What Happens When You Walk Through The Fire

burningWhen I finally decided it was time to tell my (almost-ex) husband I wanted him to move out, that I wanted a divorce, I wasn’t ready to walk through the fire. I’d skipped around the burning coals for years, dancing past the cinders, dropping hints through smoke so thick, it choked my ability to be honest with him.

So I drifted further into myself, the cloud of silence growing, the fire building.

When silence didn’t work, we had conversations about what needed to change, what we both needed to work on. I loved him. It wasn’t that. It’s still not that. He’s a good man, a good father. I’ve known him almost half my life. My god, how is that possible?

My feet continued to burn.

I blurted it out one day, “You need to leave!” in a rush before I lost my nerve, my soles on fire. I couldn’t breathe with his booming voice, his anxiety vibrating, snapping at the very air of his slamming door, slamming drawer, clutter-filled presence. I needed peace. I wanted counter space. To breathe in my own clear air.

My soul burning.

So he left. Not without some protest, a mountain of bills, and the upheaval of our now suitcase-carrying, back and forth children who think I’m being selfish. And that’s okay. I see their point. They are too young to understand that breathing isn’t selfish. It’s more important that we do this thing together, focusing on co-parenting them, and we are. We are friends. He still calls me “Hon,” after twenty-two years together, which is sweet and only slightly strange, as when a child calls you by your first name.

It’s been easier, and harder, to go through than around. There is no detour when it comes to ending a marriage. “You will have to walk through the fire,” my therapist told me, and she’s right. Nobody does this for you. It’s a grown-up thing, this divorce business.

You dig through the ashes for answers, and realize that you are just as imperfect as you fear, that all those cliches about change are so fucking true. I don’t blame him. I don’t blame me. I don’t even blame change. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but taking a Zen approach to it all has helped immensely.

I realize control is an illusion. We can’t shape a tattered love that’s no longer there, yet I can choose to cherish memories, and be thankful for happy times and amazing kids. That we’ve salvaged enough of it to still care about each other and our family makes me if not happy, at least grateful for this solo walk.boots

I’m damaged. I’m healing. I’m tending my scars.

The way it is with any kind of burn.

Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope. It’s already hit #1 on Women’s Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. 
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here! 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Photos courtesy of Unsplash.com

Survivors and Money Management by guest @itsamyrobles

Many survivors of childhood abuse find themselves struggling with money management in their adulthood, for a variety of reasons. We likely didn’t get much help learning good money management skills when we were children, either because our family was so dysfunctional or we were too busy surviving to learn how to budget or save. Perhaps, as an adult we found shopping, spending and buying lessened our pain, if only for a little while. Maybe we grew up and found ourselves in another abusive relationship. Our partner ruins our credit and leaves us deeply in debt.

Regardless of the reason, you might now be sitting in a situation where you are deeply in debt and even more deeply ashamed. You need some help, but don’t know where to turn. To help us all I turned to a wonderful woman, Amy Robles. Amy has a website called Woman Enriched. She teaches families how to not only manage their money but get out of debt. Best of all, she does it with compassion and kindness. I’m delighted to have Amy here today to give us some basic money management and debt eradication strategies!

5 Steps to Control Money

5 Steps to Take Control of Your Money, So your Money Doesn’t Control You by Amy Robles

Money affects every part of our lives. As of December 2014, the average US household debt is $15,611. The choices you make every day matter. Don’t know where to start? Here are 5 steps that give you control of your money, instead of your money controlling you.

One: See all your bills

Pull out every bill. Every single payment that you have. This may mean that you clean out the area where mail is kept. Got them all together? Good. Look at that pile. Get mad at it. Realize that this pile represents all the times you either let people control you with money or didn’t take responsibility for how you were spending.

Now don’t beat yourself up over this. We all make mistakes. When my husband was on deployment, I was in a new place with a newborn and lonelier than I’d ever been. Spending money seemed to temporarily fill the hole in my heart. So give yourself a break. It doesn’t matter how you got here. You are taking control.

Two: Write it down

Now, take one sheet of paper and write down every bill. All of these are debts, right? What about rent? How much is car insurance? How much do you spend on groceries? Write it all down. We thought we had every expense and bill down but kept having to add more. Don’t worry if that’s you, too. Keep adding to that list.

Three: Make your plan

Now this is where it gets exciting. (Notice, I have never said the word “budget”. That word has such a negative connotation. You don’t need to feel punished, you’re making a plan.) This is where you decide between a want and a need. You need food. You don’t need to go out to eat every night. Determine between needs and wants.

On a new sheet of paper make some categories, like: home, food, transportation, utilities, medical, personal, debt. Under home you’d put the mortgage/rent payment. And insurance. Add it to the list. That’s your housing money plan.

Next category, transportation. Have a car payment? What about insurance? Gas money, too. What about money to pay for tires, brakes and repairs that will come up? Someone use a monthly bus/subway pass? Add it to the list. That’s your transportation money plan.

Now on to the food category. How much do you spend on groceries? Don’t worry if you don’t know, most people haven’t paid attention. When we first started our budget we learned we spent $800 per month on food for 2 adults and a child. Whoa. That’s a lot! Now we can shop at Costco and a grocery store, spending between $400-500 per month. We were spending $400 more per month than was necessary and didn’t even know it.

Do this for all the remaining categories. For your debts, write every one down, with the total balance and minimum payment due.

Four: Make Your Payments

Dave Ramsey suggests filling envelopes with cash so you watch exactly where your money is going. You may decide to use an app, like Mint and Level. Both are free, could be the perfect place to start. Have you considered YNAB? You pay for the software one time and it updates your home computer and all mobile devices to keep you and all your family members up to date. Whichever system you decide, stick with it so that you make sure that all your needs are covered.

