6 Big Things To Remember About The First Year After Your Divorce/Separation

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Jessica writes an excellent blog called Single Mom Nation.(See #6). I highly recommend.

Divorce Girls,

I have had friends and clients go through divorce. For some, they are so excited and pumped it is kinda bizarre to watch. For most, it can be challenging and traumatic. In fact, last month I attended an excellent divorce training titled “The Trauma of Divorce”. Very enlightening.Yes, divorce is terribly difficult, but it is an incredibly rich time of learning, growth and change. Knowing what to expect empowers.

Here are some recommendations for adjusting that my clients have used to help them through that first year:

1.Expect to be overwhelmed by  the newness of every experience.

Depending on how long you have been married, many experiences will feel different and awkward. Expect this. For example, when you attend a party or an event that is typically coupled, without the presence of a partner, it may feel uncomfortable. Holidays may seem new with new traditions to make happen.

Know this going into it and give yourself permission to notice the feelings that this brings up. Do you feel like people are staring at you? (They probably aren’t.) Are other people acting weird around you? (They might be, because they don’t know what to say.) This awkwardness will pass. Noticing the feelings and honoring them within you will enable you to walk through these situations with strength and poise. You can do it.

2. Watch out for the idealizing of other ideal families or “marrieds”.

One of my clients was at an amusement theme park with her kids by herself. It was the first “new family” outing without her spouse. She reported that it was hard seeing all of the two-parent households laughing and appearing so happy with their children. Despite this, she and her kids had a blast together.

It is expected to be feeling that loss. However, a lot of what you see on the outside has nothing to do with what is really going on in these people’s lives. Family units come in all kinds of numbers. The important thing is that you love each other and that you live your life in truth and to the best of your abilities. Anytime we compare our insides with what we see “out there,” it can be unnecessarily torturous. Stop yourself if you start down this road of thinking.

3. Don’t buy into any negative stigma.

There is still a negative stigma around divorce. I am a child of divorce. I remember being stigmatized for that. Some friends’ parents wouldn’t let their kids come over to my house anymore because my parents were divorced. I was deemed a child from “a broken home.” Interestingly, these children could play at other homes where the parents were violent alcoholics who bullied and harmed their children. However, they happened to be married so they were viewed as acceptable. In addition, I have seen couples married for 30, 40, 50+ years who can’t stand each other and are miserable together, but everyone claps and coos at their anniversary parties. Hmm…. See what I mean? Society’s values are often not foolproof.

There is still something of a societal stigma attached to divorce. It is ridiculous. Try to detach.

4. As you make decisions on your behavior every day, focus on your kids or the next best action for you in the long run and short run.

If you have kids, do what is best for them in any interaction with your ex. If you don’t have kids, still keep focused on the short-term and long-term benefits of your decisions. Is it worth it to make that last snide remark? Probably not. Practice detachment from angry, inappropriate stuff. Try to do unto your ex as you would want to be done unto you. That way, you don’t have to add shame and guilt about your actions to the pile of stuff you are already dealing with. Make yourself proud.

5. Expect to go through periods of good, capable, “up-to-the-task” days, then suddenly switch to periods of intense paralysis.

When paralysis hits, you will be unmotivated, you may put things off, you may not be able to make a decision. This is OK.

I have had so many clients and friends describe these strong feelings of not being able to do anything for significant periods of time after their divorce. One client described just staring for days on end at the boxes she needed to pack. So many people have described this to me that it must be a stage of the grief that occurs. If you find that this happens, don’t panic. You will get done what needs to get done. You are just going through something. Relax. Go with it. See if it passes. It probably will.

6. Get support.

Last but definitely not least, you have to get support. Repeat. You have to get support. If you weren’t in counseling or therapy before the divorce, now could be a good time to start. Build your support network through friends, church, synagogues or support groups. For many, divorce really is as traumatic as death, only without the societal recognition that a funeral might have. You may feel very alone. It is temporary and you will get through this and eventually thrive.

Log onto some great blogs and connect with others to inspire you. I love this one for single moms called Single Mom Nation. There is tons of stuff out there for people needing direction on the divorce process. Here is a Top 10 List for Divorce info.

In addition, there are so many upsides to being by yourself. New life. Starting over. Your rules. Wahoo! Try to keep your eyes open for these gratefulness opportunities and enjoy the upsides. Game on.


Take care,

Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago. She also blogs about home, work, life and love at www.stopgivingitaway.com Could you take the time to kindly follow me/Cherilynn on Twitter? Connect on Facebook too? I would really appreciate the support! And don’t forget Google Plus.

