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This is Sherry Palmer taking the trauma of the family courts and converting that into strength,
energy, and power. She has a no BS transparent approach.
I believe that your identity is what makes
you who you are. Your sense of self, your
continuity in personality. Your identity in
divorce and in child custody battle though
is one of the most difficult things to maintain.
How do you maintain your identity when your
children are being literally ripped from your
life? For starters, you don’t let them steal
your life. It’s difficult to be yourself
when you’re afraid of losing your children
when everyone else is picking on everything
you do and everything about you?
So how do you maintain your identity when
there is so much at stake here when you could
lose your child at the whim of an evaluator
and a judge? You continue to be you and make
the decisions that are right for you. It’s
tough to do that when you’re being told
that your rights to your child depend on convincing
someone else to like you. If you don’t continue
to be you, your kids will no longer recognize
you, your friends won’t recognize you. I’ve
seen people end up on disability, with terminal
illnesses, and even lose their mind. Your
identity its what makes you unique. I know
it’s tough to think about your identity when
your relationship with the other parent has
fallen apart, I know. That’s tough to do
when you are told that thinking about what’s
right for you isn’t putting your child first.
You have to trust yourself. And we like to
use this example that if you’re on an airplane
and you are told to put that oxygen mask on
you first. Why? Because that way you don’t
pass out and you are there to help your child.
Well divorce and child custody battles are
very similar to that. You have to maintain
your life in order to continue to help get
it back in order. To help restore it to where
you want it to be. So you are going to have
to be true to yourself or you not only become
foreign to yourself but also to everyone else
around you including your children. And you
have to start reminding yourself to be you.
When you maintain that identity your resolve
will stay strong. And your decisions will
reflect this too. Sure I was missing my children
and I’m sure you’re missing yours too, but
regardless you have to get up every day look
in that mirror and smile and say today I am
going to accomplish something. This doesn’t
mean you’re going to get your way because
you don’t always control. But in fact most
the time you don’t control it. But being unhappy
and depressed isn’t going to get you where
you need to go.
I know that most people think that things
start to go wrong when they fail to mold themselves
to the standards that someone else laid out
for them. But that’s not true. Trying to
live up to other people’s standards and expectations
I think most of you know is never really a
good idea, and rarely ever turns out well.
So unless you’re someone that just really
steered off on the wrong path in life and
probably isn’t most of you that are watching
this. But even they turn their lives around.
Not necessarily because somebody else forced
them to but because they decided or they found
their true identity. So it’s not true that
things are going bad because you didn’t do
it somebody else’s way. Maybe it’s going bad
because you’re not staying true to you. Things
start to go terribly wrong when you try to
adopt other people’s ideas and expectations
for you when you try to live up to their standards.
You set yourself up for failure. First they
attack you by getting you to worry about doing
things wrong. Then in divorce and child custody
you hire people that tell you to change all
sorts of things about you. They try to get
you to portray an image of a perfect person
so that nobody else sees your flaws. You end
up spending all your time worrying about these
flaws. Some of the very things that made you
unique to you, your friends, and your family,
your child. You start questioning whether
or not you should have this boyfriend or that
boyfriend, or whether or not you should continue
your education or work more or less because
they might not look too highly upon those
decisions. You stop living. All that made
you unique now is being squeezed out of you
and you are being suffocated. You make excuses
that they are stealing your children and you
cannot live. You start putting tremendous
pressure on yourself to get them to give in
and give you back your children. Congratulations,
you’ve now stressed yourself out. You get
anxious. You get depressed. The whole cycle
is downhill from there. Where nobody knows
who you are anymore…not even you.
How do you maintain your identity when your
children are such a huge part of that identity
and now they’re being ripped from you? You
don’t let disappointment stop you. When
they threaten you or bully you. You don’t
let that keep you down or paralyze you.
What does your identity do for you you might
ask? Well let me tell you, your Identity helps
you maintain Continuity and Security. You
can let yourself feel the emotions, get through
the shock, and frustration and get through
it by reminding yourself that you’re not always
in control of all those things.