Payments are due monthly, but your income can arrive at different times. You decide when to make payments. Want to move your billing cycle back one week to make it easier? Call the company. Take control, but with kindness.

Here is what the bill collectors don’t want you to know: Pay YOU first. Pay your necessities of home, food, transportation and utilities first. Only after they are taken care of, everything else goes to paying off debt.

There’s three main strategies to paying off debt quickly. How do you attack your debt? The debt snowball says: start with the smallest total balance, pay that one off first, while maintaining the minimum payments to the rest of the debt. After that one is paid off you take the money you would use for that payment and add it to the next payment, while maintaining minimum payments on all of the rest. The good news is that you see progress happening quickly that give you the momentum to keep at it through tougher times. The difficulty is that you are paying higher interest to on other debts.

The debt avalanche says: The payment has the highest interest rate gets every penny extra, while paying the minimums on all other debt. Keep at that until you have it paid off. Then move on to the next highest interest rate. The good is that you are eliminating the high interest rates. The bad is that you have to stay consistent and it can be difficult to not see a change.

There’s even the debt snowflake theory, which says: make every penny count. Literally. Got change back from the groceries this week? Throw it to the debt. Sold your old baby toys on Craig’s list for $5? On to the debt. It’s about making all this teeny changes to add up to debt repayment plan.

This is tough at first. Don’t think you’ll hit a homerun the first time you try this. No one does. Our first “Plan-Payment Process” took us a few hours. But we started answering questions we’d been avoiding. My husband and I started working together as a team.

There’s one rule about the Plan to Payment Process, all parties involved have a voice. No yelling, just communicating and figuring out how you can work together with it. Now, after months of doing this we can do it all in about a half hour. And know what’s been a bonus? Our communication is better than it’s been in years. We are working together as a team.

Five: Evaluate the Plan

You’ve made the plan and worked the plan for a month. Now, it’s time to evaluate the plan. Did you save up way too much money for transportation and now have a surplus? Did you under-budget the amount you need for food? Make those little changes and this next month will be a little easier. In the beginning, you may need to meet and evaluate every week because you forgot to add payments in. This is your process you’re creating. Make it work for you.

Have you considered working an additional part-time job, even for a short while, to get ahead? Have you thought about starting an online business or selling some items you have at home? Increase your income to help you get out of debt quickly.

Repeat steps 3-5. Forever.

This is where the discipline comes in. You’ll have things come up next week or next month that you hadn’t even thought of. Now you know how to work it into the budget. Imagine having $800 in August ready to go for holiday shopping. It’s possible when you put $100 away per month, or $50 per paycheck, just for the holidays. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I want you to have that feeling of being in control of your own life. You can make tremendous changes in a short time. In fact, tweet me @itsamyrobles and tell me how things are going.

Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope. It’s already hit #1 on Women’s Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. 
Enter my Valentine’s Day Godiva Truffle giveaway — a $50 value — and win a free eBook of Broken Places, too!
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here! 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.

This Is the Reason Migraines Affect Sex Abuse Survivors

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I've had migraines since well, my teens -- more intensely since my late twenties. I've seen neurologists. I've had MRIs. I've tried chiropractics. Alternative therapies (acupuncture, massage). Dietary changes. Botox. Behavioral therapy. EVERYTHING. … [Continue reading]

#MondayBlogs Giveaway February 2015

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Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I'm shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a … [Continue reading]

Valentine’s Day #BrokenPlaces Sweepstakes!

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Valentine's Day is fast approaching, so to celebrate  and an ebook of my latest book Broken Places (the second book in the Broken series) to one lucky winner! Enter using the form below. And please share! a Rafflecopter giveaway Award-winning … [Continue reading]

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Coping with a mental illness is a challenge. It’s one that 25% of Americans face every day. I am part of that statistic with diagnoses of Major Depression and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Tackling everyday tasks like working, cooking and … [Continue reading]

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Please welcome my amazing friend and talented best selling novelist, Allie Burke! Allie is quite open with the fact that she is schizophrenic (she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2011) works two full-time jobs, and has a thriving … [Continue reading]

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  Please welcome author and blogger Beth Caplin to the blog today as she shares her brave story about speaking up. *Trigger Warning* The lyrics to “Brave” by Sara Bareilles hit me hard and personally: Your history of silence won’t do … [Continue reading]

#MondayBlogs Giveaway January 2015

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Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I'm shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a … [Continue reading]

10 Resources for Finding a Therapist by @TruthisHers

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You’ve decided you or a loved one need counseling. As both a therapist and a mental health consumer, I have been on both sides of the counseling desk. Hiring a therapist is intensely personal. This is someone you are going to tell your deepest hopes … [Continue reading]

Top 3 Writing and Marketing Tips For Any Author

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As we head into 2015, I thought I'd share some thoughts on writing and marketing books. Many authors tell me they just don't have time to do both, that they think marketing is stupid, or that social media and author platform seem like options they're … [Continue reading]

Insider Story: Living with Complex #PTSD by guest @A_K_Taylor

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Hi everyone, I am glad to be here even though I am going to be talking about very dreadful subjects. I felt empowered to share some info about Complex PTSD (CPTSD) and Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD). CTSD and CPTSD are very closely … [Continue reading]

Traveling Home for the Holidays by @TruthIsHers

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As a therapist and trauma recovery coach, I encounter many hurting people in the landscape of life, especially during the holiday season.  from the path they have travelled. They just want to go home, to that place of peace, calm and respite. … [Continue reading]

Where To Find Content When You Just Don’t Care

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   What the fuck? I want to speak to the manager. We have meltdowns, some more publicly than others (see my latest Huffington Post article on NYTimes bestselling author Ayelet Waldman's most unfortunate Twitter rant because they failed to … [Continue reading]

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