In 1979 as I graduated from high school, I witnessed the painful divorce of my parents. I knew my parents loved my brother and me, but their inability to work through their emotions and communicate with each other was so painful for us. Their anger was like a cancer that spread through our family and there was no way to stop this infectious disease from revealing its terminal devastation. I felt bad for my parents. I knew their life was not easy. They were married young and had suffered the deaths of two of their children. They were hurting and angry, and they were each other’s scapegoats. They would take all their uncomfortable feelings of anger, hurt, and guilt and displace and project those feelings on one another. They were a conduit for each other’s pain and spewed their feelings daily in angry words and voices. My younger brother and I were their unfortunate audience. I believe deep in my heart that if they knew what they were doing to us, they would have made different choices; they would have used different words.
However, I am mindful that had I not experienced their divorce and listened to their hateful words I would not have felt my calling as a psychotherapist to help divorcing couples communicate more effectively for the sake of their children. I’ve devoted my current practice to helping couples through the collaborative divorce process as a neutral mental health professional and guiding them in using their words to make positive changes in their relationships and lives.
I have compiled into the following series of blog posts what I’ve learned through my experience and education as a therapist and my life as a wife, mother, daughter, and friend committed to communicating mindfully to express myself and heal others. I admit, being mindful of my words, tone, volume, pitch, speed, etc. is extremely difficult and it may always be, but understanding the impact of our words is the first step in changing our words and changing our lives for the better.