Maintaining your identity keeps your kids
secure too. You ever wonder what keeps families
in poverty so tightly knit and they seem so
happy even when they don’t have anything.
You might recall the family in Scrooge with
Tiny Tim and how happy they were even when
they barely could feed the family. Even when
they knew that they couldn’t afford the surgery
to keep Tiny Tim alive. And the Waltons during
the depression age, they always seemed to
find a way to find something good. What kept
them feeling secure when the world around
them was falling apart it was that the adults
remained themselves – they remained true
to their identity. When people don’t maintain
this you see everything fall apart temporarily
maybe, maybe permanently, but everything starts
to go terribly wrong, until they find themselves
So what do you do when you are under the tremendous
stress of a divorce? You do your best. You
remind yourself that you, you are not going
to leave the same tyranny or problems to your
children. You are going to give them the most
important thing in life and that is freedom
from abuse of power by not giving in and leaving
that same legacy of these family courts that
you are fighting now to them and by not losing
yourself. You continue to be proud of who
you are no matter what you are going through.
Remember to celebrate the little accomplishments
– making it through a hearing can feel way
more like a beating than a success. But after
that hearing you need to remind yourself that
you made it through that hearing and that’s
a huge accomplishment that’s so difficult
to do to get past that fear and anxiety and
make it through. So celebrate making it through
that hearing. Reward yourself for doing your
best and bravely fighting through the anxiety
and the fear.
Recognize the small accomplishments you make
So who are you betraying when you lose your
identity, yourself and your child. This cycle
of betrayal is counterintuitive to your identity.
Your identity has to come out and it has to
shine for this to work. We don’t live in
a sterile world and neither should you.
When part of your identity is stripped away
when they strip your children from you – you
cannot allow yourself to lose your internal
identity your sense of self. It is this sense
of self that will help you smile in the mirror
the next day and continue to be that strength
and conviction, you need to keep, and tell
yourself you need to keep going. Remind yourself
that they cannot tear you away from who you
are. You will keep going. You will miss your
children every day but they will miss you
more if you become a stranger to them.
You may not be able to control everything.
But you can control how you respond to things.
You can control whether you will feel helpless,
hopeless or empowered. When you’re going
through divorce you get distracted a lot.
It is scary and confusing. You have so many
unknowns thrown at you. But when you understand
this process more, you are less afraid. If
you could spend less time wondering and wandering
around trying to figure out what it is you
need to know, you won’t lose major portions
of your day worrying and distracted. You won’t
waste that energy. This won’t be as traumatic.
You won’t lose your focus of who you are.
You won’t have to wonder where your decisions
might take you. This will give you strength.
When you are made to feel helpless you might
not recognize yourself. I remember thinking
I’ve never felt helpless in my life before.
Oh my gosh what is this? Everything felt so
out of control. But you cannot let yourself
start dwelling on this or wondering how can
they do this to me? How did this happen? Why
are they doing this? If you catch yourself
constantly dwelling on those questions, the
doubt creeps in and then a feeling of hopelessness.
And even if you’ve never felt hopelessness
before, you’ll recognize it. And before
you know it, your entire days can become consumed
with sadness and frustration. You get depressed
and anxious. Some people never recover from
Being yourself maintains your continuity and
security for not only you but everyone else
in your life around you as well.
Start living like who you want to be today.
Start living every day. And don’t let anyone
take that away from you, not anyone. You can
stop being confused with what to do by knowing
what empowers you. By shining a light on what
is happening, by knowing where you are going,
by setting your mind that you can take anything.
You have to. Your children and your love for
them is that strong. You will be happy for
this and you will find that no matter what
happens you can get through it because you
never lost who you are.
You will stay healthy, stay ambitious, and
stay passionate. Your life may not be the
exact picture you had in mind before your
divorce or child custody battle, but you can
make it better by reclaiming your identity.
Ask yourself what have you done to reclaim
your identity today?