel prize for Chemistry in 1977 is widely regarded as the Isaac Newton of our time. Essentially his work centered on a concept called PERTURBATION. Most systems found in nature are not in harmonious equilibrium because they are continuously subject to flux of matter and energy to and from other systems. In other words, things in nature are always changing.
Perturbation is the driving force behind evolution of organisms as it refers to the alteration of biological systems induced by external or internal pressure. If an organism experiences external pressure, it will reach a threshold of vibration where it one of two things will happen:
  • The organism is ‘lucky’ enough to have a strong ‘container’ or cocoon which holds it in place while it reorders itself into something more complex so it can withstand the pressure and in so doing take on the properties of the pressure applied to it OR
  • The organism is unfortunate to be left alone and will move to a state of chaos or disintegrate due to the pressure. This is called entropy.
Prigogine’s revolutionary work was adapted further into the field of human behavior through Marilyn Ferguson’s book ‘The Acquarian Conspiracy’. Her work explained  that how we handle changes thrown at us completely determines our transformation or disintegration.
My Story: I grew up in a town called Kimberley in my native South Africa. Kimberley is known for its diamond mines and kimberlite pipes. Whilst growing up, I became fascinated with how diamonds are formed as it was a natural marvel to me that something as dark and ugly as coal could transform into a brilliant diamond. I began to study these Kimberlite pipes and found that they are funnel-shaped and produced as a result of a volcanic eruption, a few hundred meters in diameter. They narrow with depth, becoming a narrow ‘container’ which extends deep into the earth’s crust. Thousands of diamonds are produced inside these Kimberlite pipes under extreme heat and pressure to the extent that Kimberlite pipes cause the single biggest deposits of diamonds worldwide.
So what does this have to do with your divorce?
Well, studying how nature works and how organisms evolve under great pressure gives us some insights into how human beings may transform under pressure too.
To explain more about how this impacts you dealing with your divorce, let’s look at the how dark ugly coal transforms into a brilliant diamond.
  1. Coal (graphite) and diamond are of course both primarily carbon. For coal to become a diamond, the carbon atoms have to be re-arranged into a new pattern.
  2. To change the atomic ordering of coal into a diamond requires high heat and high pressure (like try temperatures of over 1000 degrees Celsius and many thousands of atmospheres pressure).
  3. To ensure the coal does not disintegrate in the process of this change or perturbation, it requires a very strong ‘container’ holding it together whilst this immense pressure and heat is applied or the coal will break up into dust.
  4. If the coal is held together in such a strong ‘container’, the heat breaks down the current bonds to free up the carbon atoms, and energize them to bond in a tightly packed fashion…and voila – a diamond.
  5. A Kimberlite pipe is just such a container and not only does it hold the coal together, it can handle a volcanic eruption which is so violent that it carries up coal fragments from the mantle fast enough that rapid cooling preserves the diamonds.
In the same way as coal is transformed into a diamond, this type of Perturbation exists for human beings as well. In all the corporate work I do with clients, I spend most of the time creating such a ‘container’ with people to help them adapt to change and hold their lives together in the process. In my experience, without a ‘container’ in place, the change usually goes very badly.
Similar to the immense heat or pressure being applied to the coal – Divorce is a very chaotic change and represents that huge heat being applied to your life right now.
If you don’t consciously create a strong Divorce Cocoon to hold yourself together, your divorce could literally break you up into pieces and eat away at your self confidence, esteem and possibly leave you bitter or full of resentment.
As Prigogine suggested, if an organism has a strong cocoon which holds it in place, it can reorder itself into something more complex so it can withstand the pressure. Much like a moth who transforms itself into a butterfly, the Naked Divorce is designed to create such a Divorce Cocoon which if followed, can support you to hold yourself and your life together whilst you withstand the heat and pressure from your divorce.
When you have this powerful foundation, you can withstand and USE the heat and pressure from this huge change in your life as a catalyst to transform yourself into anything you want to be – a diamond or butterfly. It also means you can heal faster. Through your transformation, you will take on the properties of the pressure applied to your life in the form of being stronger and you extend our ability to take on difficult challenges because of who you will become as a result of your divorce.
the Naked Divorce uses the premise of Perturbation to create transformation in your life.
‘What doesn’t kill you, CAN REALLY make you stronger…’
  TIP: Make use of this heartbreak, this pain, this Perturbation which has thrust you into a hurricane or forest fire. This is a unique opportunity to grow, develop and become the person you always wanted to be…
Interesting stuff hey?
Till next time…

