Weekly messages to help you start over in life


(Join 3,000+ wise subscribers)

How Cultural Shame About Divorce Shaped My Life And Choices

How Cultural Shame About Divorce Shaped My Life And Choices

In early 2015, I was divorced from my husband.

It was clean, in terms of assets. It was a short marriage and relationship, so we didn’t amass too much, and we didn’t have kids. He didn’t want to contest anything, which I much appreciated. I can’t even imagine having to fight and drag this out in court, while my life seemingly ended.

Truthfully, though, this marriage should have ended long ago, maybe not even have happened. Escalating commitments and a strong desire for this not to be a failure was what kept me going. I was afraid, afraid that if it did not last, I would experience something again that played a huge role in my life growing up. It shaped most my decisions, and even the anticipation of it kept me on path, however wrong.

That something was shame, and I’m all too familiar it.

When I was 7 or 8, my parents separated. We were the first family I knew that had divorced parents, much less the first Asian family.

It was a tumultuous time; I didn’t know what it would mean for us as a family anymore. None of the adults talked to my older brother and I to try to make any sense of it for us. It was probably thought that it was best not to involve the kids, as we may not understand anyway. But I remember the feeling of someone talking about you behind your back. The hushed tones and quieting up when you come into a room. That feeling.

And, I acutely remember instructions from my aunt. She was the only person who ever mentioned my parents’ divorce to us, just so we would know what to say, or not say.

“Don’t tell anyone your parents are divorced, or they will make fun of you. They will make fun of you that you’re from a broken family. If anyone asked where your mom is, just say she went on vacation.”

Laughable now, but that was the beginning of the long road of internalizing shame.

She could have never known that, while trying to protect us and upholding her values, she set off a decades-long, deep-seated feeling of inferiority and not belonging within me. After that, I hoped to God no one would ever ask me about my parents, because then I’d have to lie. It didn’t feel good to lie. So a few times, I told the truth.

The reactions, especially from other Asians, confirmed my aunt’s truth. They didn’t make fun, but they were shocked. Then, always the awkward silence, and the look of pity. And that didn’t feel good either.

I kept that shame with me wherever I went. I never learned the skills to fight it, as Asians do not believe in mental health disorders or getting therapy. You just dealt by not thinking about it, by numbing, hoping the passage of time would heal all wounds. Seeing my dad today, I venture to say it’s largely true. He’s no longer bitter, but it took him a long time to get there, and during that process, he unloaded an unhealthy amount of baggage on me. It was too much for a barely-tween to handle.

In 2010, I met my ex-husband. Red flags and gut feelings surfaced, but I just dismissed them, not wanting to rock the boat. More arguments would inevitably lead to the divorce discussion, and that was a topic best kept at bay.

And so I soldiered on… longer, harder than I ever have before, until I physically and mentally just couldn’t anymore. I remembered looking at myself in the mirror, and thinking that I was just a shell of who I used to be. I no longer was that vibrant, laughing, silly girl. It was in that moment, that I decided the pain of staying was far greater than the pain of leaving. And so I left. But I knew the real battle was about to begin.

In my mind, I had already begun prepping myself for when I was to face my family. I consoled myself, telling myself that in a couple of years, when the dust settled, no one would even remember and blink an eye. No one would see you as a failure and an embarrassment. More importantly, no one would die from your dishonor, from your family sustaining yet another divorce, from you being over 25 and now unmarried, which solidly classified you as a leftover woman in Chinese culture. A divorced leftover woman. Basically used goods.

It was easier said than done.

I was living overseas with him, and did not tell my immediate family I was back stateside, for good, until about a month in. I couldn’t. No matter how logically I thought about it, there was no way to override that emotional imprint that shame left when I was a kid.

Not only that, people carried the shame for me. My mother, not wanting her coworkers to see me with her, lest they ask questions. My family not talking to me about it, or talking to me about anything. Awkward silences.

That is shame at its best: silencer, isolater, inferior complex.

I decided this time around the shame outcome was going to be different. I am older, and have much more resources available. The next few years, I took my time to really unpack it. I no longer want shame to tag along wherever I went. I wanted to finally live my life for me, hold my head up high and know that a broken marriage should not, and does not, define me. I wanted to break the cycle and not give it the power it clearly does not deserve. The journey was tough and intense, but needed to happen.

