The Plus Side of Being Divorced During Christmas

You can have a pink, totally girly Christmas tree!

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‘Tis the Season

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Suddenly Single for the Summer? Lucky you!

Seriously. Ending your marriage in the summer is way better than going through a divorce in the winter.

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Here are a just a few reasons why:

You don’t have to feel lonely during the holidays or undergo mass interrogation from extended family members.

The days are not dreary. Waking up to sunshine instead of snow will automatically put your brain in a good mood to start the day.

Iced coffee. The perfect excuse to frequent your local coffee shop. Sip outside and scope out the locals.

Tattoos. If you have any ink, now’s the time to show it off. You’ll feel sexier by shedding some layers and revealing your true colors. And, um, guys are doing the same so enjoy that eye candy!

Activities!  There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the weather and get your body moving. Bike riding, swimming, hiking, surfing, and dog walking are just a few ways you can burn calories and thoughts of your ex-husband. Get those happy endorphins charging your body. Look and feel great as you embark on your post-divorce journey.

You can hit your local beach. The salt air, sounds of waves crashing and sunshine provide the perfect setting for reflecting on your life and may even lead you to find a new-found appreciation for your situation. Bring along a notebook and jot down your thoughts. Or catch up on your reading. As you dig your feet into the sand, just remember to put on SPF and a smile. You never know who is going to start playing volleyball next to your towel. If it happens: jump up and join in!

The town pool is open.  OK, maybe you want to hide from your former high school peers, but this can also bring an opportunity to connect with old crushes.

Summer lovin’ is a blast.  Everyone is out and about in the summer. It’s the perfect time to practice being social and meeting new people. We know many guys are only interested in the summer hook-up and maybe that’s just what you need right now. Let them take you to dinner and out for drinks. There’s no pressure for commitment. Use this time to meet a variety of guys and maybe give that dork a chance. Dating won’t hurt you. It might just make you feel alive and appreciated again.

The fashion. If you feel like an anti-social homebody, just look in your closet. There are adorable summer dresses and sandals waiting to be worn. Don’t let them just hang there.

You can travel with your girlfriends. Take day trips to nearby towns. Go vintage shopping. Visit a winery. Just “do.”

The first summer after my husband and I decided to divorce was the best summer of my life. I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted with my friends and ended up meeting my true love and current hubby/almost baby daddy along the way.  You never know what will come your way until you put yourself out there!  The air-conditioning might tempt you to stay inside your house watching TV but it won’t provide you with memories years down the line. So get out there and live your happily even after!  You might just be making your own fireworks by July 4th.

Robin’s Divorce Getaway to England

This guest blog from Trash the Dress member Robin will make you want to pack your bags and cross the pond.

My divorce was finalized three months to the day before my 30th birthday. Since I had spent over seven  months prior feeling completely out of control of my own destiny, I decided to do something special for myself and booked a solo trip to England and Scotland to celebrate my 30th birthday. It was something that had been on my mind for a long time as I have family over there that I hadn’t seen in over a decade as well as a family friend in London.

I was on a red-eye nine days after my 30th birthday. I was both nervous and excited. I had never taken a trip by myself before, unless you count business trips. It was the first step in taking control of my own destiny. I landed in London and was greeted at the airport by my cousin Alistair. On the way back to his house, we stopped at my great-aunt Felicity’s home. She is a fascinating woman whom I have always admired. She spent the majority of her life as a missionary, and was in Rwanda when the genocide happened. She barely made it out alive. After her missionary work she returned to England and she didn’t get married until her late 60s. I had never met her husband, Ian, so this was a wonderful opportunity for me. I enjoyed my visit with them tremendously.

After our visit with Felicity and Ian we went to Alistair’s house, where his wonderful wife Heidi was waiting. Despite the jet lag and about three bottles of wine between the three of us, I managed to stay awake until 10:30 that night. That did wonders for me as I woke up the next morning refreshed and without a hint of jet lag remaining.

That day Alistair and Heidi took me to a wonderful old manor called Kingston Lacy near their home in Dorset. It was, hands down, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

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We took a tour of the old home and heard about its history, then walked the beautiful gardens surrounding the home.

After our tour we took a drive around the Tarrant area of Dorset. This is where my great-grandfather and his second wife, Jean (my great-grandmother died when my grandmother was seven years old) lived. As many times as I had been to the U.K., nobody had ever taken me there before. I got to go in the church where my great-grandfather built the pulpit, as well as see their home, called the Old Rectory, which my dad had spoken of many times.

