So excited to share this feature on some of our Trash the Dress girls and their amazing photo shoots on Huffington Post Divorce: Read “20-Somethings Lead Divorce Celebration Movement by Trashing the Dress”
How old were you when you divorced? 29
How old are you now? 32
Do you feel like you truly moved on from your divorce? If so, how long did it take you and what factors contributed?
Yes absolutely! It took a lonnnnnng time and therapy and good friends! I was not truly over my divorce until I could accept that it was truly over and that I was doing it on my own. I look at my ex-husband now and can’t even remember a time that we were together. I feel indifferent towards him and it took a long time to not feel angry just hearing his name. I am in an incredible relationship now and I am so grateful that I experienced my divorce so that I can appreciate my current bf and our situation!
Is there anything you learned along the way that you wish you knew back then?
I learned to have my own voice. I was often too worried about rocking the boat or making my ex-husband mad that somewhere along the way I lost my strong voice. I wish I had stood up for myself more and didn’t let things slide. I learned there are two people in a relationship. I learned (and I am still learning) that I don’t have to please everyone and that sometimes there will be disagreements in a relationship, but you can’t avoid them by people-pleasing. It never works out well in the end!
Have you accomplished any particular goals since your divorce?
I earned my Masters in Reading Specialization. I founded a race for domestic violence in Frederick, MD—Break Away 5K.
How did you manage financial struggles (if any)?
I’m still working on this one! I cut a lot of fun things out of my life that I wish I could do! I have a son, so everything I spend, I spend on him! I buy used a lot to save money.
What were your biggest fears about divorce and how did you deal with them?
I still have fears about letting my son down. He was an infant when we split, so I never want him to worry that he was the reason or that he caused it. It is really, really hard doing it on your own. I have an amazing, supportive boyfriend, but at the end of the day only I am the parent. At the beginning, I truly felt like a failure. It took a long time for me to accept that I didn’t fail, my marriage did. I think I still fear failing again even at my current relationship. Abandonment is something I’m working on all the time and I’m getting stronger.
Did you divorce through a lawyer or did you DIY divorce (and if so, how?)
A lawyer…a very, very expensive lawyer! I had a restraining order, so we couldn’t speak for three years.
Are you living in your own place?
Yes, I live in the home we bought together, but I refinanced and removed his name. I often wish I could move though and start fresh and not in the home we bought together, but for my son it was best he stayed in his home.
Are you single or in a relationship?
I am in a relationship (1.5 years now).
How did you conquer post-divorce dating fears?
I dated all kinds of people. I didn’t want to stick only to “my type” because clearly that didn’t work out for me.
Advice for new divorcees?
It is a roller coaster! You will be happy one day, sad the next, mad the next, and you may be all three in one day alone! You will get through it! Don’t look back too much! It’s OK to be sad it is over, but don’t be sad forever! You get a chance to try again and you will absolutely not make the same mistakes if you close that chapter and start the next! Don’t give up hope! Someone is out there and even if there isn’t, you have you and that’s pretty darn special!
How are you celebrating post-divorce life?
I celebrate by loving myself most. It sounds corny, but it’s so important to love yourself before you can love someone else! Now that I love me, I can love my boyfriend the way he and I deserve!
Anything else you would like to add?
Co-parenting is a pain in the butt and it ALWAYS will be! Do what is best for your child and take your feelings out of the equation sometimes! Your child will love you for that! And don’t worry, kids aren’t dumb and they will learn just like you did what the ex is really like!
The News Journal in Delaware published a great Divorce Month story on the lack of support groups for 20-somethings. Trash the Dress has a nice feature. Read the article, “Few support services offered for divorced 20-somethings.”
Cash Cash released the video for “Surrender” this week and as I was watching it, I reflected back on their old song, “I Have One Regret.” Back when the band was working on the Love or Lust album, I was talking to JP about relationships and told him he needed to make a good riddance list for his ex-girlfriend, as I had just done for my ex-husband. It inspired a lyric in the song! Those of you who read my book “Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s” already know this story and have hopefully made a good riddance list of your own after reading that chapter, but I thought I’d post the song for you below! It’s a fun breakup anthem for anyone who has ever been cheated on.
My marriage was over before the initial separation, I just needed him to say it to my face. After that, I moved out and started my new life. I had weak moments, but after three months of emotional struggles, I began to look forward and never looked back. After six months or so I began dating, since I had never really done that before. I met my now fiancé, within two months of dating. I was very lucky. However, it might have been a bit soon emotionally because I had many fears, which caused initial problems in my relationship. However, he worked through them with me. I also went to counseling, got support from friends and family and fellow divorced friends, and leaned on the Trash the Dress Facebook Group. I still think about my ex-husband and am sad that I have a divorce on my record, but I would never go back and change anything. My life is so much fuller now. I don’t know if we ever “move on” from the divorce, because in some way it will always be part of us. It will influence our decisions for awhile, but with every day (and eventually years) behind us, it becomes more of a distant memory.
I learned I am so much more amazing, beautiful, confident, and funny without my ex-husband by my side. I never really knew how strong I was until I went through that loss and moved forward without ever losing faith. I found real, lasting, and healthy friends. I learned how to be honest with my family about my feelings and situations. AND I learned what I needed and wanted in a partner, as this was very different at age 30 than at age 23.
