I hope this email finds you well. I am a mom of five kids. Unfortunately, only three are with me. I separated from my husband in 2013 but our marriage is not yet annulled. I was a battered wife during the past 10 years spent in a Middle East country – physically, verbally and emotionally.
I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications but I never got to work in my field. I got married and had kids at 23 and my husband was very jealous and possessive. I worked as an Executive Assistant and accepted catering on the side.
I used to be a positive person always pursuing my goals and vision but things changed. The situation got worse when we came to Qatar. Whenever we argued, my husband would hurt me so I resorted to keeping quiet and just doing what he wanted me to do.
I lived that kind of life because I was afraid what separation would do to my children. But in 2013 after my fifth delivery, c-section this time and second pre-eclampsia, I realized that things were not going to change for the better. For the past years I could not rely on him to be a father to my children, to guide them while growing up. Perhaps I got tired of not having the support of a partner. Even for matters like visa and passport renewals, payment of bills, school fees, house expenses, he could not be relied on. He would always say he didn’t have money. He was only doing things that benefited himself. Separation was not something to be afraid of anymore. It was something I felt I needed to do for my children.
I never thought I’d have the courage to leave my husband. Back then I would think maybe God was talking to me so I gave him many chances, but in 2013 I left him.
I had to start from scratch, as I was not able to save anything. I was depressed for months. Thanks to my parents’ moral and spiritual support and the realization that my children need me, I got up and started looking for a job. Fortunately, I found one after eight months. My sister, also an OFW, also helps me in supporting my kids.
I have a lot of potential but I have become afraid to compete. I used to sing, act in theater, and cook food for customers but I feel that I have become shattered and out of focus.
I am always longing for my other kids to come to me. They were the very reason I stayed in an abusive relationship, and now they’re not with me.
I do not know how to get back on my feet. Whenever I feel I will start a business or practice singing, something in me tells me that I am old already or I do not have the best skills, things that my husband always made me feel. Whenever I had a plan to pursue something, he would say yes but then he never supported me and instead made me feel stupid.
I am not sure if I am looking at the right path of aiming at a life coach or mentor to help me move forward. Or is it a psychologist that I need? Or a legal person to help me have my marriage annulled and have custody of my kids?
One thing I know is I need help.
I’d appreciate your feedback.
I resigned from my EA job last June and I am now working from home as a VA. I left my previous job because there was abuse among the staff that was ignored by the CEO. I left because I could not allow myself to feel abused in any way given that I just left that kind of environment. I’m hoping to have more time for my kids and myself.
Thank you very much.
Separated OFW Mom (SOM) – sent via email
Dear Separated OFW Mom,
Thank you for trusting me with your problem. Your situation resonates with many mothers.
To answer your question whether you should have a life coach, mentor, psychologist or a legal person to help get your marriage annulled and gain custody of your children, my answer is it would be helpful to have all of them but there are three basic things that you can do right now.
- Re-acquaint with yourself.
Your challenging marriage and concerns for your five children have made you lose touch with your true self. You said you used to be a positive person, always pursuing your goals and vision. I think you still are, SOM. It’s just difficult for you to see that now because all you see are the wounds, heartaches, failures and frustrations that are occupying your heart right now.
You always mention that all the decisions and actions are for your children. I get that, it’s a mother thing but please remember that your actions should also be about yourself. What in you made you put up with your husband’s abuse? Did you allow him to get what he wanted because you felt you were inferior to him? Did you feel that you were partly to blame for your conflicts? Did he remind you of someone so powerful that you felt it was useless to go on with the argument? Ask yourself why until you get to the bottom of it. Hopefully, the answers will make you understand yourself better now.
