I remember perfectly the warm wave of hope and relief I felt when my parents told me they were getting a divorce. I was seven.
My dad kneeled down in the hallway with me as he was leaving, his suitcase on the floor next to him, and promised it wasn’t my fault. I pretended I needed to hear this, but I knew perfectly well it was the two of them who had caused all the trouble. They had screamed and and threatened and abandoned each other off and on for as long as I had memories. There were many nights I could barely sleep through it. I’d beg them to stop, getting so upset I could hardly breathe. It got so bad sometimes I had to gather up my baby sister from her crib and hide us in a cupboard.
Unfortunately, the fighting continued after their split every time they had contact with each other; we all dreaded the phone calls that escalated to rage, and the curbside encounters during kid hand-offs that scared the neighbors into calling the cops. Talk about adverse childhood experiences; to this day I fall apart at the sound of breaking glass.
It didn’t stop until, one day when I was 13, my dad was diagnosed with ALS. During those last couple years of his life he was kind and supportive of my mother and her husband, and they quickly matched his good will. My sister and I got to experience that — the family together, just hanging out. My dad came to visit us for a week in Arizona; my stepdad took portraits of us with my dad. As you can see in the photo I shared above, his gaunt eyes shine with love.
I was imprinted with this example of emotional healing, but it got mixed in like a quart of bright paint into a big bucket of greyish-green. A lot of damage had already been done.
When I got married the first time, I too was in a “fighting” relationship — never physical violence, but almost daily discord, upsets and yelling. It made us both miserable and ashamed. There was no doubt it affected our two kids, who were just four and one when we finally called it quits. And as with my parents, the fighting continued while we tried to negotiate all the contact involved in co-parenting. There were days I wished one of us would get a terminal illness, just so it would stop.
And then something really new happened.
We learned to stop fighting.
Only people who have been through this particular hell will understand the scale of miracle involved in this transformation, but it’s been growing more and more peaceful and friendly between us every year. Today we are each remarried. We talk almost daily on the phone about what’s going on with the kids (they are 18 and 14 now). We each genuinely like (even love) each other’s spouses. We all spend holidays together and though there is a respectful distance between the two couples, we are all friends. We all know that all four adults can be counted on for help, if any of us should need anything.
We got an idea a few months ago that we should make a course to show other people, step-by-step, how we transformed our parenting dynamic. Tim (that’s his name) is a family law attorney, and, well, I’m the Crappy Childhood Fairy! So we actually did it! We made an hour-long video-based course called Positive Shared Custody: Five Commitments to Stop the Drama and Bring Long-Term Harmony to Your Family.
- It’s not meant to be legal or psychological advice. It’s just a practical guide to move as quickly as possible from a stressful, adversarial dynamic to one that’s peaceful and constructive and happier for the whole family.
- It’s appropriate for viewers who are thinking of splitting, going through the process now or are just trying to improve an arrangement that’s already in place.
- It’s helpful if both partners view the course, but even if you’re the only one viewing, you’ll get tips for changes that make a difference you can feel, right away.
- It’s good for moms and dads, and is not specific to the US (where we live) so viewers worldwide can apply the principles we teach.
Making this course has been a wonderful experience, actually, and I JUST got it launched on Teachable. It’s my first “costs money” content. I realize not all my readers need such a course (which only kinda relates to the Fairy topic area), but for those of you in a challenging shared custody situation, I issued a 70% discount coupon that lets you take the course for just $29.
I created a limited number so if you’re interested and want the discount, please jump in and register!
Oh, and I’m new to this business of setting up courses online. If you have any technical difficulties that Teachable site can’t solve (they actually have great support), please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim (my ex) and I really hope this course helps other families heal from the fighting. We were both kids who grew up with fighting parents, and we are both forever grateful to have found a better way to live and raise children.
Happy New Year everyone! May it be full of more peace, more love, and more miracles, especially around recovery from childhood PTSD.
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