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I had a wonderful visit with Alistair and Heidi, but Monday morning it was time to move on to London. I stayed with a family friend at his flat. It was a wonderful place right on the edge of central London, and I had a great time. I stayed four nights. I had done London before several times, but I did do some things that I had never done before. My favorite cathedral in the world is St. Paul’s, and you can climb all the way to the top. For reference, it is higher than climbing to the top of the Statue of Liberty. I was determined to do it and I made it. The view was out of this world!

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I was so proud of myself for making it to the top. I lost 65 pounds about two years ago and have managed to keep it off, so doing something like that was an amazing feat that I would have never been able to do before I lost the weight.

After St. Paul’s I walked across the Millennium Bridge, stopping several times to look at my favorite view in the whole world.

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Then I walked all the way down to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, the bad thing about traveling alone is that if you want to take pictures of yourself, you have to take “selfies.”

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I did so many other things but I don’t want to run this blog too long so I’ll skip to the thing I did on my last day in London, Kew Gardens. I am no gardener, but I loved every minute of it. It was probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. I toured the beautiful Kew Palace…

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…as well as the picturesque gardens.

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Then I moved on to Glasgow, Scotland, where my cousin Sue, her husband Neil, and their daughters Emma (17) and Beth (15) live. I had not seen Emma and Beth since they were six and four, so it was quite a shock!

On my full day in Scotland Sue took me on a beautiful scenic drive. We stopped at a place called Rest and Be Thankful. Here are Emma and I there.

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Then we went to a beautiful small town called Inverary for lunch and shopping. We were lucky enough to stumble upon some bagpipers!

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We ended the day at the Glengoyne whiskey distillery. The tour was fascinating and the whiskey was delicious! They also had a beautiful waterfall walk. Here are Sue and I there. See the family resemblance in the eyes?

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Back at Sue’s, I had my first taste of Scottish teacakes and IrnBru, a traditional Scottish carbonated drink- all of which I liked. As a side note, on every trip I take I collect a “tacky” souvenir- so check out the tacky ring on my left hand!

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When the time came to go home I was NOT ready to go. I had the most amazing time and want to go back so badly. It was the perfect trip for me to take as a new divorcée and I loved every single minute of it. I felt like it was the first step towards my new independent life.

For all of you new divorcées out there, I highly recommend doing something like this. It was such a tension release. Yes, it was expensive, but it was worth every penny. Thank you for taking the time to read this and allowing me to share my story with you!

 

 

Greener Grass: Love After Loss

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At the end of July 2013, I was finally able to break free and get out from under the marriage I had been in far too long. I was finally free. But, now what?

After taking the advice of some friends I took a huge step forward and signed up for an online dating site. YIKES! This was scary and while I had heard some good success stories I also saw firsthand all of the creepy, scary and weirdo based ones too. One early September day though I got a message that would forever change my life as I had known it.

It will be two years September 2014 and I couldn’t imagine life without this man in my life. We are totally opposite but somehow balance each other out perfectly. We share similar past experiences though that somehow has helped us greatly. Now while it is never all perfect because every relationship has its hardships I must say the reward of having this man by my side has been nothing short of a blessing. I think God sent this man into my like to give my peace, strength and the love I had been missing. Everything my marriage had damaged he somehow broke through and undid and I feel like a brand new person because of I was able to open myself up enough to experience the love that was in front of me.

Sure, we all kiss frogs now and then, but who ends up being prince charming is never as easy to spot as a simple kiss to break the spell. It’s often not easy to know if we are truly ready to go from the frying pan into a potentially new fire. It is scary to think about the unknown, (eekk) even the bad dates but isn’t it better to take the chance on finding Mr. Right than wonder or have regrets?

I have come to realize that though there were times I questioned my own readiness for the relationship, I am so grateful or this man’s patience with me while I figured it out. Now, I would be lying if I said I never looked in a bridal magazine or searched Pinterest for ideas from dresses to locations. I find myself thinking two years really isn’t all that long, right? Yet when he asked about what I’d want to do for a honeymoon I have to hide the excitement of that thought. When a relative asked what I’d say if asked, the answer has been “yes” for some time.

It took me well into six months or more of our relationship to not be nervous eating in front of him, or to not have butterflies. To this day I still apply makeup before bed to hide any imperfections I wouldn’t want him to see. I can admit with 100 percent truthfulness that I am by far NOT the outdoorsy type. I am not Mrs. Adventurous either yet I find myself excited when he talks about buying another Jeep someday and taking a long road trip. This is not the princess my mom raised me to be but a southern boy’s charm has simply made changed everything. It’s changed things I didn’t even know I wanted.

