Episode 84 - Transcript - Infidelity, Dating, Kids, & Shame - Therapist Angela Skurtu

By Michael Rhodes | October 28, 2022

This is a transcription of Episode 84.  The transcription was done by software, apologies for anything that seems out of whack. A link to the episode is below.

Michael 0:00
Joining me today is Angela skirt to Angela. Let’s just jump right into it wants to tell us a little bit about yourself.

Angela 0:15
Sure, I’m a licensed couples and sex therapist and I have two books helping couples overcome infidelity and premarital counseling a guide for clinicians, intimate speaker.

Michael 0:26
So the infidelity piece is why I wanted you on today. And specifically, we’re going to talk about to begin the five different types of infidelity. So let’s let’s talk about that. Let’s let’s define those different types.

Angela 0:39
Yeah, sure. So I have my trusty book with me, so I can actually tell you what they are. So one is called the serial affair, which is where the series of one night stands, or many affairs. This could be like if somebody has like a history of visiting prostitutes, for example, or if they just kind of do one offs here and there, then there’s the playing. So a Fling is kind of like you kind of just meet somebody, and you know, things just kind of happen. And it’s a quick, it’s a quick dalliance, but then it goes away, then there’s a romantic love affair, when people really fall like deeply and heartily, heartily in love with each other. And there’s a really difficult depending on where they’re caught. This is the this is the fun part about affairs. For me, it’s not fun for everybody else, but I’m a therapist. So like, I’m into like, the gory details of things, like when people struggle to let go like so when, whenever somebody is found, if a relationship has a way of going through its whole course then and then it’s found out it’s a little bit easier to deal with. And if it’s found out midway when somebody is still in the throes of passion, essentially. But so in this romantic love affair style when they’re found out in the throes, it’s a very difficult thing for them to like, remove themselves from the affair. And then another one is the long term affair. And these are ones that can last for anywhere from I mean, the longest one I worked with was seven years, seven years. Yeah, like when they The couple stayed married, actually, which, I mean, I was like, okay, more power to you for trying to do this. But that was like a third of their marriage that this this affair was happening. And then of course, the fifth one is the emotional affair, which is where it’s, it’s not like it’s a friendship, it’s kind of a, you know, there’s a connection there. There’s a like closeness, but it’s not quite crossed the line of kissing or doing something romantic or sexual. Some of these emotional barriers can happen online. For example, if people get like, interesting ones, where I like, I remember having a client where they were playing some sort of video game like these, these video games. And that was kind of an emotional affair between the guy and the girl, because they were just spending a lot of time. It was basically a world where you can have like, a separate life, but like a fake life, but I don’t know, I’m not a video gamer. So I don’t know the names of that. But like they had kind of created an emotional affair through being married online. So that was interesting, too, you know?

Michael 3:08
How much do you see those types? Like, what if you had to pick the majority? And I know that’s not fair. Because you don’t have like that data right in front of your face, but just your gut feeling like which one of those do you see most often in your office?

Angela 3:23
I would say I see a blend of all of them. Like To be honest, like there’s a mix of all of them. I would say it depends on where people are at in their, their lives and their marriage. So for example, I see a lot of emotional affairs and lesbian couples. And you Well, if you think about it, think of how a lesbian relationship kind of builds itself right. So like they always start with friendships that kind of you know, you feel close, but then it feels like an emotional affair because it’s like well, how is this any different than what we did to start you’re getting really close with this friend so like the the whole friendship thing can feel very, it can feel sorted times are so there’s that’s high in that community, the emotional affair for the those romantic love affair ones. Those happen a lot during that 40 year old period for people you know, like, there’s this like, I always say 40s is when you know, you realize your life is half gone blind and you’re like looking at things and you say to yourself, What do I have left here? Like do I want the rest of my life to look like this and then sometimes you just meet somebody in that same spot and that’s how that like romantic affair kind of happens.

Michael 4:35
Isn’t that like a essentially a midlife crisis?

Angela 4:38
I mean, it can definitely be a component of a midlife crisis. It doesn’t have to be though like there are midlife crisis is where people buy cars or buy bigger houses or they do big life changes. Like they decide I’m not going to work at this job anymore. I want to do something else. I just say when people have a midlife crisis, they definitely do have those things. dealings and then you have to decide how to, I guess proactively take charge of that time or they can definitely end up in an affair.

Michael 5:08
Yeah. Interesting in terms of that, like because I have a theory in you know, I don’t I don’t have any specific or any you know, qualifications to have this theory but whatever, like, I feel like what and I hate generalizing but But what the fuck ever, so I feel like men are the car buyers the the I’m changing jobs ish, but I feel like the women are more i I’m not happy in this marriage and I you know, in there just happens to be someone else there to sort of provide another path. And I don’t know if there’s any validity, the validity to that I feel like men don’t cheat or start new relationships during a midlife crisis. They by read sportscars right. But I feel like maybe women at least again, anecdotally, and it’s just I’ve seen it a lot. My ex was 39 I believe when her thing and all that things and I hear that a lot like that seems like midlife crisis is for women are handled like women are going out and buying red sports cars for a midlife crisis. I don’t think,

Angela 6:17
well, I don’t know, I guess I but I have a big group of people that I work with. So I see males or females doing any of the paths I would say, I’d say it’s pretty evenly split with guys and girls like both cheating like around that time, because that’s the you got to think of it. So to start cross, I found somebody usually they find another married person, right, they don’t find a single person. That’s the that’s the most interesting thing to me, too is like when you’re so what you’re describing is something called an exit affair. And basically what that’s when people are basically kind of done with a marriage, but they are they are finding somebody around that time because they’re a little bit scared to be alone. So they want to meet somebody. But the midlife crisis affair that I’m talking about usually is to married people, it’ll be one married person who struggled with their life and another married person that meet each other. And it’s usually it’s a male and a female. And they don’t end up leaving their spouses. They end up being with each other for a short period of time, but then realizing, oh my god, what am I doing? And that’s where that midlife crisis thing comes in, is this idea that I don’t want to lose everything. I think I was just getting caught up with the idea that my life is half over and I don’t know what’s going on. But you’re you’re describing basically when people are done with a marriage, but they don’t, I guess have the guts to just enjoy it. That makes sense.

Michael 7:40
No, it does. I think, again, anecdotal, and generalizing are not my favorite thing to do. But

Angela 7:47
they’re a part of life. Stories, right?

Michael 7:49
I’m a human and I’m gonna I’m gonna I’m gonna human right now.

Angela 7:53
Do your peopling. Yes.

Michael 7:56
From what I see that it’s it’s women are not happy. Perhaps questioning things like like the the marriage, you know, the relationship, the marriage, they’re in partially their life. And but I do think that they’re sometimes I don’t know, if they look for it. If it’s, I don’t know what it is. But someone seems to come along and gives them that sort of, like you mentioned, they don’t want to be alone. Well, here’s a cushion to that. Yeah. And it helps them exit the relationship because I think it nailed it. They don’t have the guts. And you know, I say that, because I’m a little bit bitter still about my sleeve

Angela 8:34
here. betterness. That’s fine. Like you could have just said like, that’s my problem with any affair is that if you really want to end the relationship, and you know, like, say, I’m done, let’s make this let’s make this final. But most people don’t do that.

Michael 8:48
Again, it’s not I’m sorry, to cut you off. I feel this is it like visceral like, yes. Because they don’t have the guts. They don’t. And so they then they have that little cushion. And the grass is greener and all that kind of shit. Right? Well, and so then that gives them permission to leap in. And again, anecdotally, I see women doing this more. But with that said,

Angela 9:11
I have a theory about it, though, right. So I think it’s easier to make a new relationship than it is to end an old one.

Michael 9:18
Yeah, I think that’s very true. Yeah.

Angela 9:21
Think about it, right? Like because once you enter a relationship with somebody, like your whole lives are entwined, and there’s all these different pieces to the relationship and you, you’ve got your friends, you’ve got your family, you’ve got your house, you’ve got your job, like there’s so many things that are entwined. So I think, for some people, it’s also just easier to make a new relationship and hope for a transition. But I do want you to know that most people with affairs don’t end up divorcing or often they end up together.

Michael 9:48
Oh, Bob’s got so I was gonna ask that. So I actually

Angela 9:51
wrote that on your list of like, Oh, she’s already

Michael 9:55
if you see me if you see me pick up the notebook and scribble it’s because something had been so I was gonna ask to do a FERS lead to divorce typically,

Angela 10:04
I would say only 20%. Do and 80% end up staying together.

Michael 10:09
Interesting. Yeah. How How? How do you navigate? Because sometimes I think even still three years separated, still not divorced. Oh, Lord Jesus, please let that be soon. I think we’re getting there. Negotiations are fun. But that was my point.

Angela 10:28
Thank you were asking how in the world would somebody come back from it?

