8700 Manchaca Road, Suite 306, Austin, TX 78748

Life Transitions

Life-Transitions-Austin-Texas

Divorce

Divorce – the word was probably never in your plan. When you got married you thought it would be for life. The vows said, “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” No one died and yet the marriage is over. Dreams of a house, having children and growing old together are gone. If children are part of the picture, how is this impacting them? Will they be okay? Who will they stay with? None of this was supposed to happen.

How Did It Come To This?

You may have seen it coming or it may have been a complete surprise. If your divorce was a surprise and you wanted to stay in the relationship, anger, depression, stress and feelings of loss can be overwhelming. However, if the divorce has been a long time coming or you’re leaving the relationship to escape physical, emotional or verbal abuse, you may feel a sense of relief but still have a great deal of uncertainty and fear about the future. How you are feeling now depends on many factors and the reason for the divorce:

Affair:

Perhaps your spouse had a “one-night-stand” or a long-term, extra-marital relationship and is moving in with or planning to marry the other person. Either way, an affair breaks the marital vow and can leave you feeling betrayed and rejected.

Domestic Violence:

Chances are you have been in the relationship for a long time. Anger and violence started out to be sporadic and was followed by a promise that it would never happen again. But it did continue, got more intense and more often. You were told it was your fault and you start to believe it.

Growing Apart:

Financial difficulties, work and familial obligations take time and cause stress. You quit spending time together. Arguments do not get resolved. You have developed different priorities, different needs and cannot agree on anything. You are left feeling alone and empty even though you are married.

Job Loss

A job represents financial security, stability, and has likely become a big part of your identity. If you’ve recently lost your job, you might dread people asking, “What do you do?” or “How are things going at work?”

You have given your time, talent and your life to the company. You may have put up with difficult co-workers and an unreasonable or even abusive boss. You may have helped the company succeed, grow and increase its revenue. You helped to make the company into what it is today. Your job was a big part of your life, and some of your closest friends may still be employed there. The company took everything from you: your job, security, future, your friends and even your identity.

Having Children & The Empty Nest

Having an empty nest or becoming a parent are fairly common life transitions. Although both of these events within the family life cycle are considered normal, they amount to considerable change in your life. Even positive life events can be very stressful. When you have your first child or are in the early years of having children, life is completely different from when just you and your spouse were in the home.

While having children is a blessing and an exciting time for families, the reality of being a family with young children sets in quickly. You are probably sleepier now that you have ever been in your life! Feedings every two or three hours and changing diapers, pajamas and maybe even the crib sheets at night means that you have not had a good night’s sleep in weeks. You are likely spending money on baby food, clothes and supplies, leaving less money for bills, unexpected repairs and vacations. If you are part of a dual-career family you may struggle with staying focused at work because you are so tired. Once home from work, you may not have the quality time you want to have with your children and spouse. What’s more, having intimate time with your spouse may not fit into your schedule at all.

Conversely, when children leave home it may be the first time in twenty or thirty years that you and your spouse have had the house to yourself. It feels empty and lonely. Time you once devoted to sports, ballet lessons and school activities is now free. You may not even see other parents you became friends with while your children were involved in these activities. It feels like part of you is missing. However, financial stress is still there. There are concerns about paying for college, wondering if you will have enough for retirement and managing all of your other monthly expenses.

Difficulties With Stress Due to Life Transitions

Divorce, job loss, having children or coping with an empty nest can be difficult life transitions, but they are not the only ones. Moving to a new town, changing jobs, increased responsibilities at work, coping with an unexpected illness or developing a disability are also difficult life transitions.

Research has shown that when stress piles up and your physical and emotional resources become depleted, illness and emotional struggles are common. Compounded, long-term stress depletes the body’s resources and overly taxes your immune system. Most of the time you don’t even realize the stress has piled up because it increases in stages and you become accustomed to it – until unexpectedly you begin to lose your temper a lot, can’t sleep or just feel overwhelmed and depressed. It’s likely that what you’ve done in the past to manage stress no longer seem to help and you are not sure where to turn or what to do.

Counseling for Difficult Life Transitions Can Help

My counseling approach varies depending the life transitions you are dealing with (divorce, job loss, the “empty nest”), how the changes are affecting you and your personal style. Sometimes knowing what to expect and having a map for the journey ahead is helpful. Often my assessment reveals that you need to replenish internal, emotional resources. I can help you regain these resources by guiding you toward challenging negative thoughts and perceptions that are perhaps standing in your way of feeling and functioning well. I can also encourage you to replace unhealthy, ineffective copping strategies with ones that are healthy and productive. I utilize cognitive-behavioral methods, hypnosis, EMDR, experiential strategies and other therapies to customize my work for your situation.

When you don’t know what to do next, feel like you have lost your identity or feel yourself getting more angry, frustrated, depressed, anxious or hopeless, I will compassionately travel this journey with you. You can learn better ways to manage stress, gain a more positive outlook on your situation and handle depression with greater ease. Ultimately you can recover the energy and emotional resilience necessary to move through divorce, job loss and other difficult life transitions. Please email me or call 512-468-2365 to ask any questions you may have. You can also set an appointment on my calendar.

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