Pancakes, All in the Family and the Correct Method for Simple Tasks

We often have breakfast at the B Line. We love their special pancakes and usually split a tall stack. I realized that there are two ways of dividing the stack of six pancakes in two. You can either take three whole pancakes off the top or you can cut the whole stack in the middle so each person has six half pancakes. At first I thought there was only the first method but when my Wife divided using the second method, I not only realized there were two ways but that I liked her way better. This also reminds me of a very funny scene in “All in the Family” where there is a disagreement over the correct way to do a simple task. Archie (Carroll O’Connor) and Mike (Rob Reiner) are arguing over the correct way to put on socks and shoes was a sock and a sock and a shoe and a shoe (Archie's way), or a sock and a shoe and a sock and a shoe (Mike's way). Archie's reasoning: If there's a fire in the house, with two socks on, you could run outside and be even. Mike's reasoning: What if it's snowing outside? Archie's way, his feet would get wet. Mike's way, he could hop around on one foot and stay dry. It is the last scene on this YouTube clip There are many other examples of tasks which seem obvious to one person and not to another. In mediation this happens all the time. One person thinks that the answer to the question such as how to pay for the children’s college education is obvious. It is not and reasonable people can disagree. The important thing is that each person recognizes this and move on to the next step of problem solving an acceptable answer. As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (211) 3/19/11

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Army Inspection, Divorce, and Mediation

It is hard to believe but I served for six years in the U.S Army Reserves in a military intelligence unit. I was only on active duty for four months and two weeks each summer for six years from 1969 to 1975. I probably would have stayed in if they had completed my application to be a Warrant Officer. I did my basic training at Fort Bragg, NC and my advanced training as an interrogator of prisoners of war at Fort Meade, MD. I believe my MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) was 97E1O. Basic training was quite the experience and it taught me a lot about myself and life. One such useful memory concerned our daily barracks inspection by our drill sergeants. We cleaned the barracks so you could eat off the floor and even used basso on the fire extinguishers but often did not pass inspection. We finally learned the trick. The drill sergeants would use a grease pencil and put little marks on the tile in the bathroom. If you cleaned off the mark, you passed inspection but if you did not clean it off you did not pass inspection no matter how clean the barrack were. The same is true for mediation and getting a divorce. You need to know where the equivalent “grease pencil marks” are. If you don’t, no matter how good the agreement is, it may not work or get approved by the court.

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (210 ) 3/12/11

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Vow Break – Breaking the ties with your ex powerfully

When two people get married, there is a beautiful ceremony and celebration with all your friends, family and community involved. Everyone is willing you on to succeed. Sadly, when two people get divorced, it’s akin to seeing tumbleweed rolling across an empty road whilst crickets sing gently in the background. There is literally nothing out there which enables us as women to have a ceremonial breaking of the sacred vow we made. For some of you, who are very spiritual or religious, you may really be battling  but nothing  with the concept of divorce, so this process will support you in achieving a level of completion. 
This exercise will help you sever the ties with your ex in a healthy and supportive way.
  •  Start off by journaling the following about your ex (do this as if you were talking to him):
  • What can I acknowledge you for in our relationship?
  • What was awesome about our relationship?
  • What hurt me and what did I need to hear from you back then?
  • What parts of you did I not see, acknowledge or accept whilst we were married?
  • What are all the things I learnt from our marriage?
  • What are all the things I learnt from our divorce?
  • What do I need to hear from you now? (do this AFTER your letter from him to you)
  • What I wish for you now
  • What promises and commitments do I make to you for the future (if applicable)
  • What promises and commitments do I make with regards to our children and your relationship with them (if applicable)
  • Review your marriage vows and look at the promises you made. Acknowledge which promises you did and did not keep
  • Forgive yourself for any promises you broke and acknowledge yourself for all the promises you kept
 When complete, here is a bonus opportunity for you.
 Bonus Opportunity
 Write a completion letter to your ex saying everything you want to say from the Vow Break above.
When complete, pack up all of your ex’s things and put them into a box to be stored in the attic or away from your daily living. Take off your wedding ring (if you haven’t done so already)
Well Done! Chat soon

