That’s what Jen and I came up with while we were discussing why we’re compelled to do this work.
Why we choose to coach women through this difficult time. Why we are so determined to help you improve your lives.
As someone who’s never been comfortable being uncomfortable, I faced my demons early on.
I set out to become whole, meaning, I wanted to be responsible for my own happiness.
And I succeeded, before ever meeting my husband.
I believe that’s why I was able to survive this journey and remain true to myself – and I’m compelled to help others do the same.
That’s why I do this work.
Being part of a divorce-connected family can push you to the brink of insanity. It can touch on your every insecurity. And it will test everything you’ve learned from every self-help book you’ve ever read and every hour you’ve spent in therapy.
So what does it take to make it through this journey with your self intact?
What do you need to be able to shield yourself from the barrage of bullets you’re receiving from the other woman? From the kids? From society?
For me it was two things: My strong sense of self/self love – which I’ll address now, and my husband’s support – which I’ll talk about in next week’s post.
If I had been lacking in either one of those, my marriage wouldn’t have survived.
I think back to when I was in my early twenties, before I discovered who I am, and there is no way in hell I would have held on. My jealousy was sky high and my self-esteem was moderate to low.
This stepfamily thing would have eaten me alive.
I would have spent many a night crying myself to sleep because I just couldn’t get the approval of this “other woman.” Because it just wasn’t FAIR. Because I was hopeless and powerless. Because this was NOT the life I signed up for.
Without self-love, I would have relied on my husband to meet all my emotional needs (a feat no human can actually accomplish).
I would have been a crumbling ball of jealousy, with major feelings of inadequacy, mixed in with a dash of neediness.
Our conversations would have been filled with complaints and constant discussions about the never-ending drama. I would have forgotten who I was.
The woman he fell in love would have disappeared; replaced by a victim.
I would have kept waiting for someone else to make it better.
For someone else to change.
For someone else to fix me.
Without a sense of self, there’s a void in us, an aspect of ourselves that we don’t love or approve of, so we seek that approval from others.
We take our cues from them; If they value us, then we feel valuable. If they say we’re worthless, then we feel worthless.
We’re easily offended and will start to doubt ourselves at the first sign of rejection.
That’s dangerous in any relationship, but especially in divorce-connected families, because there is so much deep-seated pain contributing to the rejection and turmoil.
Because my wounds were already (mostly) healed, I was able to resist getting dragged into the drama and through the mud. My self-esteem was strong enough to take the hits of misdirected anger and hurt.
With a strong sense of self, I knew, that no matter what anger and negativity was directed towards me, I was still the same person.
I was still Jenna. A girl I actually liked a whole lot. A good person who was doing the best she could and had the best of intentions.
I was someone who loved her husband. Who wanted a great partnership with him and who wasn’t going to let a nasty situation get in the way.
Was it always easy? Hell no! Did I cry out of frustration at times? Hell yes!
It took all the self-control I could muster, but I didn’t let the ugliness change me. I didn’t let it turn me in to someone I didn’t like or didn’t recognize. And at my core, I was still happy.
And that’s why I always say – You can be happy, even if the other woman doesn’t change at all.
Because as much as we think it’s about her and that SHE needs to change…
It’s really about us.
We actually have the power to be happy, regardless of the circumstance.
Would it be easier if the other woman just left you alone? Or embraced you with open arms? Of course!
But if you’re relying on her changed behavior to make you happy, then you’re also giving her the power to make you miserable.
So for all you woman who are struggling, I urge you to take stock:
What part of YOU is preventing you from being happy?
Where do you need to increase your strength?
What do you need to be happy?
What do you need to ask for?
How will YOU take back your power?
(Photo by Richard and Lori Rothstein)
© 2011 Jenna Korf All Rights Reserved
- Stepmoms, is it time for you step back?
- Top 10 reasons to forgive the stepmom, the ex wife or your ex
- Are we sabotaging ourselves?
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