"I'm Deb. Are you sick of pretending you're happy when you're not? I help moms replace their 'happy face' with real happiness and find the inner peace to confidently handle any situation."
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Can you relate to any of these? You...

...really have a great life so you are baffled that you don't feel as happy as you "should” feel.

...have a niggling sense that something is wrong, but can’t quite figure out what it is.

...love being a mom and love your kids beyond measure so you feel guilty that you feel unfulfilled or bored, or perhaps isolated or lonely.

...notice yourself being drawn to having another baby, changing jobs, moving, leaving your marriage, or wanting to create some other big life change.

...wish your husband would remember to do things that would create more connection between the two of you.

...feel the pressure to be doing all the things you "should" be doing and find yourself falling short and stressed out.

...find yourself losing your temper or dishing out snappy comments and know you are not being the mom that you want to be.

If you resonate with any of those, you are in the right place. 

I can help you. Seriously. Ya know why? Because I've been there and I got myself out and I know how to help you find inner peace and real happiness too!
Working with me is about creating sustainable changes in your life so you actually become more patient, feel more fulfilled and alive, find the inner peace to deal well with any situation, stop feeling disconnected and isolated, and find true happiness that survives life's curveballs.
Ready? Let's talk. Schedule your FREE "Finding Inner Peace and Real Happiness" Strategy Session today!
 

If You’re Blaming Him for Your Unhappiness, You’re Not Ready to Leave

 

NOTE: if you are in an abusive or addictive relationship, please know that this blog post is in no way suggesting you should change yourself and stay in the marriage. Your safety and health is most important. 

Over 4 years ago, I was in a marriage that was falling apart.

It seemed easier to give up. The idea of focusing on making our marriage better seemed daunting and, sad to say, hopeless. I created a fantasy life where I lived with my kids in a cute apartment living a “free” life. I tapped into this fantasy whenever things were particularly crappy and I needed to feel a sense of control of my life…and escape. I now know that my fantasy life was interfering with my ability to fully commit to my marriage. I had one foot out the door. But at the time, it felt like a lifeline.

“How can anything get better when at least one person is not really “in the marriage”?”

Woman blaming her husbandIt was our darkest time, we had almost nothing to give to one another. I was so caught up in my own blame and disappointment that I could not even find compassion, love, or empathy for my husband – it was just gone. I was ping-ponging between feeling numb, unhappy, and trapped and acting like everything was okay. It was far from okay.

In my mind, it was his fault that I was this unhappy and if he would just be more   (fill in the blank)  , all would be better. But it wasn’t that simple.

There we sat – it could have gone either way – stay or leave? My husband was the first to put a stake in the ground (for which I will be eternally grateful). “You don’t have the right to leave this marriage until we have done everything we can to make it work.”

I was pissed off, relieved, and confused.

I was pissed off because I didn’t need him telling me what the riteous thing was to do, right? I was relieved because it actually felt right. And I felt confused because I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge and still believed leaving would be easier.

He was right. We have two children, we made a commitment to one another and we owed it to our kids to give it everything.

How will I do this, I wondered? I don’t feel the love. I don’t really feel like I care. I don’t know if I have it in my heart to do what it takes. I was truly disconnected from my feelings.

Whole-minded Commitments?

In retrospect, I realize that we tapped into another level of commitment called whole-minded commitment. We intellectually committed to one another. We created a rational plan that made sense and kept us focused on an end game.

When we commit whole-heartedly, there is some assumption tied-up in it that our heart is engaged…that we FEEL something.

When we commit whole-mindedly, the level of commitment is the same, but it comes from our minds and doesn’t require us to feel anything – we do not need to feel like we want to, we just need to know we want to for very good reasons. There is no pressure to feel anything we aren’t feeling.

As parents, we have a whole different dynamic to consider when contemplating divorce. That is largely why so many women feel trapped. And feeling trapped compounds the problem because it makes it harder to think clearly. We want the fairy tale romance and family and feel terribly disappointed that we aren’t living it. On the one hand we will do anything, on the other hand we feel powerless. This is where whole-minded commitments come in – we can step in as if we are taking on a project, rather than doing a list of romantic things that make us want to cringe (massages, candle-light dinners, etc) because we feel disconnected, unappreciated, and distant.

Project Recommit begins.

Happy couple having conversation face to faceThough we didn’t know much, we knew just enough to know that if we were to divorce at that point, we would probably be horrible co-parents with all sorts of resentment, blame, and unresolved pain. We also knew that when we eventually found someone else, we would likely end up in a similar situation if we didn’t resolve what was interfering with our marriage success at this time. It was likely we would re-create similar problems in a future relationship if we didn’t do some work on our “issues.”

