#TBT: My First Post-Divorce Haircut

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What’s the first thing you do when you divorce a hair stylist? Cut your hair in the exact style he didn’t want you to have! For me, reclaiming ownership of my hair meant chopping bangs. My ex-husband loved my locks long and layered. I did too, but  I needed to make a statement and feel renewed once we divorced, so bangs it was!

Then, I went a bit shorter:

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And shorter:

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New woman!

Read more about why this was such a significant life experience in my book, “Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s” (Now available | Amazon.com)

 

Where Are They Now? | Emily’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? 26

How old are you now? 27

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

I don’t think I will ever truly move on but I have made so much progress in the last eight months, I’ve even surprised myself. The divorce wasn’t my choice, and I think that plays a huge role in the healing process. If I had it my way we’d still be married and still be working on things. But you can’t force someone to want to stay in a relationship. And I think that was the hardest part. Realizing I had no control over the situation and letting go. With therapy, and the support of my family, I’d say it was about four months until I really started to get back on my feet. I’m still working on it!

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

I wish I had known how supportive my family would be. My husband and I were together since I was 19 years-old. My family loved him. So when we started to have problems, I didn’t tell ANYONE. No one knew. I was ashamed, I felt like a failure. No one in my family has ever gotten divorced. I kept it all bottled up. I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep. I was getting migraines; I couldn’t concentrate at work. And I wish I had known that it was OK to let go and ask for help. When I told my parents what was going on they immediately told me to come home and welcomed me with open arms.

Have you accomplished any particular goals since your divorce?

My biggest goal was to live alone. I wanted to get a good job that allowed me to support myself ALONE. I didn’t want to live with my parents, I didn’t want roommates. I had never lived alone. I went from living with roommates in college, to moving in with my husband. My goal was to be comfortable being on my own. So I moved to Boston, and after two months of searching I got a good job as a website manager for Puma, and I found my own little apartment that I can afford. I never thought I would learn to enjoy my own company, but I really do!

How did you manage financial struggles (if any)?

My husband and I had a good amount in savings, so that allowed me to pick up and start over. My parents were a HUGE help. I’ll never be able to repay them for all they did for me. But it was a struggle because I was used to living on two incomes, my own and my husband’s. I had to adjust my life style.

What were your biggest fears about divorce and how did you deal with them?

My biggest fear was the shame of being divorced. I never ever ever thought I’d be in this position. Other people get divorced, not me. I was so embarrassed to be a part of that horrible 50 percent statistic.  And now, I’m worried it will happen again. What’s to stop me from making the same mistakes and winding up divorced for a second time?  A great help was this online support group. Hearing other women’s stories, and seeing how so many of them have moved on and found successful relationships gives me hope. I also started seeing a therapist which has been a huge help. She’s helping me deal with the shame I’m feeling and we’re working on gaining back my confidence.

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

My divorce was very simple. We didn’t have kids, we didn’t own property, and neither of us were angry or bitter. We actually both cried the day he told me he wanted a divorce. He just couldn’t do it anymore. So we had an uncontested divorce. This means we didn’t have to go to court, we split everything down the middle, and we went our separate ways. I did have a lawyer friend look over the paper work just so I understood what I was signing, but it was a very easy process for me. Thank God.

Are you single or in a relationship?

I’m casually dating. I’m definitely not ready to be in a relationship, but I’ve been set up and met guys while out with friends. I’m currently dating someone who I met at a bar! Apparently that does still happen! When I’m ready for something more serious I think I’ll try match.com. Right now I’m just trying to have fun.

How did you conquer post-divorce dating fears?

Therapy and the support of my family. I think everyone who’s going through this should consider therapy. I hated the idea of being alone and through therapy I’ve learned some great coping techniques. I haven’t been alone in almost eight years. I’m sad to be alone during the holidays like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and my birthday. But I know its better than being in an unhappy marriage, and I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Advice for new divorcees?

Don’t be afraid to let go of the life you had planned. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expect, but that’s because something better is waiting out there. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but its better than remaining in a love-less situation. And, like I said above, I highly recommend therapy for anyone who is struggling.