Michael 10:31
Yes. Okay. Yeah. So I sometimes imagine in my in my really moved on. And so I think, what if she knocked on the door? And then there’s this part of me going, I just don’t think I could do that. And so how, how in the hell do people do that? How do they work through it? Ooh. Okay. So how do they do it? And which, which is the more likely to survive it if demand cheats, or the woman cheats? So that’s two questions. I don’t know which one you want to take.

Angela 10:57
Those are all good questions, and I have answers for him. So I think it has to do with the difference between that exit affair and whether it’s just one of those flings or romantic kind of like, even the love affair one that I mentioned. So I think it’s easier for people to forgive like a one night stand for a fling. I think it even in the romantic love affair one they are capable of doing it if if the the relationship benefits outweigh the costs, right? So like, if it’s an let me, let me break that down. So like, if it’s an exit affair, somebody has already basically ended the relationship in their mind their marriage, then they’re still just going through the motions. And then they meet somebody and then that gives them the, I guess, the will or the gusto, so to speak to be like, Alright, I’m, I’m not just going to live in a dead marriage, I’m going to move on, right? So in those situations, no, they always ended up divorcing because they were already done before the affair occurred. They just didn’t like we said, have the guts to put it out there and say I need in this. In the other marriages, though. There are situations where people like when they look at their lives, they say no, like, overall, my life is better with my partner than it is without I think I was just bored. And that’s where that like midlife crisis affair is a real thing where like, sometimes males or females will just get bored. Like they’re the I actually have it on my intake paperwork, are you feeling bored or restless in life, because that is one of the prime indicators that an affair might be around the corner or have already taken place. And so those couples where it’s not that their partner did anything wrong, or they did anything wrong, like, in terms of like living life, it’s that they went on a sort of autopilot with each other and stop trying. And I think the kids have a role in this tool. You know, like, you’re so busy doing the kid things kid kids, kids job, job, job in America, we are so like that as kids jobs, kids jobs, that’s all you can do. You can’t have a life. Other countries aren’t like this, by the way. Yeah. And so at 40, people get bored, and they’re like, I just can’t live my life like this. And so some people, a portion of people do have affairs. And it gives them something, it gives them like a renewed sense of like, I don’t want to live like like this anymore. But then they also look at their relationship and realize, no, this isn’t a relationship I want to lose, I should have, like, it ends up being a huge mess, because they really should have talked to their partner about it again, like had the guts to say, I want something different, I want something better. But so they smash the marriage with the affair, but then they come back from it because usually both of them have been in that place for a while. And then what happens is there is a long process all end up like a year or two years working with these couples on trying to improve and heal. But they just have to get into some very serious raw conversations about like, what do we want? What happened? What were you missing? Sometimes it’s related to sex, sometimes it’s a related to life in general, our friendship, it can be a bunch of things, but they have to just have some deep meaningful conversations where they start making a new plan for what life is going to be going forward.

Michael 14:06
So in that the topic, which is more likely to survive if the man cheated, or the woman cheated. And and I guess that’s probably maybe is that hard to answer? Because it depends on what the type of cheating and why that cheat but just a general,

Angela 14:21
I would say yes to those things. And it can be either way, male or female, like I’ve seen. Like I said, it has not it has less to do with gender than it has to do with their emotional doneness in their relationship is what I would say.

Michael 14:38
Interesting. Okay, so to bring this all sort of to the topic that I’m very interested in. Why do women cheat specifically, and I know again, generalization, blah, blah, blah. But why why do women cheat?

Angela 14:55
Yeah, well, you’d be surprised, right? So one of the reasons Just opportunity, like the opportunity presented itself.

Michael 15:03
And I, you know, I gotta say that must happen for I mean, women probably get what Chris Rock has a really funny joke. It’s somewhat vulgar, but I also I won’t probably won’t say, Well, I don’t know. He’s like, pretty much every day when we get off her Dick like someone opens a door like, he likes a big like, Yeah, but like, it’s like they’re bombarded with it. So I I mean, I’m not I’m not surprised that that that is a factor because it’s there. Yeah. It’s almost like, there. If a woman wants to get laid period, she can, right. I mean,

Angela 15:36
well, we’re a little more complex than that, right? Because we get off all the time, and we certainly don’t take them. Yeah. Like, so. It’s not just any dick. It’s the right at the right time. And it’s usually not a stick first, right? I mean, he takes an interest in her. Sure. Like, are you doing?

Michael 15:58
And we can say, I think unequivocally like guys, don’t send dick pics. It’s weird. Don’t do it. Just don’t do it.

Angela 16:03
It’s well, I would say it’s fine to do it with your partner. Sure. It’s like a random woman. That’s not a first like that’s not a first date. Sort of like, Hey, here’s my dick, just in case you’re interested, like, No, we’re not. You can do that in a gay community. They love that. They’d be like, show me your dick. I want to see all the sorry. This is the difference between males and females. If we want to talk about gender differences, like in the gay male population, there is a lot of like sex and there is a lot of dick pics, because that’s the way they flirt in the female lesbian population yet we don’t send they don’t send vulva pics. It’s just not. It’s not a thing.

Michael 16:43
I didn’t mean it to get into a dick pic. Rabbit Hole. Sorry. Yeah.

Angela 16:47
No, I love money. But anyhow, going back? What’s the original question? So we stay on topic?

Michael 16:53
Yeah. What Why? Why do women champion women’s Opportunity?

Angela 16:57
Opportunity? The first reason is opportunity. But it’s not just any opportunity. It’s the right opportunity. Right. So like, say she’s in a vulnerable spot, like she’s just struggling in life. And he just asked her about herself like, so the opportunity could be the right guy asking her about herself as a person. And that opening a door for her to be open up. And she has to be like, this is the thing. So many women have certain boundaries that they won’t even cross in a situation. So she has to be I would say in some type of vulnerable position where she’s either been unhappy in the relationship for a while, or she’s struggling in life. Like it could be that she’s struggling with parenting or struggling with, am I good enough? Am I pretty enough any of those things so like the vulnerability doesn’t have to be in the relationship. It can be a personal vulnerability, but there’s usually a vulnerability present plus opportunity and somebody just kind of knowing how to talk to a woman about her because it isn’t like I said, it’s not dick pic related. It’s more personality related and emotion related women tend to be more emotionally connected. So one is opportunity. There are certain higher risk situations like jobs where you travel. So like having I know that they’re not good reasons. But like, feeling like you won’t get caught is a reason. Right? Like I could probably do this and nothing will happen. That’s another reason. Yeah, because if you think about like, so nobody, this is the thing. So I can give you the skinny on the reasons that are not good. Because like in therapy, they’ll give you like, oh, it was this and this, but like when it boils down, it’s not if there’s no noble reason to cheat. It’s usually shitty reasons. Yeah. So it could be Well, I didn’t think I would get caught. Another reason is I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t. Relationships. So it didn’t matter if it happened, or it didn’t. I think

Michael 18:50
that was the shittiest of all in some ways, because it’s like you’ve given up and so you’ve given yourself permission when it’s like maybe you could have said hey, I’m not happy way before you gave up. But But then again, I do try to see all sides. Maybe they did and it just wasn’t received. I don’t know. But what a shitty you again, it goes back to the guts. It’s like just ended then. And then go do whatever the fuck you want. So that one’s that one bothers me. I think more than than any of the others. I get opportunity and all those kinds of things. But that one just

Angela 19:27
Yeah, that one’s that one’s too close to home. I get it. One the forest. What fourth one is just close proximity, right. So like, some of the common stories I’ll have is maybe two parents were working together a soccer parents like and they have to travel a lot together and spend a lot of time together at these different events. So just proximity they’re working together really closely. Or if it’s at a job, for example, in their career, they’re working very closely together. They’re getting connected, just that proximity and I know that’s close to opportunity, but it’s very specific to like we’re spending many hours hours alone with each other for a joint task, and we feel a sense of purpose together. And so it’s that like, in spending time with that person, they feel like there’s a lot of similarities. And maybe there’s personality, things about this other person that are very different from the person that they were with that, usually there’s a type of triangle, by the way for how people cheat or like why people cheat with certain people, for example. So like, usually at the apex of this triangle is the person who’s cheated. And we’ll say females for this situation. But this is true for males or females, believe it or not, there’s so many similarities among the genders. But so on one side of the base of the triangle is the partner that is current. And this partner has a handful of good things and a handful of weaknesses, right? Usually, the person on the other side of the triangle fills in some of the weaknesses of the person over here, and has some strengths and weaknesses of their own. But their weaknesses are not things you have to live with. So they can overlook. But the strengths they bring, fill in the weaknesses of the person over here at the bottom of the triangle.