I won.

Today, shame is no longer my shadow. This past Thanksgiving, my aunt… the same aunt who long ago unwittingly set my path of shame in motion, also the person I love and respect the most in this world… spoke about my divorce to me in hushed tones along with some hurtful words. She did not mean to hurt. She was actually being very loving, loving in the only way she knew how. Because I’ve since let go of shame presiding, I was able to take what she said in stride, which was meant for my best, and no longer feel the burden to carry.

The divorced status brought me down, but also set me free.

*Sunny is a Medium writer who writes about persona growth and spirituality. You can read more of her stories here on the Turning Point

How to Get Out of a Toxic Relationship

In a toxic relationship?

Or find yourself in a pattern of toxic relationships?

How do you break out of one and find healing?

Check out my interview above with author A.G Billig.

A.G. writes about her experiences with toxic relationships in her book, 5 Easy Steps to Ending Toxic Relationships: Unplug the Negativity Cord and Jump-Start Your Emotional Healing.(affiliate link)

Three powerful take-aways from the book are:

1. Look for the patterns in toxic relationships.

She writes that “patterns are recurring situations that are woven into our lives, often with different people.” If you don’t learn the lessons with this partner, you’re going to have to learn it from the next.

2. Unplug the negativity cord so you can break out of the toxic relationship you’re in.

Surround yourself and cultivate more positivity in your life. Seek positivity and healthy interactions in all areas of your life regardless of the relationship you’re in. Start seeing and engaging with the life outside of the relationship you’re in.

3. Take your power back.

If you are blaming yourself for your misfortune and bad relationships, it’s time to take your power back. Stop blaming the person you’re in a relationship with. “See every person who challenges you and pushes your buttons as a teacher or mirror.” Look for the lessons in situations instead of focusing on how bad the situation is.

Now is the time to make changes in your life by exiting the toxic relationships you might be in. Change starts with learning, self-awareness, observing patterns and consciously making changes.

A.G. speaks at an emotional, spiritual and conscious level to help you realize that you don’t have to live with this kind of negativity forever.

If you’re in a toxic relationship or want to avoid getting into more of them, check out 5 Easy Steps to Ending Toxic Relationships today on the Amazon store here (affiliate link).

Win the Hearts of Indian Parents and Marry Your Indian Partner

Win the Hearts of Indian Parents and Marry Your Indian Partner

You’re in a bit of an Indian parent masala.

Your boyfriend is Indian and you’re not. (Unfortunately, your partner’s parents are Indian as well!?)

You had dreamy hopes of marrying him and living happily ever after.

The only problem is that your partner hails from that part of the world known as South Asia: primarily India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or Bhutan.

If you’ve fallen in love with an Indian guy or dating someone from one of these South Asian countries, your life is about to turn upside down.

You found a brilliant, well-educated, polite and devoted guy but…you had no idea this wonderful person came from an overly-protective, slightly judgmental, and hostile family.

In fact, your partner’s Indian parents are likely neurotic, hate the idea of their son dating you and will do everything in their power to sabotage this relationship.

Would Indian parents actually go to this extreme? You betcha!

You will face an emotionally manipulative and aggressive force like no other: the Indian mom and dad.

It’s nothing personal. It’s just that they didn’t work hard, come to this country with 15 cents in their pockets and put their kids through Ivy League schools for those kids to marry you!

You may have initially thought that Indian parents were slightly protective and uncertain of you but now that you’ve gotten to know them, you’re no longer naïve about what’s at stake.

Indian parents (and most South Asian parents) are against intercultural or interracial marriages. They will do whatever it takes to end the relationship between you and their son (including espionage, private investigators, blackmail and criminal threats).

You are realizing the full emotional and psychological battle facing you.

Indian parents will make your dating and potential marriage with your Indian boyfriend very challenging. Your partner is supportive and helpful but you need advice and guidance to deal with the volcano known as Indian parents.

Luckily for you, a guide is available to help. Today, I’m releasing a book called, How to Get Indian Parents to Accept Your Marriage Proposal.