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Mediation and Mario Cuomo

I was pleased to see that Mario Cuomo was appointed the mediator in the Madoff/ Mets case. See follow up article in February 19, 2011 New York Times at Articles like this make the public more aware of mediation as an option to settle disputes. This is very necessary if mediation is ever going to an option equivalent to or better than litigation. The measure of success will be when mediation is chosen before litigation and not after litigation has started. The article highlights the issue of what is a mediator, although not by name. The style of mediation often confuses potential users of mediation. See my July 24, 2010 Blog on Styles of Mediation which discusses facilitative, evaluative, and transformative mediation. Parties should always be aware of the style of their mediator. Cuomo like most lawyers who have not been trained by programs approved by the Academy of Family Mediation and its successor the Association for Conflict Resolution is an evaluative mediator who uses power mediation to settle cases. As the article says, Cuomo is a skilled problem-solver, not a neutral mediator. He is intuitive enough to come up with interesting solutions.
The article also importantly points out that mediators cannot force the parties to settle. This is both a weakness and a strength. It makes it hard to resolve the case but makes for a more lasting and satisfying settlement. As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (209 ) 3/5/11

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Why do I feel SO out of control during my divorce?

It was 02:30 in the morning, I was on my third glass of wine and hadn’t eaten in 3 days. I had been in my pyjamas for 36 hours straight and chain smoked 40 cigarettes (AND I don’t even smoke!)
There was a pile of laundry on the couch waiting to be ironed, used tissues everywhere. The house was absolute chaos and I didn’t feel like doing anything. I had this vision of being found dead of a broken heart at the age of 65 surrounded by a house full of cats, still wearing my pyjamas with no love or man in my life… The only time I left the house I almost drove into a wall. My theory was if I could convert the emotional pain into a physical one then at least there was a pill I could take for that. How bizarre my thoughts were…
I was in complete desp
air and boy did I know the feeling of being out of control. NOTHING helped and I remembered thinking: “Why the hell is this happening to me?”
I had read every single book I could find on breaking up. I spoke to a therapist. I spoke to another therapist. I listenned to music. I listenned to a personal development CD. I spoke to friends. NOTHING HELPED. I literally felt like I was going to go crazy and be admitted into a mental institution. I was SO uncomfortable in my own skin and just wanted to feel normal again SO badly. The pain was unbearable.
Sound familiar?
So, allow me to explain why you are feeling so crazy. Here’s a little Biology lesson (chapter 8 in my new book Naked Divorce – 21 days to emotional freedom), so bare with me!
The thoughts and feelings that make up our consciousness correspond to biochemical activities in our brain. Two chemicals in particular, dopamine and serotonin, play a vital part in our behaviour. When we need something, dopamine is released and gives us the drive to get it. Once we have got it, we reward ourselves with a serotonin release. These neuro-chemicals affect our feelings. If we have too much dopamine and not enough serotonin, we experience a chronic feeling of craving and longing. Some of the most painful effects of heartbreak are caused by this longing. The dopamine makes us jittery and restless and drives us to do something, anything to get what we want – even if we know that rationally it won’t work. We get urges to drive past our ex’s house, to check his Facebook account, call them up, talk to their friends. These urges subside when our body releases serotonin. The longing ceases and we feel calm.
The techniques used within the Naked Divorce program influence the critical variables in your thinking which can alter the neuro-chemicals in your mind and body. When you learn how to think about your ex in a different way you change the way your body is reacting. You no longer feel the same. You have rewritten the operating software of your brain and you cannot run the old programs any more. The way you think about him, your past and your future is released from the repetitive, painful thinking.

