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Thursday, March 22, 2012

10 Years Of Hatred - Get Over It!

Dear Agi,

I am a 54 year old woman who has been divorced for ten years.  In retrospect, the divorce was the easy part, but the events post-divorce have affected me the most.  About four years after our divorce was finalized, my ex-husband informed me that he was gay and had informed our three children (all teenagers, young adults) about it two years previously. He had asked them to keep this secret from me. Needless to say, I was devastated. Two of my children have suffered significant psychological distress, I believe, due to the above. Two years after this event my ex-husband lost his license and business due to sexual misconduct with several clients (he is a psychologist.)

I can't seem to be able to move forward and stop blaming myself for marrying this man knowing he had serious issues and thereby not protecting my children.  I am battling depression, panic attacks and I avoid being in any social situations.  I did have a relationship with a former college boyfriend that ended. I, too, thought that we would get married and "live happily ever after." Boy, was I wrong.  He dumped me unceremoniously after telling me that he "was no longer attracted to me."  This has dramatically affected my self-esteem.  I feel unworthy, unlovable and incapable of finding happiness.

I maintain so much anger toward my ex-husband for his actions and I struggle not to "bad-mouth" him to my children.  Two of my children seem to be doing well; the third has aligned himself with my ex and rarely speaks to me. I have lost many friends in the past several years because they wouldn’t "stick with me" throughout all the drama.  This has added to my feelings of failure and loneliness. Fortunately, I have a wonderful career, which sustains me, but I am unhappy in most other aspects of my life.

Agi, I would appreciate any insight, suggestions, help that you can provide!




Dear Down, but not for the count;

Yes indeed, it sounds like you have had a very rough experience for far too long. I am going to try and address everything in chronological order because I don’t want to miss anything you present. Let’s start with the post-divorce shocker – gay ex-husband. Shocked, I could understand, but devastated, why? What do you care what his sexual preference is post-divorce? You are both free to live your lives as you see fit and his asking your young adult children to keep it from you is his prerogative. I get that the first place you want to go is “our whole marriage was based on lies!” This is a self-destructive story your ego has concocted in your head, because the reality is, you and your husband had a successful marriage. If you had not married this particular man then you would hot have these particular children, whom you love very much.  Everything would have been different, including your children. For this issue I would like to see you change your point of view and live in gratitude for the union you shared with your ex and know that the two of you were meant to be. As far as his discrepancies in his career; again, I have to ask; Why do you care? This is no longer your problem, so stop wearing it. Try to show some compassion for the pain he must have felt all those years trying to be someone he wasn’t. He must have been in agony constantly concealing his true nature and living like a CIA agent who had to remain undercover. Let it go and wish him peace.

Regarding your current emotional state of mind; depressed, panic attacks, avoiding social situations, well, I think those issues reach further back in your life than just to the years in which your ex-husband entered your world.  I hear you when you talk about the former boyfriend ending it in a crappy way. His saying he is ‘no longer attracted’ to you was unkind and unnecessary; however, it could serve you if you are willing to look deep inside of yourself. What I’m hearing from you is that all your pain and anger is being triggered from external sources, when in fact, the cause lies within you. I know this is a real ‘ouch’ to hear, but I have to be straight with you since I only have this one article to send you. The easy escape from our own pain and suffering is to place blame anywhere that isn’t near you or your nasty ego – by the way, I’m not calling your ego names, it’s everyone’s ego. It is such a slippery slope when we try to look externally for happiness or find blame in others for what we are responsible for internally. I wish there was a simpler way for you to discard your pain but the hard facts are, you have to do it yourself. I have ideas for you so hang on… I really want to address your statement: ‘live happily ever after’ with your fellow who was ignorant. First of all, happily ever after is not a realistic expectation for anyone. As humans we are never in a constant state of any one emotion. In fact, we are more prone to bounce all over the emotional Richter scale. Therefore, placing an expectation into the universe that something will last forever in a static position is only our ego-centric mind being foolish!  Pure trickery. This former college boy came back into your life to force you to look inside and ask important questions; Why am I so angry? Where does my anger stem from? And so on. Your anger towards your ex-husband or anyone for that matter is a cover for the fear that is lurking inside of you. Fear of survival, whether it be emotional or physical can make us react with extremism. What’s really going on here is your internal child was hurt somewhere along the line by someone she trusted long ago and she has been living in survival mode ever since. Today is the day you can help her walk out into the light and let her know that she is safe at this present moment. She can no longer be hurt by anyone and the two of you are safe and loved, by each other.  You’re not really angry at your ex you are just stuck in an old story of betrayal, but it has nothing to do with him. Here is a good exercise for you; start by writing a letter to your ex-husband. Let him have it! You get fifteen minutes to spew all the gunk at him that you want, then, in the next fifteen minutes you will release him and tell him what was between the two of you is now over and he no longer has a hold on you. Tell him good-bye. Moving forward, everything in his life is between he and his maker. Don’t send the letter. Keep it.

