Divorcing a Parent: Free Yourself from the Past and Live the Life You've Always Wanted

Overview

No one should have to endure an abusive, unhealthy relationship that threatens his or her well-being--even if that relationship is with a parent. A family and child counselor with fifteen years experience, Beverly Engel divorced her own mother three years ago--not because of past abuse, but because of the continual abuse she received as an adult. Engel realized that divorcing her mother was vital to her own physical and emotional health.

In this ground-breaking book, Engel ...

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Overview

No one should have to endure an abusive, unhealthy relationship that threatens his or her well-being--even if that relationship is with a parent. A family and child counselor with fifteen years experience, Beverly Engel divorced her own mother three years ago--not because of past abuse, but because of the continual abuse she received as an adult. Engel realized that divorcing her mother was vital to her own physical and emotional health.

In this ground-breaking book, Engel draws on her own personal experience, as well as the stories and letters of other adult children, to offer a complete guide to why, when, and how to divorce a parent. Engel discusses good and had reasons for taking this step, when to stop trying to reconcile, and how to prepare yourself emotionally for the actual divorce, including such alternatives as temporary separation. If you do decide that parental divorce is the right choice for you, Engel tells you how to implement the divorce: how to handle negative pressure from others; how to come to terms with your own grief and guilt; what to tell your own children, and how to deal with their relationships with their grandparents; how to cope with holidays, how to divorce a parent after his or her death, and what to do if you changeeyour mind and want to reconcile.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449905906
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/14/1991
  • Edition description: 1st Ballantine Books ed
  • Pages: 194
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Beverly Engel is a nationally recognized psychotherapist and sex therapist and with twenty years experience, as well as a bestselling author. She is the author of The Right to Innocence, The Emotionally Abused Woman, Partners in Recovery, Encouragements for the Emotionally Abused Woman, Families in Recovery, and Raising Your Sexual Self-Esteem. She has shared her expertise on Oprah!, Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Ricki Lake. She is the founder of the Center for Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse (CASSA) in Redondo Beach, California. Beverly now lives in Cambria, California.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: My Own Decision to Divorce--and Yours 1
Part 1 To Divorce or Not to Divorce 7
Chapter 1 Anatomy of a Divorce 9
It's Not So Easy to Forgive 10
Your Needs Are Important 12
Divorce Is Divorce 14
Looking for Reasons in All the Wrong Places 17
You Have a Choice 23
Chapter 2 When Right Is on Your Side 25
When Your Parent Is Hypercritical 25
When Your Parent Is Manipulative and Controlling 27
When Your Parent Continues to Abuse You 28
When Your Parent Continues to Deny the Truth 29
Breaking the Cycle of Abuse 30
Choosing Sobriety or Abstinence over Your Parents 33
Breaking the Codependency Habit 34
When It's Either You or Them 36
When Your Parent Won't Accept Your Lifestyle 37
Needing to Separate 38
When It's Just Too Late 47
Chapter 3 Is Divorce the Healthy Choice for You? 51
Reviewing Your Past 53
Separating the Past from the Present 56
Releasing Your Anger 57
Listening to Your Inner Voice 62
Physical and Emotional Clues 66
Before You Decide to Divorce 69
Chapter 4 Preparing Yourself for Divorce 83
Preparing Your Inner Child 83
An Emotional Dress Rehearsal 91
Your Supporting Cast 93
Part 2 Making the Divorce Final 97
Chapter 5 Coping with External and Internal Critics 99
How to Handle Pressure from Others 99
Your Own Worst Critic: How to Handle the Pressures from Within 113
Chapter 6 Divorcing Without a Lawyer: The Mechanics of Divorce 123
The Formal Declaration 124
Divorcing a Parent after He Has Divorced You 128
Divorcing Your Entire Family 130
Divorcing a Parent Who Has Died 134
Chapter 7 Letting Go: The Process of Emotional Divorce 137
Mourning the Loss of Your Parent 140
Unresolved Grief 151
Completing the Grieving Process 152
Chapter 8 New Beginnings and Happy Endings 155
New Beginnings 155
Happy Endings 158
Appendix 1 To the Divorced Parent 167
Appendix 2 To Mates, Friends, and Other Loved Ones 175
Appendix 3 To Therapists 181
References, Recommended Reading, and Resources 185
Index 189
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2001

    This book has been crucial in my recovery!

    After over 37 years of feeling trapped in a cycle of guilt, obligation, denial and resentment that are the 'standard operating procedure' of most dysfunctional families, I finally entered into therapy last year to try to make some sense of my feelings, which now included chronic anxiety and depression. The negative relationship with my mother in particular was starting to impact my job, my marriage, and my health. To my surprise, the therapist did not push me towards reconciliation, but rather encouraged me to make a total break from my parents -- for my own sanity. During that time, I became aware of 'Divorcing a Parent' by Beverly Engel, and decided to read it -- even though I didn't think I 'could' or 'should' sever all contact with my parents at that time. Many of the things it talks about in terms of the negative impact our families can have on our health and happiness were happening to me, but it was hard to accept. Through this book and therapy, however, I began to realize that I needed to make a choice between staying in a relationship that was clearly detrimental to my health and personal growth, or 'divorcing' my parents out of love for them and me -- thus breaking free of the enmeshment and control that had kept me emotionally bound to them. I do not believe I could have made the (healthy) choice without 'Divorcing a Parent.' It makes the excellent point that a parental relationship should be no different from the other important relationships in our lives: that we often grow apart from friends, spouses or employers (especially when they are abusive), and must move on in order to experience a greater sense of who we are and what we truly need to make us thrive. Why should it be any different with our families? If there is no trust, no open communication or willingness on BOTH sides to work on the relationship, then it becomes a stagnant - even toxic - situation to be in. I feel greatly indebited to Ms. Engel for the insight and encouragement given to me by her book, and feel that I was able to finally make this often gut-wrenching but positive change in my life largely because of it. Divorcing a parent may not be the right decision for everyone, but this book will definitely help you decide. And it will help give you courage to make the break, if you ultimately choose to do so.

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