Martha Bodyfelt, divorce recovery coach, talks with me about the healing process after divorce. Below are highlights of our conversation. For the complete interview, listen to episode 67 of Grace for Single Parents wherever you listen to podcasts.
Martha talks a bit about her story of divorce and why that lead her to become a divorce coach.
Two Questions She asked herself while recovering from her divorce:
How did this define me?
If I had to do this again, how would I do it differently?
Losing & Finding Your Identity After Divorce
We talk about how as wives or mothers; we lose our identity and it’s never highlighted more than when we go through a divorce.
We go through an identity crisis because of this idea that the world and our culture has put as wives and mothers. And although those are very worthy identities that we should be proud of, they cannot be our only identity. And when we go through a divorce, those identities are kind of like the rug has been taken out from underneath our feet. And we wonder, well, who I am in this world if I have lost that part of my identity?
What’s the difference between a divorce recovery coach versus a coach or a counselor?
Counselor/therapist: that is examining and taking a look at your past life, your family origin story, the things that have shaped you and shaped your ideas up until this point, and trying to figure out what is going on with those narratives that might be keeping you stuck now.
Divorce recovery coach: we pick up the baton from the present moment and we look at the future. But still feeling grounded in just who you are and feeling enough as you are. We go from the present planning and ensuring a wonderful future.
Questions we explore as a divorce recovery coach:
- What is it that you want your future to look like?
- How is it that you wanna feel every morning?
- What are the things that you want to do?
- How do you wanna define yourself?
- How do you wanna have that relationship with your children as a single parent?
Coaches: there are lots of different coaches: health coaches, nutritional coaches, dating coaches, life coaches, midlife coaches, business coaches, and more. They are experts in their field with some of that same methodology.
Commonalities that keep the newly divorced stuck
Putting a timeline on healing. It’s going to take the time that it takes and will be different for everybody. We’re all on our own journey, and someone may heal in a year and someone else it may take years of healing, but it’s, it’s about you and your healing, not what you should do or just “get over it.”
Not taking enough time for themselves. Single parents fall into this trap of thinking they’ll just 100% dedicate themselves to raising their children.
Trying to date while they’re still trying to heal.
It’s a jungle out there when you try to date again. And if you’re not in a good, confident place, that’s going to shatter you even more.
When you’ve been stuck in the aftermath of your divorce:
- Give yourself that permission to grieve.
2. Plan and be mindful about what you want your future to look like.
We all owe it to ourselves to give ourselves a time for reflection and healing.
3. Get absolutely crystal clear on what’s keeping you stuck. It’s never “my husband’s already moved on” or “he’s a jerk or he’s not paying the child support
3 things That Might Be keeping you stuck:
We are used to making sure that all the trains are running on time, everything’s done, and everything’s taken care of. We derive that people-pleasing means I’m worthy.
Guilt and Shame
That may come from growing up in an environment that was full of shame and guilt and them carrying that with you after the divorce. Or shame from your status as a single parent.
A lot of single parents are ashamed to admit that they’re a single parent. But even if they’re not a parent, I think a lot of guilt or shame around just saying that you’re divorced.
Fear of being alone
The fear of being alone and not having a plan moves many to make decisions that are not in their best interest.
If we can get over the narrative of “the end of a marriage equals failure, therefore I am not worthy.” If we can completely reverse that, just imagine the life that you can have not only for yourself, but the kind of role model you’re setting for [your children.]
Working through the narratives that no longer serve you then building healthier mindsets. A mindset of resilience, self-love, self-worth, and self-acceptance.
When you’re saying, I refuse to feel guilty, I refuse to be ashamed because this marriage ended. How powerful is that as a single parent to your children and your grandchildren and the generations after you? You are breaking that cycle.
Co-dependency is another trait that gets many people coming out of a divorce stuck. Questions to ask yourself if you’re noticing you are still dependent on your ex:
- What is serving you right now?
- What is serving your children?
- What can we do to build healthy boundaries?
How do we know if we are ready to date after a divorce?
If you get grounded in that strong foundation, then dating’s gonna be fun. Then you’re gonna meet a lot of incredible people. And if you don’t end up with them, that’s fine. At least you’re gonna have that love with yourself and feeling grounded and confident.
Ask yourself: Are you in a place right now where you feel like you will be okay if you get rejected?
If you get ghosted, you will be okay? Getting ghosted never makes you feel great but instead get to a place where it doesn’t make you ask “What’s wrong with me?”
You need to be so clear with your standards. Standards are not shared interests, which are surface-level things. Your standards are your values or non-negotiables.
Set your intention. If you’re looking for love or marriage, then look for someone else who is serious about a relationship.
If you know that online dating is not for you, then don’t online date. Go out to things that you like to do, go out to places that you have fun, go out to things that bring out the best in you.
Last words to Single Parents
You are enough just as you are. You are beautiful and perfect just the way you are. What matters is that you are here, you are alive and you are a survivor and you have only good things coming your way.