How to Support Those Impacted by the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, the world held its breath as Russia invaded Ukraine.

Today, our news feeds flood with videos of families ducking underground while their neighborhood is hit by an air strike. Newspapers and magazines launch front-page photos of children on trains wearing ripped jackets and bruised cheeks.

It can be crushing to feel so helpless from so far away. The good news is that there are things you can do to support those impacted by the Russian Invasion of Ukraine.

Donate to Helpful Organizations

Over 10 million Ukrainians have fled the country. Many of these refugees are looking for help to cover their basic needs. Looking for organizations that can help on the ground? Here’s a handful you can send donations to:

  • UNICEFHeavy firearms in Ukraine have destroyed imperative housing and plumbing infrastructure, keeping clean drinking water out of reach for many Ukrainian families. UNICEF’s emergency teams and partners are responding by offering mental and physical health support, food, clean drinking water, and education for children. Your donation would support these efforts.
  • Doctors Without BordersDoctors Without Borders (also known as MSF which stands for Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders in French) has been in Ukraine since 2014 helping citizens with HIV, tuberculosis, and other chronic illnesses. Since the war began, they’ve shifted their efforts to providing emergency services and expanding teams to several nearby countries. Your donation would help them receive urgently needed medical supplies, ranging from war-related surgeries and traumas to key medical supplies to which citizens with chronic illnesses no longer have access.
  • Voices of Children: Reduce the effects of war trauma on the lives of children by donating to the non-profit, Voices of Children. Your donation will go towards mental health treatment, rehabilitation, and easing the everyday concerns of their families.
  • Care: This 75-year old organization is aiming to touch the lives of 4 million displaced Ukrainians. Your donation goes toward providing critical first aid and recovery, food, clean water, hygiene kits, and more to family refugees.
  • Revived Soldiers Ukraine: Many Ukrainian citizens are choosing to move their families to safety, then stay and fight for freedom. Support them with a donation to Revived Soldiers Ukraine, an organization dedicated to providing medical and humanitarian support to soldiers in need of expensive emergency care and rehabilitation.

Got an AirBnB? Offer it to Ukrainian Refugees

AirBnB has already arranged housing for over 20,000 Afghan refugees and is on the road to housing 20,000 more. At the end of February, AirBnB announced they’re also offering support to house 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

If you own an AirBnB, you can host a refugee family through their partner nonprofit, AirBnB.org. As long as you have an AirBnB account, you also have the option to donate to help refugees’ stays to be completely free.

Support Journalists Reporting from Ukraine

Independent publications from Ukraine send their journalists into the heart of the war. These brave storytellers report from bomb shelters, train stations, and crumbled neighborhoods. Educating the world about what’s really happening in Ukraine will lead to more donations and assistance.

By donating to journals like The Kyiv Independent or The New Voice of Ukraine, you can help Ukrainians be heard. You can also share their stories to keep the people around you educated.

Keep Yourself Healthy so You May Help Others

Brené Brown, a social work researcher, academic, and speaker, recently found that the variable that highly compassionate people share the most is whether they have (and uphold) personal boundaries.

It’s now proven by research that the fuller your cup is, the more you can give to others. Support yourself during this crisis by prioritizing your mental health and starting therapy with me.

Schedule your first appointment today.

Breaking Down Consensual Non-Monogamy

Most of us were taught to associate love and romance with monogamous relationships only. However, love exists in many forms! The number of people involved doesn’t define whether it is or is not a genuine relationship. As long as there’s consent from everyone involved, you may find that relationships are more meaningful to you when you add more people!

Let’s break down consensual non-monogamy.

Consensual Non-Monogamy in a Nutshell

You may not have heard of the term “non-monogamy” before, but you’re more than likely familiar with it. Non-consensual non-monogamy is when someone else is invited into the relationship without one of the partner’s consent—a.k.a. cheating.

Consensual non-monogamy, however, means that everyone involved consents to the specific people and dynamic of the relationship. This umbrella term represents many variations of non-monogamy, from open relationships to polyamory.

Assuming someone’s non-monogamous relationship is just as taboo as having an affair is offensive. These relationships can often be healthier than monogamous relationships because of how much communication and vulnerability they require.

Let’s break it down.

Open Relationships

Open relationships involve one primary couple where one or both partners are “open” to sexual activity with people outside of the relationship. The person who isn’t in the primary couple typically has a specific role and is seen as a secondary addition to the couple.

Open relationships most commonly take place between couples who have been married/committed for a long time and are looking to spice it up in the bedroom by inviting another person. You make the decision together, and couples should establish clear boundaries about what sexual contact is okay and what isn’t.

Swinging

While swinging is technically a kind of open relationship, couples who swing are typically more open to meeting with strangers, and tend to engage with more of a swinging “culture”.

Swinging is a diverse space. It could mean kissing strangers briefly at parties, or it could mean getting together with a group of friends you’ve known for years to swap partners.