How are you celebrating post-divorce life?

I don’t think I’m ready to celebrate quite yet. But I am enjoying getting back in touch with girlfriends, going out without having to let someone know where I am, eating nachos for dinner in my underwear. I’m enjoying being on my own!

 

Divorceism

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Where Are They Now? | Rachel’s Story

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How old were you when you divorced?

I was 24 when we separated and 25 when the divorce was finalized.

How old are you now? 

26

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

That’s a roller coaster for me right now!  I think I have moved on in many ways, but I don’t think I’ve “moved on” to the point of being ready to be in another relationship again.

There have been so many things that have helped me heal during this season, but it is the people in my life that have amazed me and helped me the most!  My family has been incredibly supportive of me.  I was expecting only judgement and I-told-you-so’s from all sides.  Instead, they showered me with love!  My two best friends never wavered a moment when I told them what was going on. Instead, they have encouraged me, loved on me, and been there for me every single step of the way.  I also sought out counseling a few months after our separation, and that has been invaluable.

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

My immediate answer is YES.  But if I’m being honest, I’m glad I learned these lessons the way I did.  It was painful, it was hard, and it almost broke me, but that makes what I learned so much more valuable!  If I had just known them without having experienced the pain that comes with the learning process, I don’t think I’d appreciate the lessons quite as much.

Your mid-20′s is a season full of self-discovery.  It’s during that time that you learn who you really are and who you really want to be.  Going through a divorce during that already tumultuous time will either make you or break you. It’s like going through a fire only to be shoved into an active volcano!  But when you come out the other side, it’s pretty amazing.

Have you accomplished any particular goals since your divorce?

Yes!  I rented my first (and second) apartments on my own.  I drove 20+ hours on my own to visit my brother in Florida.  I bought my first car (and got my first loan!).  I’ve made new friends.

Right now, I’m saving up for a full-out solo vacation, and I’m also working to pay off my car loan in three years instead of five.

How did you manage financial struggles (if any)?

Woof, the first few months on my own were rough.  I will say that I am thankful that my ex was so anti-debt!  Neither of us had school loans to pay off (in fact, we never took out a loan at all), and we never had credit cards.  Even still, some of the first solo months I made about $10…if I was lucky.  If I had had even one more bill to pay, I wouldn’t have been able to stay afloat.

I’ve been good at budgeting my money since well before I got married, but it took me almost six months post-separation to figure out a budgeting system that works well for me.  I make sure that every single penny I spend goes into the budget!  If I over-spend in one category (usually groceries and eating out, because I like to eat as healthily as I can), that means I have to subtract money from another category (goodbye, cute clothes at Target!).  Any money left-over in the budget goes straight to my car loan.

What were your biggest fears about divorce and how did you deal with them?

My absolute biggest fear was what everyone would think.  I was terrified of being lumped into the category of “kids who got married too young and then realized it was a mistake.”  There’s no real way to deal with that except to face it head-on.  I learned what it feels like to be the subject of gossip.  I know what it’s like to walk into a room full of people who get super quiet, because they just stopped talking about you.  And you know what?  Somewhere along the way, I stopped caring.  People will always talk about other people.  It doesn’t concern me as much anymore (though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care at all!).

I was also afraid of being alone, because I was afraid of being lonely.  I love to be around people!  I love coming home to someone at the end of the day and swapping stories over dinner.  When we first separated, I did everything I could do not spend time alone.  I got a second job so I had something to do outside my full-time job.  I asked people to go out a lot.  And when I was home, I watched a lot of Netflix or talked to friends on the phone, etc.  It took me a long time to start being okay when I wasn’t surrounded by people.  I eventually graduated from “being okay having a day alone” to “if I don’t get some alone time soon, my head is going to explode!”

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

We did a DIY divorce through Legal Zoom.  Since we had no kids and no property to divide up, it was pretty easy.  All of our possessions were divided up already.. Surprisingly in five years of marriage, we hadn’t accumulated a whole lot of stuff that was “ours.” It was still “his” and “hers” from before the wedding.  I took my stuff, he took his.

