by Tina Swithin
To say that I’ve been soul-searching is a vast understatement. I walked out of court on July 10th in a complete daze. It took me a good week to even cry and when that happened, it was in the middle of a John Mayer concert and all it took was one glass of wine. Who knew that flood gates could open SO wide. Glenn probably thought my onslaught of tears had to do with the fact that our concert seats were so bad. Nope. Emotional overload.
Even after the great flood of tears, I remained in a daze for weeks. I couldn’t grasp the fact that my monthly appearances in Family Court were OVER. The constant stress and worry surrounding Seth’s visits were OVER. The late night paperwork prep and runs to the Kinko’s copy center were OVER. In a matter of minutes, my life changed. I received validation but more importantly, I received the biggest blessing of my life: my children were safe.
To be brutally honest, I thought about shutting down my blog and closing this chapter of my life. I was done. I was burnt out. The emotional toll of this battle is extreme and it weighed on me greatly. I was able to justify walking away from this chapter of my life but something kept nagging at me. Once I caught up on my sleep and was able to let reality sink in, my thoughts began to shift. Could I really walk away from this village of people who have become such a huge part of my life? Knowing what I’ve been through, and what my children have been through, could I really turn my back on this cause?
The answer is no. I couldn’t.
Over the past two months, I’ve come to the realization that this IS my life mission. God placed me on this path for a reason and I’m not going to walk away now. I’ve done a lot of brainstorming and I’ve enlisted lots of trusted friends and loved ones to help me determine the next steps on my path. I want to expand on what has been created through my Facebook community and the blog– to take it to the next level. Because I have always had a spontaneous streak which has never let me down, I did something just a tad bit crazy.
I quit my job.
I quit my very stable job of four years.
When I say that it’s a tad bit crazy, that may be an understatement. You see, I am not in a position to quit my job. I believe in this mission and I believe in what I can accomplish. Today I just signed up for my local “Toast Masters” group where I plan to work on my public speaking skills (lack of public speaking skills!). In 2014, I plan to begin speaking out about the issues in the Family Court System.
I took another huge leap of faith and started, “The Lemonade Club” which will officially launch next week. The Lemonade Club will be an extremely private (paid) forum where we can talk openly, support each other, become empowered, learn, laugh, cry and heal. Members will complete an application and undergo a phone interview to ensure that “trolls” are eliminated. Because I want to ensure that the group size stays manageable, it will be limited to 75 people. Over the next few months, my goal is to transition out of the day-to-day operations of the Facebook page and focus on leading The Lemonade Club. I want to be able to talk openly about my story in a way that I wasn’t able to on the blog. I want to bring in guest bloggers who can share advice from the front lines. I want to take the momentum from the Facebook page and kick it up to the next level.
THE LEMONADE CLUB
There was one point in time when I felt incredibly alone. I had been stripped of all of the things that once mattered to me. I was void of the people that I once called friends. When I tried to speak about what was happening in my life, two things happened:
- I became mute because I was unable to articulate that I, like Alice, had fallen down a rabbit hole into a place called Wonderland. While Alice was thrust into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures, I found myself in a world with similar creatures however; the players in my story lived in a world known as the Family Court System which was equally bizarre.
- I felt like I was speaking a language that no one could understand. It was as if I had awoken in a foreign country and couldn’t speak the native language. People would tilt their head, giving me the all-to-familiar blank stare and then they would say the words that cut through my heart like a dagger: “Why can’t you two just get along for the sake of the children?”
Two years into the biggest battle of my life, I decided to start a blog to document my journey through a custody battle with someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I had no idea that each keystroke on my little laptop was bringing me one step closer to the universe answering my reoccurring, desperate plea: “Please, God. Help me. I am alone and I am terrified.”
Within weeks, I was watching the Today Show. Thank you, Universe. I never watch television but something prompted me to flip on the TV in March of 2012. Matt Lauer was interviewing Christie Brinkley and in his Neanderthal, 1950’s man-brain, he criticized her role in a custody battle with malignant narcissist, Peter Cook. Christie, while choking back tears muttered a series of words that would change my life forever: “Google, ‘Divorcing a Narcissist.’” I was no longer alone and in fact, thousands of people began Googling those three little words and subsequently, connecting with my blog.
I had no idea that so many people were experiencing the same thing. I was no longer alone in Wonderland. These people spoke my language. They didn’t tilt their heads in amazement as I spoke. They understood. These were my people. Through this experience, I connected with men and women across the world who had been suffering in silence. We began to support, encourage and empower each other. Together, we took truckloads of lemons and we whipped up lemonade, lemon pastries, lemon meringue and on occasion, we made lemon drops!
We were lemonade warriors.
We became The Lemonade Club (TLC).
Together, we began to reclaim our voices. Once united, our lives began to change. We’ve learned that knowledge and education can take us from the role of victim to survivor. The Lemonade Club is a group of women who support each other in every aspect of life. It takes a village and in our village, we harvest groves of lemons and make huge batches of kick-bootie lemonade.
I hope you’ll join me at The Lemonade Club! Details to follow….With love, Tina
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Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle” is available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.