butterfly breakupandshine4  Hello and welcome!

Are you suffering the unique yet universal pain that is The End of a Relationship?

If it’s very recent for you, well done for getting up and facing the day. I know the strength that it takes.

If it’s been a while but your life still doesn’t seem to be moving on from the break up, that’s completely normal. 

Thank you for being here and I truly hope that Break Up and Shine will help you.


What if you could make the heartbreak disappear?

What if, very soon, you could look back at the pain you feel at the moment, and be grateful for what it has made you become?

What if you could see this divorce as the best thing that ever happened to you?

Does it feel too soon to imagine that? Do you believe that it’s even possible? Because didn’t believe it six years ago. I was where you may be now. Devastated at the end of my marriage. Unable to believe that my husband was telling me it was over; betrayed by his affair and overwhelmed at being a single mother of three small children. I didn’t know how I would ever be ok again.

But I can truly, hand on heart, say that am glad that it happened. Because today my life is more wonderful than it ever would have been had I stayed married to him.

So welcome to Break Up and Shine! It’s a place where I share my story, healing experience, words of wisdom and support for anyone going through it right now.

You are not alone and it WILL be ok.

Marissa  ♥

The New Year: Cycles and Goals


I feel like 2016 has been a year of consolidation and sowing the seeds for the next fruitful chapter of my life. I have barely written on this blog all year and have considered whether, six years on from the end of my marriage, it is still relevant or necessary to do so.

I’m in a very different state to when Break Up and Shine began; my life has shifted beyond an exploration of why things happened the way they did and from my initial healing path from divorce. For six years I’ve been busy laying the foundations for a new life, and enjoying it as it unfolds. I’ve grieved for and learned from my marriage; trained in a new career; shared a loving new relationship and reclaimed my life on my terms. Continue reading

Closing a door


As I approach the end of my counselling training this year, I have also just reached the end of more than a year of my own personal counselling. I ended my therapy with the feeling that although personal growth is a job for life, for the present, I have finished what I went there to do.

So what was my goal?  Well, although it certainly wasn’t articulated or planned as such at the beginning of the work, I realised that I had gone into therapy to loosen a lifetime’s grip of shame and criticism which had begun in childhood, and culminated in the car crash ending of my marriage. I finished  my counselling at a point where I gained the courage to literally close the door on my ex-husband.  Continue reading

New Life


Today is my daughter’s birthday and I was feeling quite reflective this morning, as I often do when I contemplate the birth of my children. This time six years ago I felt blessed. I’d just given birth to our third child and our family was complete. It was a smooth, easy birth. She was healthy. We brought her home and introduced her to her two adoring older brothers. Of course it was hard work, but I was happy and I stayed for some time cocooned in new baby bliss, feeling thankful for my family.

But I was actually clueless about what was going on behind the scenes. My husband was cheating on me; 3 months after our baby was born I found out and he left me. The cosy bubble had been on borrowed time. Everything I believed exploded around me and left me reeling. Continue reading

Good Therapy? Feel More, Think Less

As humans we possess a natural curiosity to find solutions for problems, and to look for reasons why things don’t work. When dealing with emotional issues, this can have real benefit, but it isn’t always the most helpful thing we can do, particularly in the beginning.

A colleague on my counselling course recently used the term “analysis paralysis” with regards to healing; the need to analyse, intellectualise, make sense of and understand what has happened can hold us back from actually feeling what we need to. We then become stuck and unable to move forward.

When dealing with the aftermath of an emotional crisis, analysis paralysis can take hold with a vengeance. It can hold you back when you attend therapy or embark on any kind of personal growth work, if you focus too much on what you think and not enough on what you feel. Over analysis can put our minds in a kind of prison, where we believe we will only be free when we understand what’s happened. 

The problem with over analysing is that it stops you from feeling. But it is only through full expression of the emotions that healing happens. For a long time after my marriage break-up I tried to make sense of my emotions, instead of actually feeling them (it’s still a bad habit I have!).  Then I spent a long time working to change the emotions which felt horrible (the anger, sadness, resentment), again at the expense of fully feeling them.

In many ways this worked for me; I did it purposefully, with intention, and my life really changed for the better. I concentrated on the positive; my children; my future; a new relationship; a new career path. My whole focus for change became about finding the purpose in what happened and learning the lessons from the pain, so that my life would be different. In fact this has been at the heart of Break Up and Shine.

But for the last 6 months, as part of my training, I have been having my own personal therapy, and I have realised that there is more to healing than looking for understanding. Somehow an unexplainable, subtle shift happens simply by allowing yourself to fully feel and express emotions in a way you may not have done before.  I’ve talked with my counsellor about my former marriage and also other painful experiences in my life.  I have found myself sobbing, raw and drained during some sessions. I have been able to express deep emotions, but not through analysing the “whys” or “hows”, or by using any mental strategies; it’s happened by feeling the pain, right there in that room. After an emotionally tough session I feel different in a way I often I can’t explain, because it’s not something I’ve arrived at cognitively; something has simply changed.