Michael 21:07
Wow, I just in my situation that fits it to fucking tea. And then that. I mean, it makes me angry and sad and all those things. But I mean, at the end, it’s been three years. So the waters slowly making its way under the bridge. But yeah, there’s a sadness to that, because it’s like, if I would have known, I mean, it’s so clear to me now, but now, you know, and maybe, maybe it’s a good thing. You know what I mean? Like, maybe I couldn’t provide, like, my weaknesses, or my weaknesses, and maybe I couldn’t fulfill that void anymore. Because, you know, for her reasons, or whatever, but that’s just not, you know, who I am those those weaknesses are mine. And I think we all have weaknesses. And so we all do, maybe mine, were no longer tolerable, or No, I think it’s just that, yeah, someone else came along and provided the void, like, maybe my weaknesses, to her were things that weren’t acceptable or acceptable, but like, you know, missing, she was missing it, or whatever it was lacking. And then someone else came along and filled that void. And you’re right, and suddenly that that void gets filled, and they don’t have to worry about that person’s weakness, because they’re not they don’t live together. They don’t have children together. They don’t. They don’t do life together. No, they fuck and they and they roll, right? So there’s no why a

Angela 22:31
relationship ends or stays together, right? So you’re correct. All relationships, every person has strengths and weaknesses, every person across time, me, you the whole world, okay? So if in a relationship, somebody is closer to the end of their lifecycle, and they’re just done, then it doesn’t matter what strengths or weaknesses you bring, they’re tired of that relationship dynamic. So there’s not like a thing you can suddenly grow in or change, that’s going to change the fact that that person’s done. And if we take it out of that, and go into a situation where they do think that the relationship is worth keeping, then they can actually, you can get a client. So I’m a therapist. So I’m thinking about this in terms of how I talk to clients, you you, when I talk to clients about do you see why the benefits outweigh the costs in this situation, they can logically understand that the other person will have new strengths and weaknesses, they’ll have to learn to get used to. And that will have pros and cons, right? Like there will be some positives, but there will be some things that suck essentially, because every person sucks a little. For sure. Everybody does. Yes. And so when a person is still in a relationship, they still can look at their partner and say, even though we had really good sex over here in this affair, the things that are the pros and cons, the package essentially that I have with my current partner is still worth fighting for. We just need to fill in some gaps essentially. And so that’s the decision that is made but that’s why it has more to do with how far along somebody is in the relationship towards done because if they aren’t done and really this was just an affair that kind of like broke broke their relationship for a time than what the couple that stays together does is they look they you know, they they really look hard at those strengths and weaknesses and decide how are we going to find a new way to work together as a team that works for both of us. But it doesn’t matter who you’re with. Every person has a little bit of shit that you’re going to deal with. So one thing I why I did a premarital counseling book two is I want people to think about these packages. Like when you marry a person, you are marrying them for all of it. And so you have to decide what are the weaknesses that I am comfortable with. And then I’m like, Okay, this, I don’t like these things. But these are things that I can live with. And I think when people typically get married or find each other, they don’t really think logically about the relationship because you just fall in love and love has no logic it’s just feelings. But what you will find this interesting is after people do You get divorced and find somebody new, they often will say to me that they knew exactly what they wanted at that point because they were in an older stage of their life. So once they find the person, you’ll find people get together very quickly. In the second relationship, like, they’ll say that it moved very fast. And at first, when I heard this phenomenon, I was like, Wow, you guys, that was fat six months, and you guys were together or married or like living together. And I was like, well, there, but they all say the same thing. You know, once you’ve been divorced, you have to spend time kind of figuring out who am I? What do I want? What do I not want? What can I live with in terms of those weaknesses? So once they find that package, they’re ready to go.

Michael 25:38
Right? Well, okay, so this is a great topic, because I, I see this a lot. And, again, men, women differences, I don’t know, but it’s probably the same, but I definitely see guys almost immediately, and I was guilty of myself. Sure, wanting to just date and just be validated by somebody else’s when they find somebody, oh, my God, she’s amazing. She’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s awesome. And, and they move way too fast. And then they end up getting hurt, because they they didn’t take that time. And so I think it’s not, I just want to caution, and you could probably agree, or maybe yeah,

Angela 26:12
no, I met, there was a time where they had to find themselves first.

Michael 26:16
Okay, that’s, that’s the that’s the key to all of that. No big deal. Yeah, it’s a huge deal. And I think, again, men, women, I don’t know, I see a lot of guys, they don’t take that time. It’s just, I am hurting. And the only way to make me feel better as someone else to make me feel which is

Angela 26:33
a whole so of course, a woman.

Michael 26:36
And that’s a terrible, like, that’s no way to start. It’s not a good restaurant, or a good recipe for success in relationships. It is, if you’re needing your soothing and your validation to solely come from another person or woman, it’s a recipe for repeating the past because I love that, you know, you’re saying, you know, they knew, right, because they took, you know, took the time to understand ourselves and what what can we deal with? What, what can’t we deal with what, and knowing, you know, this is my love language, this is my attachment about style, this is when I get anxious in a relationship and, and being able to talk about that and say, hey, when you didn’t text for four hours, that kind of freaked me out a little bit, instead of just getting mad and you’re hurt. And you’re and you don’t talk about it. So but if you learn these tendencies, you can have these conversations. And I think you can absolutely have a good relationship in your future. But man, if you don’t take that time, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Angela 27:39
I think this could be a fun segue into kind of what some of the typical things are people do after divorce if you’re open. Yeah, so like, there’s this phase called the split it up phase that I want to talk about. I don’t know if it’s out there in the world. But I would like to coin that myself. I don’t want you to feel guilty, though. Like no, like, that is a fun face that everybody does after divorce, where you just want to fuck around, you want to see what’s out there. I think people have been together with one person for a long time. So you also just kind of want to have some variety. So I I encourage enthusiastically the split it up phase with some boundaries. And all the boundaries are it’s just be really honest with people about where you’re at. Because usually that’s also a rebounding phase. Yes. So people aren’t, some people are open to fucking around, and some people aren’t. And so it’s really important to let people know Yeah, like I’m just out of a divorce, I’m, I’m wanting to have fun. And I’m wanting to find myself again. But I’m definitely not ready to commit to anything. And in the end, as long as you’re honest about that, it is still the other person’s decision to decide what they whether they will engage or not. But I’ve found, at least in my area, so I’m in St. Louis, a lot of people say that and it’s it is fine. It is a very common thing for males and females to want to do right after divorce. And it’s very welcome here, at least, I don’t know, we’ve caught the some other people say it’s like being a teenager again, or in high school again, but I’ve heard that a lot too. So I think it’s perfectly fine to do a split it up phase, I think sometimes people will have a rebound relationship somewhere in there. But I think it’s very important to keep in mind that you may have a rebound relationship before you have a real one, which is where I don’t know, there could be like one or two months where you you know, you’re splitting it up and you kind of feel close to somebody. So that’s not abnormal. But like, just be very thoughtful of who you are and where you’re at. Because one of the dynamics people go through is this sense of, I want to feel close and feel that old warmth again of what a relationship is like, but I also am scared to death to be back in the same space and make the same mistakes. So that like dichotomy, you can just give a space for both of those, like instead of like no, I don’t want to I’m fighting this, I gotta get into the relationship. I think what happens for those people who rush and before they’re ready is they’re just they can’t kind of hold space for those two opposing feelings essentially right away. I’m not ready to commit, but I also want to feel close and connected, I’m not ready to commit. So holding a space just looks like acknowledging both and not rushing yourself. But I think for men in this way that you’re describing them, they feel that sense of I just want to feel close again, I just want to have sex, I just need a person. And so instead of just kind of like, okay, be mindful, be aware that these are here, take it easy. Take your time still be on the exploration of who am I? They just rush in and try to fix that. Yes,

Michael 30:26
yeah, it plug and play that, you know, I just, you know, and point fingers and all it was just it was her fault. And it was her and if I just find another one, and, and I think the reason I caution against even casual dating, I mean, do you guys do whatever you want. It’s just,

Angela 30:42
they’re gonna do whatever they want. Yeah, that’s awesome. But they’re gonna look around that is

Michael 30:47
true. Gosh, if I could, if I had the magic formula, formula to get them to listen to me, but I the danger is, I think is especially for men because it’s not it’s that void. It’s that emotional piece that they don’t know how to self soothe, they don’t know how to, to feel good about who they are. It when they’re going through these emotional things. They think they’re a bit I’m a crying, I’m a bitch, I’m weak. I’m a pussy. And so that that salve, that that ointment, whatever you want to call it, being another person, it’s, it’s very dangerous, because then they fall back into another relationship. And then they didn’t work out their shit. And it falls and it fails. And then then they’re crushed even more, because, again, their validation is taken away twice. Now they haven’t been healed from the fucking first one. And I just it It frustrates me to no end and I get it. We’re, we’re men. And you know, we were still struggling. I think all of us man was dealing with emotions and feelings. And

Angela 31:52
yeah, that’s what it means. You know, as you were talking, I was like, Oh, wow, men aren’t equipped to handle grief. The way you’re describing that is that when you aren’t equipped to handle emotions, right, like when men have been raised, they’ve been allowed to feel anger and calm, like those are the allowed emotions. And as a prop. That’s a real problem because grief is a big conglomeration of anxiety, depression, despair, anger, sadness, happy sometimes acceptance. There’s this weird one where it’s like, you’re kind of shock and denial, like, it’s not really happening, I’m fine. But all of them are normal parts of the grieving process.

