3 Ways therapy could save you thousands when divorcing a narcissistic ex

Therapy may seem like a luxury when facing spiraling costs divorcing a narcissistic ex.  You have legal fees to pay, you have to survive on one income now, your ex might be playing hardball with finances. Therapy might feel like a luxury you simply cannot afford.  But what if I told you that therapy was a necessity which could actually save you  money in the long run?  Bear with me as I present my argument.

 

Divorce or separation isn’t a head only issue.  It involves your heart and your emotions.  In fact in these situations, your emotions are likely to be the ones pulling the strings and if you don’t have a strategy for regaining control or at least managing them, you are going to be dancing to someone else’s tune.  So let’s take a look at how your emotions can cost you money.

Stress

According to the Life Change Index Scale (aka The Stress Test) divorce is second only to the death of a spouse in terms of stressful life events.  I would add separation to that as in our modern world cohabitation and child-rearing together are akin to marriage and therefore separation is akin to divorce.  Divorce is the second most stressful thing you will EVER go through.  That is huge and should not be underestimated. 

Stress is a powerful force within our bodies.  It wreaks havoc in our brains, nervous system, digestion, cardiovascular/pulmonary/reproductive systems – you name it, stress damages it.  This impacts your immune system and can lead to serious illness and even death.  In studies by John Hopkins Medicine, stress can increase the likelihood of strokes and heart attacks by 20%.  

 

So what does this mean for your wallet?

 

The most obvious is that illness can lead to time off work which can severely impact your earnings so reducing stress levels is essential for maintaining your current income levels.

 

From a divorce perspective, if you are involving representation, you are going to have increased stress levels simply by being part of the process.  Sharing the details of your failing marriage to a virtual stranger is stressful.  No denying it.  It affects your ability to communicate, think logically and regulate your emotions.  All skills which you need in order to clearly and credibly evidence your case.

 

How therapy can help?

 

Stress was a big one for me.  My body held it and I became chronically ill as a result, meaning I couldn’t work anymore and my relationship suffered as well.  I wasn’t sleeping and my emotions were always just under the surface waiting to bubble out.  I am a crier, even when I am mad, it comes out as tears, and this became a lot for my partner to deal with.  He felt responsible and couldn’t fix it.  I became withdrawn because I didn’t want to make him feel guilty.  The gap between us grew and grew.  Being able to talk about a professional who wasn’t involved in our situation, who didn’t have any personal invested interest in my thoughts or feelings, was such a relief.  It gave me space to unpack the billions of thoughts racing round my head and express my emotions in a safe space.  This release helped both my physical and emotional health.  

 

Therapy isn’t about fixing the problem, it is about talking it through with an engaged, non-judgemental and compassionate audience.  Stress can’t survive in those environments.  

 

One of our clients said:

“Before our sessions, I felt stressed all the time. I couldn’t think straight and was dreading the next court hearing. After just the first session though I felt so much calmer. I was able to communicate my concerns and not be triggered by my ex”.

Father dealing with narcissistic ex

Having that support saved our client from the errors caused by stress which could have cost him an entire hearing.  Being able to communicate effectively meant that he appeared more credible and didn’t fall into any “traps” set by his ex and their representation, who were relying upon his emotional reactivity to “prove” their narrative.  Saving him not only more anguish and stress but also hundreds if not thousands of pounds needed to halt the momentum and correct the course of the process.

Unsure if you are stressed?

 

Ask yourself these questions:

 

In the past month how often have you 

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Reflect upon your answers.  How do you think these feelings are impacting you in the process?  How might they be misinterpreted?  What would that cost you?  

For specialist support to help you manage your stress, speak to one of our therapists

Trauma

When I talk about trauma, most people initially deny it because they have a view of trauma as being some huge, life changing, catastrophic event like a war or car crash.  The truth is, toxic relationships and divorce can be traumatic.  Trauma is defined as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.”  Going to the solicitors can be traumatic!  Court is definitely traumatic.  Talking to an ex who you thought you were going to love and be with forever only to find out that it was all a lie is traumatic.  Losing the love of your life is traumatic.  The whole experience of divorce and needing a child arrangement order is traumatic and acknowledging that helps to get you the right support.

 

Trauma, like stress, is dangerous especially when left unresolved.

It is easy to see why these behaviours can be problematic in Family Court.  Fear can make us lash out – mislabeled as abusive.  Avoidance can make us look cold and uncaring – mislabeled as neglectful.

 

Trauma also impacts brain functioning.  It impairs your cognitive and emotional processing centres in the brain leaving you in survival mode.  Logic, decision making and rational thinking are paused.  You are emotionally reactive making you vulnerable to manipulation.  

 

One of the biggest issues my clients experience in Family Court is how their own presentation has impacted their case.  They didn’t recognise the effect trauma was having on them and entered court assuming they would be protected.  In the majority of cases though, the opposite happened.  Leaving them frustrated and fearful.  Which retriggered their trauma and added to the false narrative.  For many clients, this ended up costing them thousands of pounds and only once they had learnt to manage their emotions and bring their brain back “online”, were they able to make any real progress.

 

The good news is that trauma is treatable.  Even PTSD and complex PTSD (the consistent exposure to traumatic events over a significant period of time) can be treated in months rather than years.  Having this support BEFORE you enter the process means you will be able to think clearly, express yourself calmly and confidently and therefore you and your evidence will be seen as credible.

 

It’s why we include the Neural-resilience Toolkit with our Get Court Ready course – to give you the tools you need to manage your symptoms before and during the process.  Ensuring your own trauma doesn’t get used against you.

Transgenerational Trauma

One final “cost” that I would like to highlight is that by getting emotional support alongside your legal support, you are protecting your children from inheriting your trauma.

Parents we work with who are affected by PTSD identify many symptoms which impair their ability to parent as they would like to.  One parent told us they felt:

 

“Anxiety, feeling at capacity so that small things feel like big deal, difficulty hearing/listening to kids and being able to comprehend, short attention span, not feeling good enough, really hard on myself, forgetful, brain gets stuck /frozen mid sentence, panic when accusations from nex, sensitive to noise when stressed, sometimes overreact to normal kid noises and behavior, worry that I’m causing damage to the kids.”

 

These symptoms impact the parent-child attachment and the security of the relationship, leaving you vulnerable to alienation and coercive control.  Getting support and treatment could cost you so much more than money.

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Can you identify trauma in your own family of origin?  What impact has that had on your life choices?  What impact might it be having on your current situation?

For specialist support to help you recover from trauma and break generational cycles, speak to one of our therapists