The most important next step to your re-acquaintance with yourself is to list down specific things that you love doing and another list for the things that you are good at. What were the actual moments that you felt you were such a positive person? What did your loved ones say about the cheer and help that you brought to their lives? Any skill in school that you were always praised for? In your EA and VA jobs, what are your moments of joy that make you do beyond what is expected of you? What do your clients say when they’re happy with your service? Any happy and fulfilling moments in your catering sideline? Revisit your childhood dreams. Is being a singer part of your dreams? Have you ever joined any singing contest? How was it like? How do you think can you incorporate this talent in the things that you’re doing right now? Have you taught any of your kids how to sing? Have you seen all those cute videos where parent and child sing together? Even if your videos won’t get viral, the joy of sharing an experience with your child is enough. Find time to incorporate this and other happy things in your everyday life, be it in work or family.
It will be in finding your everyday joy that your true self will unravel once more before you, your children, clients and loved ones. And that will be the start of getting your focus back.
- Forgive your husband.
No matter how abusive he was, you just have to forgive him. Why? Because this is the only way you can be truly separated from him. You said that you’ve been separated from him for three years now but his ghost continues to haunt you. You said, “I do not know how to get back on my feet. Whenever I feel I will start a business or practice singing, something in me tells me that I am old already or I do not have the best skills, things that my husband always made me feel. Whenever I had a plan to pursue something, he would say yes but then he never supported me and instead made me feel stupid.”
You may say that he doesn’t deserve your forgiveness and I won’t argue with you on that, but YOU deserve the peace of mind that only YOUR forgiveness can bring about. Forgiveness doesn’t mean being chummy with him and considering to get back with him. Forgiveness is letting go of the bitterness. It is not absolving the wrong that he has done to you in the past. It is letting go of the shackles of those wrongdoings so that they won’t continue to hurt you anymore. I wish to share this quote that says it all:
- “Fake it ‘til you become it.”
This is borrowed from Amy Cuddy, Harvard professor and bestselling author of Presence. I know you are full of self-doubt, anger and despair right now. But starting today why don’t you start acting as if everything’s great? Yes start your morning by saying a thanksgiving prayer and greeting your kids with the best greeting you can give, “What a wonderful morning. Today is a great day!” In the course of doing all your tasks for the day, be it work and family, act as if you’re in the best place you could ever be. Phony just so people will think everything’s fine? No it’s your way of re-booting your entire system!
In Cuddy’s studies she established how important body language is not just to the people we deal with but also to ourselves. Inasmuch as our body language delivers signals externally (i.e. to the people around us), it does the same internally (i.e. to what’s happening inside us). If you start acting as if everything’s great, there’s a big chance that things will start improving in your life.
In Cuddy’s book and her well-watched Ted Talk, she shares with us how power poses can profoundly change the outcome of our negotiations, challenges, the way we live our lives (even animals). I mentioned about this in a previous article (Click link to read) when I discussed about the true meaning of being authentic. Try out the 2-minute power poses ala-Wonder Woman every single day, every single time you’re about to face a challenge and see how it works.
I hope that these basic steps plus my previous article, the video below and, if you have time, the book Presence (Bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges) would all help bring out the authentic you so that you can regain your focus and be that positive person again. I promise you, once you know and embrace who you really are, you will know what to do next to pursue your dreams for yourself and your children, one step at a time.
Have a good life SOM.
- Do you want to know your FQ Score? Click link below to take the test.
- I will speak at the Ateneo Alumni Connect Career Expo on October 7, 2016 at Decagon Silver City, Pasig
- I will speak at the UST Financial Literacy Campaign and Promotion on October 24, 2016 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex Auditorium, University of Santo Tomas
- I will speak at the Ateneo Paradigm Entrepreneurship Crash Course on November 11, 2016 at the Oakwood Joy Nostalg Center, Manila, Pasig City
- I will speak at the Kerygma Conference on November 17, 2016 at the MOA Arena
- Watch out for the continuation of my FQ talks in cooperation with Security Bank. Dates and venues to be announced.
Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.
ATTRIBUTIONS: Photos from colourbox.com, fondosni.com, goodpixcool.com, greatest.com, hannaharentcenter.org, clipartbest.com, clipartpanda.com a put together to deliver the message of the article.