So how do you get from divorced to ever wanting to go down the road of marriage again? Maybe it’s a feeling you get, you’ll just know. Maybe it takes just the right combination of two people finding a way to make it work without sacrificing their happiness. For me is happened on our third date while sitting at the beach at midnight. It was the feeling I got after he stood behind me and wrapped his arms around me. It has only gotten better since then. Its knowing that no matter what is going on we can always come together and are stronger through any storms that come.

This doesn’t mean I don’t get cold feet though.

There are times when I find myself unsure of the commitment. It just means that when there are doubts you have to find a way to reach that place within your heart and mind and get back to that happy place. Don’t mistrust when there isn’t a reason. As women I know we all get paranoid or over-think everything too much. Trust is still the most important thing in any relationship and there is no relationship worth having without trust. That maybe the biggest lesson I have learned and something that was hard to learn. I learned not to take the bricks from my marriage into a new relationship because I would only be dooming it to fail. If you never let go of the pain, anger and fear you won’t ever be open for new love. It’s a journey that I’ve found many tools to help me make. I’ve done professional counseling to much success and I am happy to say I have come to a place I never thought I could be again.

The moral to my story is despite the heart ache, the fear or even the bad dates, to still give love a chance. You never know what or who maybe right around the corner waiting.  They say the grass is always greener on the other side after all.

Congrats, Chelsea!

Congrats to Trash the Dress private young online divorce support group member, Chelsea, who reports:

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“It does get better!!! The first week of May in 2006 I eloped with my ex husband (we would have a ceremony a year later). The same week in 2012, he would confess his affair, and claim he needed a year off after being with me for nine and a half years. I had already dropped out of school because of his abuse and neglect. When we split, I couldn’t eat. I vomited from emotion and disgust.  I thought for sure, it was over. He hated me. As he lost control, he threatened to kill me. But in August 2012 I picked myself up and moved home. Flash forward to now. I’m in a real relationship like nothing I’ve ever known and last week I finished my bachelors in Chemistry. For the first time, I love myself, and my future.”

Thankful for Thanksgiving 2009, When My Marriage Officially Ended

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I’m recycling a blog I wrote on TrashTheDressBook.com in honor of the holiday.

I spent Thanksgiving and Black Friday of 2009 moving out of my precious condo. I had wanted to move out two weeks earlier, but I was struck with illness and then needed to wait for my newly ordered bed to be shipped back to my old hot pink bedroom at my mom’s house. The holiday was the perfect time to begin loading boxes out, as the man I unfortunately married was at his parents’ home and I had the place to myself.

That condo was the first time I moved out of my mom’s house. When I first moved in, it was the condo of hopes and dreams. I felt liberated to finally have a place of my own and was so excited to decorate. I put so much attention into every little detail- from coat hooks to placemats for the dog food bowls. But it never became “home” because there were never any warm, loving feelings between those walls. The couch represented sadness because every time we sat on it, he pushed me away. The dining table just stood as a reminder that we never ate our meals together. In fact, we were rarely in the same room together. We were like roommates, not husband and wife. Not the way I imagined my happily ever after playing out.

I’m proud that I had the courage to walk out on that life and give myself the opportunity to start over. This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for my new husband, the house I thought we’d never be able to call our own and that we share with two amazing dogs, and for the future we’d never have if I stayed in an unhappy marriage.

Life might not be exactly what you dreamed of right now, but you’re on your way. And that’s something to celebrate, ladies!

 

Startiversary

Believe it or not, there’s ANOTHER Joelle who was divorced in her twenties. It’s not the only thing we have in common. We both put obsessive detail, heart and soul into planning our weddings to men who didn’t exactly have the same enthusiasm about our new futures.  You know my story. Here’s her guest blog:

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It’s 9:35 p.m. on the eve of what would have been my third wedding anniversary. I just spent the last half hour looking through the 500 or so wedding pictures that I never got around to actually putting into a book (possibly an indicator of the future). I cried earlier, on the way home from work, I thought about what a perfect day October 9, 2010 was and how it was the best day of my life, and then I flash forward to October 8, 2013, I’m sitting alone on my couch with my dog. I just finished a box of macaroni and cheese, a whiskey sour, and two episodes of Friday Night Lights. I’m not sullen over my night, in fact it’s a nice evening at home: I have my favorite sweats on, it was the fancy Annie’s organic Mac n’ Cheese, and I finally made it to season 3 of FNL.

