...through false ‘wiring’ (mindset) because of social and cultural norms, and expectations instilled in me during my childhood and upbringing.
I bought into the romantic idealism and notion that once I found who I thought would be my one 'true love and soulmate', I would ‘live happily ever after till death do us part’.
Personal life experience (and my professional encounters with thousands of divorce clients over the past 27 years) has taught me that relationships are complicated and can be very challenging; we can all ‘live happily ever after’ but happiness and joy comes from within. It’s an inside job.
My ex-husband and I had our fair share of ‘ups and downs’ over our 24-year marriage. We had the best of times and the worst of times. I have both fond memories and soul-destroying memories. The challenges I faced were difficult to overcome given the gravity of the circumstances and breach of trust.
There comes a time in all unhealthy relationships, when you can’t continue ‘playing happy families’ for the sake of the children and family unit. You must be brave, courageous and true to yourself.
If the cornerstone and key foundations of a marriage/relationship no longer exist i.e. trust, love and respect, the marriage/relationship is one in name only and becomes futile. In my opinion, it should come to an end as harmoniously as possible, if it is no longer serving you and your family.
I plucked up the courage and strength to end my marriage in December 2016. At that time, my children were aged 21 and 16. We physically separated in July 2017 and I filed for divorce in March 2019 (on 2 years separation with consent). I practiced what I preach and kept matters as amiable as possible and stayed away from the ‘blame game’.
Thankfully, the ‘no-fault’ divorce bill has been approved. Although the act received Royal Assent in June 2020, the reforms have not yet come into force. The government is still working on implementing the changes. No fault divorce is expected to be introduced in April 2022.
My divorce was finalised in October 2019. I recall feeling a sense of great loss and sadness at that point, even though I had made the decision to end my marriage. It was the end of an era. The start of new beginnings and chapters in my life.
“People come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime” - Michelle Ventor
The feelings of loss and grief will have been more intense for my ex-husband who did not want the marriage to end. I was acutely aware of this throughout the period of our separation and divorce.
Even with all my years of experience as a divorce lawyer, this was one of the most painful and challenging times in my lifetime. The only way I can describe all the emotions that divorce entails is that of a bereavement; it is a living bereavement.
I had to dig deep and have an appreciation of my ex-husband’s pain, sorrow and regrets. Give him time and space to catch up on the emotional journey of the 'loss and change cycle' and time to heal.
Have you ever experienced a traumatic situation like death of a loved one or dramatic change in lifestyle and future expectations? With the coronavirus pandemic, I am sure we have all experienced this in some shape or form.
These are extraordinary tough, challenging and unprecedented times. It is even more difficult for separating couples as emotions are intensified and heightened with families having been forced to spend more time together for months on end, almost 24/7 during lengthy periods of lockdown and restrictions on our liberties.
A response to such situations is explained by a Swiss psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler Ross who developed a model that is also widely known as the ‘Kubler-Ross Change Curve’. These several stages represent a series of emotions a person goes through after experiencing a traumatic situation like death or a marriage breakup - shock, denial, anger, depression, experiment, decision and acceptance.
Divorce is not just a legal process. It is an emotional and psychological journey too. Transition occurs at a different pace for each party. You cannot make sensible and informed decisions unless you give yourself (and your sex-partner) time and space to heal, to come to terms with the aftermath and to have the headspace to make sensible informed decisions about your future.
Throughout the period of my separation and divorce, I kept asking myself, “If I find this so difficult and painful, what must my clients feel like?” I have always taken a holistic approach when servicing clients as a lawyer and actively encouraged clients to seek help from other professionals like, life coaches, counsellors and psychotherapists to help them manage their emotions and to secure much needed support and motivation.
There was a clear shift in my consciousness having walked in the shoes of my clients and experienced first-hand the trauma and heartbreak of separation and divorce.
Many of my marital challenges and problems felt like they were insurmountable at the time and some, unforgivable. However, as I have grown older and become a little wiser, I have come to realise that it is in gratitude, forgiveness and letting go of grievances, past ‘wrong-doings’ and the ‘blame-game’ that we find salvation and a sense of freedom and joy.
Learning to accept situations, trusting the process and surrendering was life changing for me. I am grateful for every challenge, not just in my marriage, but throughout my life and career. These challenges have given me great gifts and lessons. The gift of resilience, grit, tenacity, self- belief, self-worth and the gift of life itself as most of us do not ‘live’ in the true sense, we simply ‘exist’.
It is not until you get out the other end of a painful breakup and find yourself again, and give yourself permission to live (in the true sense) that you recognise, you were in fact not ‘living’ but just ‘existing’ previously. We all lose our identity and true self when we get caught up in the drama of the three dimensional world. Such life experiences and adversities can help us find the magic of the multi-dimensional and meta-physical world where we find peace, joy and salvation.