I occasionally wryly question why I’m doing this; handing over good money to feel like a wreck! I have a happy fulfilling life, so why do I want to drag up the past once a fortnight and submerge myself in sorrow?  I realise the answer is that for every painful hour I spend, I get back a whole part of myself that doesn’t need to suffer anymore because I’ve finally released it. And in its place is always a gift; I come away with some new awareness about myself, some different belief or feeling about myself, some vulnerability or some courage to do something I couldn’t do before. Therapy is not just about getting to the tears, it’s about who you can be, and what you can do, after you’ve released the pain.

Making sense of life is what we innately try to do as humans and is a wonderful part of who we are. But sometimes it’s vital to let ourselves simply feel.  I am more than five years post-divorce and am finally starting to accept that I will never fully understand what happened, because half of it was not even about me.  The wonderful thing is that as time goes on and old emotions get released, my need to understand it all becomes less and less, and that’s something I never believed would happen.


* If this post has encouraged you to get help with your feelings, here’s a good starting place for anyone looking for a counsellor

The Loneliness of Unmet Needs

Here’s an interesting revelation that only came to me through my current counselling training:

          It’s not wrong to have needs in a relationship

It may sound obvious to many, but I really didn’t understand that properly during my marriage. My ex-husband used to try to make me believe that it was wrong to need anything from him. He made it clear that people should have no expectations of others. I realised eventually that it was actually some theory, possibly misinterpreted, which allowed him to suit his own ends; he believed that having needs was the same as being “needy”. He may or may not have been doing this with awareness, but the ultimate result was that he got to satisfy his own wishes, while I felt clingy and like a nag for asking for anything from him. Continue reading

Children: The divorce heroes


My beautiful boys were 6 and 4 years old when we sat down and told them that daddy was not going to be living with us anymore; my baby girl was little more than newborn. I was as angry that day for them, as I was for my own betrayal; my grief was as much for the hopes and expectations for my children’s childhoods, as it was for our relationship.

But in the last four years I have witnessed that children have their own life paths to lead too, and this was part of their life journey. I couldn’t shield them from the event, but I was committed to ensuring they were allowed full emotional expression, and that their needs were at the forefront of any decisions made; they had been let down badly enough already.

There were details about the end of the marriage that were not necessary for young ears to hear. It hurt me deeply to tell my children that it was both mummy and daddy’s decision to split up because it wasn’t true. I wanted them to know how hard I fought for them to make him stay, and make it all alright. But blame and finger-pointing wasn’t going to help anybody; it would have hurt them more. However, growth, confidence, self acceptance and an ability to take responsibility for my own motives eventually led me to a place where I could be more honest with myself and the children.

More recently when my eldest child (now almost 11) asks about why daddy left and why can’t we still be together as a family, I am able to share with him that I too was very sad when he went, and that it wasn’t my choice. I can say to him, with no mud-slinging, that daddy wasn’t happy and left because he wanted to be happier. I can reassure him that although mummy was in pain at the time, I am happy now. I teach him that it’s ok to be sad about losing someone, but that pain doesn’t have to be forever; we can learn to be happy again. And I can talk to him about the things we have all gained from the break-up. What I’ve striven to build for the children is an understanding that just because things aren’t what we originally planned them to be, it doesn’t mean that life can’t still be wonderful.

Coming from a childhood family where there were always secrets, and where openness and asking questions was discouraged, I have never wanted this for my own children. Divorce is devastatingly unfair on the kids. I feel that appropriate honesty, given supportively and lovingly with their best interests at heart, is the least we can offer them for the unconditional love they give us in return.

Divorce expects a lot of children. They didn’t choose to have a dad they could only stay with on alternate weekends. But they have learned to value the time they spend, and I make sure they know that it’s ok to express missing him in between visits.

They didn’t choose to be given another half-sibling by their dad, while still grieving the loss of him from their own everyday life. But they adapted, accepted and loved her unconditionally in a way that only children know how.

They didn’t choose for their mum to meet and love someone new, effectively ending their deeply held dream that mummy and daddy would one day get back together. But they embrace the relationship with an eagerness and affection for my partner that warms my heart.

Divorce was not fair on them, and quite understandably they express this sometimes. But on the whole they are accepting, accommodating and willing to go along with what life has dealt them. I am immensely proud of my three beautiful children.



Got to be real


It’s been a long while since I last posted here; almost 6 months! When I stopped feeling guilty, lazy, or like I was letting people down, I realised that that’s ok. I’ve really missed writing, but when life takes over, or when the blog is not calling me, I can’t force it. So this post is dedicated to being true, and thank you to those still reading.

It’s important for me to share today because sometimes the most uncomfortable things are the things which will help us most. Healing from break-up means looking at the pain and acknowledging it, as well as being positive and striving to move beyond it.

Continue reading