Dr. O: Hey, Hey, Hey and welcome to the Black Marriage and Family Therapy Matters Podcast, where we connect black families to black therapists. We have a guest today and her name is Latoya. Hi, Latoya.
Latoya Nelson: Hey
Dr. O: How are you?
Latoya Nelson: I’m doing great. I’m so happy to be here.
Dr. O: Good. We’re happy to have you. LaToya, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to give my guests a little introduction about you and then we’ll get right to the interview. Is that okay?
Latoya Nelson: Yep, that’s perfectly fine.
Dr. O: Awesome. Latoya Nelson is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and the founder and owner of Lotus Wellness Center, based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Latoya specializes in helping people recover after the devastation of divorce, as well as educate on divorce prevention. Latoya has published two books so far. “Our Journal” is a couple’s journal that helps couples connect and grow by improving their communication. “My Divorce Journal” is a guided journal for those in divorce recovery, who are seeking to heal from their past relationship and move forward. When Latoya isn’t changing the world through her amazing work she does with clients and companies. LaToya loves to spend time with the two twins that she loves, travel and tend to her garden. Wow, Latoya, that’s awesome.
Latoya Nelson: Yes.
Dr. O: What a blessing. You’ve written two books, not one, but two?
Latoya Nelson: Yes, two definitely in four different audiences. So it can just help.
Dr. O: Absolutely. So let’s start with the first one is ‘Our Journal.”
Latoya Nelson: Mm hmm. That is an awesome couples journal that helps people connect and reconnect. Oftentimes I find in dealing with families kind of working through their issues, and hopefully, preventing divorce, communication isn’t something that is still on the table or still affecting, them. So I really try to there so they can reconnect and grow their love and just get there again. Mm hmm. So in your work with couples, do you find that communication is one of the biggest issues in general? Yes, I find that either we are communicating to win and not merely communicating to resolve the issue, or we don’t feel that we’re heard. And that also all usually starts to kind of create a breakdown in the relationship, because if you don’t really your partner is hearing you, then it makes it harder to you know, really want to love them and really wants to support them and take care of them. Because you don’t feel like your needs are being that that is so true. It’s funny, because I feel like every time I talk to someone about communication and relationships, it’s like either or either I’m not being heard, you know, or the other person is like talking too much or, you know, not knowing how to communicate, like, I think what I see a lot is that people are just having a hard time finding that happy middle piece. Mm hmm. Normally, and I really feel most of the couples I work with when they attempt to communicate, it’s usually verbal, right there in your face. And we’re looking all the nonverbal stuff when they roll their eyes are when they smirk. And very rarely are we communicating to resolve the issue. It’s all a battle, and we’re not working as a team. So couples journal really kind of gives the feel of the old school, your eyes only type letters. And it allows people to put first what they love about their partner. what’s not working, it’s when right love with you. Yeah, so I love about this relationship. So there’s an intro section that really helps the couple reconnect to why this all started, how did we get here? part of how we got here, where are we together? Something that definitely has helped a lot of couples so far. Right? Good. I like that. I like that. So is this something that you’re supposed to do with your couple at the same time? Do you both need a copy of the journal? How does that work? No, it is one journal that you share. And it has designed to where you would write your message to your person and you can send them a quick text or leave it in a low central location. So they know that it’s their chance to pick it up, read what was written and respond. So it’s designed to be a journal where you’re writing back and forth and you’re able to come back and resorting really well what you know, I felt loved when he or she did a B and C. So it’s something that you get one journal, it lasts 90 days and you pass it back and forth. So it’s your little secret as a couple Oh my that is awesome. I like that he can’t come up with ideas. All your all yet. Well. It was something in high school that I remember doing with my friends. We would be back Have a composition book it back and forth. When I started that, that was before the texting days.
Dr. O: Yes.
Latoya Nelson: Before, before Facebook before instant Messenger? Yes. Wow. It’s something where I have to remind couples that communication isn’t always verbal, it can be a text, it can be an email, it can be a journal. So find what works in that moment, because not all the time, can we just sit there and look at someone across the table and not get triggered?
Right. Right. says to get those feelings out. And you know, feel like we’re heard because we’re not they’re just again, kind of fighting to be heard. It’s all written down. So the great thing about the couple’s journals that there’s also check ins routine check ins to see if you feel loved by your partner, and if your partner is feeling loved by you.
Dr. O: Okay, so I normally wait to the end to add
Latoya Nelson: Oh, sorry.
Dr. O: Yeah, no, no to ask about, like, where we can find it. But I just want to make a note now because I’m going to get this journal, because we need that. So where can we get it?
Latoya Nelson: You can find it at Barnes and Nobles, as well as on if you’re local to the Raleigh area. It’s also at the Quail Ridge Bookstore. I know exactly where you’re talking about. Yes. Okay. You can find it there and they’ll be able to get you one. And you can also go on my website and you know, order it online from
Dr. O: Okay, well. Okay, so we’ll hit back on it at the end as well. But I definitely wanted to make a mental note of that. Um, so your other one is “My Divorce Journey.” Is that correct?