Listen up, my sweet spirited friend, you need to breathe and release all the fear that rattles up the anger, which inevitably only hurts you. Your ‘friends’ were all teachers trying to let you know that spewing anger for long periods of time is toxic to you and those around you. You should never bad-mouth the father of your children. He is off limits to you and your opinion moving forward. Your only focus from this day forward should be to heal your internal self and discover the beautiful sapient being that resides inside of you. Whenever you feel the trembling of anger rising up into your throat, find a quiet spot, sit down, close your eyes and take a deep breathe. Then tell yourself that you are safe and whatever lies your mind is blabbing at you are simply not the truth. The only failure you speak about in this journey would be if you gave up on yourself. Move into your future with loving grace towards yourself and those around you. I promise you the anxiety and anger will dissipate. Love your life, because your life wants to love you.

Take great care my friend ~

If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your divorce, love life or break-up please submit here.



Posted By Agi Smith At 10:47 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Friday, March 9, 2012

Emotional Or Physical Abuse = Divorce

Dear Agi,

I have found the Divorce section of the Huffington Post to be one of the most fascinating places on the Internet.   I recently read an article that you wrote called "Divorce Over Infidelity."  The article stuck out because it was similar to my situation.   I am just about to turn 29.  I have a 4 1/2 year old and a 2 year old.  My husband I have been married 7 years.  He is an Active Duty soldier in the military and is currently not deployed.

The best way to describe our relationship is to truly compare it to a roller coaster.  When it’s good it’s great, when it’s bad, it’s torture.    Cliché, I know.  However, we have had a lot of highs, the births of our children, buying our first house, all the "things" that should qualify as a high.  We have had a ton of lows.  He has the worst temper, he has cheated on me twice that I know of. Most recently, he had an affair and the most gut wrenching part of it was that not only was it physical, but it became emotional too.  We were having an argument one night because I had walked outside when he had been drinking too much and I overheard him arguing with his girlfriend/affair. He was crying to her on the phone;

"I love you. You and your children are the first thing I think about in the morning." 

Needless to say, this set me off. Nonetheless, they continued to have a relationship, despite denying it continually.  They went behind not only my back, but her husbands as well.  During the course of all these events I began to withdraw from all areas of my life. I no longer cared if he went out of town for travel or if he went out with the guys.  I saw this as a liberating time to show that I could really live on my own and take care of my two wonderful boys by myself. At one point, I had a moment of weakness where I flirted with a co-worker, just flirting, nothing more.  My husband witnessed my flirting and to this day now treats me like I did the worst possible thing.  He now watches my phone bills, what I purchase, where I go and to whom I speak with.  He has become controlling. 

