Navigating Through Separation
Today's post is written by Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, and mother-of-two, Lori Nasso. I hope you will appreciate her powerful insights about how to navigate through a separation as a parent.
“Until death do us part” is one of the vows that we take at the altar. As part of my “journey” navigating through separation, I’ve had not one, but two priests educate me about the meaning of that vow. It was explained to me that “death” is not just physical—something I unfortunately understand on a much deeper level now.
Apparently, my story of separation is a repetitive one in the judicial system. It is one where egos prevail and thousands of dollars are wasted. One characterized by entitlement and people being misguided by a toxic environment. Three years later, the custody battle continues.
It is my intension to help those of you who might be in a similar position of having to withstand meetings with lawyers, watching money go down the drain, having tough conversations with your children, and continually defending yourself. Our task in this situation is a difficult one: we not only need to rise above, but continue on our paths for the sake of providing our children with consistent, stable lives. How do we accomplish this? What are some tools we can use? Who are some of our best guides? Continue reading for my advice.
1. Take care of your mind, body, and spirit.
I’ve worked as a flight attendant for the past 25 years. As part of our safety briefing to parents with infants, parents are advised to put on their own oxygen masks on first . The ideology behind this is if parents can breathe, they will be able to think clearly. When we think clearly, we are more equipped to assist our dependents. This is one the reasons why self-care is especially important, whether you’re a parent or not. I personally enjoy adapting a holistic approach to self-care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit.
For your mind, I highly recommend reading. Louise Hay is a wonderful author. I recently joined a book club through U of T’s alumni association that not only allows me to learn about history and politics, but the ability to engage virtually with like-minded individuals.
If reading is not something you can commit to or enjoy, why not try doing a crossword puzzle or Sudoku? The more you do them, the better you will get. In the meantime, your mind will benefit from the exercise and healthy distraction.
For your body, exercise daily. Some sort of routine is ideal. You could start with morning stretches, yoga or pilates or do something physical after dinner. A bonus here is that you can easily involve your child(ren) in these activities. Playing catch, soccer, or basketball with them are all great options, though the possibilities are endless. Remember that exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind, attitude and mood.
The fuel we put into our bodies is important too, especially if your separation is one that is not amicable. Cars cannot run without gasoline and our bodies do not function optimally unless they’re nourished well. Look for foods that help with stress reduction such as those with high vitamin B and C content*. Keep your blood sugar levels stable with fiber rich foods. Get educated about probiotics and how they could help support your digestive system. Drink (no, not cocktails loaded with alcohol and sugar, I mean water). Remember to stay well hydrated if exercising outdoors in the warmer weather.
I left “spirit” for last, not because it matters least, but because it has been the most impactful part of my journey. During the separation process, your spouse may try to take things from you. For my third court appearance, I prepared myself by collecting as many letters as I could from school officials, neighbours, and friends to “prove” my presence in the lives of my children. It was not a requirement, but it was like a safety blanket for myself. When that day was over, one of the neighbours reminded me that no one can “take” my children from me, nor could they ever take away my education or beautiful spirit…
I’ve learned that taking care of your spirit can be something as simple as praying daily. As I have explained to my children, a prayer is just a conversation between you and Him. It is the perfect opportunity to give thanks and ask for guidance. This daily activity has changed my life perspective.
If praying is not something you are comfortable with or prepared to do, meditation (whether guided or not) is beneficial. I recently participated in a 21-day guided meditation in a virtual group setting led by one of my colleagues at Air Canada who is so spiritually grounded. Stay connected with similar people as much as you can during and after your separation.
Our 21-day meditation group also involved doing some type of journaling daily, with one of the exercises requiring us to write a letter to someone who hurt us. We were required to think and write about all the good things the person did for us, too. While navigating through separation, your inner spirit needs to be at peace. Holding on to anger and resentment is truly just wasted energy.
Another way to feed your spirit is through nature. Ground yourself by walking barefoot. Sit and listen to a babbling brook in the middle of a forest. Climb mountains and enjoy the scenery once you reach the top. Stop to smell the flowers. It’s the little things in life that you will truly come to appreciate if you don’t already.
(For more ideas on how to keep your mind, body, and spirit connected, check out this blog post.)
2. Do not react, respond.
In the three years that I’ve been on this journey, the letters I’ve received through counsel have been absolutely vicious. In an attempt to be awarded sole custody, opposing counsel presented a document well over two hundred pages at our third court appearance.