Michael 32:27
Yes. But I think you I think you, you, you cut off that process. If you immediately replace her with somebody else. Like you don’t, you don’t go through it. You you short circuit it. And I think that’s to people’s to men’s detriment. And then again, if it compounds because it happens again, and you didn’t even heal and do that you didn’t go through the grief cycles the first time. And so it’s just a caution against it so much, but Yeah, nobody, nobody, I shouldn’t say nobody listens some. There’s there’s a few and I love all of you that do listen, you’re the wonderful people. The ones that don’t I like to strangle, why would you listen to me?

Angela 33:05
Oh, my gosh, no, but like, to your point, like how do you know when? When you really are ready to? Yes, right is

Michael 33:15
the question. And I don’t know the answer. And I wish there was like, because I had another Secretary of business. She’s like, well, it’s not a cookie cutter answer bullshit.

Angela 33:23
I have. I think that’s I always have an answer for something. But I’m going to look up something that actually can you do, you know, take topic about this. There has to be

Michael 33:34
at a minimum, there has to be indicators. Like, if you’re this

Angela 33:40
trouble with me, as a psychotherapist, I always have to look up my release my recent like talks or research because I don’t want to just stay stuff, I want you to know exactly what you need to get there.

Michael 33:49
I love data and facts and information.

Angela 33:53
Okay, all right, I’ve got it. Are you ready to start? You know, you’re ready to date again. So brains that feel safe and worthy, are ready for relationships. And so let’s talk let’s break that down. And actually, I got this I was I was putting together was putting together a talk for like how to help children’s mental health actually. And I found this really cool video and it was saying, brains that feel safe and worthy or able to be happy. So those are the two components that you need. So let’s talk about safe first. Sure. Safe means safe in your skin that you feel you like I want you to think about like security in terms of whether I have a person or not like I’m gonna be okay. That’s a sense of safety and security. You feel like no, I’m not saying you have to have your life completely together because nobody does ever right like there’s always a part of transition but safe means I feel safe in my skin. I feel like I know who I am as a person. And I feel comfortable in who I am that sense of security and the safety looks like you know, if I was single for a while I’ll still be fine. You know, like I could be single for the next day. yours now be okay in my skin. Or if I find someone cool. That’s that sense of security of secure attachment and you were talking about. So that’s one piece. The second piece worthy, this one is the most important one for everybody. And again, like so even as I say it, I know that people will struggle with their self worth until the day they die, there are some people that will always be working on this. So what I’m talking about is a sense of, I’m worthy of love. And I am worthy of value and support and connection. And they’re living their lives as they are as though they are worthy. And so what that may mean is they’re involved in a community again, and they are doing things for themselves, or they are taking, they’re doing hobbies that maybe they wanted to do usually what I’ll have clients to do when they’re in this divorce spaces, I started having them ask, what are the things you said no to yourself as a result of this marriage? What are the things that you were like, oh, it’d be nice to do this, or this would be important to me, but I can’t do it, because they won’t let me or this wouldn’t work here because it just doesn’t work in the situation. And essentially, I have clients come up with this list of like, what are who are you? Like, what are the things that were important to you that you missed out on? Because you were trying to like, this is my visual of finagling and a marriage. If you can tell what it is, it’s actually the balloon guy.

Michael 36:24
Oh, yeah.

Angela 36:28
It’s a hard person to be that balloon guy. And, and what you want to be as kind of a sturdy like that you can you know, who you are, you know, what you want, you feel grounded and who that person is, and you feel worthy of yourself as a rock or a tree, or whatever you want to call yourself, but like, I am a worthwhile person, I’m a worthy human being. And one way to practice getting into a space for that is gratitude and self compassion. So when you were using the inner dialogue of those males of like, Oh, I’m an idiot, why I’m such a pussy or what goes on? It’s like a very self abusive, yeah. Yeah, that is completely unworthy. Right? And so when you’re in an unworthy space, then you will not you will not attract probably the best people around you, you will attract whoever fills the void.

Michael 37:17
Yeah, and I think your standards are low, too, because you will take any, you need to fill anything. Yeah, so you’ll take any scrap or crummy and get and that’s again, if if you are worthy. If you feel worthy, then you won’t accept less than, what is your ideal mate, right. And at first you got to you got to know what that is. And that can be a difficult journey as well. But if you’re not feeling worthy, then you’re not going to take something you’re worthy of you’re gonna think it’s something below you. And then again, we’re gonna go through the same fucking cycle of, oh, it’s a shitty relationship. She’s a narcissist or whatever, she cheated, or it’s likely

Angela 37:51
they’ll repeat the same cycles. So the two things I want you to think about gratitude and self compassion. So Self Compassion means when you feel all of those feelings of grief, you’re not saying you’re an asshole, you’re an idiot, why would you feel it, you say, of course, you’re feeling that this is a hard time, it’s okay for you to go through that. So it’s very self compassionate think self compassion is essentially what you would say to a friend who is going through a rough time, but you start saying it to yourself inside your own brain. So when you feel angry, of course, you’re angry. I mean, she hurt your feelings. Like she that was really shitty, what happened and it’s okay for you to be angry for a while. Be It’s okay. That’s the phrase, it’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to go through this. Take as long as you need. That’s another phrase, right? Like, so people feel like I should be over this by now. It’s like, no take as long as you need to get there. So one way to reach worthiness or a feeling of worthiness is to meet yourself with a hell of a lot of self compassion every time you feel your feelings and just allow them to come and go. And the second piece is practicing gratitude, which looks like these are the things that are still going well, these are the things I appreciate, you know what, this sucks, and here’s what I can see that I’m still I’m still proud of, or look what I’ve done here, you know, like, and it’s just giving yourself permission to appreciate the cool things about your life and yourself. And the combination of the two is what creates worthiness. And then the combination of feeling worthy and safe is when people are ready to have more secure relationships. But I also want to like I don’t want to I don’t want people to feel like they have to arrive somehow like I think some of this stuff you develop in relationships to like That’s totally a thing that can happen as well

Michael 39:34
at that one scares me just in terms of I don’t I don’t think I don’t think Iran I don’t know that you’re wrong. You’re probably right I think if you have the right person I think you can you should grow together. In a lot of ways I mean separate put together not not enmeshed because I think that’s dangerous. You need to you need to stay together but separate kind of a thing.

Angela 39:56
Like, like have your own independence.

Michael 39:58
Sure. Yeah. Your own ha Besides your own things you can’t your own friends, you know your own life. But but but still share with someone, but I guess I always worry that guys hear things and I’m not. Again, I’m not like this isn’t like you’re wrong, how dare you? It’s I always worry about guys going, Oh see I can do it in relationships like you can but I mean, I think you have to get into a certain level so you can even find someone that you can do those things with. Because not everyone is going to be willing to work with you on things or talk with you about things or grow with you together like, Oh, I’m feeling very anxious right now. Oh, I’m sorry, you know, is there anything I could do? shitty people aren’t going to do that. Right? They’re not gonna be like, Oh, I’m sorry, you’re anxious? What? How can I help you with that? Or whatever, right? That’s something that’s if you’re going to grow with someone, that’s something that’s the kind of person you want to be at a certain level before we can even find someone that that would be willing to do those types of things with you. And so I just I don’t know why I’m so paranoid about it, I guess, because I see so many hurt men. And I it’s an echo chamber, and it’s a you know, it’s a, you know, its own little ecosystem in there. And it’s it’s there 6500 men and I see so much pain, and it just it breaks my heart and I want them to not, I don’t want anyone to hurt, you know, and I just want to make sure that they can stand up on their own before they start. And I worry things like, like, again, I don’t think you’re wrong. But I worry things like that. Guys would go oh, okay, well then see, I can just get another relationship. And I’ll figure it out in the relationship. So no,

Angela 41:31
well, I will say it’s possible, because the reality is I don’t know that anybody ever arrives, right? If there’s this idea that like I have to arrive at some point before I can try, then you could literally you would have a moving target, right? Like, oh, well, I haven’t arrived enough here. I haven’t arrived here. Right.

Michael 41:49
Very true. I would agree with that.