As I mentioned earlier, he has a horrible temper, something all his friends and family know about.  At my Holiday party for my office in December 2010, he became so inebriated that he lost control of who he was.  While we were driving home, he had convinced himself that the car was bugged, and that he had to "kill me" in order to save me.  Suffice it to say, it was a horrible night.  I drove him to his supervisor’s house not the police.  To this day, I am not sure why.  I figured I didn’t want my kids to have to deal with any of this.  He swore up and down he would never touch hard alcohol again.  Well you guessed it, that didn’t last long.  He was at a happy hour with the other woman (I forgot to mention he works with her) and he came home flipping out at me.  He broke my bedroom door down.  I finally said, either you leave or I will leave.  He packed a backpack and left for the evening.  He called me bawling hysterically.  He did the ultimate worse thing possible; he told our 4 year old that "mommy is making me leave." 

I consider myself a very smart woman in life, just apparently dumb in love.  I have a great job, a degree from a good school and two wonderful children.   Yet, I can’t seem to get my marriage right. A good friend who knows the situation is so concerned about my safety she has given me a key to her home in case I ever need to leave. However, when push comes to shove and he is putting me down, or getting upset at me, I can’t leave.   I have in fact saved him numerous times from being demoted or thrown in jail.  I think I am worried about my children and how would I be able to support them on my own.  I know I am doing the cliché thing by staying.  He keeps telling me he can change and he wants to and that he will spend forever proving it.  It will never happen Agi, will it?  We may go up that roller coaster, but eventually it’s going to come flying down until one of us gets hurt.  Do you think it’s possible for change?  Should a relationship even be a roller coaster?   


Roller Coaster Wife


Dear Mother,

I name you mother because that is what you are first and foremost. This makes you the person who is responsible for caring enough for herself so that she can care for and protect her children. Let me get straight to the point:

Danger Will Robinson!!! (Red Hazard light flashing with the screeching sound of a warning buzzer bellowing.)”

Mom, you are in trouble and you need to get help now! I am very much an advocate of marriage and not divorce, however, when you tell me that you fear for your safety, which in turn means your children too are in danger you need to take action quickly. He told you he had to ‘kill you!’ This is a crisis situation and you must make immediate arrangements to extract yourself and your children from this environment until he gets the appropriate help he needs. At this point his indiscretions are minimal compared to his violent threats, behavior and misuse of alcohol.  Please get the support you need to help you make this move quickly and safely. There are many resources you can tap into. For example, you can go online to a women's shelter group and anonymously ask for help. It is very common amongst military wives who are being abused to not seek help for fear of ruining their husbands’ career. Please don’t let this stop you from seeking help. The military offers many programs for spouses in your position. One of them is to contact the Family Advocacy Program designed specifically for the military.  They can help you and your children transition along with getting your husband the help he needs.

My dear child, your husband's cheating is the very least of your problems. Your only focus right now should be to seek safety for yourself and your children and thereafter, you can begin to heal the wounds that you don’t even know are apparent. Any relationship that emulates a rollercoaster ride is one that will inevitably end with someone getting hurt either emotionally or in your case physically. You need to go to a different amusement park, one that offers you love, kindness, respect and compassion. You are a beautiful soul who should be cherished not abused or threatened. As to your question “It will never happen Agi, will it?” I can’t say yes or no. Sometimes people do change, but it is my experience that change only comes when someone has a primal scream internally shouting at them that they need help and must change. In other words, very rarely do people change. What I do know is that you are looking for the right type of change in your life and by doing so you will teach your children a better way. Be very proud of yourself that you are reaching out. I am guessing it has been a while since someone told you how special you are. I am here to tell you;

You are a unique sparkle designed specifically for this time and space. This makes you perfect and beautiful. This life is here to love you.’

Now, go get the help you need to love yourself.

I wish you all the best my friend ~

If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your divorce, love life or break-up please submit here.

Posted By Agi Smith At 10:48 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Friday, March 2, 2012

As Featured On The Huffington Post


It's Complicated!