Legal Zoom made the process easy.  We had to spend an afternoon together filling out all the paperwork on the computer.  After that, it was reviewed by LZ and they mailed out a packet of paperwork to us.  We had to spend another day together getting everything signed and notarized, then filed with the court.  The court then assigned us a final hearing date, which has to be somewhere between 30 and 90 days after filing.  If I remember correctly, it was about two months for us.  We were in court less than an hour total: check in, see the judge, “Yes, Your Honor,” sign/date, done.  From the day we filled out the original paperwork to the day it was finalized, the process took us just under three months.  I think all told, it cost less than $500.

 Are you living in your own place?

Yep.  I lived with my brother for a month when I first moved out, then I rented my first apartment on my own.  I just recently moved to a new place, which I am much happier with!  It’s small and cozy, in a great neighborhood, and I love it so far!

Are you single or in a relationship?

Single.  I’m not looking for a relationship, but if something happened to find me, I’m open to the possibility.

How did you conquer post-divorce dating fears?

I haven’t, yet!  I don’t think I’m nervous about going on a date (LIES, I totally am).  I’m way nervous about a new relationship though!

Advice for new divorcees?

Take it one day at a time, and take the time to invest in yourself!  You are worth it.

How are you celebrating post-divorce life?

I’m trying a lot of new things.  On a daily basis, my life is pretty boring (work, home, Netflix, pajamas, work), but when I look back over the last 13 months, I see how many things I’ve done that are new for me!  I’ve taken over as the youth group coordinator at my church, I am eating healthily and working out regularly, and I started a small Etsy business with my mom and step-dad.  All small-ish things, but they make a huge difference in the snapshot of my life at this moment in time.

Where Are They Now? | Devon’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.

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How old were you when you divorced? I was 27 when we separated and 28 when the divorce was final.

How old are you now? 30

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

It’s hard to say. I feel like I have put the divorce behind me and moved on with my life. I’m definitely living for me now which I don’t think was something I was doing before. I think it has taken the better part of the past two years to do so. The hardest non-emotional part to get through was the financial divorce. . When you have to start all over again and budget from scratch and do everything yourself all the while hearing his voice in your head saying ‘you’re going to fail, you can’t do this without me,’ it can be pretty hard. When I finally got the hang of it things became easier. When I could finally say, I am doing it and I don’t need you, that really helped to exorcise the demons. The last bit was to go to therapy. I think it would have taken me twice as long to move on if it wasn’t for the therapy. Talking about it everyday (I went an intensive route) really helped me to be accountable to myself and to forgive and finally to move on.

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

I wish I had been able to listen to myself and to know how much I’m worth. I think my ex-husband really played on my insecurities and knew how to keep me under his thumb, and I was too worried that I wasn’t worthy of love that I let him do it. I wish I knew how strong I am and that I am beautiful inside an out and that any man would be lucky to have me.

Have you accomplished any particular goals since your divorce?

I am finally making my health a priority. I’ve been struggling with my weight for a long time and I made the decision to have surgery. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made and now I feel amazing about myself and the prospects for a healthy life. I was under 300lbs before my 30th birthday, and I have to say it felt AMAZING!

How did you manage financial struggles (if any)?

I first had to put my ego away and realize that there were things in life that I was going to have to life without, or learn to do for myself. Being on a budget meant not going out to the bars all the time. It meant doing my own nails, and looking for places to get my haircut that weren’t maybe the coolest hip downtown places. It meant thrift shopping instead of charging new clothes. The funny thing was, when I looked back on my spending habits so much of it was due to being unhappy in my marriage that it became a little easier to cope with. I went out to the same bar every night to avoid going home and spending time with him. I bought new clothes etc. to make myself feel better when he was making me feel bad about myself. Without those triggers in my life, it made going out so much more special, and made those little splurges (when I could afford them) more important and valuable to me. My credit took a hit when we divorced but I’ve been making smart choices and staying on my budget and working to fix it everyday.