Latoya Nelson: Yeah, yeah,
Dr. O: Okay. Okay, but it is also a journal.
Latoya Nelson: Yes, it is a guided journal individually, for a person who’s recovering from the devastation of divorce. There’s so many feelings that come up regarding that. And I’ve, we’re quick to move to our next relationship, or just one link, better move to the next thing, don’t stop to process what we’ve been through. And sometimes the divorce can be very, very traumatic, even if you’re the one who wanted it, it can be transition after can be very traumatic. So it’s important to process of feeling.
Dr. O: That’s so important because I run a course called embrace your inner relationship goddess. And basically, we empower black women to get ready for relationships. And a couple of the people that are in the course now, were just telling me who are one is going through a divorce, and one has already been through divorce. She compared that to the death of a loved one.
Latoya Nelson: Yeah. Oh, definitely. Because it’s a major loss. We have this idea of when we get married, have what this relationship is going to be and you know, the death do you part part? And we get married?
Dr. O: Wow. She couldn’t even present it like that. So that’s what it is like death? Did you part?
Latoya Nelson: Yeah. And it’s hard. Because we have this vision of what’s going to happen. We, you know, we’re optimistic, we never get into a marriage thinking I’m gonna give this five years and it’s not gonna work. You know, you always go when thinking I’m gonna be in rocking chairs on the patio with a sweet tea with this person in our 70s and 80s.
Dr. O: So when so I don’t, I don’t work too much with a divorced population. I want you to clarify that a little bit, because I think I was under the impression and I don’t know if she can, everybody, but I thought people did kind of think of divorce a little bit more or not from your practice, you don’t see that.
Latoya Nelson: From my practice, I see that when people are at the altar, and they are, you know, getting married. They’re excited. They’re envisioning this life with this person. Very rarely, in the people that I work with, have they considered this may end before I want it to write, they don’t necessarily consider that, oh, in three years, we’re going to be divorced, or in five years, we’re going to be divorced or in 15 years, you know, this relationship is gonna end. They definitely come to it with that hope and that strong will to make it work. so oftentimes, the guilt comes when they didn’t, or it didn’t work.
Dr. O: Oh, well, let me ask you this follow up. Because even though I don’t do too much couples work, you know, I do work with like, healthy relationship skills. And one of the things that I hear a lot is in marriages, when they’re angry with each other, they’ll say, Okay, well, we’ll just get a divorce. If you don’t do this, we’re going to get a divorce. How do you think all that plays into when people act like are you finding people who actually get divorces began by making those little threats, which kind of made it a little bit more real that it could happen.
Latoya Nelson: I find that once you’ve made that threat, you’ve already thought about it. Mm hmm. And it’s something that individually either has already been on on your radar, and you’ve thought what what it may look like what life may look like if we weren’t in this relationship, but very rarely to be kind of just it just come to mind. And we’re thinking about it enough to say it out loud, because that can be a shock to the other partner. And granted, sometimes, you know, hurt people hurt people. So if we are in an argument, and you’ve hurt me, and I’ve kind of pulled out all the stops of what I know, that hurts you, that may be my last ditch effort to create some distance between us. So it, I’ve found that, you know, sometimes that can be the worst thing you say is, you know, we’ll just get a divorce. And this would be over because very rarely, that’s not what we want to be heard. We want to be listened to, we want a resolution, but we’re also hurting. So we want to hurt back. And it’s hard to have those emotions at the same time and decide where to go in our conscious, like, I want this to work mine. Mm hmm.
Dr. O: Very good. Very good. Wow. Okay, such great, great feedback. What do you wish black families knew about divorce?
Latoya Nelson: I wish our families knew that it was not the end of the world. I think oftentimes, our culture is quick to just stay in something because they do. And we feel like the worst is the scarlet letter. And you know, things will never be the same. It’s breaking up a black family, which we, you know, we’ve we always don’t want to do. But I find that many times, we’ve stayed in things a little bit longer than we should for the sake of being married. And we think that our world is going to come to an end. And that’s not true. It’s it’s definitely not easy. And it should not be a decision that’s made lightly. But I also don’t think it’s something that is as bad as we have been told it is. And you know, it’s one of those things where I’ve had clients who have mentioned that, you know, my mom has wished she’d gotten a divorce. But she kind of stayed in it, because that’s not what our family does.
Dr. O: Mm hmm.
Latoya Nelson: And that’s something that we’ve passed on those values that can hold us hostage. So I just wish black families know it’s not the end of the world, you can recover. You can still have connections with your children, you can still have a great co parenting relationship with the other parent if their kids involved. But it’s not the end of the world.
Dr. O: I love that. I love that. Let’s do you find that sometimes in your practice, you have members that will divorce will not divorce, but they’ll separate maybe they’ll be with another get another relationship or have other children. Do you ever see that?