Angela 41:51
Yeah, yeah. So I’m not I’m not saying don’t do personal work. But I do think those those skills of self compassion and gratitude are things that if you are cultivating then you can still use them in a relationship to improve upon yourself. And I can use myself as an example. So I divorced four years ago now. And I am in a new relationship. It’ll be three plus years, but a four, it won’t be we’re at three plus. So like, I met him about a year ish after our divorce. But anyhow, I don’t think I was fully arrived. When I met him. I think that there were still things that I was working on. Like, I still had old triggers from my relationship, but there is I will say, there are some differences, right. So like, I have very high personal responsibility. I don’t necessarily like I’m not the kind that’s like, well, as a therapist, my job is to always teach people what what do you what’s your role? What’s your role? I would say I had maybe very, very high self responsibility to the point that that was an area of growth for me where I had to be like, okay, yeah, Angela, these are some of the things you did, but what are some of the things that you guys as a team did, so that I could just like, completely blame myself for the whole thing? Right? Yeah, of course, is a marriage therapist. And there’s an added component of like, I’m a marriage therapist who divorced What the

Michael 43:08
fuck? Did you I want to dive into that? Did you have any shame? I’m sure you did. Right?

Angela 43:12
Of course I don’t have shame i What the What’s interesting is I wanted to divorce multiple times in the marriage but because he wanted to work on it, I was like, alright, we’re working on it. You know, like because I have a high I have a very high set personal responsibility you get in you dig and you do the best that you can. But for many years I wanted to divorce and it wasn’t until he wanted a divorce to that I was able to do it I would never have done it like I would have died trying to work on a relationship that was terrible. Yeah, so I value system and that’s something I want everybody here listening to know like your your strengths can also be a weakness in certain circumstances. So I have a great strengths for personal responsibility and compassion but those things were bad things for me in that old relationship because it wasn’t a two way relationship. So my high sense of like, you want to own your shit and you here’s what you did wrong. How do you fix this? How do you change this and like self blame like so compassion can also look like I have so much compassion for you that I don’t look at me in a situation. So anyhow, I would say I still had a lot of growth to do when I met my person and actually he taught me things like actually it’s okay for you to be mad about this or it’s okay for you to set a boundary with him because I had to learn to like set boundaries with my ex as we were going forward we share a kid and I would just be like oh you know I would get in these anxiety Tizzy is around it, but I wasn’t I wasn’t hold. I wasn’t hold when I met my partner. I was in progress. But I will say to your point, he was definitely a partner who could serve me well through that growth and I think I was a good partner to serve him well through his growth because he wasn’t perfect either. You know, he was post divorce as well and figuring out his Will things. So going back to this idea that like you can do it in the relationship, you do have to have a sense of I know, I’m not where I need to be. And there are some things I will need to learn. But like meeting yourself with that self compassion of like, it’s okay to learn this, just talk to your partner about it, see how they respond, treat them as a new person, not the old person. And recognize that’s something we both talked about that we had to work on is this idea that like, there would be moments where we want, we kind of went into old patterns where we would have treated them the way we would have treated our old relationships, and we had to stop and be like, No, this is a new person, give them a chance. And that was a part of my work in this new relationship.

Michael 45:42
Right. And I think it speaks to the work of knowing yourself, so So you have to something to talk to, you know, you can say to him, hey, you know, maybe I don’t I’m not or vice versa, like, you know, you need to work on boundaries there, I think, like to be able to, it’s just communication always fucking comes down to communication. But but if you don’t, yes, but if you don’t know what to communicate, then then you never will. Right. And so it’s, I think, as long as you’re again, I think he said self aware that that’s the most important thing. If you can say, hey, I’m, I’m working on things, and I’m a very anxious attachment style. And this is how I deal with it. And they say, Okay, well, you know, let’s, let’s see how we can work with that. And like, I’m more secure. And so maybe, you know, it’s all about communication and conversation. But if you don’t do that, any of that work, you’re never going to get to know anyway, but I want to go back to the shame piece that you how did you deal with the shame of? Because I imagined you said there was no How could there not be and like how did you because shame is such a huge part of divorce, I think. And I think yours is I don’t wanna say compounded but it’s more felt calm. Maybe that’s the right word. Because the word because your your marriage therapists and so so how did you deal with that? How do you How did you address your shame?

Angela 47:01
I reached out to people to get support. So this is going back to community. I think people need community. So I spoke with other therapists who had gotten divorced and talk to them about how did they move past it, there was this other male therapists that I spoke to who said, I know where you’re at right now, Angela, and this is a tough time. But he said, I actually look fondly back at the way that I helped clients during my divorce because I had what’s interesting, and I actually feel the same way. Like, I felt so raw and my emotions that I could say things in such a way that they just like, they touched people like it was because like I was so rare. I remember doing a speech during this time. And like the the talk that I gave was, like, just so deeply emotional and vulnerable. And I got so many positive feedback, like so much from it. Because like, when you are when you’re in touch with that vulnerability, and you’re supporting it with compassion and kindness, there’s some deep value value in that space. So one of the things I did was getting community talking to people I had, I knew I needed to just reach out to lots of friends. So I had friends telling me like, and they had to like almost drag me a little bit to have like, Angela, you didn’t do this all it’s not your fault. Marriage is a two way street. And because they had seen what had happened, that I’d taken on all this blame for all these things throughout the entire marriage. And they’re like, Angela, you put in 100% of the work. And you were not that with a partner who was doing the same and so but it took a while, like I had just give myself time to really believe that. and the Self Compassion looks like it’s going to take some time, Angela, it’s okay that you’re struggling, it’s okay to cry. And like, I would cry for long periods of time. I would. I remember. I was so nervous about seeing couples like in like being in that divorce space. But the interesting thing is that a lot of couples who are in that space of should I stay? Or should I go over time? Like I wouldn’t tell everybody it but if it if it was relevant to the person at the time, and I might divulge that I’m going through a divorce to a client and it became a sharing moment or a space of like, Yeah, well, I’m struggling with this. How did you make that decision? And, you know, like, I feel like since then, now, time has passed. I have this leg up a little bit because I’ve both been in a marriage and tried really hard to keep it and I’ve crossed the threshold and divorced and I can speak to both sides. Whereas somebody who stays can’t see the other side, right?

Michael 49:31
Why not? Yeah, I think that’s it. You talk about community and I think that’s one of the important parts about being involved with divorce support communities, because if you haven’t been through it, you don’t you don’t have a fucking clue. You just don’t know you don’t know and when and so if you surround your people that have so it’s so much easier to get support and compassion and understanding and sympathy because like they they either are there with you or they’ve been there Yeah, it’s just I think it validates. I think that validation of feelings is incredibly important. And if that’s what it does, it’s like, yeah, me too. Like, I also struggled, I also felt weak. I also felt like a failure. I also, you know, all these things and it suddenly you go, Oh, shit, I’m, I’m not alone. I’m not, there’s nothing wrong with me in that kind of a context. Like I’m feeling these things, and other people are too. So

Angela 50:28
I want to add something here to like, so two communities, or one extra community that I think was valuable to me was meeting having single friends. Like because your divorce, right? And so if you’re married, you have all these married people, friends, and I remember I struggled with, like they struggled with, who do we choose, and we tried to say you don’t have to choose will always fucking choose Thank you. They are who they are. So like, and also, I didn’t want to be around married people, because it was a physical reminder of my marriages failed. My marriage has failed. So I saw a lot of refuge with single friends, like just other single people who were doing it because I also, like when you move from marriage to divorce, there’s this world of what what do you do with your life? What do you do with this free time? So eating other single people, I actually have a lot of single girlfriends that I’ve kept since elementary school. So I just hung out with them more, and I even picked up new single girlfriends. But it was like, how are you living your life? How are you doing this? What do you do with your days, you know, like that helps. And like the thing that I wanted to draw this back to for the difference between men and women, is a lot of times men don’t have communities like men don’t have friends, I’ve noticed that like your friend is your partner. And this is just another gap in the male community where you like. So with that being said, I want to teach a few guys like, here’s how you can meet a community. One is look at your local meetup groups, there are meetup groups in your city where you can meet like singles or like, it doesn’t have to be a singles group, it could be as simple as a cave, like a spelunking group or a hiking group. So find a hobby that is social that forces you out of your house, essentially in it. And if you want to be around women pick cooking, singing, dancing, that women love to do karaoke dance classes go to there’s a social tango and salsa class out here. And there are a lot of single men that come to and it’s just a casual way to connect with people around. But usually there’s more women than men. So if there’s a man that he’s got to dance with, like five or six girls, because they need a partner,

Michael 52:30
which one moment I’m looking up single dance classes.

