I am a relationship and divorce coach. That was never my dream or goal for life, but still…this is where I am. My life consists of knowing God throughout, but I can separate my life experiences into simply existing and living life on purpose. Living life on purpose came with a deeper asset. When I moved to living a life on purpose, I not only believed in God, but fully surrendered to God. When I surrendered, I understood that I was in a deep and meaningful relationship with God. I no longer looked to him only on those occasions when I wanted something or felt lonely, but I moved God into my home, my life, my plans, my dreams and every waking moment. The funny thing is that I didn’t have to make room for him in every corner of me. The truth is, he was already there. He’d been with me all along. He’d been keeping the car running, waiting for me to take my hands off the wheel and let him drive me to some new and exciting places where I had previously been unwilling to explore.
It can be a little scary, at times, especially when someone is used to being in control of the day to day, to let go and let God, as they say, but at the time of surrender, I was crashing and burning. Right before the final destruction, I could foresee the massive crash ahead. Right then and there, I said,
“OK, God. I give up. I cannot do this anymore. Tell me what I have to do. Help me get out of this mess. I do not understand any of it. Just tell me what to do and I will do it. Just tell me what to do and how to get out of this thing and I promise you, I will help lead others out of the hell, too!”Me crying out to God
And God answered me. For only the second time in my life I KNEW it was God answering me! He answered me very clearly and directly:
“You know what you have to do.”God
He had that right. Of course he did, let’s not forget that he is God! In all honesty, I did know what I had to do, but I was afraid to do it. I had known for quite some time what needed to happen, but I did not believe that I could do it. It was no small feat, I tell you that much. Believe me when I tell you that even that day, after I promised God I’d free myself and then take responsibility for freeing others, I wasn’t fully able to believe it could happen, but I figured if God was telling me to do it, he had to have a reason for it. Knowing there was a purpose to it, no matter what was actually going to happen, gave me the determination to make it happen and the faith that it would happen.
That moment is a big reason that I specialize in divorce and conflict coaching, but my focus on coaching divorced parents goes back further than that. Much, much further back.
I am going to make a long story pretty short because I don’t want this to be about me. It is actually about God and you. Still, my story explains why I do the things I do today.
I grew up in a home where there was a lot of dysfunction, conflict and emotional unavailability. Everyone thought I was very mature and on the outside. I was, but on the inside, not so much. I had sort of had to raise myself because all of the adults were so wrapped up in adult issues and personal pain that I think they figured it was wrong to bring me into it so they’d just keep it all away from me, but it kept them away from me, too. Sure we lived in the same house and all, and we were together physically, but not emotionally. In my family, everyone was emotionally distant. That emotional distance created a me who on the outside seemed to have it all together. I was wise from watching the mistakes others made with each other and also in life. I didn’t want to make mistakes like that and so I was very cautious and quiet. On the inside, I was a fearful child, too afraid of making mistakes to speak my mind or take chances. I never wanted to add to anyone’s pain. They had enough to deal with already and because of all the me who was hiding inside, afraid to come out, I ended up marrying a man who was just as emotionally unavailable. He was also an abusive alcoholic and he liked the frightened little girl I was because that made it easier for him to keep me in line. He had me right where he wanted me.
We were married five years before we added children to the mix. The children were such a blessing to me. I was no longer lonely and in order to give the children adventure, I had to get out of my comfort zone. Lord knows, the father was not going to spend much time with us, especially doing anything fun. If drinking was not involved, for him that meant no fun. For many years, I stayed home waiting and hoping he’d come around, but with all the many things I wanted my children to experience, I had to step up and become more independent. There was a time when I considered divorce. I already felt like I was a single parent anyway, but I spoke with some divorced moms I knew, and for many reasons, decided against it. I was also afraid of what the abuser might do and so even though I was very unhappy, I stayed because I realized that my happiness did not have to depend on what my husband did or did not do. I would make my own happiness.
I became more and more independent. I started doing more things on my own and I also started standing up to my husband some. He did not like that. His drinking and abuse grew and we had some pretty knock down, drag out fights. Usually these fights occurred after the children were in bed.
In my husband’s mind, I had changed. I guess this was true. I was staring to “find myself”. The person I was becoming was no longer good enough for him and so he found someone else. Imagine my disappointment after making the commitment not to end our marriage, only to have him turn around a few years later and file for divorce.
Our divorce was nasty, hostile, contentious and prolonged. We struggled to co-parent the children. We were involved in a Family Court nightmare for EIGHT YEARS. That ended because I gave it to God.
I asked God to help me get rid of a parenting consultant (known in other parts of the country as a parenting coordinator or parent coordinator) who was appointed to our case. He did. I asked him to make the fighting between my ex and I stop. He did and he did it in a VERY big way. He told me to go for sole custody, both physical and legal, and once I gave it all up to God, amazing things happened. He connected me to the right lawyer, one that I had put last on my list, but was the only one who would get the jobs done. He gave me the strength, courage and confidence to go to a full blown custody trial, knowing I could lose everything, but I did not lose. On the day of trial, I can only describe it as the stars aligning. We got a new judge who was an expert in domestic abuse issues. Everyone was against me, the custody evaluator, the parenting consultant, my past overreactions to everything my ex did or did not do, everything. I had only been given a 5 % chance of winning! Still, none of that mattered because God was on my side.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? “Romans 8:31
It was a miraculous victory for all four of us: me, my ex and the children. It was something that needed to be to get all four of us out of the clutches of a never ending family court nightmare. It was something that I had not been able to do alone, but God did it.
When it was over, I followed through on my promise to help others. I decided to use my knowledge to help other people. Why waste eight years of experience? Go though all of that and then go back to life as usual? Nah! There was no life as usual! It was a new beginning.
Since all of this happened, I completely changed the course of my life. God has put me in amazing places, including putting me in the position to work as a parenting consultant in Minnesota, something I had resisted at first, but I know that that God puts me in places when he wants me to “see” things with new eyes. He also pushed me to write a book so that you could understand the things that I had been unable and unwilling to see early enough in the divorce process:
So life turned out good for me, but what about the boys and my ex? Peace was achieved. I am not going to tell you that my ex and I are good friends. We’re not. I am not going to tell you that my boys have not had to overcome the ill effects of high conflict divorce. They have. During the ordeal I had to learn a lot about relationships, conflict, divorce, family court, parenting consultants, emotional regulation, confidence, assertiveness, communication, stress management and anger management. I learned new skills that I have been able to pass down to my boys. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and am currently pursuing a Master’s of Education in Parent and Family Education. Who knew? It turns out I have a penchant for teaching people stuff, especially teaching parents to survive divorce and keep their kids out of the middle of the fighting.
Knowing what it is like to live in hell, I consider it my calling to help keep you out of hell or at least try and make your time in hell (AKA Family Court) less. No one needs to experience that for EIGHT YEARS! No one. You are not going to find too many people who bring the experience I bring to my coaching clients. If a divorce coach hasn’t lived it, I really don’t think they understand. I believe that you need to know and understand how best to keep your children away from governmental parents like parenting consultants. No parent should ever leave decisions about their child into the hands of someone else. If your co-parent will not step up for the kids, it is far better that they have one parent take charge than have no parent advocating for them.
If you are in family court hell or you are really confused about why it operates the way it does, contact me. I am ready, willing and passionate about helping you.