Oh yes! I FINALLY went to Vegas! My ex-husband never wanted to go, so I didn’t go. I made a list of new restaurants, bars, and towns that I visited. I can now say I completed my first 5K, lost 40lbs, got contact lenses and finally got rid of the glasses I was hiding behind, got a new awesome job, made new friends, rode a motorcycle, rode a snowmobile, drove a boat, and eventually was able to go to the same places I went without my ex-husband without having anxiety.
I was lucky and had a close family friend who was a divorce attorney, she gave me a great rate, which I made my ex-husband pay because he felt guilty for ending the marriage and yes, I took full advantage of that. If you can afford an attorney, do it, you won’t regret it.
After the initial separation I moved into my own apartment within a month. It was very hard at first coming home to an empty house, and I cried myself to sleep many nights, but after awhile I developed a new routine and I had a very busy social life so it wasn’t so lonely. I miss that apartment sometimes- the serenity, the bathtub, and the central air conditioning. After a year in the apartment, I moved in with my now fiancé.
Counseling. I was initially afraid that I might be alone forever, that my ex-husband was my only chance. But with counseling and the support of my friends and family I realized that was such an irrational thought! I used to believe in soul mates, but now I realize that relationships are just work. Either both parties work to make them last and healthy, or they don’t. Then you move on and try again. I also tell my friends currently thinking about getting back into the dating world, that it’s better if you handle it like a really cold pool, just jump in. I did the online dating thing, and in order to get over my fears, I had LOTS of dates, sometimes one everyday all week. But it was great experience! I even had two dates in one night, which if you knew me, you would know that was a huge moment of awesomeness!
I didn’t care what kind of wedding we have, but my fiancé has never been married, so he wants the whole sha-bang. So big wedding for us! And I’m much more excited this time!
My fiancé wishes I was never married, because of all my fears that he has continued to help me through. However, he understands I have history, as does he, but we try to only focus on the present and he constantly reminds me he isn’t my ex-husband by his actions.
Have faith, believe in yourself, you are capable of so much more and you have been given an opportunity to make your life so much happier and more fulfilled. Try to remind yourself of the positive things in your life, even if it’s small, and when you start to think negatively, stop yourself. Remind yourself that everyday is full of new possibility, anything is possible now. OOH and MUSIC! Find music that makes you happy!
I live everyday grateful that I’m not with my ex-husband anymore, that I have so much more confidence in myself, and that the man in my life only accentuates me and doesn’t complete me.
Perfect to Instagram on your divorce day!
Last year on New Year’s Eve, I wrote myself a letter to be opened on December 31, 2014. I was curious to open it this year, because I honestly do not remember large portions of that time period in my life. I had been kicked out of my apartment with my ex-husband at the beginning of October, and rented my first apartment on my own. I lived there for six weeks before I could even afford to buy a mattress to sleep on. I was deep in the throes of depression, and I was barely functioning from day-to-day. I went to work, came home, watched TV, and slept. I think I was an actual zombie for a few months.
New Year’s Eve this year is completely different for me. I sought out counseling early this year and began to get my life in order. My divorce was finalized a few months ago, which is the thing I thought would break me most. Instead, it’s set me free! I am healthier, happier, and more me than I have ever been in my life.
I wanted to share an excerpt from my letter to myself last year, and one from the letter I wrote today. I’m putting both in an envelope to read next year on December 31. It’s my new post-divorce tradition! If you are struggling today, I pray that this post will bring you some hope. These are the kinds of changes that 12 months can bring, if you have the patience and the courage to muddle through.
December 31, 2013:
“It’s the end of 2013. I moved into my own apartment two months ago today. When I tell people about this year so far, they are usually amazed. They tell me how strong I am, how they could never do what I’m doing or go through what I’m going through. All I can do is think that I’m barely hanging on. I’m not ‘powering through’ or being strong or amazing. I’m stumbling from one day to the next. Some days are good and I feel strong and kick-ass, and I’m angry at how [my ex-husband] treated me over the last half of our marriage. Other days I wonder what is keeping me from trying to kill myself. I think avoidance behavior is how I survive day-to-day. But I worry that I do so much avoiding that I’ll never process this or start healing. I’ve lost hope that things get better or that there is ‘more’ out there than this pain for me.”
December 31, 2014:
“This year has been amazing. It has been hard, but it has been beautiful. I have gained a lot of perspective about the things that happened. I look at hard times in new ways — I see challenges instead of obstacles. I see how things will make me grow instead of wondering how broken they will make me. I have gained wisdom, joy, and a measure of happiness — things that last year I felt were lost to me forever. As 2014 comes to a close, I am overwhelmingly thankful for the things it has brought to me. I hope and pray that 2015 is full of love, laughter, and joy. The circumstances don’t matter as much as my attitude going in.”
Cheers to 2015. Cheers to growth, to change, to happiness, and to finding hope, even in the most hopeless of places.
Here’s to a happy and inspiring 2015, ladies! The best is yet to come.
Since My Divorce recently published an excerpt of my book. Read my guest blog post, “Are You Ready to Trash Your Dress?” (aka my “Trash Your Dress” chapter) to find out how young divorcees are trashing the dress and everything it represents! Creative photo shoot ideas are listed and participants share their experiences.
Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s is available on paperback through Amazon.com.