Angela 52:35
It’s not single dance classes. It’s just dance classes like salsa, Tango, these are their social dance classes where they make you rich partners. Okay. That’s why salsa and Tango are your and bachata. Those are magical dance classes where you will meet lots of single women. But even so like that is one of the communities that really helps me with being around single people so that I’m like, oh, okay, this is what you can do. And then a third thing is like going back to that list of like, what are the things I would have done that I didn’t, I forced myself to do a lot of things later, I’m going to take risks, I’m gonna get out there, I’m going to do events, I’m going to do this thing, because they’re all things that I loved. But I wouldn’t do because I was a mom or a wife or I had this or that to do but all suddenly we were split custody. So I had these free nights. I think that’s a gap for some of these guys, too, is like, what do I do with my free night?

Michael 53:28
Yeah, what I’m trying to do, what you described is, is what I’m trying to do is build a network for divorced men. I’m trying to create, you know, within the larger group, but trying to create subgroups where guys can get together and not just do events, although I think that’s important part of it, but actually sit down and talking about what they’re going through and their feelings and, you know, just cry a little bit. It’s okay, but now that so I didn’t know that you had been through divorce. And by the way, thanks for being candid and honest, I really appreciate it. Absolutely. How, and you don’t have to talk too specifically about this. And we don’t have to talk too much about it. But I just I always get curious because I have children, two daughters, and that was one of the worst is the worst part not not no question. Seeing their pain and their confusion and their upheaval and uprooting and all these things. How as a therapist, how did you deal with with that with your children? How did you like I don’t know ages and stuff, or what you want to talk about in specifics, but how did you deal with it? to insulate them as best you can?

Angela 54:35
Yeah, well, so it’s insulate them, or is it? How did I emotionally deal with it or both?

Michael 54:41
Man, because I have answers for both of us do both and was

Angela 54:47
so the first year we did split custody. And I remember like so though she was three by the way. She was very young. I only have one kid Olivia. She’s adorable. She said But now so that’s the years right for, I would say, it was really helpful that she was young. Because when and this is actually something I when I talk that I want to tell people research to so in and out of that, for anybody who’s struggling with the idea of should I divorce or should I not? It is easier for children, the younger they are as they get older, it becomes harder because they’re more emotionally aware of the situation, right? But it is harder for you as a parent. So that’s what I’m getting across, right. So it’s, it is better for children the younger because then it just becomes their normal. Like I said, mom’s house and dad’s house, this is what it’s like. But it is harder for you as a parent. So it is the worst for parents when they’re young, because there’s like so much she needed. So I’d say like it, she was very resilient. She did perfectly fine. things I did to help insulate her when I first the first six months, I actually lived with my sister and my sister and her and me are already close. So it was like a little vacation at my sister’s house. It was fun. And she stayed and the dad stayed at our old house. So like I was with my sister, and he was at our old house. So she had we tried to keep her things normal and secure. But it was like, alright, we’re having fun with Aunt Pam. And then all right, you’re back at home with your dad. So we tried to keep things as consistent as possible. Then when I moved into an apartment first I got when I first got the apartment, it was empty. And so I took her there and I said, Alright, let’s I want to show you where we’re going to live. And I it was an empty apartment. She’s running around this way and that and I said, How do you want it to look, you know, like, what should we do? So I incorporated her in the creating of this apartment because it was going to be our first girl’s apartment. And oh my gosh, we went all out. This was the pinkest apartment you would ever seen. And I I enjoyed it too, because I I remember the first time I went to Walmart was like, like, the day after we decided to get separated. Like I went to Walmart and I was separate. I was with my son. I was living with my sister and I’m walking around the Walmart. And my mind is like in this days, this is the face. That’s the face and I remember at associate comes up to me and he’s like, Can I help you know, what this face is? And what it represents is, what am I going to buy? That’s just for me, because I had never in like years by bought something just for me at the grocery store. And I was like, I don’t know what to purchase. Because my daughter wasn’t with me at the time, we had decided he was going to keep her first for the first day or two. Then I was gonna get her later that week. So I literally was only buying for myself and I just like, I grabbed like shrimp cocktail. And stuff like that. I basically grabbed appetizers, I didn’t know what to eat. It was the weirdest thing. But I I liked shrimp cocktail, and I liked vegetables. I was like, I think I’m gonna get these things that’s for you. Oh, when I got raspberries, because that’s my favorite fruit. But that’s like, that’s what I got. I left and I was like, I just bought me

Michael 58:07
Well, I think that’s an important part of it. You know, it’s you like, what do I want? It’s a good question right to ask yourself during that time.

Angela 58:15
That’s what I go into that list. What did you say no to yourself that you should have said yes to. So yes. Oh my gosh. But So anyhow, I when I brought her to the apartment, I had her run around I had her helped me make a decision about what it looked like we made it very, very pink. We also had this cool little porch area. So we got a little tea sets that we could do outside little tea parties, parties out on that little porch, and we just made it fun. So like that’s how I incorporated her. And I helped her like I had her kind of decide where she wanted her things. So she felt a sense of autonomy, because children where they can feel in control. And they can have as limited changes possible is good for them right and less to remember, you know, like it where you can have to have things as opposed to trying to take cart things back and forth. Like, let’s have things at my house. Let’s have things at your house. So you just feel as secure as possible. The other thing I did to kind of insulate her as we would we would give her a calendar so she knew exactly who she was with when like even at three and four. I was like Okay, remember you’re with Monday, Tuesday, you’re with mommy, Wednesday, Thursday, you’re with daddy every other weekend. You’re with me or them. And she’d asked what what day who’s picking me up to date and I’d say I’m picking you up today. Every day we would have that convert, we still to this day have that conversation. She’s like, Who’s picking me up at the bus stop mom and like it’s me. I’m gonna pick you up at the bus stop. But so it’s letting them know what to expect because what children need is routine and security. That’s the other thing we did was routines, as many routines as possible. Like that we could could that we could keep in each household. Now I won’t say that that happens for everybody because there is still like my house and your house, so there are certain routines that they do that are completely different than mine. And that’s fine, like so the other thing that we did is we facilitated each other’s household. So if there was something different happening in it happening in his household, I might say, Well, what happens at dad’s house is Dad’s rules. That’s okay. And he would say the same for me like, alright, well, that’s mom’s house mom’s rules. So like, it couldn’t be different. Don’t get me wrong, because they were. But those were some of the things we did. And then when she’d first come to the house, just reminding her of the expectations and how things are in our house helped with the transition. So those are those things how I personally handled it was Kate, I would say Rocky and chaotic at first. Like for that we decided we would split Thanksgiving and Christmas. So like, I get Thanksgiving, the first year, he’d get Christmas the first year, and then we’d flip. But like, I had never spent a Christmas without my child. And so I was so heartbroken by that, that I flew to Malaysia. So I was like, I need to be halfway across the world. I can’t do this. So I’ll say I used to escapism, crimes or lots. And so like, yeah, I was in Malaysia for Christmas, because I was like I got I saw some sort of like, Black Monday or Cyber Monday deal where I could do like a group tour, which that’s another place to meet women, all women do group travel men seem to not but there are a lot of single women on group travel tours. So you know, I was one of them. Interesting, because women are more likely to seek support and community. And

Michael 1:01:38
did you? I mean, because you’re a therapist, you probably didn’t. Maybe you did. Did you put her in therapy to help facilitate or because you’re

Angela 1:01:47
so young, I we did not do therapy. I’m still open to it if she needs it now. But like, really, it feels like she doesn’t say anything about she doesn’t seem to be very distressed about the divorce or us living separately. I will say there are questions now about where you married to that, like, I think she’s developing more of a cognitive awareness of what divorce means. But because she was so young, it really has become her normal that like, I just have a mom’s house and a dad’s house, she doesn’t even remember the time that we live together. Which is why going back to that, like the graph, it’s like, the younger they are the better for them for the divorce. That doesn’t mean they won’t have ways that they learn about it or have to explore it over time. But in terms of it feeling like I miss my mom, or I want my parents to get back together. She was so young, like she doesn’t even know what that meant. You know what I mean?

Michael 1:02:39
Yeah, is there a cut? I’m sure it’s different for everyone. Was there a cut off age? Where does where he said, you know, the younger, the better. But is there an age where it’s like, it’s going to be more impactful? Like five 710? Like, what’s the

Angela 1:02:51
Yeah, so the younger like under 1010 is a pivotal year for all children. That’s where they have like a certain cognitive awareness that they can really, they really kind of get great. You can see it in like how they talk about death at 10. And like how they talk about things like life circumstances, like if there’s a school shooting, you talk to a 10 year old and you can see cognitively that they have a certain awareness that like under that age, there’s still some kind of like, I don’t understand, you know, there’s, there’s ways you can shield them a little bit under that 10 year old year, but at 10 and beyond, it becomes harder. I would not say though, that 10 is the hardest year it’s actually in their teens, that it’s the hardest the middle school to teens years that it’s hardest for children and even adulthood, which is so strange, because some people stay until their kids turn 18. But when I’ve heard from adult children who like, you know, like the adult children, I mean, like 1819 20 I still consider them kids. I know they don’t think they are but I think they they are. They are I mean I’m almost 14 us like their babies. Yeah, for sure. So but like those those ages, they really struggle with it because they have all the cognitive awareness. And they also watched it the whole time. So depending on how the parents tried to like, live or pretend or hide or or were very outward about it, they lived through all whatever that pass was. So for the ones that were really chaotic, a lot of times there’s relief and those older ages of 19 and 20. Like thank God, they finally divorced. Yeah, we knew that was coming. But if it was hidden, then it’s like it blows their minds and it makes them question reality, because their parents like lived as though everything was fine for years when it wasn’t. And so then in the 20s You’re old enough to really like grasp that. And those 20 year olds struggle with getting married, struggled with the idea of marriage for a long time. I believe. You could see why right, because you lied to me.