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

He tried to use an online site to go through the divorce. WARNING: They aren’t legal! So my parents put me in touch with a lawyer friend of theirs who agreed to do it pro-bono. I realize that I’m very lucky that my situation was simple (legally speaking, we didn’t own a home, had no children, etc. ) that I could go through a lawyer and ensure it was legal.

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Are you living in your own place?

No. I’m currently living with my boyfriend. We’ve been together seriously for about two years, but we met in 2011. I’ve been living with him for almost exactly one year.

How did you conquer post-divorce dating fears?

I hadn’t really dated that much since high school. I was probably what you call a serial monogamist. So I was scared that I would fall back into that pattern again. My sisters (and shrink) advised me to just get out there and see what happens. Since I wasn’t looking to replace my husband it was easier to just have fun with the guys I was meeting. I think that might have been something that was missing from my life before. I was putting so much pressure on myself to find the perfect guy that I forgot that it’s OK to just have fun. Not every relationship has to be true love, and not every guy is husband material. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy their company and get some joy in your life before setting them free.

What were your biggest fears about divorce and how did you deal with them?

I think my biggest fear was not being able to trust my gut about whether someone was right for me. I mean, I had gotten it so wrong, so how could I possibly be trusted to get it right? The only way to get over that was to slowly build up my self confidence again. It’s taken a while and I have to admit that it really hasn’t been easy. My boyfriend has definitely seen me at my weakest points. He knows that this is still something I’m afraid of so we talk about it. By being more open and speaking openly and honestly we’ve been able to build a solid foundation for our relationship.

Advice for new divorcees?

Give yourself some time to heal. It can take time to get over a divorce. Also, now is the time to do something for yourself. Sign up for something that makes you happy. I took salsa lessons and they made me very happy. Remember that it’s OK to just date. Be safe, and take care of you. :)

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How are you celebrating post-divorce life?

I’ve really begun putting myself and my happiness first, and living life to the fullest whenever I can. I’ve sold the rings, trashed the dress (more like donated), and gotten rid of my past so I can enjoy the future. I am also entertaining the idea of starting a family which was something I was denied in the past. :)

Anything else you would like to add?

Find a support group! It’s amazing how sometimes taking your mountain of problems to the group can help you put them into the proper focus and let you tackle them one at a time.

All my love to you all!

Top 5 Things I Learned From Divorce

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It has been just over a year since my ex and I split, and three months since the divorce was finalized.  As I sit in my cozy new apartment, I’m thinking over this past year on my own.  Quite frankly, I’m amazed at what this year has brought to me!  When “our” door closed for the last time behind me last year, I was more lost, alone, scared, and heartbroken than I knew one person was capable of being.  Distance and time have given me the perspective to realize that my healing process began right in that moment of hurt.  I couldn’t see it then, but our split (and subsequent divorce) has been one of the biggest blessings in my entire life.  As I worked through the hurt surrounding them, as I let the healing process do its thing, I began to learn incredible lessons; I became a lot older and wiser during this past year!

A friend asked me for the “Top 5″ things that I learned over this past year, so I wanted to share them with you.

(1) Single and alone and lonely are three different things.
I am finally in a place in my life to understand that being single doesn’t mean that a person is lonely or that they are necessarily looking for a relationship.  Being single can also be a choice that a person makes, whether for a season of life or for their entire life, and it’s perfectly normal and acceptable!  Think about all the awesome things that single people can do because we don’t have to check in with someone else!  It’s kind of the best thing ever.  I’m not saying that I will spend forever living the single life (maybe I will, who knows!), but for right now, I’m loving it.  I get lonely some days, and I miss the companionship that a relationship brings, but I have the perspective to recognize that I’m lonely because I’m lonely, I’m not lonely because I’m single.
 