As a result of all my life experiences to date (the good, the bad and the ugly!) I am who I am today. A brave, bold, courageous and tenacious woman who is willing to take risks and follow her passion, heart and calling. In March 2021 I decided to give up my long-standing 27-year career as a divorce lawyer as it no longer resonated with me and was not aligned to my core values.
My three key watch words and core values are:
1. Integrity - the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
2. Compassion - sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
3. Humility - a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness.
This online holistic family mediation service birthed out my intention to help separating and divorcing couples who face the same fate and challenges that I have experienced, to guide and support them through stormy times into cheerier days. I bring a wealth of invaluable experience to the virtual mediation table both professionally and personally.
I can help you and your ex-partner achieve a successful and harmonious outcome - preserving your dignity and sanity. Saving you both thousands of pounds in legal costs and more importantly, saving you from the emotional and psychological trauma of long-drawn-out legal negotiations and court battles.
As a third party neutral, I empower separating and conflicted couples to make and take their own informed decisions with pragmatic and visionary guidance from me.
I will provide relevant information, tools and resources needed to reach your own informed resolutions and for preventative strategies. It is my desire and goal to help separating couples to go from being sad, angry and dysfunctional beings into happy, joyful and fully functional beings, post separation and/or divorce – one couple at a time.
The reflective and pragmatic approach to mediation will help parties understand the consequences of their decisions and to take full responsibility for their actions. We all have a choice and free-will and it is the choices we make that determines and shapes our future.
What legacy do you want to leave for your family/children? I knew that I wanted to lead by example and show my children that whilst divorce is painful, it does not have to be toxic, bitter and twisted and we can rebuild a new, happier model of family life and reality.
Ultimately, it is my mission to create, manage and support a safe virtual container for sensible dialogue between conflicting couples. A conducive space to allow parties to be heard and to be understood; it is not about agreeing on every point in issue. Often, it is about agreeing to disagree and shelving issues that no longer serve them or their family and to leave those particular disputes and grievances in the past where they belong. We live in the here and now/the present moment, not the past or the future.
“If your mind carries a heavy burden of the past, you will experience more of the same. The past perpetuates itself through lack of presence. The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future.” - Eckhart Tolle
I have no regrets about my past decisions and choices. I am happier today than I have ever been. We are all human and we all make mistakes. I have found peace and serenity with my newfound tools and daily practices. I have found my one true love and soulmate who resides within me.
I have come to the realisation that I was ‘wired up' with self-limiting and short-sighted belief systems, which I have and continue to work tirelessly to re-wire and to shed old unwarranted beliefs.
It’s all about mind, body/health, spirit and soul/heart-set and recognising that you are not just your body and mind - you are much more than that. These are the instruments/vessels that we (our souls) are blessed with to experience life on planet Earth.
I now know that I can do and achieve anything that I set my mind to and follow through with action (we all can). I do not need external validation or anyone’s consent or permission. I am the master of my mind and body; not its slave.
I believe that we are all connected to a greater being/power/source/intelligence (call it what you will) and we can tap into this Supreme Source/Intelligence by daily practice of yoga, meditation and connecting with Mother Nature. The word 'yoga' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'yuj', meaning 'to join' or 'to unite'. As per yogic scriptures, the practice of yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness, invoking a perfect harmony between the mind, body, spirit and soul.
A holistic approach to family mediation involves a service that looks at each party as a whole person, not just the legal issues and implications of their relationship break up. Within the mediation process, I will consider each party's physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing (as appropriate) to help them understand each other’s personal journey and perspective with a view to aiding compromise and co-creation of suitable resolutions.
It is my desire and wish for all couples in conflict to make concerted efforts (where it is safe and appropriate) to mediate and to practice "conscious uncoupling" as per the term coined by Katherine Woodward Thomas in her famous book - "Conscious Uncoupling - 5 Steps to Happily Even After". This can be achieved via the holistic family mediation route. The process will allow separating couples to reclaim their power, life and freedom. This in turn will allow them, their children and future generations to lead happier, healthier and more fruitful and fulfilling lives post separation and/or divorce.
As stated above, I will accomplish this, one couple at a time with the hope of a ‘pebble in water’ effect to impact positively upon future generations.
I have been successful in securing a dignified divorce in my own personal circumstances by practicing what I preach. My children are happy, grounded and thriving. The divorce had limited adverse impact upon them as a result of the choices made to be kinder and compassionate.
I remain on fairly good terms with my ex-husband. We can and do continue to share space with our children on special/important occasions as a new model of family life. I desperately want this for all separating couples and their children. Where there is a will, there is a way.