How can I best support her? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 04-17-2008, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My best friend is soon going to be a single mom. I don't think I need to go into details, all I need to say is that her husband has compleatly lost my respect.

I've never been in this position before. She is someone who has a hard time asking for help or accepting help when it's offered so simply asking her what she needs from me isn't going to help much. I've offered her child care whenever she needs it and she has been using my phone to call her lawyer so stbx doesn't over hear her conversation. but I feel like I want to do more for her.

OK what I really want to do is punch him in the face but that wouldn't be all that productive.

Any advice?

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.)0(
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#2 of 12 Old 04-17-2008, 07:48 PM
 
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Oh man ... s to your friend.

The best thing you can do is just BE there for her... you know. Let her cry or rage or rant or vent when she needs to, and don't offer advice or "wisdom" if you haven't been in her shoes, just LISTEN. When my ex- and I split up, I desperately needed someone to just listen while I cried, but more often than not I got some really unwanted advice. Plus dumb crap like, "Oh you'll find another man soon." When the last thing I wanted was to jump into another relationship!!!! I'm not saying you're going to do this, just be prepared to listen to her vent.

The offer to help with childcare is huge, I hope she appreciates it.


... There's just so much bundled up with being single... I don't even know where to start. Just listen to her. You know? And if she seems fine, don't assume that she'll keep being fine forever... I still have nights when everything catches up to me and it's been about 2 years, but sometimes STILL I get so angry and I just cry, I'm so mad about what happened and what my kids have had to deal with. I mean, I don't know the situation with your friend but just be prepared for that, you know? And to just be supportive when she needs to let it out.
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#3 of 12 Old 04-17-2008, 07:49 PM
 
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You're a great friend for even asking!

- first of all, if it's possible, offer to babysit. Especially in that first month or so. I just needed time to sit alone and drink wine and cry.
- remember her at dinner time. It gets old to have your only dinner companion be a little kid (or kids).
- tell her how proud of her you are. I almost felt like I had to be strong because everyone thought I was strong. That doesn't make sense, but it worked.
- I felt like I had to do a lot things myself just to prove that I could. So if she isn't asking for help, it might be because she needs to prove that she's strong enough to do it alone, too.
- It's ok to cry along with her. My friends and my parents both cried along with me. I appreciated knowing that people could be honest and sad for me.
My ex-H cheated on me, so my friends and family hated him. In spite of that fact, it does get tiring hearing about what an ass and idiot he is... I wanted people to lay off. Sometimes I felt almost embarrassed for "getting myself into this position." Even though it wasn't my fault, I still felt like who but an idiot marries an adulterer? I know that's not true, but it's a confusing time. And -- my DD is half ex-H. So I felt all Raging Mama Bear because I really didn't/don't want DD to know that people hate her dad. So just stay focused on your friend, not so much on her ex. Listen to her when she cries and is mad but don't bash him yourself. Reinforce that she's strong and she's awesome and you're so proud of her for doing the right thing.

Robin, strong and happy single mama to Anna (7/06)
"Au milieu de l'hiver, j'ai découvert en moi un invincible été."
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#4 of 12 Old 04-17-2008, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. I just feel so helpless watching her go through this. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make all her pain go away.

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.)0(
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#5 of 12 Old 04-17-2008, 08:01 PM
 
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Then you're already being a good friend. ...


Also that was a good point eurobin ~ remember she's a whole person!! I hate the metamorphosis from Woman / Human to Mother-and-nothing-else... Also on the probably getting through it because she HAS to. I got a little sick of people telling me how "strong" I was ~ because it's not like I had a choice.
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#6 of 12 Old 04-17-2008, 09:24 PM
 
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eurobin- can you send some letters to my friends and family? You are so right on! OP, take eurobin's advice, it's wonderful!!
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#7 of 12 Old 04-17-2008, 10:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eurobin View Post
- remember her at dinner time. It gets old to have your only dinner companion be a little kid (or kids).