It was with this awareness that we recommitted as follows:

  1. We will commit to couples counseling together. We did not set a specific timeframe, but we did both hope things would get better fast (haha).
  2. Our commitment was really to focus on our own “stuff”. We needed to figure out what was up with us individually so we could be better partners, with each other or with someone else in the future. At this point, we hoped we could fix our marriage, but neither one of us was sure that would be the result.
  3. We agreed that if we could do this work on ourselves, we would be in a better position to work on our relationship – maybe we would even recover some of our feelings.

We knew, at a minimum, we would be (a) better co-parents, (b) not recreate the same problems in future relationships, (c) have some improvement in our lives in general; and, in the best case scenario, we would (d) fix our marriage.It is with that whole-minded commitment that we were able to get started. In the beginning, we were not affectionate or loving in a romantic way. We did not have sex. We just knew we were both in it together and were committed intellectually to do what it took to get to a better place…whatever that meant.

So on we went…initially it was anything but fun…frankly, it was painful and hard. But slowly we noticed we were enjoying some of our counseling sessions. We noticed that we were starting to have better conversations again. We noticed things were improving.

yesAnd then one day, we realized that we did it.  We saved our marriage.

We were right. It worked!

Sometimes it becomes important to make a commitment whole-mindedly even when your heart is really not in it…because sometimes the stakes are too high not to.

Lessons

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned, and one that you need to just take my word for it, is that I could have decided to whole-mindedly commit to my marriage on my own (without my husband) and the outcome likely would have been similar. Yes, it was wonderful that he was as committed as he was and I am not minimizing that at all. He was a trooper and we stood together for our family. I admire and respect him deeply for that.

But if your partner isn’t willing and you feel at risk – either at risk of having an affair or rashly leaving the marriage – do this ON.YOUR.OWN. If you work with the right coach or therapist, he/she can help you to see that the work to be done is on yourself and to look deep inside into your own inner world to save your marriage.

Some of you are thinking – but you don’t know my husband, he is a jerk. He isn’t kind. He works too much. He never spends any time with me. I get nothing from our marriage. I don’t deny any of that. But if you leave now, it will be worse than if you do the work on yourself first. I know that with 100% certainty. I remember when my husband and I were teetering on the edge of stay|leave and I was afraid that we would have an awful co-parenting relationship if we were not married and that helped me to recommit.

It was the work I did on myself that changed how I feel about him. The truth is, he didn’t really change much. Nor did I. But how we experience ourselves and one another has changed.

faith falls on your handWe saved our marriage by falling back in love with ourselves – we took the focus off (fixing) one another and brought it back where it belongs…you got it…back to ourselves. We all know that we can’t change others, but we all try our best anyway :)

As long as you are blaming him for your unhappiness, you are not ready to leave. Period. (click to tweet)

Let me repeat that. If you are still blaming him for your unhappiness and “bad marriage” you are not ready to leave.

Got it?  No matter how many women you can get to agree with you that he is a jerk, if you are blaming him, don’t leave.

When we blame, we are being victims. Don’t leave a marriage as a victim because it will never serve you well.

When you stop blaming him, take 100% responsibility for the circumstances you find yourself in, and still want to leave the marriage, so be it.

Some Action Steps

  • Naturally you will find yourself back in the fantasy – the one that has you leaving and escaping the marriage. I was recently asked what to do when you are in that place. The answer is to get curious. Sit with the feelings that made you want to escape. The answer is NOT to resist the feelings, it’s to wonder why you want to leave at that precise moment…what did he or the situation trigger in you? Just witness what is going on and ask yourself why you want to leave.
  • Do something to take care of yourself. Make a list of 10 things that bring you joy immediately (massage, pedicure, nap) and 10 things that make you feel great after your have done them (organizing a drawer, exercising, cooking a healthy meal). Try to do one thing from each list each day.
  • Find someone (therapist, coach, or friend) who can help you to work on your inner game…to remind you that this work is about you and not about your husband. It’s not about doing more for your marriage, it’s about learning to take responsibility for all that is in your life – the good, bad, and ugly, and to accept and love all of you. It’s much easier when you have someone to remind you of the path you are on.
  • Read this interesting article.

What’s my life like now?

It’s not perfect but it’s wonderful. We have an amazing friendship and a loving marriage…he is my best friend.

We are now committed whole-heartedly. And because of that one decision in June 2010, I get to kiss my kids goodnight every night instead of every other weekend and a few weeknights. There is something really sweet and special about going through the darkness with someone, and out the other side. There is nothing like the realization that you both worked freakin’ hard and you did it! It becomes clear that love is not enough. Finding love again and again is enough. And letting one another down and losing the feelings of love can be part of it all. And that it’s all okay.

Life is too short to just “hope it’s (he’s) gonna get better.” What are you going to do today to take charge of your own happiness and family?  You know what you need to do…do it. Schedule a FREE “Finding Inner Peace and Real Happiness” Strategy Session where we can discuss how your marriage is a huge part of raising great kids!


