If You’re Thinking About Leaving

Hey there, it’s Michelle Lisa Anderson. So I want to ask you a question.

Are you scared of leaving the one you love?

Have you thought about it, but the idea almost paralyzes you with fear, so you immediately stop thinking about it? There’s just no possible way that you will ever or could ever leave.

What if you’re one of the members of our community who is in the middle of leaving, you’re planning your separation or your divorce, or maybe you’ve already filed for divorce, and you’re in the process of working out the details?

If you fall into one of those categories, then this podcast is going to be perfect for you.

I’m going to talk with you today and share a very special story—a personal story that I went through during my divorce. I chose to leave, and I go a lot more into that in the Love Over Addiction program.

But I chose to leave, and I was absolutely terrified. I don’t think there is anyone of us in our community who can raise our hand who has left and said, “Oh, no, it was a piece of cake. I wasn’t scared at all.”

Leaving the ones we love draws out courage, and you’ve heard me talk about this before. But all of us are filled with enough courage to make the huge changes that we need to make in our lives.

It’s whether we are ready to step out in faith and call upon that courage that is living deep within us.

And I did. I chose to trust that somehow, someway I would figure it out as I went along.  I didn’t have the entire plan mapped out in front of me, but I had enough of a plan where I knew that I had an option to leave.

One of the things I did not figure out or have covered was money. I was a stay-at-home mom; I had not worked for seven years. When I was working, I was doing very well. I was very successful and got promoted very quickly, but as soon as I had kids, I realized that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom with them.

So I left and enjoyed that for a period of time. And the idea of going back to work at that point in my life did not sound appealing. Not because I was lazy, not because I didn’t have ambition or dreams.

It was because I wanted to be there for my kids since they were used to me being there, and I thought the transition was going to be very rocky.

Also, I did not want to put them in daycare. I had a one-and-a-half-year-old, and the idea of putting him in daycare sounded a little scary.

So I knew that I needed to go, but I didn’t know if I would have the finances to be able to continue as a stay-at-home mom.

I remember during the time that I was getting ready to get divorced, I had a therapist, and her name was Carol. And I loved Carol. She was kind of my lifeline.

And there were certain times during the divorce when I would be in her office three times a week because trying to leave somebody who does not want to be left is incredibly difficult. So I relied on her strength often.

I would walk into her office feeling very beaten down, feeling very discouraged, and I would hear her encouragement, and it was everything that I needed to leave her office ready to face the challenges that were waiting for me outside of that door.

And that is what I try to be to you. I try to be your Carol.

I try to fill you up and remind you how wonderful and beautiful and strong you are.

I try to help remind you that you are completely equipped to take on this disease—that you are not a victim and that you are not powerless.

So one of these afternoons I walked into Carol’s office, and we were at the part of the divorce where we were discussing money.

There are basically two main topics when you get divorced. If you have children, you deal with the children. That’s one big topic: visitation rights. How often, how long, where are you going to live, where is he going to live, who’s going to divide up who. That’s one major topic.

The other topic is money. And I’m going to make a statement here—and don’t email me—but it’s going to be a generalized statement. I understand there are exceptions to the rules, but from what I have found and research has told me, most men care only about the money.

That’s their hot button.

They want to give you as little as possible because addiction is expensive. Addiction needs money in order to survive.

Most women come from the point of view of caring about the kids. They want to protect their children. They want full custody because they know they are of sound mind and can make very responsible decisions for the kids.

And they want visitation for their children most of the time, but they want it to be on their terms, right? So that’s what my research has shown me. That is typically is how the cards lie.

I was going into Carol’s office, and we were at the point where the kid situation had been worked out and agreed upon but was waiting to be finalized until the money situation was worked out.

So I walk up into her office. Actually, she had two offices. This session I was driving because she had this beautiful lodge in the middle of the mountains, and it took about 40 minutes to get there. I loved it because I remember driving in the car and having that quiet space and literally creating the distance between my house and her lodge and driving and feeling like I was driving away from the dysfunction of addiction.

And I could finally get to a point where I could think a little clearer.

I could create some distance, and I found a little bit of hope in that silent car on that drive up there.

So I remember driving up to her lodge and walking in the door and thinking and knowing, “Okay, we are going to have to talk about money. I’m going to have to share with her that my husband does not want to pay me what I think he should.”