It’s a basic, straightforward guide to understanding the mindset of Indian parents – and to outmaneuvering and outsmarting them so you can have your big, fat Indian wedding.

If you’re not Indian but dating an Indian man (or woman), this one-of-a-kind book will help you understand the Indian cultural mindset and overcome the Indian parents standing between you and the relationship you desire.

The book contains 14 chapters filled with pearls of wisdom and practical-action steps that will help you move your partner’s Indian parents from “hell no” to “fine, ok, whatever.”

Here are the 14 chapter titles of How to Get Indian Parents to Accept Your Marriage Proposal:

  1. Introduction 
  2. What do Indian parents really want other than diamonds and landed property? 
  3. Why are Indian parents against interracial/intercultural marriages and you? 
  4. What extreme measures will Indian parents take to stop you from dating their offspring? 
  5. How should your rational partner talk about your relationship to her slightly neurotic Indian parents? 
  6. How do you take a strategic approach to get the blessings of Indian parents without losing your mind or your Indian partner? 
  7. What is the secret to acceptance into Indian culture without having to be reborn as an Indian person in your next life? 
  8. How should you treat Indian parents to get their appreciation and approval instead of their scorn and hate? 
  9. Another laundry list of ideas to receive marital blessings from your partner’s Indian parents as they put you through the washing machine of life. 
  10. How can you meet, converse with and socialize with the enemy and turn Indian parents into allies? 
  11. How are your sanity and other things more important than your relationship with Indian parents? 
  12. How do you deal with hostile and hurtful Indian parents who tell you to go fly a kite? 
  13. What if your partner is considering a big fat Indian wedding without you? 
  14. May the Gita and the Force Be With You

What if your partner is considering a big, fat Indian wedding without you?

If you’re seeking approval and blessings so you can marry your Indian or South Asian partner, this is the guide for you.

Pick up How to Get Indian Parents to Accept Your Marriage Proposal today.

Use the book’s strategies – and be sure to put me on the guest list if they work and you have a big, fat Indian wedding.

I’ll be checking the mail for my wedding invite!

Get How to Get Indian Parents to Accept Your Marriage Proposal today.

Should You Escape Your Marriage?

Should You Escape Your Marriage?

One of my dear blogging friends is Lisa Thomson, who blogs about life after having left her  marriage. Lisa has guided thousands of women who have made the difficult decision of leaving their marriages. She left one herself and not only survived it, but is thriving after having left it.

Are you stuck in a marriage that you’re not sure about anymore? Should you stay or leave your marriage? What can you expect when you do leave your marriage?

Although Lisa’s first book published in 2012, answers many of these questions, she now has a new book out. Well, it’s not so much a book as a divorce manifesto. A Divorce Companion: The Best of the Great Escape Blog will guide you through the ups and downs of divorce. Lisa prepares you to deal with the psychological, financial, legal and parenting aspects of divorce in her new book which is a compilation of some of her best blog posts.

I chatted with Lisa recently and asked her some of the most pressing questions I had about leaving a marriage. If you enjoy the interview and are considering a divorce, pick up Lisa’s book today here.

Ok, Lisa, a few questions for you.

Thank you Vishnu, for hosting and interviewing me here at your wonderful blog!

What led you to leave your marriage?

Well, I guess you won’t be surprised when I say it was multiple things rather than one event. It was many small and big things over many years that ultimately led to the demise of my marriage. I finally accepted my unhappiness at the core of my being and gave myself permission to accept that life wasn’t turning out the way I expected. I faced the fact that it had to change. I realized too that ending a marriage, knowing what we need in our life to live authentically, is a very personal matter.

What factors should women consider before leaving a marriage?

There are many and here I will list in order of importance;

Children-your children will always be your #1 concern so, ensuring they understand what’s happening, that they are comfortable and well cared for is priority. Keep the communication open and ongoing, too. Often couples forget to talk about things after the big announcement. That is wrong—keep the conversation going and be as honest as possible while reminding them that their only job is to ‘be a kid’.

Finances-determine accounts, credit card debts, loans outstanding and actual income as a couple. Also, get your own credit card and bank account as soon as possible. If you’ve been a stay at home mom, without an income, it is reasonable to take some money from the joint account and put it into your new account.