Are You Your Own Fun Killer? Top 10 Ways To Sabotage Your Happiness

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Can you sometimes be your own fun killer? Do you ever sabotage your potential to be happy? Read these 10 common ways people can unknowingly do this.

1. Focus on the bitch.photo-24

This is what I call the process whereby one is able to find the negative in any situation. And believe me, you can find the negative with anyone, anywhere, at anytime. That is easy. The challenge is to find the positive to focus your attention on.

2. Judge/criticize  others.

Why is so-an-so so _____? What is his/her problem? Isn’t it obvious that he/she shouldn’t be ________.

This is a fun killer and will steal positive energy from you. Say this anytime you have a judgmental or critical thought about someone/something else. “And the world is a beautiful place.” It changes the energy quickly. Reminds your critical self  to cut it out!

Continue reading… »

Why Lady Gaga Is A Good Woman Entertainer Icon

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW
Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga in concert, we had a blast.

I went to the Lady Gaga concert last night in Chicago. Tons of fun! I had never been a big fan but I enjoyed her music. My friends got tickets and so I went. After the concert, I realized I really liked her.

The Concert

Glowing lights, wigs and smiling, happy people — it was a blast. We saw so many interesting people too: a guy in purple satin, tiny shorts and green fishnets … a huge man in a blonde 50′s housewife wig. We made up a contest to see who was the best decked out.

I like Lady Gaga. Here’s why …

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Women, Marriage, and Should You Submit?

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Weddings and marriage have been on my mind lately. In June, I went to a beautiful wedding on the side of a hill in Ramona, California. It was soooo pretty. The backdrop of the wedding was absolutely Eden like,

June wedding in Ramona, Ca.

June wedding in Ramona, Ca.

as was the idealic love of the couple who were over-the-moon excited to be marrying each other.

I have included several pictures sprinkled into the article and at the end. This was a very rustic, nontraditional, classy wedding (and Pinterest worthy too). Even the dishes were one of a kind, none of the  gorgeous antique patterns were replicated.

Interestingly, there was a part in the wedding when the minister gave his sermon. Within this sermon was an overview and recommendations on how to have a happy, God-centered marriage. I was enjoying it. Then, as soon as I heard the words “wife” and “submit to her husband,” I knew we were  in for trouble. Most people, Christian or not, have heard this quote from the Bible, and everybody has strong opinions about it.

Continue reading… »

Help! I Have A Target On My Back At Work

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

9653422798_36e4e06b5dI met with my friend Samantha yesterday for lunch. She told me a bizarro story about her performance review. “Cherilynn, it was like a Jekyll and Hyde experience. He (her boss) came in all nice and smiley and then he absolutely TURNED! He turned into somebody else!”

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…
She described him as going from Mr. Everybody Likes Him At The Office guy to somebody who was downright evil. She said after they casually greeted each other, he shut the door and then he changed. He shifted into a lower speaking voice, and began criticizing her and accusing her of crazy @** stuff. He said she was missing deadlines and refusing to follow instructions. (She hadn’t). Then he told her the following:

“I know you have done amazing things and done great work at all of your prior jobs and at this one. I realize that you motivate people, and that you are incredibly skilled at what you do. But you better know now, you will be doing NONE of that here!” O-M-G!

Continue reading… »

Abusive Relationships Affect Men Too

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

This is a psychology of women blog. The post I did on verbal abuse got a ton of hits. Clearly, abuse and mistreatment in relationships is a big problem415873324_8ab5e3c9a4.

Statistics do show that women are much more likely to be in domestic-violent relationships. However, there are couples out there who have the reverse problem, where the man is the victim and the woman is the abuser. Certainly, homosexual relationships are not exempt from this issue either. For the record, when I reference abuse in this column, I am talking about physical violence, the threat of physical violence or emotional abuse, all of which are devastating.

What made me think about this issue was a flyer I saw on a wall when I was up in Minnesota last week fishing with my son. It was a flyer about a support group for men in abusive relationships. “Wow!” I thought, “this is a small town in Minnesota and they have a support group for men going through this?” I was impressed. I live in a city with a population that averages 3 million, and I have never seen any information out there for men who are suffering with this problem.

Continue reading… »

How You Can Help Too Much

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

help too much

“I help too much. My kids tell me it is so annoying. What is wrong with helping?” 

My girlfriend Anna was saying this to me over coffee last week. In Anna’s situation, she has an adult daughter who is married. She found out her son-in-law had hurt his ankle. Anna decided she would research what was wrong with her son-in-law’s ankle and  semi-diagnose his injury. Then, Mary found a specialist in the area to treat the ankle and set up an appointment for him. How nice! The annoying part was probably that her son-in-law didn’t want her help to begin with.