Michael 1:04:48
Yes. Yeah. I mean, I think there’s that. I would, I would guess there would be some at version hesitancy fear around marriage. If you’re a child of divorced regardless. I mean, I guess you’re Yeah, super, super young. But even that still, I think, because eventually I think you did you do get to the awareness of like, I’m not a fit. I’m not a whole family, I’m, you know, it’s different, right? Or whatever, whatever the dynamic becomes, you know, stepdads, whatever. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that it is confusing. And, and, dare I say damaging regardless, right. I think there’s a certain degree of damage. That it’s sometimes it just breaks my heart when I think about my oldest is 10. Yeah, and my youngest was normally like saying this shit out loud, because it makes me angry. She, she filed on my youngest daughter’s fifth birthday. So there’s that put that out there in the world. And so it was definitely harder in the moment, on my 10 year old for sure.

Angela 1:05:53
Because your 10 year old has the awareness to know what’s happening. The four

Michael 1:05:57
slash five year old she was just confused. And but I still I, maybe this is me looking for things because it wasn’t my idea. Because I think it’s wrong and all those things. At this point, I’m, I’m definitely into the acceptance stage. But I feel like I see just a certain level of just an undercurrent of sadness in my now eight year old, I just, and maybe I’m wrong, but but but she will, she’ll bring it up and talk about it here and there. You know, when Mommy, you and Mommy before you and Mommy were divorced, or, you know, you know, the school project where she has to do a collage. And she’s like, well, I’m going to do a mommy side and a daddy side. And I just get this sense is underlying sadness. But again, I could be I could be wrong. But I think that the moral of the story is, it’s just it’s bad for it’s just, it’s hard for everybody, but children included. And I think, you know, thankfully, you’re a therapist, and you probably knew how to handle it in certain ways. But I think for almost all children, I recommend, you know, get it get in, get them in therapy, because salutely Because I think especially you’re trying to process your shit and you don’t have any equity. You don’t have a clue like your you know how you can’t, you could barely help yourself. Like, I know, for me, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. And I’m like, how am I as a parent like I don’t know, it’s tough. But to tell you, it’s I talked to your mother like, which is something you’d

Angela 1:07:20
like to add something to that like I have a I remember a story like that from my during that first year, she I can’t remember what she was. She’s probably in preschool, but they asked her to draw a picture of her family. And that was that first year that we were getting a divorce. And we were supposed to put, give pictures of our families send them in. And I remember crying to my sister about that. Like, we’re not a family anymore. I don’t even know what to send. And I said I’m not a family. I remember we do these Markopolos. So we have these long like monologues and my sister. She was like, Angela, you are a fan like you, you and Olivia are a family. And actually we’re a family like you have many people. This is why community is so valuable during this time. So like the but that wasn’t her like she didn’t come to me crying. That was my experience with the idea that I didn’t know what family meant at that time. And so I remember then that night, when I came home to Pam, my sister, she helped me take pictures of me and Olivia, that was sweet. And then there was me and Pam and Olivia. And then there was me Pam and mom and mom had come over that night too. And so like, we were still a family, we were just a new family. But in that moment, I would not have thought that even as a therapist I was in I was in shame I was in like I flocked to the sub, the family’s ruined, my daughter’s never gonna have a family. So to your point about like what’s going on with your daughter or for anybody who’s struggling with what’s going on with their kids. Some of it may be them, some of it may be you, you know, like some of that may be your own shame that you’re unraveling and working out. And it doesn’t mean that they don’t have it because I do want children to have access to therapy if they need it. But it doesn’t mean that because you’re having shame that they are either because in that moment, it wasn’t the case. I was just blaming myself for the fuckup of a divorce. Right? When really my daughter was just like, oh, like then we ended up sending pictures. And her dad sent pictures with his family. So she had all these like, it was kind of a cool thing that ended up happening for her. And so like I would say whenever you’re feeling those moments for anybody listening, like go first go within your reactions are your own. And so if you’re having an emotional reaction first do some of that self compassion work of like, Hey, you’re doing the best you can. And like, like, get yourself in a grounded space before you even kind of try to address the things with the kids. Because sometimes it’s you putting your emotions on the kids. And that was a moment where I was doing it with her. Like I was like, I fucked up and I’m not gonna be a family and I’m ruining her life. And I think there’s a way you do that when you’ve divorced. You blame yourself for all this stuff that like some of that stuff is happening to your kids and some of it isn’t and that’s the hard that’s the hard thing to tease out. But there are times when your kids like To your point, like every year, they develop new cognitive ability. They do ask questions like, my daughter’s asking me questions now about like, Did you live with your my daddy? Like, were you married? And I have to, like, have that conversation? Yeah, we weren’t married. And when she said, Well, why aren’t you? Why aren’t you married that like, so she’s asking them all, like curious. So what I’m trying to do is just keep it normal, keep it casual, like answer, honestly, like sometimes, couples just don’t work well together, and me and your dad, for whatever reason didn’t but now I’ve got I’ve got a new person that’s living here. So now I’m with Shane. And, and it works better. But you know, like, you may have that experience to I don’t know, you know, like, so I just try to keep it really casual and normal. But like, if you were a parent, having those conversations, I would, I would challenge you to meet yourself with some self compassion. And if you if you can’t answer in that moment, because emotionally, you’re feeling so torn, it’s okay to step away and come back. Because these moments aren’t gone. This is the other thing. Like you can have a moment again, like, you can be like I can’t talk about right now. But I want to talk to you about it. So like, let me get back to you. You know, like, then go cry in a corner if you need to do what you need to do. Or this is the other thing, it’s valuable to cry in front of your kids too. Like if you’re struggling with something, you can also just say, you know, I’m still struggling with the so you’re you’re not doing anything wrong asking me these questions. It’s just sometimes thinking about it makes me a little sad, because I’m still working on this. Like, I’m still working through this. Doing something like that is teaching your kids how to grieve and that it’s okay to grieve and be sad. It’s okay for mommies and daddies to be sad, and it’s okay to be sad in front of your kids. If you can meet yourself with compassion through that you are teaching your children how to do the same thing. Yeah, there’s

Michael 1:11:43
so much to that dynamic of being a parent going through this and especially if it wasn’t your decision, and how do you answer that question and, and not interject your own hurt and, and sometimes anger and it’s just it’s a tough thing to navigate. I don’t I don’t recommend this divorce shit, anybody but it’s tough to it’s really. There’s, there’s a part that it’s really tough to accept it in and be okay with it, because it is so devastating. And it’s like, it’s, you know, it’s okay. It will be but boy, it would be a lot better fit. And so it’s really this sort of, for me, I I mean, I’m, I am acceptance, it is what it is, again, if she knocked on the door? I don’t think so. You don’t

Angela 1:12:31
do that again.

Michael 1:12:32
Yeah. Thank you. No, thank you, but, but it’s still it’s really very difficult. And so it’s like this, you know, like, the acceptance that it is a thing and that you can survive, it can be difficult because it feels invalidating because it’s so hard, right? And so it’s like, it’s, it’s almost two sides, and you’re not like God, it’s gonna be okay, but, but boy, is it really hard. But it’s like this, like, if it’s gonna be okay, then it’s not a big deal. But boy, it’s a fucking big deal. So it’s, it’s hard for me sometimes to to square it. And to be like, to know that it is good. I know, it’s gonna be okay. I know, I believe that my life will be better for it. Because I choose it to be not because I wanted it to be in terms of I didn’t want the divorce. I didn’t. I didn’t want a new path. But I’ll be fucked if I’m not going to do everything in my power to make sure it’s a better path. Right. But that’s still it’s almost invalidating in some ways to be like, yeah, it’s, it’s yeah, you’re gonna, you’re like life goes on.

