Divorce Sucks! Find a Support Group.

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Before I found Joelle’s AMAZING Trash The Dress site, I was really struggling to find, well anyone, to talk to that could really relate to my divorce. All my friends were still in the dating game, and my parents have been happily married for 27 years. As wonderful and supportive as everyone was, no one fully got it.

Along my journey for my depression treatment I met a woman also going through a divorce. Someone in her circle suggested a local divorce support group at a church downtown. At first I thought she was crazy. No way would I go to a support group! First, I would be the youngest one there. Second, I would probably be ostracized because I’m 20 and getting and divorce. Like, really, what’s wrong with me? Third, I wouldn’t get anything out of it. I don’t have kids or martial property. What advice and support would I get that’s helpful?

Well, somehow I got talked into going. I grabbed myself a Starbucks and held my breath in as I walked into the church. Around me were historical and beautiful religious artifacts. I walked into the room and saw smiling faces of people much older than myself. I was told to write my name on a name-tag, fill out the contact info sheet, grab some coffee and a cookie, and take a seat. We sat in a circle and the facilitator, a licensed therapist, introduced the group, the brief rules (confidentiality, dating is discouraged, safe place, etc) and had some of the seasoned veterans of the group start by sharing their week. Then us newbies told our stories. It reminded me of groups I ran during my counseling internship in graduate school. Was this divorce AA?

I was picking at my cuticles, tapping my feet, and feeling the churn in my stomach. Was I next? I took a deep breath and the plunge and spoke. I told my story, in all of it’s honesty, good and bad, and waited for reactions. What was everyone going to think? The group smiled. The facilitator thanked me. A few people interjected and told me their relatable stories. They all said, “we are so happy you are here.” A wave of relief crashed over me. My body calmed and my heart rate lowered. I smiled. I was accepted. When group wrapped up, multiple people came up to me and thanked me for being so brave.

Since, I have gone to the group weekly. It’s my safe haven. And, although, many group members don’t know what it’s like to divorce so young, every divorce is different and every divorce is the same. We all have stories of betrayal, heartbreak, grief, anger, triumph, and healing. Although we all experience these facets, they are all slightly different for each of us. But we can attempt to make sense of it all and take baby steps towards healing by sharing our stories. So go for it. Find a local support group or join one online (shameless TTD plug). Tell your story. It doesn’t matter if you are 20 or 60, divorce sucks and somebody somewhere knows what stage of suckiness you are in.

A Tale of Divorce, Depression, and Discovery

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It’s really late and I still can’t sleep. My doctor would tell me to put down the coffee and stay away from the laptop screen, but the silence of sleeping scares me and my bed is big and empty. I scroll through pages and pages…young and divorced, divorce in your 20s, I do. I did. I’m done!…and on and on. There are two types of articles I stumble upon: 1) I’m an old blogger who writes about the downfall of the sanctity of marriage and how the internet and instant gratification is ruining America’s youth and 2) Badass chicks who found themselves, learned who they really are, and got sassy tattoos and epic vacations when their husbands peaced out. But there’s no articles about me, a 26 year old girl struggling with depression as long as she could remember whose husband left the marriage after two years telling her he never really loved her, and was having a relationship with a woman 20 years his senior. Where’s that damn article?

My ex and I met when I was 18, he 17. We actually met in study hall and went to prom together. After meeting him, for the first time, I felt love and worth. See, my entire life I’ve felt like nothing. I’m not sure when it started or where it came from. Nobody abused me. Nobody touched me. I suppose a combo of genetics, personality traits, and never feeling good or loved enough lead to a long history of mental health challenges.

When our relationship went full steam ahead, a whirlwind of co-dependency, jealousy, and control came forth. I needed him to silence all the self-abuse my mind hammered into me daily. You’re ugly. You’re fat. You’re stupid. You aren’t worth a damn thing. No one will ever love you. Oh wait! He does. Maybe you are okay. But neither of us recognized either of those issues because we were kids going on 40, moving into our apartment together after high school graduation and starting a joint checking account. We justified the insanity by saying how mature and ready we were for adult life. We didn’t need to make friends in college. No, no, we had each other and that’s all we needed.

Our marriage proposal wasn’t even that. I told him I wanted to get married so we went to the jewelry store that afternoon to purchase a ring. Now, the non-traditionalist in me said fuck norms and I can pick out my own ring, but that had nothing to do with it. After 5 years of dating, I needed marriage to bandage all the self-hate.  We got married. It was everything I wanted. On the outside it looked perfect. But behind closed doors no one knew that I wrote my and his vows. He refused to write them. He never told me I was beautiful on our wedding day. On our wedding night we didn’t have sex. I came up with so many excuses…he was nervous, he’s shy, he doesn’t know how to express his emotions, it was a long day…but they were just that, excuses.

We went on and continued as a married couple. We moved 3 hours away from home to start our big kids jobs. Our first year in the new city was great. We explored and experienced a diverse and liberal culture we only dreamed of. But once the exploring stopped, we looked at each other and no longer saw a married couple, but roommates. I asked for marriage counseling to help get that spark back. He refused and said nothing was wrong. He said he was just stressed with work.

And then everything stopped. No longer did I hear I love you. Affection was obsolete. Negative and hurtful comments were made about my weight, appearance, and above all things, my running routine and schedule. No matter what I did, I could never be good enough.

It started again. He was slowly tearing away the bandaid he once put on my self-hatred. Blood began to ooze out, so I put on more gauze, more excuses for the shitty behavior. One night, when I came home from work, his phone lit up with the words Love You! on the screen. I confronted him. He ripped the bandaid off, no warning, no soothing gel, no comforting phrases. A relationship was happening with this woman and he said he didn’t love me and never really did. After a few weeks of separation, accusals, fighting, screaming, begging, pleading, he asked for a divorce. The blood came.