- It's ok to cry along with her. My friends and my parents both cried along with me. I appreciated knowing that people could be honest and sad for me.
Yes to these. Also, I'm sometimes (usually) so overwhelmed that I can't think straight enough to figure out what I need and whom to ask, so I just keep chugging along. I really appreciate that my parents just say, bring the kids over and we'll take them out to the zoo, or, I'm at the grocery store - what do you need, that my brother & SIL invite me & the kids to dinner, and several of my friends have initiated making plans to spend time together.

What I need most is for all the logistical crap to be done, and to have some peace, but I can only achieve those myself and it will take time. BUT, I really, really appreciate those who have just made sure to be my friends right now. I'll never forget it.

And I second not bashing the X. Let her bash him, rant, rave, etc. ad nauseum, but just listen. You're a good friend.
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#8 of 12 Old 04-18-2008, 12:48 AM
 
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Wow! You're a terrific friend.

I'd say one of the best gifts you could give her is to pace yourself. There's usually a big dramatic flurry at the beginning of a divorce, and it's a hugely intense time, but the average divorce with kids takes about 1.5 years. There will be weeks when nothing is happening, divorcewise. Out-of-the-blue grabs by her husband's lawyer. She'll need support on & off throughout the process, so don't burn it all up in one go.

(You know, it's an amazing thing, but I've never heard of anyone taking a friend along to the lawyer -- for support, to help ask questions, to listen in a non-dazed state.)

If she's been pretty much stay-home, she'll need help finding childcare while she meets with the lawyer, has job interviews, etc. And I second the point about supper, or just plain being around. I would bet you a big fat stack that if you're just sort of there in the house or wherever regularly with your kids, if you've got kids too, that will be a prominent and lasting memory for her children. They're entering an ugly time, and your presence would be part of that, but I bet that their knowing, as adults, that there was a friend that rock-solid would influence them profoundly. And really that's what she's worried about here, in the end, past all the immediate practical stuff -- what's this going to do to her children.
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#9 of 12 Old 04-18-2008, 02:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eurobin View Post
- It's ok to cry along with her. My friends and my parents both cried along with me. I appreciated knowing that people could be honest and sad for me.
My ex-H cheated on me, so my friends and family hated him. In spite of that fact, it does get tiring hearing about what an ass and idiot he is... I wanted people to lay off. Sometimes I felt almost embarrassed for "getting myself into this position." Even though it wasn't my fault, I still felt like who but an idiot marries an adulterer? I know that's not true, but it's a confusing time. And -- my DD is half ex-H. So I felt all Raging Mama Bear because I really didn't/don't want DD to know that people hate her dad. So just stay focused on your friend, not so much on her ex. Listen to her when she cries and is mad but don't bash him yourself. Reinforce that she's strong and she's awesome and you're so proud of her for doing the right thing.
Agree 100% with this.

Also I was going to say, be available to talk about "other" stuff. I certainly appreciate my friends listening to me and helping me get through this but sometimes I just want a break and to talk about something totally different.

Also let her be a friend to you. One of my friends recently told me about some stuff going on with her that she hadn't mentioned because I was already overwhelmed. And it made me feel bad, cause I don't want things to be so one sided-- I want to be able to provide support to others too.
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#10 of 12 Old 04-19-2008, 03:17 AM
 
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being quite awhile downstream from my divorce, I'd say, pencil her into your calender 1 year from today. That would be a good time to call her up and inviter her somewhere. Sometimes I wonder, WTH happened to some of my married friends.
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#11 of 12 Old 04-20-2008, 09:21 PM
 
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Aw, mama. I have been down this road. It was long before I was a mama myself. My best friend was in a similar situation and I remember all of the time that we shared when she came to the conclusion that she was pregnant and alone.

Be there to listen. That is major. The offer of childcare is great and I would also try to find stuff to get her out of the house, so she's not dwelling on this. What a good friend you are.

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#12 of 12 Old 04-22-2008, 12:55 PM
 
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Another vote for inviting her and her child/children to family dinners. Poor dd gets more sandwiches/soup/cereal for dinner because it seems so silly to cook just for the two of us.
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