The great part about Mary is that she cares about people and she is good at solving problems. This was wonderful when her husband was diagnosed with cancer and he asked for her help. However, with the other people in her life, it could feel like Anna helps too much. For them, it could feel like boundary crossing ,or it could feel like she is pushing them in a direction they aren’t comfortable with or ready for.

Continue reading… »

8 Tips To Maximize Emotional Health During Summer Vacations

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Picture taken on vacation in Ramona, CA on June 8, 2014

A SOMETHING in a summer’s day,
As slow her flambeaux burn away,
Which solemnizes me.
A something in a summer’s noon,—
An azure depth, a wordless tune,         
Transcending ecstasy.
And still within a summer’s night
A something so transporting bright,
I clap my hands to see;
Then veil my too inspecting face,         
Lest such a subtle, shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me…

By Emily Dickinson

Just got back from a pre-summer vacation. (We went a little early because my nephew got married.) So fun. We were fortunate enough to go to California. We saw friends and did typical vacation stuff: Disney land, Legoland and the San Diego Zoo.

Continue reading… »

7 Strong Women To Inspire You

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

Harriet Tubman. You go, girl!

Strong Women To Inspire You

A friend of mine adopted two adult kitties from the pound recently (homeless kitties finally homed, yes!).

“I wanted them to name them after strong women in history,” he said. He chose Thatcher (Margaret) and Abigail (Adams).

So that inspired me to talk about other strong women in history that come to my mind. This list is for sure not exhaustive. Just writing the ones that first come to mind for me.

Continue reading… »

I Feel Left Out! 10 Ways To Give It Away With Friends

By Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW

A girl can “give it away” in all her relationships, even with her friends. Whenever you aren’t staying true to what you want and who you are, whenever you don’t take care of yourself, you are giving it away. I have TOTALLY been there and done them all. Here’s a top 10 list of how to do that with your women friendships, and make yourself miserable, if you so choose:


Mindy Kaling. I love her. Read her book.

10 Ways To Give It Away With Friends

1. Say yes to anything your friends ask you to do.

  • It doesn’t matter if you are stressed, overwhelmed, just do it anyway to please someone else or make your friend like you. Yeah, you might get annoyed, tense and end up resenting them, but that’s ok.

2. Always be the one that listens.

  • You don’t want to burden your friends with your problems. After all, their problems are much more important than yours.

3. Never ask for support or help from anyone else.

  • You live by the motto that you can handle it all on your own. No need to ask for help. That just shows people how weak and imperfect you are.
  • And everyone knows that friends do not want the opportunity to help or nurture you in any way. Make sure they don’t get to feel good about what they can do for you, just help them.

4. Lament being lonely, but don’t do anything about it.

  • Have you heard of the book by Mindy  Kaling, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” So funny. Just think that that’s true and then feel bad about yourself. Do not reach out and ask friends to do anything when you’re feeling rejected or lonely.
  • Do not initiate any social events or get togethers or call anybody for lunch. Just assume they are too busy. Luxuriate in your ostracism.

5. Let resentments fester.

  • If you are hurt or mad about something a girlfriend said the last time you were together, don’t tell her how you feel. Just assume she is a B(&^h who meant to hurt you. Or, you can just feel bad and quietly resent her , give her the silent treatment, and not call her for weeks.

6. Triangulate and bitch to other friends, but don’t be direct.

  • Again, you are hurt or mad about that thing your friend did or said. Don’t tell her about it and just tell everyone else about what she did. Talk about her behind her back.

7. Never initiate getting together.

  • You are too busy to initiate catching up with Jane. And that phone call you have been meaning to make, don’t do it. Just assume all is well with your friends, and know that no effort is necessary to keep relationships connected.

8. Spend all of your energy at work or at home. Don’t set time aside for anything else.

  • “What would your family do without you?” you think to yourself. Don’t get together with your friends, plan any get-away trips, or take time for yourself because there is just too much to do.

9. When you meet a guy or if you are in a relationship, drop your friends, and rarely make yourself available.

  • That way, if you get dumped or break up, you will feel isolated and alone. And your friends will be bugged because then you finally want to spend time with them.

10. Pick really mean women to have friendships with and then assume that all women are that way.

  • Then write off having friendships.

Got It Girl Takeaway:
I am the worst with remembering birthdays. Sometimes I do go a very long time without calling my friends and initiating time together. However, I am working on this.

Make sure that if you do any of these top 10 items, make a decision now to work on one of them. Call a friend or email this to someone you care about. Women’s friendships are so important. I don’t know what I would do without my gaggle of girls.

What do you do in this list?


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