(2) You learn a lot about yourself when you reach the end of your rope, or when you get backed into a corner. 
I was living a pretty comfortable and normal life while I was married.  Bills were always paid, two paychecks came in with regularity, and my life was headed somewhere.  When I was first out on my own, panic set in.  I was completely lost, and I didn’t know even the first thing about starting my life over from scratch.  Thankfully, Google, my mom, and the private Trash the Dress Facebook group all exist, and between those three sources, I was able to start figuring it out.  
In the year since the split, I have learned how resilient I am.  People often say “I can’t imagine doing what you’re doing” or “I wouldn’t be able to handle getting divorced”.  You know what?  I didn’t think I could do it either, but I did, and I am!  You don’t know what you’re truly capable of until you have no other choice.  Then you can be pretty damn amazing.  It took losing everything I thought I had to show me that.  It’s not fun to go outside your comfort zone…that’s why they call it a comfort zone!  But when you get outside that, and you are truly uncomfortable, you prove to yourself that you can do just about anything.  I’m no longer afraid of anything life throws my way, because I know I can survive whatever is coming for me!

(3) It’s important to know what refreshes your spirit, and it’s important to do it regularly. Check in with yourself every day.
Oh, my friends, please figure this one out and do it.  It is indescribably important!  
The number one thing that refreshes me is Jesus.  I find that spending even a few minutes a day reading my Bible and/or praying brings me back to center.  Life gets so hectic sometimes, and Jesus is the rock upon which my life is built.  Everything else may fail me; my husband can leave, my friends can stop talking to me, I could get fired from my job, my finances can be a mess…but Jesus will never change and never abandon me.  I am blessed by the fact that my church family has been incredibly supportive through this entire divorce process.  To know that there are so many people who care about me and who pray for me on a regular basis?  That is a blessing and a miracle!
The second thing that refreshes me is writing.  I find that I don’t know what I truly think about anything until I wrestle with it enough to put it into words.  That’s how I process things!  If I’m feeling particularly angsty, an afternoon writing a blog post or journaling is certain to pull me out of the funk.  
 
(4) Each of us is broken in different ways, and there is beauty to be found in that.  Kintsugi means “golden joinery” in Japanese. It’s a pottery practice where broken pieces are repaired with gold; the idea behind it is that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken, because it has a history.
This is one of my literal favorite things; ever since I read about it, I look for it in the people I know in my daily life.  I choose to look for the beauty that comes out of brokenness.  
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A bowl that is whole and perfect can be beautiful, but a bowl that has been broken and repaired with gold is unique, interesting, and priceless.  I choose to believe that I am more beautiful because I have been so broken.

(5) Forgiveness is impossible on your own terms. If there are terms, it isn’t forgiveness.
Ah, the kicker, and the hardest one.  I have not fully forgiven my ex yet, though I promise I am trying.  It’s something that I have to choose to do daily, because those hurts sneak back up on me, and I start to get angry about it.  I have to remind myself to forgive him; by not doing it, the only person I’m hurting is myself!  I know that the only way to be truly free of him and the hold he had/has on me is to forgive him.  Forgiveness is hard because there are no pre-requisites for it.  I can’t say, “I’ll forgive him if he apologizes or tries to make things right.”  If I have conditions on it, I’m not really forgiving him!  Forgiveness is me giving up my “right” to hold a grudge.  It doesn’t mean I forget what happened or condone what happened.  It means that I say, “This is what happened.  Even though you did all of these things to me, I am not going to feel resentment about it anymore.  I’m giving up my ‘right’ to blame you for these things.  I forgive you.”
Divorce kind of feels like the end of the world.  It’s the end of the life you had planned, the end of an important relationship, etc.  In fact, it often feels like mourning the death of a loved one.  But there are some days when you are able to step back and realize that your divorce is also the beginning of so many new and wonderful things!  For me, it has been a springboard into a life I never thought I would have.  I am a completely different person than I was a year ago, and I love who I am today.  I know that this journey is far from over, but instead of worrying about where it’s taking me, I’m learning to enjoy the ride!
xo

Divorceism: Your Story Isn’t Over Yet

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Where Are They Now? | Brianna’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.

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How old were you when you divorced?

28

How old are you now?

