How I Survived My Divorce Week

My divorce was not pretty. No, pretty isn’t the right word. My divorce wasn’t even a mediocre looking-something-or-other. It was a tornado of emotional turmoil that I often struggle to put into words. It’s the same, way too common, story…husband has some sort of existential crisis, finds some new lady to fill that void, and leaves his wife. What made my divorce extra difficult was not the legal and financial aspect, but emotional. After my husband split, a huge gray cloud of depression fell over my head and followed me everywhere I went. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape. Because of that, I chose to cut contact with my ex except for brief emails about paperwork. I did this for 8 months, and after 8 months we had to see each other for the first time at our court hearing. When I got our summons for court my body flooded with anxiety. My feet started tapping and my stomach twisted into knots as I stared at the date and floor number of the courthouse. How was I supposed to face him?

My two worries was that I was either going to break down, cry, and drive my car into a lake next or say something hurtful, sassy, but honestly hilarious (insert mistress joke here). My logic told me I didn’t want to do either, so I worked like crazy to make sure I didn’t. I rehearsed our interaction in my head and then decided to make my divorce week the most kick ass week I could.

I first took some time off from work and traveled home to see the family. I had a lot of time to be with my biggest support system and get spoiled by my mom. I then went back to my home aka sexy single girl apartment with sexy cats.

The day before the court date I went to a custom jewelry shop and had some of the diamonds taken out of my ring and made into a pendant. This was a very exciting process. I didn’t want a sketchy pawn-star to rip off my expensive band of diamonds, so I chose to create something that will always remind me of this hardship and how you can pull anything apart and make it into something beautiful and new.

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Divorce day! The court process went smoothly. He said 3 words to me and I was bubbly and polite and even talked weather with the court officer. I didn’t cry or make any angry ex-wife comments. Pretty much, I kicked ass and took names. I then walked a few blocks and got my divorce tattoo.

The quote is from one of my favorite songs by my favorite band, “Bright Lights” by Placebo. It says “A Heart That Hurts, Is A Heart That Works.” That has resonated with me for a long time, but even more now. I often get stuck in why this divorce hurt so much, and why eight months later it still hurts. But really, it’s supposed to hurt, and if it didn’t hurt, that might be more worrisome.

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The day after divorce day. I had a party…a straight up glitter stiletto, way too many shots, and delicious divorce cake party. It was phenomenal. I invited so many people, expecting 2 or 3 to show up. But so many people came out of the woodworks to support and party with me. Besides the congratulatory air of the party, the highlight was the cake. I stole a few aspects of other divorce cakes I found on the web and created this masterpiece. No only was it delicious, but just about every bartender and other tavern-goers came to take a picture of it.

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For eight months I feared my divorce week. I imagined a week of emotional crisis, and to be honest, it might have been that kind of week if I didn’t plan such meaningful and fun events with the best group of people I’ve ever known. I suppose when life gives you lemons, get a tattoo and eat chocolate cake.

My new Huffington Post blog: 18 Inspirational Tattoos That Celebrate Divorce

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Trash the Dress members share their divorce tattoos. Read 18 Inspirational Tattoos That Celebrate Divorce on HuffingtonPost.

Divorce tattoos on the rise: Trash the Dress mentioned in Maclean’s Canada

Trash The Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s was mentioned in yet another divorce tattoo article. This time for major Canadian daily Maclean’s. Read “Divorce tattoos on the rise.” Then, share your thoughts in our comment section on this page.

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Danyelle’s Divorce Tattoo

Trash the Dress private online divorce support group member Danyelle shares her recent divorce tattoo, which not only commemorates her new beginning but also breaking free of her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s rule over her life: “He would not ‘allow’ me to get my third tattoo because he feels it is trashy for females to have tattoos. Well, here is my third tattoo! His response? ‘That can be a deal breaker in getting back together.’ Idiot!”

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“Everyone Panic: Divorce Tattoos are a Thing”

Finally someone gets it!

Read “Everyone Panic: Divorce Tattoos are Thing.” Big thanks to this writer who stood up for young divorced women.

In Response to the Recent #DivorceTattoo Articles Referring to Trash The Dress….

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(Note: Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s is not a collection of short stories. It’s based on my series of interview with over 70 young divorced women.)