Posted: 03/12/2012 8:25 pm

Dear Agi,

I have read your columns on the Huffington Post and I am hopeful that you may have some insight regarding my story. I am a fifty-four year old woman and have been single for eight years. This past year has been exceptionally difficult for me. It began by dating an ex-boyfriend from college who didn't share that he had a girlfriend, and after testing the waters with me he told me about her and his decision to stay with her. That was a major let down but I somehow stumbled through it. This past July another old boyfriend from my twenties emailed me. We were quite serious back then and once he got into a Master's program he dumped me. I was a mess and it took me years to recover from this relationship. I always believed he left me because I wasn't good enough.In his email, he said he wanted to reach out and see what I had been up to for the past thirty years. He shared with me that he was married with children, etc. I emailed him back and told him about my last thirty years and I shared with him how devastated I was when he left all those years ago. His response was shocking! He told me he had loved me for the past thirty years and he was in a loveless marriage. I could not believe it! From here we began communicating daily until we both agreed to meet in person. He told me he asked his wife for a divorce and he wanted us to remain together for eternity. He took a job close to where I lived and we began the process of mapping out our future together, including finances, living arrangements, kids, getting married and growing old together. I was smitten and in love.

Two weeks before he was to move he called me and said: "Things were complicated."

He needed a few months to settle in and get situated before he could move forward with our relationship. After this I never heard from him again. Once again, it seems I am not good enough. I am a fool and I feel terrible. All I have ever wanted was a best friend, a partner, someone I could trust and spend my life with. He said all the right things and I believed him. Now I am left feeling depressed and trying to find a way to move forward. I can't imagine I will ever have another relationship because I am petrified of being hurt again. I just wish I could crawl under a rock and disappear. How do I get through this?

Yours truly,
Under a Rock

Dear Rock,

For starters darling, please stop dating any Ex's who left you and never, ever date a married man. Leave the past where it belongs -- behind you. It's never a good idea to go backwards in life; in fact, you should stay focused on the present moment and allow the wonderment of your being to unfold. Sadly, life doesn't work like a Hollywood movie where an old flame reappears and the two of you live happily ever after. Let's leave those stories to the creative minds of the big screen and we'll cope with the reality of living consciously in the present moment.

First, I would like to offer you my empathy. I know how painful it feels when love takes a wrong turn and I am so very sorry that your heart got bruised. This may be difficult to hear, but, I want you to ponder this and be open to what I am about to say: the behavior of these men had nothing to do with you not being good enough. This is an old story you produced long ago that keeps replaying in your mind, and it is not true -- so toss it out the window and start from scratch. I would like to see you do something different in the way you view yourself and your life. Think of yourself as a great writer and director and you are about to produce one of the best motion pictures in all of history. You get to pick any genre you want, decide on the location, develop the characters you see in your film of life and choose how the story will end. Make sure you fill it with adventure, grit, harmony and romance. As the writer and director, your end goal is to win an Academy Award. Therefore, you must be well thought out and precise as to what you really want to create in your life. Do you want to be the hero or the victim? I would like to see you as the leading lady, which will require you to bring out your internal charisma and bravado. You never want to be the woman who exclaims, "You had me at hello." She is a victim and will always feel desperate to a man. You want to be the character that says; "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!" I don't want to hear any more talk about you not being good enough -- Snap out of it!

From this day forward I want you to begin your day by writing down one attribute about yourself that is worthy of being loved and cherished. If you can't find that attribute, let me help you out: for starters, you should love and cherish the fact that you can breathe without the help of any machine. From this point of view you can only go up. Next, I want you to make a date with yourself once a week. On this date you are to go dancing, this could mean dancing in your own living room, I really don't care where, I just want you to be listening to some fun, good rhythm music that will help you get your groove on. Shake it baby until you feel your inner sexy self pouring out. The objective of these exercises is to develop a love for yourself and bring out the fun spirited woman who lives deep inside of you. You can't expect anyone to love and cherish you if don't do that for yourself. Baby girl, it's like they say in the movies; "If you build it, he will come..." Now go out there and rebuild your beautiful self. Carpe diem -- seize the day and make your life extraordinary!

I wish you all the best my friend ~

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Posted By Agi Smith At 3:26 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Life is a fast moving train; we live, we love, we work and we die. The in-between better be good. Ask Agi for advice to help make your in-between exceptional!

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