Latoya Nelson: So that’s something that I haven’t yet seen in my practice. But it has seen that in my family where they’ll just be technically still married, but are separate, separated and have lived their life as if they’re not. And they have yet had that kind of life situation that forces them to make it legal. Yes. I’ve had I haven’t seen that in my practice, as most of my clients are kind of ready to make that break and officially start their life in a new direction. That’s something that I’ve definitely seen in my family.
Dr. O: Good. Oh, let me pick up on one. I just think he said though, are you saying that sometimes people come to you while they’re getting divorced dependent have helped with that? Or is that what you say?
Latoya Nelson: Yes. So some of my clients are in the period of separation. So each state has different laws regarding when you can get a divorce, let’s say down in here, North Carolina is crazy.
Dr. O: Yeah.
Latoya Nelson: We have to wait a year in a day pass the day where you guys have different addresses, in order to get the finalized for the court to give the divorce decree. Whereas some states are not that way you could go in and you know, an hour later have the divorce papers.
Dr. O: Yeah, um, so I’m licensed in multiple states, and it kills me because the clients in Georgia, they get like 31 days, 31 days, you could be in the same house, you can be same bed room for all they care, like you just you just as you can.
Latoya Nelson: Yes. And you know, and some people don’t know that. So they don’t know what the laws are. So part of what I do is educating that you know, it is a year and a day in a year in a day can be a long time. to want to no longer be connected with this person. But it also allows you that time to really see what life is like without that and see if you can reconnect with that. It’s possible that you guys can work through some of the concerns and issues and replay. So it can be different in each part.
Dr. O: Good, good. Well, let me ask you this. And I know there’s no one size fits all. But But like you said, the purpose of doing that is to kind of see if you are going to be going back and forth. And if there’s an opportunity to salvage what you have, is there any type of like, Is there anything you can add to like, when it’s time to? Like, how do you know like, this is the last time like, you know, the divorce? Like, like, we need a divorce? This is not something we can work through. Are there any signs that people can look for for that?
Latoya Nelson: So I definitely think a big portion of that is personal to each person, I think what I’m willing to accept and work through may be different than what you or the next person is. But I definitely think there’s some clear core safety concerns when abuse is involved. And then also, when that person is just not willing to work on it. When it’s become a you do it my way, or you don’t do it at all, and they become an immovable object that can really show you how far they’re willing to work on things. And may sense that that’s just how things are going to be. And I definitely encourage folks to when it gets to that point, what is our exit strategy? Because there’s a lot more to take to be accounted for other than just I’m leaving this person, if there are children involved, what does that look like? Then it becomes what is custody? Are you financially able to leave? And you know, what does that look like making sure you have all the the main documents you need for your financial health and security, as well as finding housing, you know, it some women and some people are financially tied to their spouse? Yeah, and leaving can look a lot different than if a person has their own, you know, nine to five job and their own bank accounts and their own vehicle in their name. It’s a different situation. So sometimes, people come to me and they need to kind of have some solutions regarding I’m ready to leave. But what does this look like? Because if I leave now I’m going to a shelter. And that’s not stable, that’s not good for my kids. How are we coping right now and getting what we need for our exit strategy was still holding that things may change, and the relationship may work. But giving ourselves that option.
Dr. O: Good. I love that. And I love that you help people during that stage, because I think people look at therapy as either couples therapy or individual. And they don’t think that sometimes that that is that kind of middle ground, like you’re still couples, but you’re working towards individual, and that would, you know, it’s good to get some help with that.
Latoya Nelson: Yeah. And I find that a lot of people in that situation, feel alone, because we don’t want to talk to our friends, you know, that me and my spouse, or things have gotten so worse, that I’m planning on ending this relationship, maybe we can’t talk to family members, because they love them, or they hated them. And they’re gonna say, I told you, I told you so.
Dr. O: But any type of judgment in general, and I have to say, I think that, that makes it really hard for us really, to do a lot of things. Look in our community, you know, like, you know, we don’t make it safe for people. I didn’t get married to this man, thank God, but I was in a relationship one time that, you know, I really shouldn’t have been in and I can admit that now. And I can see that now. But God, it took me like, longer than it should have, because what is so and so gonna think or, you know, so and so said this, and, you know, whatever. And we actually we think we’re doing a lot with with a lot of times we think we’re helping, but honestly, the only person who said it best, only I know what I can do in my relationship, only, you know, what you can deal with in your relationship. And when you put extra stuff on it, extra layers extra judgment extra, whatever. I mean, now, unless, like you said, the abuse thing now, if you see somebody, you know, abusing your loved ones, you know, try to help them but you know, for the most part, we do a lot of that, and it makes it really hard. And I just know I’ve wasted, you know, a few years of my life and and I don’t regret it because I learned so much from it. But you know, I could I know I could have thought clearly if I didn’t have so many distractions.