I never thought a Pinterest board I made for women considering getting a divorce tattoo in celebration of their strength would become such a hot topic.   I have many Pinterest boards: including those for divorce party planning, inspirational divorce quotes, trash the dress photo shoot ideas and divorce rings, to name a few. I pin images I feel will inspire young women as they embark on their post-divorce lives. My boards are for young divorced women only, but somehow they have aggravated a bunch of people who are not any of the following: young, divorced or in some cases- a woman.

I would never write an article about cooking bacon or drinking alcohol because I don’t eat meat and I’m straight-edge. I don’t judge people who partake in either activity, yet so many people seem to think they have a right to comment on issues that they have no idea about. This baffles me.

If you were not divorced in your twenties, then you have no idea what it’s like. Nor do you have a right to comment on the lives of others who are going through it. Were you physically abused by your ex-husband?  Or did you find out he used your marital savings on his new drug abuse problem? Or discover that he cheated on you- with a man? These are all instances that happened for women who have found solace in the Trash the Dress private online divorce support group.  Should they be bashed by the media for having the courage to get themselves out of an unhealthy situation and uproot their lives (and for some, their children’s lives), pick up the pieces and document their journey on their OWN BODIES? Apparently these other bloggers think so.

I never set out to be the spokesperson for divorce tattoos. In fact, I don’t even have one!   I do, however, have a matching tattoo that I got with my ex-husband on our one-year wedding anniversary. It’s in his handwriting.  And I don’t regret it (it was a part of my life) or plan on covering it up. But no one writing any of these recent divorce tattoo articles pointing to this website has bothered to ask me if I even have one.  As a journalist myself, that would be one of the first questions I would fire off during an interview.

Last week, I was asked to do an interview about divorce tattoos for the website Vocativ.com.  I happily obliged.

I had no idea about the Nerve.com or CBC News articles that were previously posted about my Pinterest board.

Today, the Vocativ.com article came out with the headline, “The Divorce Tattoo Evangelist: Stories of love and loss sound particularly cheesy when inked onto skin, but one PR exec wants to tell them anyway.”

I feel like I’ve been the victim of sneaky journalism, having been asked to comment for an interview I did not know would become a backhanded slap in the face to “cheesy” twenty-something divorcees.  Fireball shots? Blurry bedroom escapades? Talk about stereotyping! Like I said, I don’t even drink.  And by the way, I HATE, HATE, HATE the word “tat.”  I guess I should go sit in a corner and cry until I’m too wrinkled to remember what my “stupid” tattoos represent.

Here’s some of what other Trash the Dress members have to say about the Voactiv.com article. 

AUBREY:

I’m a 25-year-old divorcee. I don’t personally have a divorce tattoo but I do have a ring that I wear. It is a “free as a bird” feather, to remind me that I am not chained down anymore by the pain that was being married to a porn addicted, cheating, lying husband who eventually left me. I realize that my pain is just that: my own. And I am grateful for it because it has taught me how to love myself in the moments when I felt the least desirable and to seek help when I felt the most alone. The Trash the Dress private support group is one of those safe places, and I can attest that it helped not only keep me sane but kept me ALIVE during those dark days.

Offline, most of my friends didn’t know what to say for me, but the best ones were just there, silent and supportive. It’s called “empathy.” You don’t need to walk in someone else’s shoes to realize that they’re hurting. The way the Vocativ.com post was written extremely distasteful. Maybe the things they wrote were true for a high school breakup, but the author had no grasp (or at least, no empathy) for the “soul crushing pain” (the only part they got right) that comes from the end of a marriage. To lump us all in together as a group who “take increasingly severe and cathartic measures to relieve themselves of their soul-crushing pain. What usually starts as a passive-aggressive relationship status change on Facebook transforms into nights of Fireball shots, which subsequently fuel strings of blurry bedroom escapades,” is an insult to us all as individuals.  We all have our own stories and scars. Some women blog about them, some women tattoo them. My hope is more women will at least talk about them so we can educate the masses that divorce is a TRAUMA and not a trivial laughing matter. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce and nobody dares speak of it for fear of articles just like this one; for fear of being made light of, mocked or judged.