My wound was gaping and each day he was gone salt was thrown into it. I couldn’t sleep for days. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t laugh, or even crack a smile. I couldn’t focus on anything but the pain. My mind wouldn’t stop. Why wasn’t I good enough? Why is a woman, 43 fucking years old, better/sexier/prettier/smarter than me? I mean he’s in his early 20s and she’s married with kids! I’m worthless. I’m stupid. I have nothing left. My life is over. I’m nothing without him. I don’t want to go on without him…  

An unexpected, dear friend came to my side. He ended up moving in with me for a few weeks, living out of a backpack and laundry basket. We binge watched American Horror Story and cooked fancy dinners. He taught me to crochet and I made way too many scarfs. More importantly he was there to hold gauze over the wound until I saw the doctor. He never taped the gauze down, but held it until I could stand on my own feet and get the help I needed.  And in all actuality, I did see a doctor. I started receiving intensive treatment for my depression.

Eventually my hopeless thoughts stopped. I started eating. I slept. I learned that my pain was two fold: a grieving cycle over the end of a long term relationship and my self-hatred. During times of high distress I wasn’t able to distinguish the two. I would often think, my relationship ended because there was something wrong with me. But that isn’t true. My relationship ended. It just ended. It ended because it was a co-dependent abusive hot hot mess (and let’s be real…it wasn’t hot). It ended because he chose to start a relationship with another person before he ended the one with me. And more important than all that bullshit, I have so much worth and beauty that is completely separate from that relationship.

So what did I learn from my divorce? I suppose that’s how you are supposed to end these things. I learned that my worth isn’t defined by another person, but by what I believe and do. My beauty isn’t defined by a number or silhouette, but by my kindness, womanhood, smile, and eyes. If you look deeply in my eyes you’ll see flecks of gold embed in the brown. You’ll also see a story of a girl who is so very privileged, yet handed struggle after struggle to only learn she can and will overcome anything.  Although I can’t find a 20-something divorcee article that I can fully relate to, and have yet to get my freedom tattoo and vacation, I’m on my way. Maybe in a few months I’ll be a badass chick who found herself, but until then, I’m me, and I’m pretty fucking great.

9 Reasons Why Your Dog Should Be Your Valentine

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Kelsie Eloped! And it was Adorable.

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Trash the Dress private online support group member Kelsie recently eloped. The ceremony at Joshua Tree was officiated by her mom and Kelsie’s son walked her down the aisle. Get your Pinterest button ready because this wedding is one to inspire you the next time you say “I do.”

Besides the obvious reasons to love these photos, I think this is a great example of how to have a beautiful, affordable second wedding. A lot of second-time brides feel that by eloping you are sacrificing the whole wedding day experience. But that clearly didn’t happen here.  Destination eloping with immediate family members is a perfect options for those who still want to wear a gown and get glam, except you don’t have to worry about venues, seating, favors and that whole mess. Eloping is truly about the couple and what they want, as opposed to big budget weddings that typically cater to the guests.

Congrats to Kelsie and her happily ever after!

Photography by Samantha Smith Arroyo.


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Huffington Post Feature: 20-Somethings Lead Divorce Celebration Movement by Trashing the Dress

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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


Where Are They Now? | Heather’s Story

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In my book, “Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s,” young divorcees speak out about why they got married and divorced and how they celebrated their new beginnings. In our new “Where Are They Now?” column of this website, catch up with twenty-something divorcees as they share details of their fabulous post-divorce lives years later.

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!

Trash the Dress featured in The News Journal

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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.”

That time I inspired a lyric in a Cash Cash song

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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.

Where Are They Now? | Diana’s Story

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In my book, “Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s,” young divorcees speak out about why they got married and divorced and how they celebrated their new beginnings. In our new “Where Are They Now?” column of this website, catch up with twenty-something divorcees as they share details of their fabulous post-divorce lives years later.

How old were you when you divorced?

How old are you now?

Do you feel like you truly moved on from your divorce?  If so, how long did it take you and what factors contributed?

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.

Is there anything you learned along the way that you wish you knew back then?

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.

Have you accomplished any particular goals since your divorce?

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.

How did you manage financial struggles (if any)?

I think financial struggles are just part of life, and divorce is no different.  I went into further credit card debt to afford my single life, my trip to Vegas, and all the things I accomplished listed above.   However, as much as I hate debt, I wouldn’t have done any of it differently.

Did you divorce through a lawyer or did you DIY divorce (and if so, how?)

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.

Are you living in your own place?

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.

Are you single or in a relationship?

I am engaged, getting married June 27, 2015.  We’ve been together 1 ½ years.  He asked me to marry him on our year anniversary, and we found out we are expecting our first child three months later!  Our baby girl is due March 10, 2015.

How did you conquer post-divorce dating fears?

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!

Where did you meet your fiancé?

On Plenty of Fish (crazy, yes!)

How long did you date before marriage?

We will have been together for 26 months before marriage.

Describe the wedding (big, courthouse, etc)

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!

How did you know it was right this time?

I was more scared, I weighed all the pros and cons more carefully, and I over-thought everything.  However, he asked me all on his own, in the best proposal ever, and I was completely shocked and speechless.  I knew that if I didn’t agree to marry him that would have been the biggest mistake of my life.  When with my ex-husband I wanted to be married, and didn’t take into consideration WHO I was marrying.

What are your fiancé’s thoughts on your divorce?

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.

Advice for new divorcées?

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!

How are you celebrating post-divorce life?

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.

Best Date Ever

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