Angela 1:13:33
I think that, to your point to like, something I want to bring up is the idea that like, it is harder to go through a divorce if you didn’t choose it. Oh, like you had this thrust upon you. Right. And so in your situation, or in anyone else’s? who’s listening where you didn’t want this? There’s an added component of grief, which is the shock denial lasts longer actually, like sometimes you’re like, No, this isn’t what I want. I’m not going to No, I don’t think so. Like, it’s like you had to go through it kicking and screaming, right? That’s not what you wanted. And you don’t like, if you so like, in my situation, for example, we both were finally at a place where you’re like, hell no, this we realize we’re just not good for each other. But before that, if I had tried to divorce him, then he would be going through the process of kicking and screaming, right? Yeah. So like, it’s different. If you you both are like no, you’ve come to terms. Yeah, this just isn’t a good relationship. But you had to go through that after the fact. So for anybody in your position, it’s always a little bit harder. And there’s an extra component of how do I accept that this was thrown at me as opposed to I chose this and to take this into any sort of trauma language, like the pandemic is an example of this. Nobody asked for or chose the pandemic it was thrust upon us, right. And so there are things in life that are like that, where you just say, alright, but this is what we’re doing. I have to do this and no I don’t think anybody would look at the pandemic and say, well, it was for the best. No, like, no, like, we are mostly pissed about it and annoyed about it. Some of us are just complacent. But nobody is like, at a full acceptance of like, alright, yeah, that was good for us in some way, or that we should have done that is there are things in life that really are shitty, and don’t don’t have some sort of rhyme or reason. They just, it’s just a shit happens kind of thing. So divorce against your will is an example of that a pandemic against the whole world’s will is an example of that, right? So when you’re building resilience to it, you don’t have to convince yourself that it was the right thing you can you can accept for yourself that no, this, this really isn’t what I wanted. But since it is what’s happening, here’s how I’m going to make the most of it. But I to the end of my life, I will accept that I do not like what happened there. I do not accept or agree that that was good for me. But I do the things that are good for me are that I’m not with a person who doesn’t want to be with me. I am not in a situation where I’m unhappy, like so and I’m just giving examples are like, what you can do is find the things that are these are the grateful piece. So I’m using these two skills again and again, these are the things that I am grateful for as a result of this occurring. So like I’ve done this with the pandemics like no I hate all that shit about the pandemic, but like, things I’m grateful for are the pandemic taught me how to like actually take sick days. I’m a I’m a type A plus personality, like, I know there’s A’s but there’s, I’m an A plus, like I literally can fill every minute of every day with so many things because I want all the things all the things I will do all the things you can hear it in the way I went through my divorce, I’m gonna fill my time, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna go to Malaysia. Okay, so I but that that strength, it’s a strength, it’s also comes with a weakness. If the weaknesses, Slow the fuck down. It’s okay to relax. The pandemic was great for me because I had to learn to slow the fuck down. And like actually take a sick day instead of trying to power through it. And so your divorce or anyone’s divorce may not may be against your will like and you hate it and you’re mad at the person for who did it and you have every right to feel all those things. And it’s about Alright, well, while this sucks, how do I make the most of what I’ve got? And how do I make sure that I live a life worth living? Regardless? Does it make sense?

Michael 1:17:29
No, it does. I just think about it. It’s it’s a it’s an opportunity that I didn’t want but it is an opportunity. I say that all the time. It is an opportunity he I had a guest on the loneliness guy he said it’s like that present in the back of the tree is wrapped in shit. Nobody wants it. Nobody wants it. But there it is. And you gotta you gotta you have to take it. It’s you don’t know you don’t know, what choice do you have? And it is an opportunity. It’s just sometimes it’s like, boy, I didn’t ask for this. But I can’t you know, what am I can’t I say this all the time, too. It’s like, What are my choices here? Can I go back? Unless Doc Brown rolls up in the driveway with his DeLorean and with the flux capacitor. I’m not going back in time. So I can’t change it. I can’t make her change her mind. You can’t make people do what they don’t want to do ultimately, right? If you’re not if you have no power or authority over them, you can’t make someone love you. Certainly. You know, so what are your options? And eventually it takes it takes a while it’s to accept it and and look for the the areas that you can work on yourself and improve yourself because yeah, suddenly you’re faced with I have all this free time. You have a void and it’s like what do I fill it with? If I can fill it with going hiking with with with meetup groups, or I can fill it with going to the bar and get in shape pace, like, choose wisely. But it is an opportunity and if you pass it up, you could end up just fucking repeating the cycle and

Angela 1:19:01
using self compassion. It’s okay to not accept this for a time for sure. It’s okay. It’s okay to not be ready yet like and that’s that internal monologue is what helps people and I’ll be honest, I went and got shit faced a lot like that is another way that I struggled with it. To the point I mean to be fair like that, I’m like that was really bad. Like I was drinking every night like one two bottles of wine like every night just to like numb because I’m an escape. I’m an escape artist. That’s what I will do. I will scape escape escape escape escape. And so I have since like I got into so much of habitual drinking that I’ve sent this year. I’m like I really like it became too much a part of my life. So that’s another area where I’m like, No, I’m not this is not going to define who I am. I don’t want to drink and have this be the only way that I’ve you know, like I’ve handled life but I guess I want to normalize that everybody does all these things. And I don’t want people to shame themselves over it as well. It’s like you know, yeah, You’re probably gonna shit face yourself a bit because you’re just so sad. And don’t let it get the best of you. And keep remembering who you are and find a way to find that like, that sense of security and worthiness and alcohol doesn’t give that out. Just the opposite. It ruins it. But it’s a it’s a great, I would say it’s a great illusionist, alcoholic, because it makes you think that you will feel these good feelings. But what’s interesting is you only get about one to two hours of the good effects. And then because the brain can’t handle being high for too long, it rushes in with depressants to to counterbalance. So that’s the homeostasis your brain needs. That’s why people when they’re about two to three hours in, they’ll start crying hysterically or getting really angry. weird shit, because your brain has to reset itself with the downers. And then you have that downer lasts for a really long time, then you feel depressed the next

Unknown Speaker 1:20:54
day. Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Angela 1:20:55
Just so you know, if you use it, there will be some pros and cons.

Michael 1:20:59
Oh, for sure. Yeah, I don’t recommend it. But yeah. I guess nobody listens to Michael. It’s a shame that the world doesn’t listen to Michael. But I mean, I did it too. I mean, of course I did. I You didn’t listen

Angela 1:21:14
to it to yourself. That’s why I’m very accepting of like, I don’t want anybody to feel shame, because shame does nothing like but cause more harm, but like, we’re going to do this, you’re going to do that. It’s okay. It’s okay to struggle with this. And what are you going to? How are you going to grow from it? How are you going to go from this? Like you said, don’t drink. Everybody’s like?

Michael 1:21:34
Yeah, I’ll show you. Two bottles. Fuck it. I’m doing three. Most of the drink, but we all do it. Yeah, very true. Very true. Well, Angela, this has been amazing. Thank you very much. We started off on on infidelity, and we weaved our way through so many things. Thank you for doing this. This is really fun. Hope we could do it again. You mentioned some books? Well, actually first, before we get to that, I’ll ask you the last question. And then we get that at the very end. So the last question I asked everybody is what words of wisdom would you impart to a man who’s just starting his divorce journey?

Angela 1:22:14
I would definitely say get some help. Get some help and work on your self compassion. Because like, if you can, if you can work on that compassion and gratefulness, then you will make it through this. But but get some help. And that means either therapy or community or both, because men who really struggle with that they really do so find a way to connect with others, because that’s that’s what every man needs.

Michael 1:22:36
More of Yeah, couldn’t can’t argue that. So, yeah. So how can people find you? Where can you find your books, all that good stuff?

Angela 1:22:43
Absolutely. So my website is www dot therapist and St. louis.com. No dots, no hyphens just therapist in St. Louis. Or it’s funny, some guy called me in the middle of night, and he said, the rapist in St. Louis, so whatever, it’s fine, but it’s just the same spelling. And my two books premarital counseling a guide for clinicians and helping couples overcome infidelity are both on Amazon. And they’re both written for both clients and clinician. So they’re easy enough to read for a regular person. But they also give strategies and tips for therapists who are trying to help people so you’ll get a little window into the world of what would therapy be like? And then, yeah, those are the ways to reach out to me, I also have a YouTube channel where I put little skills and tips. So just look up Angela skirt to SK URTU and YouTube and I have like, tons of videos on sex, infidelity, relationships, mental health, and just different skills and strategies to like work on these things. So please check out my YouTube, which is an easy, free thing you can subscribe to.

Michael 1:23:43
Yeah, for sure. I’ll put the link and everything in the show notes so that guys can can find it easily. Thank you again for joining us. I really appreciate it. I hope that we can do it again in the future for sure.

Angela 1:23:53
Absolutely. This is very fun. Yeah.

Michael 1:23:55
Thank you and take care. You too. Bye. Bye.

 

Episode 83 – Coach? – Solo

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https://www.risingphoenixdivorcecoach.com

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