Let’s just say that hindsight helps. While my inner intuition took me through some of the darkest days, hindsight has given me yet a new dimension of tools/strategies that may help you.
Toxicity sets in for an array of reasons in any relationship, but during separation everything is amplified and you may find yourself lose respect for your ex.
Therefore, ploughing through the mud during separation becomes very challenging and almost unbearable at times. Perhaps leaving you feel like you go forward two steps only to take one step back.
To help you from wasting your time and emotions that may be wearing thin, here are some learnings that may help you save parts of your soul:
How I avoided a toxic separation?
Avoid ‘discussion’ during high conflict times
This is especially important during the early days post separation where emotions are HIGH and potentially volatile depending on your ‘why’ you are separating.
Ian Shann an family dispute resolution mediator with more than 25 years of experience in the area of separation/divorce suggests that more often than not, parties who are separating are in a tense and highly emotional situation.
“The potential for conflict is high. Their interaction and communications may greatly frustrate the possibility of finding sensible resolution of their differences,” he says.
“Unless they find mechanisms or processes to control and reduce their disagreements, the situation can flare up in ways that drive them further apart and into long-term conflicts that cannot be in their best interests.
“Alternative dispute resolution — such as mediation — can be very useful at such times and produce outcomes that reduce tension, control conflict and save time, money and stress”.
Bow out gracefully when you sense a conversation is going to end badly
Choose to be the bigger person (as hard as it can be) understanding that you are choosing what is best for the greater good vs feeling like you are conceding.
This will help maintain boundaries and flag to your ex that interaction cannot happen positively when mutual respect is not engaged.
Separate your OLD with the NEW vibe
Taking baby steps to help accept your new situation, and separate them from the ways you may have previously handled or approached a situation, will help.
Resetting previous expectations will need to be implemented ASAP, this is even more relevant if your ex has a new partner who may impact or impede any decision your ex may make!
Separating the emotion you’re trying to navigate through may impact your vibe immensely, some of us may be separated due to reasons beyond our control (like me!).
Let’s face it, the person you’re separating from may have regenerated into a WHOLE new person as a result of the situation — this was my experience. Your ex may find him/herself jumping into dating very QUICKLY after separation or drinking profusely which will definitely impact your post-separation relationship.
If dating is not your thing, finding new friends who have separation/divorce in common may help.
You can only control YOU
Understand that you can only control your own actions.
This nicely ties into the previous note. Detaching yourself from trying to make things ‘better’ by setting rules for your ex may only antagonise him/her. Consider choosing your battles and working on how you react and process situations rather than expecting your ex to be on the same page as you.
Your ex may not see a situation the same way as you for many reasons, whether it be out of simple spite to make your life difficult, or it may be that they now have a NEW significant other who helps make all decisions and contributes to their vibe!
Lower/reset your expectations of your ex, this will help diffuse the disappointment during any conflict times.
Setup mechanisms to limit contact during peak emotional times Consider to use/set up an app to co-parent and limit interaction to business ONLY.
This will help with filtering out the emotion that usually surfaces in truckloads this time! Attempt to set up pick up/drop off from school or a neutral location which diffuses and limits contact to only phone/messaging apps.
Use positive words/tone
OK, this sounds very airy fairy, skies and rainbows. But, using language to enable a situation has been one I am still trying to master.
I had someone wise say that ‘you attract bees with honey’. I have never been one to get these sayings correct however it works! Even though your ex maybe changing, remember you are probably someone who knows what makes them tick or untick, so use this to your ADVANTAGE.
- Consider co-parent apps
- Setup pickup/drop offs at school or neutral territory
- Document interactions via email (sans emotional battering)
- Reset expectations of your ex to zero?! OK, maybe not zero.
- Use your understanding of your ex to your advantage
- Choose your battles