Latoya Nelson: Yeah. And that’s the goal of the work I do is to really get folks to the point of where they’re able to reflect back on it and see what the lessons were and how can we take those things moving forward? Because you know, we’re going to have friends that are going to be dealing with this with the divorce rate as high as it is. Yeah. We know somebody who As neither had a divorce or is in the process. And you know, sometimes we go through our things so it’s a testimony is we help others over that now. I want people to be able to really process what did this do for me if this was the way that things were supposed to work out, and divine intervention? What was the purpose of this? Because very rarely do we go through struggles without a lesson. And if we went through it without a lesson, we didn’t do it right.
Dr. O: And so we go, and want us to know what that is. Mm hmm. I’m trying to think of this quote, I will tear quote up in the heart in a heartbeat. But it was something it was something to the effect of, if you don’t learn to pass, gotta keep giving you the test. You know? Yes. So you bet. You bet. In other words, you better figure out what what the where the message was?
Latoya Nelson: When you should have been learning it the first time.
Dr. O: Yes, learned the first half. And that’s so in that kind of brings me into my next question, because what types of things can we learn from divorce?
Latoya Nelson: So we can definitely learn from divorce our own relationship pattern? Mm hmm. I find that there’s usually a pattern of relationships we’ve gotten into, it just so happens that this one is the one we married. Got it. So there’s something we’ve done in that relationship that we do possibly in other relationships, whether it’s with family members, whether it’s with friends, co workers, very rarely are our relationships, patterns just singular to our marriage. Usually, it’s something we’re doing. So it can definitely help us to take a look and see, are we communicating the best way that we can? Am I making my needs? No? Or am I just hoping that that person reads my mind? And when things get rough? Am I running? Do I fight or flight when we have an argument? So I think there’s a lot of things that divorce even the transition after can tell us about ourselves, and the relationship we’re in because if I’m after a divorce, or when my relationship is ending, how am I coping with that? And is it in a way that is supportive of where I want to go? Or is it maladaptive? Am I doing things that are harming myself or self sabotaging that I wouldn’t have seen because in my marriage, I had this other person saved me from myself. Mm hmm. So I definitely think there’s a lot if we’re open to it. And sometimes we are sometimes we’re just not there yet. But if we’re open to analyzing it, we can get to know more about who we are, but then also the direction we want to go to.
Dr. O: Can I know this? This can’t be just me. Again, this is not my specialty. But I do, like you said, know, people who have been divorced. And please speak on this, because a lot of it, I hate to say it, but women and because I’m talking about our people, black women, there’s bitterness in a like, like, like, let me be clear, if someone hurts you or violates you, I’m not saying you’re not entitled to your feelings. Okay, this is, you know, we’re all about expressing that. But can you speak to everything I heard you say, had to do with what the person is bringing to the relationship? Can you speak to saying things like, you know, you know what, he didn’t do this, or he did this? I’m like, you’re not learning the lesson if all you see is what he did.
Latoya Nelson: Yeah. So even that, in itself, when we’re not able to look and see our role, we’re just not there yet. Because we have to there’s, there’s my mom always said, there’s three sides to the truth, there’s hers and the actual truth. Just because we see things very differently. And if we’re not willing to acknowledge the the part that we played in it, or even our emotions or feelings about how that person is behaving now, then we’re not yet in a place to really get the lessons from it. Because we cannot control someone else, we will haven’t been able to control them in the relationship. We’re not surely not going to be able to control them. We’re we’re not in a rush. But a lot of that speaks to just unmet expectation. Oftentimes, when we thought that, you know, that quote, unquote, deadbeat would be doing something we expected them to do that thing that we feel they should be doing, whether that is realistic or not. When that expectation is not met, then the resentment comes, the anger comes. And unfortunately, that can be vocalized, and potentially sometimes in front of the children and yeah, messed up some relationships.
Dr. O: Yes, yes, yes, absolutely. I’ll leave my opinion out Wendy Williams silent but I will say one of the things I really respected about her and her divorce is, she really hasn’t spoken a lot about it. And one of the things she said was, you know, what good is it for me to insult my husband when I married him? You know, like she was, she was married to him, like 20 years. So, you know, if he was that bad if all she can do is identify the bad, what would it say about her? As a person? Mm hmm. Yeah.
Latoya Nelson: That that’s the person you chose that you love this person? You love them. You love the bad things? A lot of it is just kind of reconciling How? At what point did this person show me who they are now? Mm hmm. And I believe it.
Dr. O: Exactly. And that yes. And that was my follow up. Why am I just now seeing it? You know, yet? Yeah. Maya Angela said, when a person tells you who they are believe them, you know? Is there any one thing that because I’ve heard that money is the number one cause of divorce of her infidelity is? What do you see the most of in your practice?
Latoya Nelson: So I find that oftentimes other than just improper communication, and then which leads to arguments. Mm hmm. And the thoughts around finances?