I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder on anything than I did my wedding, (and yes I’m including grad school and my thesis project in that statement). I put my WHOLE heart and soul into that wedding. It was gorgeous. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful fall day in Truckee, California. October was/is my favorite month; the colors of fall are so pretty. My colors were a mix of those pretty fall colors; gold, oranges, browns, and a beautiful kinda rusted/salmony pink for the bridesmaids. There were pumpkins, leaves, pinecones, and candles everywhere. It was extra special because my husband’s 16 cousins had flown all the way from Spain to attend our nuptials; in their honor (and my husband’s culture) we had a Basque Dancer perform a traditional “Marriage Dance.”  There were 170 people, had perfect weather, the drinks were flowing, and everyone was on the dance floor. I mean let’s get real people, the bar tab was $10,000…. people let loose.

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I can’t help but wonder, looking back if I was so focused on the details, the ring, the dress, the place cards (pinned to mini white pumpkins with…. So cute) because I knew I was missing something all along. I was missing the fact that I can’t recall him once ever telling me he couldn’t wait to marry me. That I knew for a fact he could live without me, and did a couple of times after he broke up with me. I never felt that more solid than solid feeling that I KNEW with every bone in my body that this man loved me and would spend his life devoted to me. I can’t honestly say I felt those things, I knew he loved me, and would be faithful and would provide, but our love never had an intensity about it, or he never loved me with intensity.

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I would have walked through fire to be with that man, I did actually, I uprooted my life more than once to follow him and my heart, shit I lived in Spain as an illegal immigrant for him, TWICE! I think I thought I could love enough for the two of us. I wanted us to work with every bone in my body, because I loved him so much. I focused on the wedding, because I think I thought I would feel secure once we were married, that insecure feeling would go away. But now after the heart wrenching experience of divorce, I know now that I needed and will need the UNDENIABLE, without a doubt feeling of love from a man. One person can’t love enough for two, and eventually as he gave less and less, I had nothing more to give. I may have initiated the divorce, but he had left me physically and emotionally months before.

Joelle and Martin's wedding

In a sense I feel like I’ve lost my “wedding virginity,”I may be cynical right now, and I hope that I change my mind and heart later, but I feel the like the beauty of a wedding, the commitment, the sentiment, is gone for me. I’m mad, actually pissed off about it too. I loved my fucking wedding, and all I ever wanted since I was a girl was that damn wedding (don’t even get me started on what the f*$K is wrong with our society that we groom girls to dream of a their wedding day unlike any other moment in their life, what the fuck is wrong with us as a culture? So we get the dream wedding at 26, then what, it’s all downhill from there?)  I wanted to be able to look back at my stupid pictures and show my make believe grandchildren our wedding day.

What do I do with my dress? I still have a box of wedding cards and extra invitations sitting in my garage. Every time I go to throw them away I stop, and I can’t, because those invitations were GORGEOUS! I know what you’re thinking, “Joelle, you’re a nut, it was just a day, a marriage is much more than a stupid day.” It may seem that I’m more sad about my beautiful wedding than I am about my marriage of two years and the seven years of my life I shared with a man that I really truly wanted to spend my life with. But I think the wedding represents a symbol of a lost dream. The pictures and the stupid invitations and the shadow box that I so painstakingly put together that I can’t even bear to take off the shelf and throw away are the only tangible things I have left of that dream. My wedding day was the start of dream that so painfully fell apart.

Trash the Dress: Making a Difference

I received a really nice letter the other day that I wanted to share, as I feel it will help inspire others. This particular woman is not ready to join our private Facebook support group yet, but is allowing me to post this. Let’s show her some love!

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Hi There,

I didn’t know how to post my thanks. Or where to begin to express my gratitude. As a woman in her 20s filing for divorce, this site has gotten me through some of the worst days. I’m not sure what else to say besides my story.

Seven years ago, I met a man who brought light into my life in a dark time. I latched onto him. I’m a natural care giver and he was an all consuming narcissist. So the arrangement suited him. In the earlier years, we did ok.

As the years rolled on, things got worse. He blamed me for things that I couldn’t control. He lashed out. Screamed and shouted that I held him back. He made me feel guilty because I wasn’t ok with the idea of an open relationship. The worst was that he made me feel like everything was my fault. Because that’s what a narcissist does. He is the only one capable of being right, so in order to be in his world, I gave up my ability to be right. I surrendered it because I loved him. And the only way I could be with him was if he was right, which meant all of the terrible things he said had to be right.