Living arrangements/logistics-who will move out and will you sell or keep the matrimonial home? These are questions that don’t have to be answered immediately however, you should begin to think about and discuss together.

Child custody- Will you both co-parent? This is the most popular child custody arrangement and works well for the children if you are on good terms and there is no abusive patterns. Best to discuss this together and independently with lawyers. Take into consideration your special requirements and circumstances.

Division of assets-begin discussing a fair division of assets. Knowing what your assets and liabilities are as a couple and agreeing on these can make a world of difference in creating an amicable divorce.

Make all agreements binding-if you are lucky enough to agree with your soon to be ex (STBX) on important issues listed here, then make sure you have ‘consent orders’ that are written by lawyers and signed by all parties.

Family therapy-consider attending counseling as a divorcing couple. This is not something we did but I can see how it would help. Just because you’re divorcing doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to work together cooperatively (with the children and other divorce related issues).

Finally, family and friends-try not to neglect your relationships with extended family and keep them in the loop in so far as the child custody is concerned as well as living arrangements.

What was the most difficult part of leaving your marriage?

Hands down, the hardest thing about leaving my marriage was having less time with my children. It was emotionally wrenching initially. I was a full time stay at home mom (SAHM) at the time and raising them was my job from infancy. My ex-husband was a business traveler and not at home as much. I can say though, that in time, the pain and feeling of loss went away and was replaced with more gratitude for the time I do have with my children.

How do you adapt to life after separation and divorce?

Slowly LOL. It really is a personal process. One thing I can say is, I don’t know one divorced woman who hasn’t found happiness after a period of adjustment. It is hard. I won’t lie about that. It is also rewarding and a growing experience. It’s worth every tear.

What would you tell others about parenting after a divorce?

This is also a transitional period. You have to learn to parent more sensitively. Keep the communication open and don’t shut down your child’s sadness. Let them cry. Let them show you how much it hurts that mom and dad are split apart and everything is changing. Honoring your child’s feelings is one of the most validating things you can do for them as a parent. It was one of the hardest things for me to learn because every time they showed me anger or tears my guilt shot up and all I wanted to do was fix it. We can’t fix it, we can only make it easier for them.

What is your message in your latest book to women who are considering leaving and filing a divorce?

My latest book’s message overall is to embrace your individual strength as a woman. You can get through it but be prepared for frustration and anger to rear up while at the same time, finding the most joy you’ve experienced in years. It’s a real mixed bag. My book certainly covers many topics from Narcissism, financial budgeting,  re-setting your career path to dealing with anger, and letting go. It’s designed to provide companionship and practical tips to those suffering right now.

What would you advise someone who is torn between staying and leaving?

This is always a tough one. It is the hardest part, the ‘thinking about it’ stage. I advise all women the same thing at this stage; do what is best for you and your family. It’s a personal decision. No one can tell another person when to end their marriage (barring obvious situations where a person is being abused physically, mentally or is in a life threatening relationship).

I advise to read, write and really be honest with yourself at this stage. Stop the denial. Make lists. Pros and cons, list unhappy events no matter how small. Life is made up of a million small things so if those are the unhappy events, well what does that say about your life? This is a decision that is not done over night and will take some introspection.

Where can people pick up your latest book?

It’s available now on Amazon. It’s designed to provide that companionship one needs during divorce and can only find through someone who’s been there. The variety and depth of topics act as a self help tool providing much needed tips and simple solutions to common divorce problems.

Lisa Thomson has gone through a unique divorce and faced unusual challenges. A mom, a writer and an interior decorator, Lisa also loves to draw and paint. “My passion is to encourage women going through divorce. It doesn’t have to be “the end” but rather, a new “beginning.” You can find her latest book on Amazon here and in Canada, here. She blogs at www.lisathomsonlive.com and active on Twitter and Facebook.

Why Is This Happening To You?

Why Is This Happening To You?

why me

When you’ve experienced a massive breakup or divorce, you start asking a lot of questions, and many of them are not very helpful.

You’ll ask why this is happening to you.

What happened to your life.

You might ask what you did to deserve this.

You’ll ask why God isn’t listening to you and wonder if God even exists.