 

NOTE: A note to moms about the grass being greener on the other side. It usually isn’t. The grass is actually greener wherever you water. While several of my divorced friends are happy to be out of their marriages, they are not happier overall. They have traded problems. Most of my divorced friends struggle financially and their husbands are never out of their lives. Never. It sounds lovely to imagine making house without your husband, being in complete charge of your household, making your own choices, believing that you will feel happier and more relieved. I had the same fantasy. I also imagined that I would meet a man who would cherish me and take care of me…who would love me, romance me, and excite me. It’s just a fantasy. Fantasies take us away from reality, from now. And all we really have is now. You can leave, no one is stopping you, but you also could stay and increase the chances of (1) creating a happy marriage, (2) being much better co-parents if you get divorced, and (3) finding a healthy relationship in the future if you get divorced. It’s a win:win. And I ask you, what’s the rush? Why not give it a try?

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned in 2013

In 2013, I learned my most important lesson.

It’s not unusual that you will hear people talk about their “journey.” Maybe it’s their journey to get sober, to fight cancer, to survive the loss of a loved one, to get back their voice in their marriage, to become more self-confident, to be a better parent, to find themselves, to build a career, to leave an abusive marriage, and on and on.

 

But in the end, it all comes down to one thing. I believe that sharing this one lesson I learned will change your life.

Butterfly on a hand

First, I want to explain what I think the “journey” is. Even if a person is not fully aware, the journey we are being called to is always the journey back home to our Selves. It’s that simple, but it is never easy.

Simply put, we have an essence, our Truth (with a capital “T”). That is who we are at our core. Over many years of life, we have learned how to survive in this world, to protect ourselves, to do what we need to do to get what we want/need, etc. We have developed our personality, our defenses, our egos. None of that is bad, it’s an important developmental stage in life to do just that. But at some point, we get called to go on this journey back to ourselves, to our Truth, to our essence. That means we need to go through that mucky, sticky, icky stuff – the darkness, the pain, the struggles, the defenses, the judgements – to reveal who we really are.

 

We spend years and years resisting and trying to hide all that we don’t like about ourselves (our neediness, our behaviors we don’t like, decisions we made, our need for validation, our bodies, our failures, our pasts, our pain, our quirks, our fears). We criticize ourselves (and others). We push ourselves to do better, faster, and more. We don’t cut ourselves slack for fear that we will do nothing or be nothing. We get busy so we don’t have to pay attention to the things we don’t like about ourselves or the emptiness we feel inside.

 

And then, we get called back to our core, to our essence. Whether we get called by a crisis or just a gentle whisper, we eventually realize we are being called on this journey back home to ourselves. Sometimes we spend years resisting that calling. We get busier. We may even engage in self-sabatoging behaviors (drinking, eating, working too much, over-analyzing, etc.) just to avoid this journey. Some people complain that something is just not right, that they feel a hole in their heart, or some emptiness that they are trying to fill. That, my friend, is the whisper to go back home to your Self.

 

The secret to getting back home to your Self is what I want to share with you today – this is the most important lesson I have learned. It’s very, very important because it will make this journey much easier than it may sound when you imagine it.

 

Self-acceptance.

 

That’s it, that’s the secret key. Self-acceptance is the only path to sustainable happiness, the only path back home to yourself.

 

Ultimately, self-acceptance leads to self-love which opens the door to deep, unconditional love and connection with others. (Check out this article about Self-Acceptance).

“No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.” ~ Robert Holden

Each and every thing that you resist about yourself, the things you want to hide from others, the things about you that you can’t even admit to yourself…those things are the very things that I am encouraging you to notice and accept about yourself. That’s the key to you being truly FREE in life. The freedom to be YOU!  The truest freedom you can have.

 

Over the years, you learned to BE certain ways and to NOT be other ways. You created a whole bunch of stories about what you believe keeps people loving you and what will cause people to abandon you. Those things became your playbook for life. But can you see that they are all based on your wounds? They are just a bunch of made up stories (yes, admittedly they served you well at other points in your life). Now, it’s time to challenge those stories, to poke holes in them. Because I want to get through those stories to your Truth.

 

There is no one way or right way to be in life (silly that we have oversimplified life to imply that there is such a thing), there is only YOU and your own unique awesomeness that is NOT shining through because it has been covered up by defenses, false beliefs, stories, and facades.

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” ~ Mark Twain

It’s time to get to know yourself better. And then, to learn to accept yourself exactly as you are – the perfectly imperfect human being that you are. And begin to peel back all of those layers of defenses and armor that you, your parents, and society have put on you over the years (it’s no wonder why life feels so heavy to most of us), and reveal your essence – the pure love that you are made of, all of your potential that you don’t even know you have, and the Truth of who you really are. (Can I just tell you how much I look forward to the day when my essence meets your essence? …now THAT sounds like a true heart connection and my heart longs for more of those connections in our largely superficial world.)