And I remember sharing this with her in her little room sitting on her comfy cozy couch, and I remember her looking at me and listening with no judgment because she was wonderful like that.

As soon as I was done,  she told me about a story of when she got divorced and how she made the mistake of settling for pennies— settling for nothing because she just wanted the divorce done and over with.

And I remember thinking, “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel. I’ll give away almost anything just get me out of this situation. I don’t want any more conflict; I don’t want him to get mad at me. And I feel guilty that I’m the one who’s choosing to leave, so I should owe it to him and give him everything that he asked for.” This is what I’ve been telling her and what I’ve been telling myself.

I thought because she had done that, she would understand why I wanted to do that, and she would tell me that was okay and that I was right. And because this was such a difficult, toxic time in my life, I should take whatever he’s willing to give me and run and settle.

Instead, she told me exactly what I did not want to hear.

She told me that I deserved more, and my kids deserved more.

And if I settled for less, I would regret it and that this was part of my growth.

Leaving was not the only lesson that I was learning from. I also needed to learn to ask for what I needed and deserved; ask for what was fair, and stand up for myself to do that.

Can I tell you how much I did not want to hear that? I’m a good student, and so are you, and when our teachers tell us things we don’t want to hear, we’re the type of people who can’t pretend that we didn’t hear them.

There’s something in our guts and our bodies that just knows that our teacher is right. Even though it’s the difficult decision, we know we need to make it.

I know that about you because I’m the same way. I’m not very good at denying what I know I need to do. And so I walked out of her office for the first time not too happy—not feeling better than when I walked in.

I was scared.

I was so scared. And I went through in my mind all of the reasons why and how she could be wrong or why my situation was different from hers.

And on my way down the mountain back to reality, my ex-husband called and said, “How much are you going to ask for? How much are you thinking you’re going to get because I’m not willing to pay you more than this? And don’t even think you can get away with that because that’s not happening.”

So here he was challenging me right after this session. And so what do I do, and what do we talk about in this community when someone is challenging us, and we feel unsafe, and there’s a conflict that we’re not we’re not prepared to handle?

I hadn’t come to the conclusion. I was still in the processing phase. And I was still trying to work through this and come out with a solid answer that I was okay with—that felt right to me.

So what do we do when we’re confronted with something that makes us feel uncomfortable, that we’re not ready to handle, that we need some more space and time to think about?

We create a boundary, and we create distance.

So I told him that I needed some time to think about it. I heard what he was saying, I understood where he was coming from, and I was not prepared to have this conversation yet. I was very dignified, and I was very polite about it, and I hung up the phone because I didn’t have to talk about it right then and there.

Why did I think that I was on his time schedule? I wasn’t. I had to create my own time schedule. And I don’t have to let him boss me around or bully me or pressure me or push me into coming up with making a commitment verbally that I wasn’t ready to commit to.

So if you’re going through your divorce process and you still haven’t come to some conclusions about how you want the outcome to be or what you’re comfortable with, take your time.

Do not be bullied or pressured.

You do not need to answer this phone.

In the secret Facebook group yesterday, there was a woman—I was so proud of her—in our community who was talking about how she stood up for herself. She’s currently going through a separation, and her husband called and was trying to bully her and pressure her into having the kids visit their grandparents. I think that was what it was about.

And she said, “I was really proud of myself. I stated the facts, and then I hung up because I wasn’t ready to figure out if I was okay with that or not.”

I commented to her, and I said, “That is something to be so proud of.” But also, you deserve the right during a separation to not pick up the phone. If you’re not in this space, check yourself before you answer that.

If you’re not in a good space, if you’re feeling vulnerable or weak or depressed, or you’re feeling happy and joyful, and you don’t want to deal with somebody who’s trying to bring you down, don’t answer the phone.

Out of habit, I think we answer immediately or respond to a text message or an email because we’re trying to be polite, and we’re thoughtful people. But we reserve the right to take a timeout. Don’t respond. Give yourself some space.

So this is what I did coming down the mountain. I said, “I just need a time out.” And I took one. I took weeks to figure out what I was comfortable with. And here’s another thing: I went to my lawyer, and I said, “Okay, here’s what I’m thinking I’m going to ask for: child support.”

