Hello everybody, welcome to episode 114 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. We have a very challenging question on the ledger today that’s come in from a woman that has recently had her life turned upside down when her husband left. There’s a lot to it, but I believe the path to recovery, while challenging, is clearly laid out for her. Let’s hear the story from her and see what we can do…
QUESTION: “My husband dumped me with my 1 year old baby, which he doesn’t support, and I am jobless. He’s called once, but I don’t want to pick up. I am so stressed, I have no appetite, and you can imagine right now I’m staying at my parent’s house. The pain is too much and I don't know what to do. I am lost, heartbroken. Moving on is not that easy for me. Please help.”
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Ok. There’s a lot going on here as this is a very difficult situation you’ve found yourself in. Yet still, I’m happy to tell you that I think there’s a lot to be hopeful for, and a reliable game plan you can put into action. I want to start by introducing you to what’s called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Some of you might have heard about it — it’s a very popular model in psychology.
The short version is that a psychologist named Abraham Maslow created what he called a hierarchy of needs, insinuating that certain human needs must be met before bothering to fulfill other ones.
The hierarchy goes as such:
At the bottom, you have physiological needs like food, water, shelter, and clothing. Once you’ve met those needs, you can then concern yourself with safety needs, like employment, health, and other resources for personal security. After you’ve met your safety needs, there are three more tiers that involve relationships, personal freedom, spirituality, status and so on.
What are Your Needs to Take Care Of?
What this means for you is that you have a hierarchy of things to take care of in order to get yourself back on your feet. This scenario that you’ve found yourself in is not going to get solved all at once, and thinking it will will only damage you more.
You will get out of this, but you’re going to have to take it step by step, fulfilling the needs for you and your baby in the right order. That means taking care of food, shelter, etc. first and making that the top priority. That means before looking for work and certainly before paying for some kind of self-help program or picking up the phone and hearing what your ex is blabbering about. That stuff will have to wait.
So here’s the move:
First things first is to get answers on those base, physiological needs.
Your Basic Needs
It’s so great that you have your parents right now after your husband left; what a blessing. They’re a huge life line at the moment. So to avoid any more surprises, it’s essential to talk to them and get on the same page about exactly what they can do for you and the baby, and for how long. Ask them how long they’re comfortable with you staying there. And if they’re providing financial support, ask them how much they can offer.
Of course, this is not to see how much you can get from them, but to know just what to expect so it’s easier for you to start planning. Creating a plan based on whatever answers you get for them will be a great way of giving you some certainty. And when you have certainty, your mood will slowly but surely start to improve and your appetite will come back.
Note: your appetite will slowly come back anyway. In the meantime, when you do eat, stick to as many calorie-dense foods as you can, like eggs and nuts. And don’t ignore fruit, vegetables and plenty of water.
Your Support System
Now, if your parents can’t do much for you beyond what they’ve already done, there are other places to look for support.
Reaching out to a woman’s shelter or, if you feel comfortable with it, reaching out to some close friends would be another way to go. Both avenues could provide similar services for you. If all of these sources are willing to help you, you might even consider using all three so as to not put so much pressure on one.
For example, maybe living at a women’s shelter, accepting some money from your parents, and asking a friend to watch your baby when the time comes to look for jobs.
Again, this is assuming they’re all willing or able to help you.
Looking for Work after Your Husband Left
At that point, once you know your allies and are clear about what they will do to help you, it’s time to start looking for work more diligently. Ideally, you can get answers from your parents, and if necessary, a shelter and friends all in a matter of days – it really shouldn’t take long.
Explain to them that you’re not pressuring them, but that you’d just like to know exactly how much help you can get right now so you can know how much time you can spend on creating your own independence. Try not to be bitter if anyone can’t help you as much as you thought they would.
Remember, all of these people are the ones giving to you right now, and anything they provide is worth being grateful for.
Working Towards Stability
So again, once you know exactly the help you’re getting and (hopefully) for how long, you start looking for a job. At the beginning, I say you find anything you can get, because the priority is to get some money soon, not a lot of money later.
You can always change jobs to something better once there’s some more stability. Maybe if you have parents that are willing to house you and pay for all your expenses for 5 years you can spend a little extra time looking for a good job right away, but obviously you want to work as soon as possible and not take advantage of those who are going out of their way for you.
Like I said, the more certainty you can create for yourself right now, the more your depression will be likely to improve – because you’ll be reassured that you and your baby have all the necessities. Everything is being generated from knowing that you and your baby will be ok. The more that’s prolonged, the better you’ll feel.
And there’s a lot of certainty that comes from the independence of making your own way and providing for yourself after your husband left – not to mention the sense of purpose and contribution that comes from it, as well.
Thank for you listening today, everyone. Thank you, asker, for being so vulnerable and coming to us in a truly difficult time for you when your husband left you and your baby.
As always, it’s a real privilege knowing that you guys trust us in some of these most life-defining times. Love you all. Always here for you. Send questions of your own in by email to advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
As you know by now, you’re all more than welcome with whatever you want to bring to the table. That’s going to do it for today, though. I’ll be back to talk to you again soon, and I hope you’ll be back to listen. Until then.