Somehow the first month of 2024 is almost over! I've been wildly and joyfully busy in all areas of my life! It took a little bit to get a routine back in place with what felt like too many snow and ice days keeping our kids home from school, but this week, FINALLY, I should be able to get five straight work days!
I thought it would be fun to share five topics with you all to connect on a more personal level. Let me know what you think!
1. One Win: I’ve been stepping back from social media and working to connect more on my website, in person, my email list and blog. I have clients all over the country, but I had someone reach out to me from the farthest state yet….Alaska! They live in a small village that is only accessible by plane to boot. Amazing! Divorce knows no boundaries. It will definitely be an interesting experience taking into consideration the remoteness of their location.
2. A quote I'm pondering that I think aligns with the moment that it all 'clicks' for my clients:
I'm right there with them every step of the way, but they have to be the ones to make the decision to divorce. Often my clarification of the process helps with that part but I still cannot tell them what to do.
3. What I'm reading: Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman. I'm about 4/5 of the way through and it reads like a novel and history book in one. Sometimes biographies can be bland but this writer does a marvelous job of keeping the reader intrigued.
4. One personal note: My husband and I started a podcast! I have always been fascinated with religion, history and sociology. We are visiting a different house of worship every week and then blogging and podcasting about it. This isn't a debate about religion or an attempt to sway or convert. It's a personal exploration of faith across all world religions. If you find that sort of thing interesting I hope you'll check it out!
5. One review from a client: "What a lifeline!! Katie helped me through the intense rollercoaster of one of the most complicated divorce processes ever. She has an incredible gift of staying relational and calm AND is able to be focused and factual. This is a rare find in a human! Her ability to help me stay focused on next steps despite the chaotic events of the divorce kept me grounded. She helped me fill out complicated court paperwork one step at a time. She helped me talk through and formulate my questions before I called my lawyer so I could be articulate and precise. Before I secured Katie’s services, I remember wondering if I could afford a divorce coach. The truth is, I couldn’t afford to go through my divorce alone without Katie. Highly recommended."
This was an amazing client who started out quite timid and constantly worried about her future. To see her transformation into an empowered and confident women was such a gift to me!
“Life is hard—not because we’re doing it wrong, just because it’s hard.” Glennon Doyle
As my first marriage crumbled, I remember wondering why this was so hard? I thought I had made the right choice in my first husband. I imagine he felt the same. We were both intelligent, hard working, frugal and almost always did the right thing. We were good people; shouldn't this be easy?
Except that we got married and it wasn't working. Divorce was hard but NOT divorcing would have been exponentially harder.
Once I accepted it was OKAY for two good people to not be good TOGETHER the idea of my divorce became a lot easier to handle. Once that I accepted that our hard working personalities were not a determination of marital success it became easier to continue on a path of personal success as I learned how to be single. Once I accepted that there was nothing wrong with my ability to love just because I was divorced, it became a lot easier to move forward with my life.
Was the divorce hard? Yes. So hard. But we weren't doing anything wrong. In fact, I think we did life just right by making the choice we did.
Because what if we hadn't? Would we have had children only to divorce a decade and a half later once life with teenagers pushed us over the brink? Would I have had the energy to do what I do now with my gallery, ceramic art and property management? I'm sure I wouldn't have the idea to be a divorce coach. Or would I have fallen into a slump, unenergetic to do anything except survived each day?
That decision is hard. Toggling is harder. Not divorcing is harder. So many clients, once their divorce is finalized, tell me how mad they are at themselves that they haven't done this SOONER. That it feels like a massive weight has been lifted. That life seems so much brighter now. You can read more about what they have to say HERE.
Have you decided? Or maybe you just need a little bit of clarity to make that final decision. Maybe you need to understand the timing or logistics of the divorce process, let's have a call. 30 minutes to clarity.
Hello again! It’s been absolutely FREEZING here in Central Illinois the past week. Sub-zero (by a lot) wind chills. We have hardly left the house and if we do it’s only to run from one warm place to the next as fast as we can. Today reached a balmy 24 with abundant sunshine and it makes me so happy!
We’re at that time of the year where the divorce filings are also abundant. Everyone who wanted to get through the holidays is doing it now. But even those who have waited for the perfect timing, knowing their divorce was inevitable, still feel all the emotions. Sadness, anger, jealousy, envy on one end to excited, anxious, and relieved!
One storyline that seems to cause the most frustration with my clients though is that of the spouse who has borne the brunt of emotional abuse. The spouse whose life has been made miserable. The spouse who has been told they are worthless. The spouse who has been made to feel like they can never do ANYTHING right. But yet, their partner never files for divorce.
