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  • Psychologist's Advice To Moms Who See Themselves In LJ Reyes: 'Know Your Worth'

    Many moms empathized when LJ Reyes shared her story about split with Paolo Contis.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Psychologist's Advice To Moms Who See Themselves In LJ Reyes: 'Know Your Worth'
PHOTO BY Instagram/lj_reyes
  • Six years of togetherness, two children to take care of, and a separation that has left one party still trying to comprehend fully what happened and who is the person she has lived with all these years.

    Imagine the hurt and betrayal, especially when one did not see it coming. That is the painful reality everyone saw in actress LJ Reyes as she grappled with Boy Abunda’s difficult questions about her split with Paolo Contis (read here for more).

    The need for a complete family

    On the social platforms, it was immediately apparent that women empathized with LJ, especially among moms who shared they went through the same thing. So when LJ said she was willing to give up her pride for the sake of having a complete family, it struck a chord — you could almost hear a collective “we get it” on the social posts and comments.

    “That’s a mother's instinct, to protect and ‘save’ the children,” says family psychologist, speaker and author, Michele Alignay, Ph.D, RPsy, RGC. “It’s a good instinct but in [the context of LJ’s situation] ang dapat i-safe guard ay yung sarili mo. If bumagsak ka, paano na lang ang mga bata?”

    It is also essential to seek support even if it means just telling one person, says Dr. Alignay, pointing out that LJ tried to keep things to herself at first  based on LJ’s interview.

    “You have to ask for help. Good for her na may faith siya, paano pag wala kang faith? What if some people don’t know how to go to God, who can they talk to?”

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    It is understandable that LJ wanted to remain a family even if red flags kept showing in the relationship, says Dr. Alignay.

    “Meron mindset ang maraming women na dapat complete ang family even if i-sacrifice mo sarili mo, kahit mawala ka sa picture, or to please the husband but, in reality, it’s not healthy.”

    “It can be so difficult for women to do such humbling act,” she adds. “They are ready to sacrifice pride because of the desire to ‘to do this for my children.’”

    You protect your kids by telling the truth

    For her sanity, LJ felt she needed to uproot herself and her children physically, mentally, and emotionally. But how do you explain that when your son asks why it meant leaving the country?

    LJ told Boy what she managed to reply was, “I’ll never lie to you at ako ang paniwalaan mo. Kung meron kang tanong sasagutin ko.”

    According to Dr. Alignay, LJ handled it well as anyone can in such family crises. “Parents are protective of kids especially young kids but no matter how young, they have a right to know,” she says.

    In fact, she adds, you are protecting them by telling them the truth. “Whether you like it or not, you cannot shield them away from the hurt. Actually, [your role is] susuportahan mo sila by nursing their wounds.”

    When can a relationship be saved

    If the pain makes you want to move to another country, is the relationship still worth saving? Dr. Alignay answers with a conditional “yes.”

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    “If both parties are willing to work it out, yes. If there is dysfunction with one of the parties, and that partner is willing to admit that he or she has issues and would like to seek help, [there can still be a chance to fix it].”

    Dr. Alignay also notes that one may not quickly realize that their partner may be dysfunctional until a relationship has passed that stage of romance and disillusionment and moves to the “authentic stage” — how you and your partner handle the most challenging times can be revelatory during this period.

    If everything seems to be going smoothly in a relationship at first,  “the person with possible unhealthy patterns or personal issues may tend to conceal or unconsciously not manifest the issues,” says Dr. Alignay.

    “[The person’s ‘true self’] will come out once he or she is confronted with a stressful situation.”

    How to recover or move on from a failed relationship

    How does a woman who finds herself in a similar situation as LJ even start to recover or bounce back? Dr. Alignay, the author of the books Family Goals and The Beauty of 40, as well as an advocate of self-care, have these pieces of advice to give:

    Have a stance of acceptance

    You can only begin to pick up the pieces and fix your life by accepting what happened to you.

    Ask for help

    Pwede naman sabihin na, ‘‘’Nay, punta ka muna dito ayusin ko muna sarili ko.”

    Know the law

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    It is vital for women who don’t have the resources to move out of their homes to know that the law is on their side. When there is mental, emotional, or physical abuse, Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act can provide you protection so that you don’t have to be the party that leaves home.

    Tell kids the truth

    But there is no need to badmouth the other partner. “You can tell them, that their father still loves them.”

    Know how to take care of yourself

    You really need to know your worth. “Alam mo dapat kung kailan ka lalabas [sa isang unhealthy relationship]. You should know how to save and nurture yourself so that if a crisis situation comes, you will also know how to take care of your kids.”

    Dr. Michele Alignay is @michelealignay on Facebook.     

    Read here a mom's story how she told her kids that she and their dad decided to separate.

    This story was updated at 8:30 p.m. on September 9, 2021 

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