Being “Vulnerable” means opening up your heart, soul, emotions, and mind. It means admitting you are wrong, that you need help, and then asking for help, guidance, and support. It means putting yourself out there, on the line.
I remember going through my divorce how afraid I was that the ex would try to take my daughter away from me, try to get more than her “fair” share of money, and then refuse to let me see my daughter after the divorce.
This fear consumed me and became my main focus. No wonder things were only getting worse!
This is when I did some work to gain Clarity that what I really wanted for my three year old daughter was to be the best parent, the best father I could be for her no matter what was going on so I could create an environment where she was thriving, even if her mother refused to work together to co-parent!
I stepped up and shared with the ex that I was going to do my best to remain calm and to be the best dad I could be no matter what because our daughter was far too important to me for me to allow myself to continue to react with anger.
This is when the underlying dynamics between the ex and me began to shift for the better.
This is also when the two of us each started to set a better example for our daughter and to teach her via our examples.
No, we didn’t always agree. Yes, we were almost always able to figure things out.
I had to learn about patience and not taking things personally.
I saw a wonderful quote just today… “Patience is not waiting, patience is how you act while you are waiting.”
Realizing when the ex reacts with anger, disdain, disrespect, and so on, that this is a result of their own past experiences and conditioning, and has absolutely nothing to do with you, is life-changing. You have merely served as the trigger in the moment.
These realizations led to lessons that changed everything for me, and especially for my now 23 year old daughter, who is now thriving out in the real world.
Most people are afraid that when they open up, they will be hurt by someone. In divorce, that someone would be the ex.
Men tend to think they can figure things out on their own. And men typically do not want to ask for help.
Why? I believe this is because we do not want to admit we are weak and that we are afraid to be open and vulnerable. Men tend to think vulnerability is a sign of weakness.
The reality is being vulnerable requires calm, true strength of character, and courage.
When you can start to let go of the egotistical part of you that is keeping you from sharing in an open-hearted and vulnerable way, the positive impact for you and your kids can be enormous and absolutely life-shifting.
One of the greatest gifts you can give to your kids is to STOP planting seeds of emotional trauma via your reactive behavior.
How are things going in your divorce situation?
Are they the way you’d really like them to be? Or, like for me when I was going through my divorce, are you feeling consumed by frustration, anger, resentment, and anxiety?
Are your fears driving you to react to the ex almost every time the two of you try to talk, and this is leading her/him to react in turn with anger towards you?
As a parent, it’s time to step up and commit to having heightened awareness and to start taking personal Responsibility for your choices, actions, and reactions, and for the consequences of each that follow.
When someone is being vulnerable, it makes them much more relatable, easier to listen to and to trust.
However, it’s not just the dads of divorce. Moms think if they are too open and vulnerable that the ex will take full advantage of them and try to hurt them even more.
And yes, this can happen. But, when it does, the main thing that happens is that the kids are put in the middle of the emotional and psychological dynamics, the triad if you will.
It’s a triad because there is the mom, the dad, and the kids.
Children are the innocent victims of divorce because they have no say in what is going on around them, and what is going on impacts them with every reactionary turn.
I believe when divorce gets downright nasty through constantly reactive behavior, accusations, and threats, these individual parents are actually being completely self-centered. They are putting themselves first because they think they have been wronged, so they react, often with venomous anger, even spite.
When this happens, the individuals most negatively impacted are the children of divorce.
Get clear on what you really want for your kids and spend some time getting distinctively clear on what it will take for YOU to create it… even if the ex refuses to work with you to co-parent.
It may take two to tango, but it only takes one parent to make a positive difference.
I know you agree that your children are worth it for you to be the bigger person, to be clear, courageous, and strong, to be open and vulnerable by sharing what you really want with the ex, and asking what she/he really wants for your kids.
Our kids are the reason that is so much bigger than us. They need us to step up, and to STOP the reactionary behavior. They need you to be the best parent you can possibly be, and they deserve it.
This is why vulnerability is so important. Close your eyes and take a slow, deep, breath. Hold it while you reflect on what you want for your kids…
Now exhale through your mouth and smile as you think about your kids and how much they mean to you.
For me, my 3 year old meant everything to me, and I knew in that moment of deep, self-reflection that she needed me to step up, to let go, and to commit to being the best parent, the best dad I could be for her, in the ways she needed me to be.
By being vulnerable, I was being more relatable. This helped me to realize that I first needed to forgive myself for the role I had played leading up to our divorce.
And then, that I needed to forgive the ex for the role she had played. Yes, each of us had been reacting and had played major roles that led to our inevitable divorce.
These lessons have changed who I am, they have changed my life. They certainly helped to change everything for my daughter.
What is your self-realization and what is the resulting commitment that will lead to creating an environment of divorce where your children are thriving?