Actually, some of us tend to ask these questions and then end up writing books about them! I wrote Is God Listening? asking these types of questions (you can find it here).

While writing books may be productive and helpful, asking disempowering questions of yourself is not. There’s no sufficient answer as to why this is happening. If this was a natural disaster, a tsunami, or an earthquake, what can you do? What answers will satisfy you?

Tragedies, natural disasters, and yes, even divorce, happen. Yes, divorce involves feelings and people, but ultimately they occur. Relationships start and end. It is a natural cycle of life. In all of life, we want answers to questions so we can understand the world better. “Why me?” you may ask.

It’s natural and human to ask questions like this of ourselves, but it is not healthy or helpful to healing. A couple of different ways to think about this is to believe that things happen, and sometimes for no reason at all.

There’s no positive result that comes out of repeatedly asking why certain things are happening to you because some of these questions won’t have answers.

The divorce happened because you weren’t compatible, because you married the wrong partner, because you didn’t put the time into the relationship, because of an affair, etc.

It happened for any number of contributing reasons, but the big question of “why you” has no answer.

Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.

No point in holding the universe responsible or blaming life itself for a sequence of events that resulted in divorce. You’ll just keep swirling negative thoughts in your mind, and wasting emotional and mental energy trying to understand why this happened to you.

One way to view your divorce is that nothing happened for this to happen to you.

Your divorce happened for any variety of reasons, but there will be no answer to why it’s happening to you. Like rivers and oceans and life for billions of years, nature and human experiences is just running its course. There is no reason or explanations needed.

You didn’t cause it, your karma didn’t create it, and God isn’t after you.

Sure, you might have done things that contributed to the divorce in your life, but there’s no good answer to “why you.” Divorce happened like it rained yesterday afternoon; there’s no rhyme or reason other than possibly it’s the rainy season.

There’s no particular reason why you were singled out in life to experience divorce.

Earthquakes happen. Tsunamis happen. Forest fires happens.

Your sixteen-year-old son wants to back out of the garage and drives into your house instead.

Natural disasters and life happens.

It’s not fate, karma, voodoo dolls, or anything else that has it in for you. Life happens like nature happens.

You’re a tiny speckle of the universe who has come into it for eighty-some years and will be leaving it.

Demanding to know what your role is in the universal scheme of things or having the knowledge of why your divorce happened as it did is not going to help any.

If you look at it from a billion-year view or take a meta-view (step ten thousand feet away from your situation), your divorce is just one set of events that unfold.

It’s a small part of a much larger picture. It will be a small part of your life when you look at it globally.

You don’t have to know why it happened.

If you insist on knowing why it happened, choose this message: Your divorce is happening for your greatest good. It’s happening for your spiritual growth. It’s happening to help you become the best version of yourself. It’s helping you become the person you’re capable of being so you can attract the right partner into your life.

If this isn’t a sufficient answer for explaining why you are divorced, then I challenge you to ask yourself more empowering questions instead.

Don’t ask yourself why this happened; instead, ask yourself what lessons you can learn from this experience. What is the divorce trying to teach you? How is this going to prepare you for the future? What is this teaching you about life?

If you start viewing the end of your marriage as a teaching experience and a period of growth, your mind will start focusing on more helpful and empowering answers.

You’ll be looking for lessons and insights to help improve your life.

Another way to focus on the situation is to think about what you can do now. Yes, this happened, but now what? What’s in your control? What can you change? How can you move forward? How can you rebuild a new life for yourself?

By letting go of one set of questions and focusing on more positive ones, you’ll help focus your mind on empowering questions that will lead to growth, learning and moving on.

Don’t like my answer? Want to know where God is and if God’s listening to you? Click here to pick up my book, Is God Listening?

*Photo credit unsplash

How to Love Yourself When You’re In a Relationship

How to Love Yourself When You’re In a Relationship


“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Oscar Wilde

In my twenties, I had control issues that prevented me from truly falling in love.

I had a boyfriend who genuinely loved me and we were together for over 8 years. Only, I never truly fell in love. That truth didn’t set me free as much as it scared me.

The root of that fear is what my journey of self-love has been about.

I believe it is the root and source of all emotional pain.

I mustered courage to end that long term relationship and later had a few short term romances that ended abruptly and hurt tremendously.