Dr. O: Oh, money? Yeah. Okay.
Latoya Nelson: So maybe that they have enough money, but how they’re managing it isn’t working. For the simple fact that sometimes folks are using money as power. I bring in most of the money I make the decisions that get in with money. A lot of that is communication. What are we? How are we using it? Are we both valued in this process of determining where our resources are going? And that that can be a very big issue?
Dr. O: Mm hmm. Very good. I can’t believe I missed that one. But that makes a lot of sense. A lot of sense. Do you have any specific advice that you might would give someone who wanted a divorce?
Latoya Nelson: So I would, of course, first encourage them to connect with a therapist? So like, process, what is going on? You know, why do we want it? Is it something that can be fixed? Is it something that can be worked towards? What are we hoping to get out, because again, very rarely do we want our relationship to end. But we feel like we’ve gotten to that kind of last point of where we’ve tried everything. And there’s just this is the only clear option because I’m unhappy. So I definitely connect with them. Because you’re going to want to have a team together, in addition to a therapist, a finance person and a lawyer, potentially. But first starting there, so you can have that sounding board. And this is what I’m experiencing? How can I make sure I’m happy? Oh, so and other than that, then to just take stock of what? How are things now? And what do you want them to look like? Because oftentimes, we don’t want to move out of our home. We don’t want the kids going to different schools, we don’t want to have to change our lives. But we have to decide, is it worth it? Are we going to risk those changes, you know, for this thing that isn’t going run? And like I said, those, those major safety concerns, abuse, physical, mental, emotional, you know, those things are usually a no brainer. But if it’s a we can’t communicate, or we’re having the same fight, and even sometimes infidelity can be overcome. But I need
Dr. O: Yeah, yeah, I hear. Yeah, I agree. I mean, and this isn’t, you know, to pass judgment, but I, I think you can, you’re certainly an expert on this. Butin terms of infidelity, a lot of times when when a person commits infidelity, we want to look exclusively at the action. Again, I’m not blaming anybody, cause if you’re not looking at the variables surrounding it, but one thing I know, in particular, is that when a woman does it a lot of times she’s feeling emotionally vulnerable. And so yes, it’s wrong for her to be unfaithful. But if her spouse is being emotionally, you know, negligent and withdrawn, that’s also wrong. And when you learn to get the root of it, sometimes the other things can be cleared up. Is that what you see?
Latoya Nelson: Exactly? Yes, definitely. I think it infidelity on the surface is a symptom of a bigger problem.
Dr. O: Yes. Okay.
Yeah, I find that there’s an issue that’s been going on for longer than the infidelity has. And it’s just gotten to that point. The question then is, is both parties willing to kind of look at that root issue? Because sometimes when we’re the victim of infidelity, you say that I did something that you know, wouldn’t make you. You don’t want. But we also understand that, you know, if something isn’t quite right, how can we expect someone to just stay in kind of a ship that’s sinking?
Dr. O: Absolutely.
Latoya Nelson: And not reach for help here or reach for help there?
Dr. O: Can I Can I, can I ask if I just want to ask a follow up question to this is because and I’m just thinking about, I am thinking about one person I’m working with now, who’s going through this? And unfortunately, you know, the male is the one who did it. Um, how can a man, what can they do? Because Because I’m thinking about another client that I work with who is a male who’s doing this and is struggling, big time he is struggling, one to stop to, two convey to the woman that he does want to be with how much he almost feels like, because he’s caused her so much pain, that he’s done so much damage, and there’s nothing that can be done. So I’ve seen it on this extreme, or in the first example, but the the man, you know, he’s like, well, it’s in the past, like how, basically, when you’re when you’re the person who’s in the act, whose been unfaithful? How do you let your partner know that you demonstrate remorse, that you don’t want to do this, that you are apologetic for doing this, that you’re hurt? In this part of the reason you’re doing this? How do you convey that message?
Latoya Nelson: That can be difficult, because if you if this is a pattern or a history, you’ve likely said those words before. And they haven’t been, you know, upheld, you know, you’ve kind of set it and then you’ve done something else. And then you’ve done it again. So at that point, the words no longer work, the actions are what is needed. So it would be first… And there’s, there’s so there’s some kind of some, some issues with that, too. Because if this is how they if this is a pattern, then my question is, Is this how they do relationships? Because I do see some clients that as a as a couple are part of an alternative lifestyle of polyamory. You know, having that type of relationship. If this is how they’ve historically done relationships, where it’s more open, where they’re more ethically non monogamous, then that opens the door to Is it something that they can stop? Or are they trying to fit, you know, themselves into a monogamous box? Uh huh. So kind of that that’s one kind of caveat of this of is this something that they can stop if he’s not able to? Is there a reason is there a need not being met. But in order for them at this point, if they’ve set up before to show that the remorse, it’s going to be an action, you know, whether it is, you know, showing what his needs are that are causing him to step out? Or whether it’s sitting down and having this a discussion of where does that relationship go from here? And there, it sounds like there’s a need not being met if it’s a constant issue.