29

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

Yes, I truly feel I have moved on from my divorce.  We were separated for seven months before the divorce was final, but it was probably a year and a half after he left me before I could finally feel like I was free from it all.  I went through a Divorce Care program at my church and met some incredible people who were going through similar situations.  I have the most amazing friends who would do things to make me get out and helped me realize that there was more to life than I had experienced.  The Trash the Dress Facebook page has been very helpful as well.  To have people who have gone through similar situations as you and to help you realize that it does get better has been amazing.

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

That I wasn’t alone.  I wish I would have reached out for help sooner.  I thought this was something I had to go through and didn’t reach out.  I never would have thought to search for a divorce support group and I didn’t get therapy.  A friend added me to the Trash the Dress group and then my mom finally convinced me to try to find a group at church.  Having support helped me heal and I wish I would have looked for help sooner.

Have you accomplished any particular goals since your divorce?

I have done so much more since my divorce than I did while married.  I became my old, social self again.  I graduated with my second degree, got an amazing job in the field that I wanted, and I’m finishing up my third degree.  I have made some amazing friends over the past year.  I went to Hawaii.  I started running again and now I am running races all over the country.

How did you manage financial struggles (if any)?

I definitely struggled with finances at first.  I had to move in with a family member for a few months while I finished school.  I was able to graduate and get a job and move out on my own.  It was hard at first, but with support of family, I managed to survive.  Now I have a great job and I can fully support myself.  I still have debt thanks to my marriage, but I am working on that.

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

We both had our own lawyers.

Are you living in your own place?

Yes, I have been living by myself for over a year now.  Although, I am getting a roommate in a few weeks.

Are you single or in a relationship?

I am single.

How did you conquer post-divorce dating fears?

I still have them.  Dating post-divorce has been hard.  Most of the guys I have met stop talking to me when they find out I’m divorced.  I don’t know why, but it’s been a problem.

Advice for new divorcees?

It gets better.  It’s going to hurt, regardless of the situation, but it does get better.  Seek help, get therapy, join a support group.  Work on you and healing before you jump into a relationship.

What were your biggest fears about divorce and how did you deal with them?

I had a lot of fears about divorce.  Fear of the unknown was the biggest.  I was a military wife, I was gonna move around where ever Uncle Sam told us to go.  Now I didn’t have a husband, a good job, insurance, direction, etc.  I just had to take it one day at a time and prayed about what I should do and where I should go.  It’s very overwhelming to have your world just open up to any possibility.

How are you celebrating post-divorce life?

By doing what I want when I want.  When I was married I always put my husband’s happiness before my own.  I’m not doing that anymore.  I’m setting goals for my life and doing what it takes to accomplish them.

Anything else you would like to add?

When my ex-husband first asked me for a divorce, I was devastated.  I became a shell of a person just going through the motions of everyday life.  I begged him not to leave me for her, to just come home.  But now, almost two years later, I realize that him leaving me was the best thing he ever did for me.  I never would have left him.  Looking back I wasn’t happy, I had lost myself in my marriage and that wasn’t who I wanted to be.

Inside the Book

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That time I wore bright green eye shadow and interviewed Thirty Seconds to Mars. Read about it in “Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s.”

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Where Are They Now? | Amy’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.

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How old were you when you divorced? I was 29.

How old are you now? 30

Do you feel like you truly moved on from your divorce?  If so, how long did it take you and what factors contributed? I do feel as though I have finally moved on but it wasn’t until recently.  My ex-husband was very persistently trying to get into a relationship with me and reconcile over the summer.  He started apologizing for the terrible things he had done to me and answered all of the questions that I had.  I have to admit that he almost had me, he was pulling at my heart strings and it really almost worked and I almost caved and gave him a second chance.  I told him I needed sometime to really think about things so I backed off of him for about two weeks.  Within that amount of time he got “sick of waiting” and picked right back up with his girlfriend he broke up with to be with me.  I knew right then that he would always be a lying, cheating, sack of shit and he proved it all to me again.  I was upset and pissed at myself for even thinking it would work again but relived in the end that I once again saw him for who he really is and came to my senses.