Polyamory

Polyamorous relationships are relatively popular in certain cultures around the world. Polygyny, for example, is often seen in Muslim parts of the Middle East and Africa. It is when one husband shares sexual relationships with multiple wives whom have no sexual contact with each other. We sometimes see this in the U.S. as well.

Polyandry, the same thing with reversed gender roles, happens rarely, as it’s less likely to receive social and cultural support.

The Tenants of Consensual Non-Monogamy

Some people think that having a relationship with multiple people dilutes the relationship you have with each individual. This isn’t true.

Consensual non-monogamy idolizes the same standards that monogamy should—no lying, no sexual pressure or coercion, and no making decisions that affect the relationship without everyone’s voice present.

Everyone’s relationship is unique, even in monogamous relationships, so every relationship should have its own unique set of expectations. With consensual non-monogamy, couples should consider a few things before introducing another cook to the kitchen…

  • Is the relationship casual, committed, brief, or long-term?
  • What role does each person serve in the relationship? (Primary, secondary, tertiary…)
  • What is okay and what is off-limits between partners sexually, romantically, and emotionally?
  • To protect us from STIs and/or unwanted pregnancies, what kind of sexual behavior is okay?

For consensual non-monogamy to work, you need to take genuine interest and care for your partners’ feelings. You need to establish a foundation of trust, vulnerability, and communication. If boundaries get crossed, it’s important that you each have the reflective tools and communication skills necessary to problem-solve without feeling betrayed.

To better understand how your own insecurities, upbringing, and preferences may affect you in a consensual non-monogamous relationship, work with a therapist! Schedule your first appointment today.

Here’s How to Navigate Those Hard Conversations About How to Spend the Holidays

‘Tis the season of long text chains, strict schedules, and your dad blaming your mom when things go wrong. We understand the pain and frustration that comes with celebrating the holidays in a broken family.

This year, spend the holidays how you want to. Here is how you can navigate the hard conversations that come with attending multiple holiday events:

Be Realistic About What You Can Do

You want to say yes to everything, but one parent is in another state and the other is right down the road. If you travel to see one, you no longer have time to stop by the other. And your partner wanted to go to their family Christmas this year. Will you face the wrath of both of your parents by telling them you will not be in attendance?

If you know this anxiety all too well, it is time to get realistic about the holidays. You are only human. You cannot possibly make everyone happy, and trying to attend every event you can will only end up making you deeply unhappy and exhausted at the end of the day.

Accept that stress is going to be a part of this season no matter what. However, it is up to you to decide what stress you want to forgo and what stress is worth the fun. Choose with intention!

Separate Your Relatives’ Feelings From Your Own

Adult children of divorce tend to feel a deep sense of obligation to see their family. For especially empathetic people, this can mean feeling shame from mom or disappointment from dad—two feelings that can cause anxiety to shoot through the roof.

Remember that these are their feelings, not yours. While you can acknowledge them and apologize for the frustration, it is not your guilt to bear.

You can work on separating their feelings from yours by building healthy boundaries. Learn to say “no” with confidence, meaning without offering adjustments. If you know it will be stressful to balance another stop on your holiday road trip, do not even think of offering up, “Maybe I can leave one early…”

Once you set your boundary, come up with a ritual to “cleanse yourself” of the emotions that are not yours. Some people like jumping into the shower after spending time with others to enjoy some alone time, mentally reset, and metaphorically “wash” away the feelings of others.

Acknowledge The Feelings That Come Up

You are not a failure for feeling sad around the holidays. Not being able to see certain family members is upsetting, and sometimes just being put in the position of having to choose at all is what is most frustrating.

Remember that these feelings are completely valid, so try not to minimize or suppress them. Let yourself feel them by journaling, talking them out with a loved one, or sharing them with a therapist.

Know that you may not be the only one feeling hurt this year. While it is certainly not your responsibility to do everything your family wants you to do, it is your responsibility to treat them with love and respect.

You can apologize for the hurt and disappointment they feel without changing your plans and being overly accommodating. Offer up something like, “I’m sorry that I’m not coming to Christmas. I know you’re disappointed we can’t see each other, and I miss you a ton! I just can’t make it happen this year.”

Tense conversations tend to go over better when you validate the other person’s feelings first, but still stand your ground.

If you have a habit of dreading the holiday season, consider starting counseling today. Together, we can uncover those deeper issues so you can go on to enjoy happier, healthier holidays.

New Beginnings: How New Parents Can Cope with the Stress Babies Bring to Partnerships

Babies can be stressful. They’ll pull at your heartstrings in ways you’ve never felt before and introduce you to a new meaning of life itself. At the same, you could probably use another hour of sleep today. (Or two.)

Suddenly your attention diverts to this tiny, screaming bundle of joy. Sometimes it feels like you only have energy left to scream yourself.