Dr. O: Oh, and basically, you’re saying it’s lip service if this has happened more than once? And it’s very, so do you recommend total transparency, so like giving the person access to your email address, your phone number, your phone logs, your text messages, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, all that stuff?
Latoya Nelson: So I am on the fence with that. I think it could be misused, potentially. But I also think that if you offer it, it can be coming from a good place of just showing that I’m not doing anything. But that doesn’t necessarily stop other people from messaging. Oh, so it can still I think, if you just give complete transparency, I definitely think honesty is always the best practice. But if they have kind of your logins, there has to be a discussion around when is it used? How What have you looking for how do you just have it forever? Or is it just a you know, six months until trust is established? Is what does this look like?
Dr. O:So who would make those demands the one that cheated or the other one because I’m just feel like if I’m being cheated on, I asked for it. I ain’t answering no questions. I mean, that’s give me
Latoya Nelson: You’re asking me these questions you’re clearly hiding. I think it can be. But then the question from for me after that is, what are we? What are we looking for? What’s the resolution? Are you know after that? Exactly. If we don’t know the resolution? How do we know this action is getting us closer to something we don’t know we need?
Dr. O: Wow.
Latoya Nelson: Because we’re making moves. But we’re not knowing where we’re going. Oh, I definitely think a conversation needs to be had around that. But also an idea of what are we looking for? What’s the goal? and goals are time sensitive? They’re specific. They’re measurable. What is the goal? So because it may be after three weeks, they no longer need it? It may be after six months, they no longer need it. Okay, maybe that we decide as a couple that we’re just going to exchange information and we have it forever? It depends on the couple. But I think if you feel that you need to have it forever, and your partner is like, No, you only get three months, and then I’m free. Trust, there’s a trust issue.
Dr. O: Okay, I see what you’re saying. That makes a lot of sense, though, that actually makes a lot of sense. And that looks… I don’t like it.
Latoya Nelson: I know. I have to deliver the bag. But the idea is, what’s the resolution? Where are we going? And if we don’t know where we’re going, we can’t get in the car and go anywhere?
Dr. O: That’s absolutely right. Ah, gosh, that was heavy. But it makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense. Okay. Is there anything any tangible resource that you would recommend our listeners to read or listen to? That could help black families contemplating divorce? Well, other than your amazing books?
Latoya Nelson: Of course.
Dr. O: Yeah, so definitely the books, but also just connecting with the local therapist is going to always be a resource. Okay. I know that just because they’re going to be able to tap into the latest stuff that’s going on, but then also be able to help you process your feelings. Mm hmm.
Latoya Nelson: I think podcasts offer a variety of information. So your pocast, has the podcast I’m developing. Yeah, definitely help of what life looks like on the other side. But I think the biggest thing is just gonna be the supports or people in your life who’ve gone through it. Because they’re going to be able to let you know, you know, you may be thinking of, I just need to get out that they’re going to give you insight on life on the other side. Because that’s important, you have to know what it could potentially look like. Because you I find that a lot of people are on the other side of divorce, and they did not know what to expect. Kind of a smack in the face of Hmm, I’m having to do all this. Now I’m having to see this person I once loved in their own relationships, you know, having my kids meet new people and you know, this world when of emotions that come after. So I think any black family that’s contemplating divorce, definitely look at at the information you can get of what the processes in your state and also what life looks like after the other piece as well is going to be if you and your spouse are willing to do in a collaborative divorce. So looking for litigation that is deals with a collaborative divorce, especially here in North Carolina with divorce is taking a year in a day. A collaborative lawyer who specializes in collaborative divorce is going to sit down with both of you to se what custody looks like I have no idea.
Dr. O: Okay, so how’s that how a collaborative divorce different from any other type of divorce.
Latoya Nelson: So with a collaborative divorce, each party does not have their own lawyer, they’ve agreed upon a lawyer that specializes in collaborative divorce, Okay, sit down with them. And usually they’re sitting down with them each week potentially monthly to go over what life looks like after. So if there is custody, if children are involved, then you’ll sit down with that person and drop what custody looks like. They’re gonna refer out to a therapist if need be there got to talk to a financial person so you can figure out if there’s alimony What does that look like? So the idea is that the couple is going to save money because they’re not paying two lawyers to argue. Because they’re not you know, necessarily divorces aren’t taking two and three years of dieting property and doing this and third, but they’re going to transition their relationship for what used to be a you know, romantic relationship. To co parenting, you know, people working for the same goal and process allows that to happen.