Understanding Heartbreak
Heartbreak is a very strange experience – a distress. It is intensely painful and even though we hate the feeling of heartbreak, we find ourselves compelled to go over and over memories and fantasies which make the feeling worse. A break up can be just like a death – a betrayal. You have lost your future with this person but the past is also undermined – it leads you to question everything… All the meaning you built up in your life has been cancelled. When an important love relationship ends, a range of different responses is triggered. We feel loss, pain, our balance is upset and our feelings change from one minute to the next. We long for our ex, we are desperate to see them and the next minute we want to rip their heads off. This volatility and confusion adds to the craziness.
If you can relate to what I am saying about feeling SO out of control then the good news is:
No one was ever pulled aside in high school and taught how to handle the pain and suffering of a break up.
It’s ok to feel like you are going mental.
So, what to do about it?
  • Firstly, STOP.
  • Stop DOING anything.
  • Just sit.
  • Be still.
  • Breathe.
    a. Breathe deeply, longingly and into your belly.
    b. Let the breath fill your lungs like the ocean lapping at the shore.
    c. Breathe like this for 20 breaths
  • Become Aware of the craziness, aware of what is happening. The dopamine that’s kicking around is the chemical making you go crazy. See the craziness almost like a puppy that has run off without a leash. Understand it and stop allowing it to control you – allow it to be a restless puppy inside your head but don’t engage with it. Just notice it. Watch the puppy run around and stay calm. You know the puppy will calm down soon. Notice it’s colour, texture, shape. Give that part of yourself that is going crazy a label, or a name. See that craziness as not being part of you. Feel yourself disengaging with it as being something separate to you.
  • Accept the craziness and anxiety, it’s there and it’s ok that it’s there.
  • No matter how you are feeling at that exact moment, ACT normal. Just act normal, like everything is cool. You know that the craziness will pass so acting crazy will not help you
  • Make yourself a hot water drink. A cup of boiling water with some lemon and 2 teaspoons of honey
  • Drink it slowly – savouring each sip. With each sip, watch the craziness calm down
  • Go outside if you can and take a walk. Walk slowly and gracefully. As if you are gliding. Whilst walking, cycle through your 5 senses and ask yourself these questions: What do I see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Keep focusing outside your mind and focus on what is around you. Be vigilant
  • Download this rainwater track and play it on your .mp3 player – let it soothe you
  • Remind yourself that everything will be ok. Think of all the amazing things that human beings have overcome in their lives. Think of someone who has overcome great obstacles to achieve greatness and beauty in their lives. This can be you. You can be great and beautiful in your life too…Take the focus off the NEED to fill the hole within you and focus instead on the growth and beauty you can experience in your own life. Your life after this break up can be about you again.
  • A great way to calm yourself down when feeling crazy with heartbreak is to listen to the Break Up Reboot audio program. It’s designed to refocus your mind and realign your neurochemicals in your brain. Listening to it every day for a period of 21 days will drastically increase your healing process and make you feel good about yourself again.
Until next time, I wish you well and send you love and light!

Spring is in the air

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time for baseball, softball, soccer and other outdoor fun. Chaos ensues as families try to coordinate schedules for practices, games, and outings. This becomes even more difficult when parents are no longer together. Divorce Communications provides a “one-stop-shop” for members to keep track of their children’s schedules and events through the Calendar. It is as simple as signing into and viewing the upcoming day, week, or month. Grandparents, aunts and uncles can also be given access to view the children’s schedules.

Part of spring also includes the fees paid for uniforms, park districts, pool passes, summer camps and other expenses related to the children. Money Matters provides the perfect forum for each parent to post and pay expenses related to the children. It is as easy as pushing a button allowing the transfer of money from one parent’s account to the other parent’s account. Better yet is the running record of posted and paid expenses.

Make this summer pleasant for you and your children. Don’t get bogged down in trying to hash out the summer plans and finances with your ex-partner, become a member of and spend more time in the sun having fun with the kids!

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