I had a spreadsheet, and I had all of our bills, all the kids’ expenses, all of the potential bills I thought we would have. So I had it all mapped out. And they ask you to do that when you’re getting a separation and a divorce.

But even if you’re not ready to, that’s still something good to have.

So I had this spreadsheet, and I had a number in mind. My lawyer looked at me, and he’s like, “No. That is way too little. You’re going to last a month or two. There’s no way you can feed your kids on that amount, so let’s come up with another number.”

At that point, I was like, “Okay, I am ready to trust an expert who has my best interest in mind.” Math is not my best subject, as most of you know who have been listening to this podcast. It’s not exactly my gift. Words—not math. Also, I really did need a second opinion from an expert to tell me specifically the number.

So I raised my number from my appointment with Carol, and I certainly raised my number multiple times from what my husband was trying to convince me that I needed to accept. But my lawyer even brought it up to another number.

And at that point, I remember sitting in his office and going, “I really am going to trust this expert’s opinion. And I’m going to know when I’m out of my league as far as the depth of knowledge. This lawyer has worked with thousands of women in this situation, and he knows better. So I’m going to trust that.”

Now, here’s the other lesson. Did I feel good about the number he gave? No, I didn’t.

I felt scared to death.

I thought, “Who the heck am I to ask for that? I’ve been a stay at home mom. What kind of real contributions have I made?” This is my sick thinking, right?

I am now straightened out, and I understand that I made a ton of contributions and that I was worth every single penny and so were my children. But at the time, you’re sick, and you have that addiction voice going on in your head that’s trying to convince you that you are less than.

And that addiction voice in my head at that point in my life was still pretty strong. That was the dominant voice speaking to me.

So I decided not to trust the voice, but rather the man sitting across from me—the expert.

So, if you are in a situation right now where you are thinking about separation or you are in the middle of the divorce, and you think you are undeserving, and you’re scared to ask for what you really want, I’m not guaranteeing that you’re going to get it.

But what I am saying is that part of this whole deal of loving somebody and leaving somebody with addiction is asking for what you need—not taking the easy way out.

This is part of your growth.

This is a tool that I promise you will use over and over and over again in many more relationships and circumstances. If you have children, it’s a tool that your children need to learn. So you are modeling for them what strength looks like. Ignore the addiction voice in your head that is belittling you. Trust the experts around you.

I hope you found this tip helpful. If you are looking for more helpful tips, join one of our programs. LoveOverAddiction.com. You will find all of them there. We are ready to encourage you, to embrace you, to love on you, and to become your sisterhood which is something that you need.

Think about it: the next time that chaos comes in your life, you can grab your phone or your tablet or your desktop. And you can instantly access a group of women—there’s over a thousand of us—who can write down what’s going on, what you think you’re going to do about it, and we will all chime in and go, “Yes, great,” or encourage you if you are feeling down.

We will tell you that you’re on the right track—give you a hand up.

Whatever you need, we are a sisterhood that understands. And nothing you share in that group is not something that one of us can relate to. As crazy as you think it is, we’re all like, “Yeah, hmm, that sounds familiar.”

We’ve been there. Your neighbor might not understand. Your parents might not get it. The moms in your kid’s school or the people that you work for might not get it.

But we get it.

We are your special group of women who not only get it but are seriously invested in seeing you get better. We are here to remind you that this is not as good as it gets. It can get way better.

The goal is to leave the group because now you don’t need us anymore. You are in such a healthier spot. And the only time that you come back into the group is to let us know how wonderful things are going. We have that happen all the time.

So listening to this podcast and reading the blog are good things. I’m so proud of you for doing that. But that sisterhood and that support can take you the extra mile along with the programs.

I love each one of you.

Check us out at LoveOverAddiction.com, and please subscribe to this podcast and leave a review.

The other day (I think it was yesterday), I was reading all of them—every single review. And oh my heavens, I adore you. If there was ever any doubt to stop this podcast, it’s not happening because I’m reading those reviews. And I am just so grateful. So please keep leaving in them. They mean everything to me, and they assure me that you’re actually real, and you’re listening to this.

Also, check out the Love Over Addiction Podcast. We only have 13 episodes, and they are stories from women in our community. We are getting so much good feedback from that. So check that out, and subscribe to that too. And don’t forget to leave a review for that.  

Alright, I love each one of you. Thank you for letting me encourage you and support you. You are not alone, my sister.

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