Dr. O: Wow, I have heard that term a million times and never knew what it meant. And with that explanation that makes so much sense, I still keep I still, just as you described it, I could just see that in the attorney’s office, they’re bickering back and forth. I guess that’s where you come in. Right? And
Latoya Nelson: I want to talk to someone, but that that’s where it does allow for that therapist to come in and say, again, what are we working on? What’s the goal? And the goal is to get to the point where this person is processing the end of this relationship? But I can’t I can’t lose sight that I still have to interact with this person for the rest of my children’s life, and for the rest of my life. Mm hmm. Can we put ourselves on a good foot to do that? So that pickups and drop offs? Aren’t, you know, crazy?
Dr. O: Yes, absolutely.
Latoya Nelson: No beef in with this person for 20. So and granted, not every couple can do that, depending on the context of how the relationship ended, there may be a process before they get to the being able to even sit in the same room together is an option I collaborative divorce generally saves you money, because again, your two words litigate, is more stress. And potentially you both parties can get what they want. . What are your feelings?
Dr. O: Yeah. And it sounds like it’s the start to what you’re trying to do, which is learning how to live separately, but still, you know, cordially, especially in the presence of children.
Latoya Nelson: Yes, because I see so many individual clients who are getting married, but can’t have both parents. They’re in their first war, graduation. And this, my parents are still bickering. So you know, Dad wants me to give mom an invite. It’s not something that just we divorced that three and the kids are fine by seven. Right, right. That can carry on because we’re human, and we have feelings an hurt people hurt people.
Latoya Nelson: Yeah, they do. They do. Is there any particular myth that you think the black community holds about divorce that you’d like to shut down real quickly? Oh, yeah. The the myth that we have to stay? You don’t I think, you know, I remember my grandmother, you know, discussing how sometimes this person would have a family down the street? Oh, yeah. They’d be living at home and then have another family down the street. And everybody knows, all the time was very common in our culture was Yeah, you know, Jimmy had this one. And Jimmy has. Yeah. And he is that you don’t have to stay in that situation. I think in his days, we had less resources, less freedom and less flexibility. Now you can create your own situation, and you can decide what you want your happiness to look like. And there is happiness after divorce.
Dr. O: You’re living proof of that.
Latoya Nelson: Am I going through it myself? Yeah. That’s what really got me into this to helping and supporting him. I did not have that. And to do that I knew something needed to change. And I did not know what it looked like on the other side, but I was jumping anyway. And data shoot on the way down, there you go. It’s definitely become something to where I support folks through that, because I know what it’s like to go through that myself and still have to keep children alive. Old running, but I just not know what you’re feeling because you’ve numbed yourself. Absolutely. It’s possible. How can black families back to you said we all know someone who’s going through this, how can we be a support for someone within our community going through a divorce? So I think the biggest thing there is to first be a listening ear. Because we may not come out and say I’m feeling like this because of ab&c. But we may say I’m tired, or I’m fatigued, and I’m exhausted. And oftentimes that’s more than just the physical that’s emotionally I’m drained because I’ve been thinking about this so long. I’ve been hiding this I’ve been putting on that, you know, smiling face for the public. But allowing someone to just sit there and event can be the biggest thing that they need. Oh, and then making sure that they’re kind of the basics are taken care of have they eaten today. You know, are they getting enough sleep? Because those are all signs or symptoms of anxiety and depression and issues. But if they can’t take care of themselves first, it’s going to be harder for them to even process what’s going on, or game plan. Mm hmm. So I think just being that support, oftentimes, we don’t want to be nosy or I want to be involved or the good old cultural thing of what happens in our house these days in our house.
Dr. O: Yes. And yeah, can be toxic. Yeah. So well, how do we provide safety though? Because what you just said listening? And just yeah, how, yeah, in I guess, withholding the judgment. Because the thing is, is natural when you’re going through distress to want to attach to another person. I know that from like, my trauma work, but what happens is, if you don’t feel safe enough, like if you don’t feel like it, like you said, If I feel like I’m gonna, you’re gonna be, you’re gonna tell me, I told you. So. You know, that I’m not gonna want to tell you. Yeah. And granted, the person who’s gonna say, I told you, so if they’re already prepping for that they’re not gonna be the ones who are concerned about, oh, how are they doing? Are they okay? They’re asking just to, you know, say why code you so girl, I knew that wasn’t gonna work. He was sorry. So that may not be the person who’s like, how can I help? The person who’s wondering how can I help is the one that has genuine concern. So you know that that question of asking someone, how can I help? Do you need to talk, it may not happen the first time, right? It may not happen the second time you ask, but it’s being persistent to where you’re feeling, I fully feel that we are led to do things. Mm hmm. So obeying that spiritual inspiration of you should ask her how she’s doing, you should sit with her and just watch that program and silence, we have feelings and following those can open that door to where that person does feel safe. Mm hmm. As feel comfortable to even open up just a little bit and see how you’re aware.
Dr. O: Mm hmm.