So if you know someone going through a divorce, or who is divorced – think before you speak. You have no idea the amount of hellfire they have had to walk through to get to where they are at today. And to those of you who are in this awful and terrifying but sometimes wonderful boat with me, raise your voice. Your story should be heard if you feel the need to share it. There is no shame in divorce, there is only shame in those who choose to live in ignorance of the very fact that divorce exists.

AMY:

This part is KILLING me: “At best, the tats are a dramatic, albeit personal, celebration of womanly independence. At worst, they’re an expensive patch-up job that will only look worse with age. Regardless, they’re making Kelly Clarkson proud.” We would make Kelly Clarkson proud? Our divorce “tats” will look worse with age? How about overcoming mental and sometimes physical scars and obstacles that have forever changed our lives. Reading all of that just made me so mad. So dismissive and rude.

 MEG:

The article is poorly written. It is a half ass statement and no clear point is really being driven home. I don’t understand her point of view, what the goal of the article is or her reasoning for it. I don’t have any tattoos but as a young divorcee, this writer isn’t even on my radar. She owes me two minutes of my life back for reading such a pointless piece. I am underwhelmed and not impressed.
RACHEL:

“Stories of love and loss sound particularly cheesy when inked onto skin…” You know what else sounds particularly cheesy? Writing a snarky, uninformed commentary on something you know nothing about; you just make yourself look foolish and ignorant. The only intelligent parts of the article were the quotes from Joelle!

 JENNIFER:

This article wouldn’t sound like this if it were men doing it.

MICHELLE:

A  handful of us on here have chosen to have a tattoo to symbolize whatever it meant to us – freedom, new life, change, etc. Who is anyone to judge!? You wouldn’t go up to anyone normally and say “Why on earth have a skull on your arm, writing on your neck, tw*t tattooed across your forehead.” WHY judge?!

 

Kelly’s Divorce Tattoo

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Trash the Dress private online young divorce support group member Kelly shares her divorce tattoo (above).

“I got it on what was supposed to be my wedding anniversary- about three weeks before my divorce was finalized,” shares Kelly. “It symbolizes breaking free and flying after my divorce, and also a double meaning since my wedding theme was based on the peacock feather.”

Kelly’s been flying high since her divorce. She’s remarried and expecting her first baby! We’re so excited!

Our Divorce Tattoos are featured on CBC News (Canada)

CBC News (Canada) featured the Trash the Dress blog and our members in a story on divorce tattoos. Read “‘Divorce tattoos’ growing in popularity thanks to Pinterest” and then check out our inspirational ideas for divorce tattoos on the Trash the Dress divorce tattoo Pinterest board.

Seems Like We Struck a Nerve…

It seems our celebratory divorce tattoo movement has struck a nerve. Haters will hate. We’ve come to terms with the fact that no one understands what it’s like to be a young divorcee unless they have gone through it. Sure, it’s annoying to read articles and comments from those that just don’t get it (and as one of our clever members pointed out- might be the creators of those super ignorant “my first marriage will be my only marriage” memes), but every bit of media spreads the word and increases our chances of reaching more young divorced women in need. So, bring it on!

Read the Nerve.com article, “Why Are Young Women Getting #DivorceTattoos and Posting Them Online?,” which features photos from the Trash the Dress divorce tattoo Pinterest board.

Abbie’s Divorce Tattoo

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Loving Trash the Dress private online divorce support group member Abbie’s divorce tattoo! What a statement! This girl can take the pain! Here’s the tale behind it:

“I got my divorce tattoo in August and I am finally ready to share!,” says Abbie. “It’s a koi fish swimming upstream. It represents several different things to me. The main reason is since it is swimming upstream against the current it represents overcoming struggles. My divorce was by far the biggest struggle I’ve had to overcome. It also represents transformation. There is a Japanese legend where a koi fish swims upstream past the yellow bridge and transforms into a dragon. I feel like my divorce has transformed me into a much stronger more independent person. The third thing it represents is living up to my potential. If you put a koi fish in a small space it will stay small but if you give it room to grow it will grow to fit its environment. Even though I thought my marriage was everything I wanted I don’t think I was really ‘me’ when I was with him. I think my divorce has given me the opportunity to grow and become the woman I was supposed to be.”