 

stopWhen you hide and resist parts of yourself, you become broken, you are no longer whole because whole implies that you know and integrate ALL of something. And if you don’t know and don’t accept (and love) all pieces of yourself, you simply are NOT whole. We get whole when we lean into those areas that we wish we could push away.

 

“To me, wholeness is the key to aliveness. It is more than just physical vitality, it is radiance, coming from being at one with yourself and your experience. Life then flows through you and radiates from you.” ~ Richard Moss

Now, you wonder, how in the heck can I do this self-acceptance thing? Here is how you can get started:

 

First, in 2014, vow to get quiet. Don’t busy yourself all the time and take 5 minutes, then 10, then 20 and maybe even up to an hour to be quiet (I know you are busy, but it’s no longer an excuse, if you want to have an amazing life, you need to make the time). Sit in silence (not necessarily “meditating”), in nature if you can, observing, not judging, just quietly being (not doing – we are human beings, right?). Try to quiet your mind, not by criticizing yourself for having monkey mind, but rather by noticing and allowing thoughts to move in and out of your mind. When you notice you have been thinking, gently move yourself back to the moment you are in right now. It’s all good and it’s time to welcome everything – sad feelings, happy feelings, good and bad, pain and joy, and all other polarities that you can imagine. It all just IS. It is part of life. Accept that life is messy and it’s exactly as it is supposed to be rather than spending so much time trying to change it. It’s all okay. For some specific techniques, check out Jenai Lane’s Spirit Led Instead (a Type A person’s guide to getting back to your essence).  

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV

Second, notice and be grateful for your judgments. Judgments are merely a reflection of what is going on in your inside world. Each judgment you make of another is a part of you that you have resisted or have banished into hiding (at some point in your life you were given the impression that it was a part of you that was not safe to reveal to others). In the beginning you may disagree with me. But one day you will notice you are welcoming judgments on your path to getting whole…your journey back home to yourself. You will realize that it is your judgments that help you to see where you still are not whole. Trust me on this. To learn more, read Byron Katie’s Loving What Is (an inquiry process to help you learn from your stories and judgments). 

 

Third, cut yourself and others slack. When you notice you are being tough on others or yourself, breathe, and then cut them and yourself slack. You may think that high expectations, willfulness, and “getting shit done” is your path to happiness. It’s not true, I used to believe that too. It’s in cutting yourself slack, accepting yourself for who you are, empathically connecting to others, and “being” rather than relentlessly “doing” that is the path to true happiness.  To learn more about this, read and listen to Brene Brown’s work. To begin, watch her TedTalk

 

faith falls on your handSo, as this year comes to an end, let’s say goodbye to self-criticism and hiding and say hello to self-awareness and self-acceptance. Make 2014 the year you are going to journey back home to your Self – the year where you are going to be gentle to yourself and others, accept all of yourself (even those places you try to keep in the darkness), and learn from your judgments (rather than believing them to be true about others and therefore disconnecting from others). Darkness only persists where there is no light. The simple act of shining light on darkness makes it go away. Shine a light on all of your dark corners so you can learn, heal, grow, and become whole.

 

Each time you pass through a dark time, remind yourself that “this too shall pass” and that the light you shine on that darkness will turn into lightness of heart and a brighter life.

 

We all deserve to feel more whole, to know ourselves, and to shine our own light brightly upon this world. You were born as a unique being with a unique purpose in this lifetime. I believe that the only way to truly live your life is to reveal your Truth and to live your Truth. That means that you can no longer compare yourself to anyone because no one will be like you (think of yourself like a fingerprint). There literally is no comparison. You. Are. One-of-a-Kind.

 

Can you please consider using 2014 as your year to find YOU?  

 

Believe it or not, it’s much harder work to live life with all of the social personas and false selves we put out there than to live from our essence. Yes, I admit that the journey can be a bit difficult at times. Sometimes it might feel too dark, you might wonder if you are entitled to or deserving of happiness and that you are somehow different and destined to stay in this darkness. It’s simply not true. Ask for help from someone who can guide you back to the light. And as you get closer to your Self, I promise you will feel better, lighter, and more whole and there will come a point where you will be deeply grateful for the journey, the struggle, and even the waves of darkness.

 

I am sending you blessings and loving support as you journey back home to your Self. I hope you have love-filled holidays and that your 2014 is the year you begin to learn to accept and love all of you. I’d love to learn more about your journey in the comments below! Or reach out to me personally. I’d love to connect with you.

 

Much love my friends! Happy Holidays!
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