Latoya Nelson: I have one last question for you. And then I want to go to a different section towards the end, are there there’s no doubt that we’ve got an ugly history and our community, and in many ways, those behaviors, those choices, you know, not having choices, not being human not being able to legally marry and having our marriages disrupted and disrespected due to the institution of slavery. Are there any particular behaviors you think, could influence divorce in the black community? Today? I definitely think that just our history and the trauma that we have surrounding that I know, even though we this generation, wasn’t the ones that were in chains, or was it the ones that were out, fighting for our equality or getting fire hoses on us? Still, the remembrance of that can cause a level of trauma at us. And from there, I think sometimes the confinement of marriage can feel like we’re fighting battles outside and in our home. And sometimes the idea is, I just want to be free. I just want to get away, oh, my God, I have these expectations out there. And then I come home, and I have these expectations. I’m out here fighting this. And then I come home, and we’re fighting here. I just want to get in the car. I just want to leave. Wow. And at that point, you couldn’t. But a week today we can.
Dr. O: But today we can. And it’s today I can.
Latoya Nelson: Wow. So it feels like it’s an easy way out. And the thing is, is that if we’re going to fight, we need to fight for what we want. And understanding the realization that we don’t want this relationship to end most of the time. But we do want the freedom, right, we do want changes. So what does that realistically look like? Does it look like divorce? Or does it look like connecting with my partner and letting them know what I need? Oh, wow. So I think that that is something that that plays big in the fact that we are fighting battles on multiple ends that some of our the other races don’t have to deal with the way that we do.
Dr. O: Mm hmm. Very good. Very good. All right. Now it’s time for a part of the show called “What’s Good.” “What’s Good” is a place where we give a hypothetical situation that would have our listeners could be going through and ask for your advice. Are you ready?
Latoya Nelson: Yeah, let’s go.
Dr. O: All right, meet Pam. Pam is married with three children under the age of 10. She’s done things according to what she thought was expected of her, she went to high school and married her high school sweetheart. While in college, she then had her three children and supported her husband as a stay at home mom. Recently, she is finding that she has been unfulfilled. She is not interested in playing with her children, is tired from taking care of the, and it feels like she’s getting a little support from her husband. She’s been feeling emotionally detached. She’s contemplating divorce, but feels if she follows through with it, her life would be over. Do you have any advice for Pam?
Latoya Nelson: Definitely. So I actually have a couple of clients that would fit that scenario. So first, I think that scenario is common. We feel like we’ve done everything right, but haven’t factored that our own happiness, which, you know, hopefully, our society will get to a point where our happiness comes first, prior to doing things the right way. But in that scenario, I would first of course, encourage her to sit down with someone to talk about what she is feeling. But then also do an exercise where she determines where is she finding joy in her day? And not even just in her life yet. We’re just going to start specifically with the the 24 hours you have? Where do you find joy, if you find that you’re giving, giving, giving, and not refilling your cup, finding joy in any other places, doing things that just make you smile internally, then we’re gonna feel unfulfilled and likely overwhelmed. Because three kids requires two Oh, my God requires work requires things if you have student loans that requires thought. So have you taken that time out for yourself and hopefully, off the top? Absolutely. So for clients like this, I definitely recommend that they have a quiet space for themselves, whether that’s at 530 in the morning, before anybody else is up, or if that’s at the end of the day, or anywhere in between, and to be able to get connected with themselves with source with what they need get grounded so that they’re not feeling like they’re just spending all their energy and not getting anything back. So that would be my initial advice. I mean, I think often one of the biggest things to do can be to just take a blank piece of paper, and kind of create a circle and divvy out your happiness and a pie and see where you’re fulfilled and where you’re not. Seeing your kids smile, make you happy to see yourself smile make you happy. And how are we actively doing those things? Good. See what’s missing? Usually, when we’re unfulfilled, things are missing. There are holes, we need to fill those.
Dr. O: Yeah. Gosh, well, this has been awesome. I mean, I can I can truly feel your passion for this work. You clearly are a wealth of knowledge and support. I felt supported for me and I’m not even going through this. I know it’s really gonna resonate with with our listeners. And speaking of how can they find you if they want it to follow up?
Latoya Nelson: Sure. So they can check out my website. It’s divorced in raleigh.com. Yes, they can. Yep, divorce in Raleigh Comm. From there, you can find out a lot more about me what I offer. If you’re local and want to schedule for in session or virtual sessions, you can through that website. And also there’s links to my podcasts and to books in my store as well. Also, divorce in Raleigh, get you everything you need. Love it, love it, love it. And just to be clear you in North Carolina and you provide virtual, so that means you service all the entire state.
Yes, the entire state of North Carolina.
Dr. O: Love it. Love it. Well, Latoya, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for the work that you’re doing in the community to help people go through divorces. Thank you for the resources that you have provided through your books and through just the virtual world in general. And you just you’re just a breath of fresh air. And thank you for sharing that with us today.
Latoya Nelson: Oh, thank you so much.
Dr. O: All right. You have a wonderful day and take care.
Latoya Nelson: Thank you as well. Okay. Bye
Dr. O: Bye.