“Why are they making ME do it??” they ask me.
“They can’t stand me so much, but yet, they won’t file.”
“My spouse hasn’t touched me in almost a decade but yet they say they won’t file because they made a vow to me.”
“I’ve asked them to go to marriage counseling so we can work on our issues but they refuse!”
“Now that I’ve told them I want a divorce, they’re blaming ME for the downfall of the marriage!”
Ay yi yi.
This is all too common. Insanely common. I can *almost* finish the story when I hear someone start to explain to me what their marriage is like and why they are hiring me as their divorce coach. Now, I’m not a therapist, but this sounds like some major anger and control issues to me!
Spouse A, the offender, wants things their way and their way only. Spouse B tries for YEARS to make it work. The behavior of Spouse A ebbs and flows *just* enough, and after all, they never actually HIT Spouse A, so it can’t be *that* bad, right?? And of course, there are usually children involved and Spouse B hopes they can tough it out until the kids are older. Suddenly though, Spouse A starts treating the kids like they’ve been treating their spouse. Spouse B realizes they’ve had enough. Spouse B realizes this doesn’t just affect them, it’s going to affect the children. Spouse B suggest marriage counseling. Spouse A flat out refuses, OR shows up to one counseling session in the best of spirits and twists the stories to make Spouse A look (and feel) a little crazy.
Do I need to go on?
There are so many examples and versions of this same story.
If this is what you are experiencing, you are in good company (unfortunately).
This is far too common.
The good news is that you’ll eventually be divorced and it will be like a 180 pound dark veil has been lifted off you that’s been covering your entire body for as long as you can remember. Suddenly, you’ll wonder (and just a forewarning…maybe be a little mad at yourself) for not doing it sooner.
This tactic is common among gas lighters, narcissists and those that love to manipulate the story to make themselves look good and stay in control. It’s not going to be smooth sailing to get out of that situation. They do everything they can to make you feel bad. They’ll do what they can to make you miserable.
They don’t think you’ll actually do it.
And suddenly, one day, you do.
Happy New Year! Our kids are still out of school here in Central Illinois, so I haven’t quite hit my New Year’s groove yet but it’s also nice to have a few more slow days before the school and activity schedules start back up.
My husband and I spent time one evening last week working on a Goal Board. Not quite a vision board but still a visual representation of what we want in our life. We picked about seven different aspects of life like Financial, Work/Career or Relationships and then each declared goals for those categories. Some goals are static, meaning when we achieve them we can cross them off. Others are dynamic, meaning they are habits we want to form. It was nice to come to some similar goals but also see what each other is shooting for so we can support when needed.One of my big static goals is I want to be able to do five hanging pull-ups at the gym. I can barely hang right now. Let’s do this!
I’ve been thinking though too about BAD habits that we all have that we want to break. I’ve been working on less social media time. This means less posts for my Focused Forward page but if it comes at the benefit of my mental health and more time with my kids, I’m okay with that!
Interestingly, I have noticed a trend with some people in what I would consider a bad habit and that’s an addiction to trying to save a marriage that is unsalvageable. It’s not unlike gambling. The marriage is filled with toxic attitudes and behaviors and is generally negative in spirit, but Every So Often there’s a glimmer of positivity. It’s like when the slot machines let you win JUST enough to convince you that the next pull might be the big one. But of course, it isn’t. So you keep pulling (figuratively, of course) to keep your marriage together. Keep pulling to find that positive glimmer again. And you get JUST to the point where you are ready to quit and BAM there it is. A smile when you least expected it. Hand-holding. Flowers on the counter when you come home. A cuddle in bed when you haven’t touched in five months. And just like that you’re thrust back into the cycle.
Like any addiction, you have to own your healing. You have to take charge. You have to WANT to get better. No one can force you to do it. No one will ever come to save you. You have to save yourself by taking that first empowered step.
What does that look like? That looks like saying “Enough is Enough.” There’s the phrase “stop throwing good money after bad” and I think that applies to emotions too. Stop throwing your good emotions, your good energy, your good time, after bad.
Does this sound familiar to you? Have you lived this reality? I’d love to hear from you! And if you need help with that first empowered step, let’s get started with clarity and confidence.
About Katie VAndenBerg
Katie makes her life surrounded by river valleys and surprisingly beautiful cornfields. Her days are spent helping her divorce clients, working with her tenants, spending time on her pottery wheel and loving her family.