Don’t panic—eventually your baby bird will grow wings of its own and require less constant attention, but until then, it takes hard work and intention from both partners to keep that nest full of love and support.

Let’s talk about how new parents can cope with the stress babies bring to partnerships.

Choosing Each Other 

What used to be romantic compliments in passing now sound more like reminders and demands. When 90% of your conversation becomes dominated by transactional statements, you start seeing your partner as a cog in the family machine instead of the person you fell in love with.

Newborns are demanding. Without time and energy on your side, how can you put any work into the relationship?

After the first six weeks with your child, give yourself permission to check in with your partner. Spending time together however you can will go a long way. It doesn’t have to be a fabulous steak dinner; it can be as simple as solving a crossword puzzle together or watching a TV show after the baby is asleep. Eat breakfast or dinner together or share a short walk around the block.

Prioritize each other with intention.

Finding Excitement in the Little Things 

It’s totally okay (and almost necessary, even) to mourn the loss of who you were before the baby arrived.

Some couples experience this fear that their relationship isn’t what they thought it was without the adventure and fun of pre-baby life. That’s not true.

You can keep the fun in your relationship by choosing small, manageable tactics. Try new takeout options for dinner or rent a movie from home with fresh microwaved popcorn.

The exciting outings you enjoyed before now require more work and less spontaneity. You need a stroller, extra diapers, bottles, toys to calm your baby—the list goes on. Sometimes it helps to acknowledge the truth: you’re an adult with a long list of responsibilities, and that requires some planning.

You and your partner are two adults who chose each other to make life more beautiful. Continue to choose each other by making space, keeping a strict schedule, and connecting in simple, creative ways.

Change What You Can, Accept What You Can’t

You’re at the very beginning of your parenting journey together, and there’s going to be disagreements along the way. Remember that you’re co-parenting, so let your partner parent.

If your partner enjoys playing with the baby while changing their diaper, let them. Maybe you think it’s a waste of time and it would be more efficient to change it quickly and get on with it, but it’s best not to micromanage when your partner is appropriately carrying their weight.

When things come up that you simply can’t stand, bring it up and compromise. But when you feel the need to course-correct, pause and ask yourself, “How big of a difference would it actually make if I say this right now?” If the difference is small, let it go. If it’s big, discuss with your partner.

Sometimes you’ll agree to disagree, sometimes you’ll find harmonious compromise, and sometimes you’ll pick one person’s idea over the other’s. Be prepared for anything and stay open-minded. Remember, you’re on the same team.

If the light at the end of the newborn baby tunnel seems farther away than you’d like, consider seeking professional help with one of our couples counselors. We can create a game plan that works for your family.

Are You Suffering From Pregnancy Depression?

By Ellie Messinger-Adams

When we hear the word betrayal we typically think of relationships and the betrayal of someone we love. Betrayal, however, is not that limited. For many women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, betrayal is personal. When our experiences do not line up with the ones we dreamed up and our body does not do things the way “everyone else’s” does we feel betrayed by ourselves, our bodies, our expectations, and our spirit. When this happens it is important to remember that you are not alone, many women before you, now and in the future have and will experience this pain. The question is how do we manage it?

Pregnancy is not always butterflies and lollipops. It is real, it is hard and it brings up so many emotions that we never thought we had. 

  1. Name it: This might sound crazy, but one of the first things that can help us when we feel pain is to name what it is. When we can recognize that we feel betrayed by ourselves we can begin to discover what we need to move forward. It helps us begin to get unstuck. Words that might show up for you: betrayal, grief, loss, disappointment, anger, sadness and so much more.

  2. Grieve the losses: The betrayal of our bodies leaves us with feelings of loss. Before we are able to move on we have to recognize what we have lost and take time to grief those things. It is ok to cry, scream, and … this is normal

  3. Reconnect with your body: After we take time to grieve we MUST reconnect. Honor your body and what it did, does, and can do. Use mindfulness, yoga, exercise, meditation, or other practice to take time with yourself and for yourself.

  4. Talk about it: When we feel betrayed by our bodies it is natural to feel shame and want to run and hide from all the people we love hoping that they will not see “the real you”. When we talk about it and get our story out there, however, we get to normalize it, we get to be vulnerable and grow from our pain. What might surprise you is that when you talk with your partner, family, friends, or even colleagues you are likely to find another woman you know well who went or is going through these same things. 

  5. Find a community of other women: Mom’s need moms.  Finding a group of supportive, nurturing women who just know what motherhood is like can make all the difference.  Having someone who understands what it’s like to be exhausted, how frustrating it is to deal with toddler tantrums, and laugh with you when faced with yet another diaper mishap can be a life-saver for many mothers.  

If this is you and you are struggling to work through your personal betrayal, it is also important to know when to get help. You do not have to do it alone. Counseling can be a great way to help you begin to move forward again. We are here to help. 

Sources:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/when-you-feel-like-your-body-has-betrayed-you/