 Is there anything you learned along the way that you wish you knew back then?  Of course! I wish I knew what a manipulative, lying, cheating, selfish and mean person he really is.  I had to learn all of that the hard way, by giving him my heart and having him stomp on it and treat it like total shit.

 Have you accomplished any particular goals since your divorce? After my separation, I had to move into my parents’ house with our son.  It was awful strain on my relationship with them.  I began immediately saving to move and it took me about a year and a half but I DID IT! I moved out in March with my son and will not ever be going back to live with them.  Our relationship is so much better now.  I am so proud of that accomplishment and am not afraid to toot my own horn about it.  It was a long road but I did it! 

How did you manage financial struggles (if any)? I am still managing financial struggles my ex-husband left me with.  He decided that opening an American Express card in my name and charge MY WEDDING AND ENGAMENT RING to it would be a great idea (plus various other expenses).  My child support is automatically deducted by the state from his paycheck and deposited into my account but I have to hound him every month for the AmEx payments which totals about $12,000.00.

Did you divorce through a lawyer or did you DIY divorce (and if so, how?) I did go through a lawyer.  In the end it was the best decision for me.  My ex-husband is so manipulative and intimidating that I knew that I couldn’t face him in court without help.  It cost a lot but I am glad that I had someone else to help me fight.

 Are you single or in a relationship? I am currently single and recently signed up for OkCupid to meet new people.  It has been going well so far and even though I have been burned so badly, I am still hopeful for the future.

How did you conquer post-divorce dating fears? I just decided to put myself back out there.  I believe in love and I believe it will find me.  I am ready to hold out for real love this time and be with someone that deserves me and will treat me and my son like we should have been treated all along.  I won’t give up!

What were your biggest fears about divorce and how did you deal with them? My biggest fear with my divorce would be how it would affect my son.  He was only one and a half years old  when we separated and almost three years old  when the divorce was final. He was so little he will only remember us apart, which I am thankful for.  I know so many people who were put in the middle of their parents’ divorce and have had an extremely hard time dealing with it even in adulthood.  I just try to take it one day at a time and be grateful that my ex is a good parent and is present in his life.  He was a terrible husband but he is a good dad.

Advice for new divorcees? It WILL get better, I promise.  As awful as things may be right now that is how much better they will become.  It is a LONG and tiring road with lots of bumps and tears along the way but there will be a day that you are relieved from the stress and can finally breathe.  And if you have kids and have to co-parent like I do, keep all of your focus on your child as hard as it is.  You never want them to feel caught in the middle or scared to talk to you because they might make you upset.  I don’t grill my son after he comes home from a weekend with his father and his girlfriend.  I just ask what he did and if he had fun. As long as he is happy to go with his father and is happy to see him that is all that matters right now.  I hope my son turns out to be NOTHING like his father and we have a long road ahead of us but right now I just want him to be a happy four year old, nothing more!

How are you celebrating post-divorce life? Becoming the person I was meant to be.  I am more comfortable in my own skin and do things that make ME happy.  I wanted to please my husband and become the perfect little trophy wife that he wanted and I totally lost my own sense of self.  I still have a lot of growing to do but I love how I am on the right path and am free from my ex-husband’s suffocating grip.

 Anything else you would like to add? I love this group (Trash the Dress) and have gotten some fantastic advice from women who really understand what it is like to go through something so terrible.  We are always there for each other any offering love and support.  It is a community of women who are all there for each other and always offer their advice or are just there to vent too. Also, remember self-care is vital on your road to recovery.  You HAVE to do things for you and that make you happy.  Mani/pedis, going to the movies (by yourself is actually pretty awesome), out for drinks with friends, having a good cry sometimes…the things that make you happy and make you feel good.  I had to treat myself to the things that I knew would put a smile on my face after so many tears had been there before.  Making yourself happy and putting yourself first are some stepping stones to healing!

Quote I recently fell in love with: I will not give up on love!

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