So, I avoided men which reduced my chances of falling in love and ultimately getting hurt. I was ambivalent about romance because of my upbringing.

Given my parent’s violent quarrels and painful exchanges, you could understand my ambivalence.

I rationalized that I needed to love myself first before I could be in a relationship.

My wise therapist suggested working on loving myself while dating.

I was reluctant, but realized that I had unsuccessfully tried loving myself even when I hadn’t been in a relationship.

I worked through some of my many issues and became adept at processing feelings but not at feeling the extent of my wounding.

Still, I inched closer to a love-affair with myself by putting effort into my relationship with a new boyfriend.

So how do you love yourself when you are in a relationship?

Self -love requires your willingness to be very intimate, vulnerable, honest and courageous to admit the truth about what you think and how you feel.

It requires surrender and making time to be with ourselves to listen to our whole being.

Here are 6 ways to fall in love with yourself:

1. Intimacy is energy circulating within you in love and trust.

You become an explorer of your inner domain. Intimacy is letting your guard down and welcoming every experience. Intimacy creates sensitivity to self and others. You become aware of everything you are feeling.

It means trusting that the Universe is providing everything you need.

To be intimate, you must be vulnerable.

2. Vulnerability is willingness to experience your insecurities.

It isn’t so much about disclosing your insecurities to others as it is about being with your insecurities.

Vulnerability requires honesty and courage to yourself.

3. Honesty means you tell the truth to yourself.

It requires trust and conscious emotional awareness.

Your emotions offer important messages.

Avoiding these messages is not growth promoting nor very loving.

Honesty takes courage.

4. Courage means you are willing to experience your pain including any bodily sensations.

It requires attention to what you are feeling in your body and what you are thinking moment by moment.

It doesn’t mean examining or studying your experience or thoughts.

Self-love requires courage to surrender.

5. Surrender is letting go of controlling what is or what may or may not happen.

Embrace rather than resist your pain.

Experience your pain. Feel your pain.

Love whether of self or others becomes more graceful when you simply surrender to what is, including what you feel.

You must feel the depth of your pain which is at the root your fear that you lack value.

To feel deeply you have to make time.

6. Time with yourself is valuing yourself enough to listen to yourself.

Being aware of what you are experiencing allows you to introspect which means coming to an understanding of your experience.

The key is not getting lost in the mental aspect of introspection without first feeling your pain.

It is being emotionally aware while not being absorbed by your emotions. Your conscious awareness empowers you so you are not swept away by your emotions.

Self-love is a journey and practice of being intimate, vulnerable, honest, and courageous. These form the foundation of self-love. Other elements help you to actively love yourself like patience, good self-care, kindness, self-validation, setting boundaries, forgiveness, etc.

The beauty of your journey is that opportunities for growth and greater self-love arise continuously. What is vital to loving yourself is a firm decision and willingness to venture to live life as well as a commitment to expand your own love.

You don’t live life by thinking about it.

You live by experiencing.

If you struggle to love yourself, it is likely you don’t fall in love easily.

It points to a tendency to be caught in your mind.

Being absorbed in your thoughts means you are not fully present to live your life. If you think too much then you need to remind yourself to feel with your body.

“Like lovemaking it is a whole body experience not just a mental exercise.”

You don’t hold back but give in to the knowing of your whole being.

The universal human experience of falling in love is referred to as a ‘fall’ as it happens unexpectedly.

You don’t struggle or plan the fall, it just happens.

You don’t attempt to control your feelings for doing so compromises our freedom and happiness.

When you value yourself, you do things that fulfill you and makes you happy.

Self- love as well as love for others is real when it makes you feel open, free, and happy.

When you love, you are free.

When you are free, you love no matter what.

Being free to love is true happiness.

True happiness is priceless.

Living is about being present to each moment.

You’ll know you have started to fall in love with yourself when you feel free to be yourself anywhere and with anyone.

You know you are loving yourself more when you value yourself in situations where you had not before.

Others will be drawn to you because you invite them to be themselves.

Monica EspinozaMonica Espinoza is an artistic writer, blogger and self-love alchemist.  To receive her regular posts by email, sign up for her blog here.

* Photo credit Oakley F