See where this is going?

In our 6th year, we began talking about wedding planning (again). We tried to get married once before, but life’s hassles got in the way. I started to sit down and plan out the details. Every decision was an overwhelming nightmare, which I’m sure you can understand. I tried to talk to my fiancé about the problem, but well… he just pushed me away and told me to deal with it on my own. I was used to the neglect.

I had recently reconnected with a friend of mine from a few years back. It was good to get back in touch with him. He had a way of letting me just talk and say whatever I needed to. And that was something I didn’t get from my fiancé. My friend and I got close.

The wedding happened and it was beautiful. I’m still confused about the actual wedding day because everyone says you marry your best friend, and I don’t think I did. I was confused because I had some kind of attraction for my friend that I just couldn’t understand.

Honeymoon was beautiful, and then it was back to life as usual. I was having a hard time with work because our company was reshuffled. I went from having a completely awesome boss to one that was an unappreciative chauvinist. I tried to talk to my husband for support. He neglected me. Or worse, he’d yell at me and tell me it was my fault. I believed him and sucked up all his poison.

But my friend, lets call him Wesley, was my confident. He told me everything my husband was failing too. That it wasn’t my fault. I was in a rough place, but I would get through it. I needed his courage and reinforcement. And he gave it to me freely and unconditionally. It blew my mind.

Well, things between Wesley and I almost led to an affair. I stopped it before it ever got to the official act. But I did manage to make a mess of things. I tried to hide what I had done. That lasted all of two days. I remember sitting on the couch feeling so miserable with my husband that I didn’t have the strength to lie anymore. I started a conversation that I was scared to have. I asked my husband if he had ever cheated on me. He had. Three times. One of which was with his sister in law who was now pregnant (though he claims not to be the father). I confessed what had happened with Wesley and I. That’s when my husband went ballistic. Names, threats, anger, guilt. It all poured out of him and went straight into me.

We tried to fix it. I cut Wesley out of my life. My husband and I tried to talk more, but that usually ended up with me saying a few words and then him either walking away or condemning me for how I felt. He tried to fling roses at me stating that it made up for his previous infidelity. But no flowers could do that.

I was lost and trapped when I did the best thing I could do. I got help. I started seeing a therapist. I opened up to him about all of the terrible things my husband had said or done over the years. Things I was too ashamed to tell my closest girlfriends. My therapist gave me a place where it was safe to share my feelings and I wouldn’t be condoned. My therapist and I decided that it would be best if husband and I tried a trial separation. I was so excited at the idea I couldn’t stand it. And this was only 3 months after stating my vows.

I told my husband. He was far less supportive. He yelled for a bit, so I left the house while he calmed down. When I came back, he had a note written up for me and he gave me back his wedding ring. I sat down in our guest room to read the note alone when he stormed in and demanded his wedding ring back. Then he left. The note was full of manipulation and lies, so I started to text my girlfriends because I was scared to caving into my husband’s manipulation again. We were group texting when he’d storm into the room, say a few things and then leave. Each time it would get worse. Threats came more freely. He demanded my cellphone, and when I said no, he pulled back his arm to hit me.

I ran.

I grabbed a few bags and left. I stayed in a hotel that night, too scared to be anywhere else. He called my friends and family demanding to know where I was. The few who knew wouldn’t tell him where I was. My husband called my father and told him what a terrible whore his daughter was. The whole situation was dreadful.

My husband packed his things and moved cross country to go be closer to his family. Once he was there he and his family began to send numerous guilt laden messages in my direction. His family was under the impression that I was pregnant with Wesley’s baby and that’s why I was leaving. I just rolled my eyes at it because I A. wasn’t pregnant and B. can’t make a baby without the act of baby making.

I filed for divorce a week after he left. I haven’t seen my husband to this day. A restraining order went with the divorce papers to him. I’m still not sure if he’s going to sign or if I have to go to court, but either way I’m better off.

During those first few weeks after the almost-affair I was in terrible shape. I read those really awful self-help books in which the desperate marriage is perfectly rekindled and everything is sunshine and rainbows. It just depressed me further. Honestly I just needed someone to say, “hey it’s ok if you want to walk away. In fact maybe you should. Because there’s hope. A bad marriage is nothing more than poison, and the longer you stay in it, the more it will poison you. As you cut off the source of the poison, you will still feel sick, but over time you will get healthier. There will be better out there for you. There will be a new beginning. And maybe that’s what divorce is.”

I had always believed that divorce was this road I’d never go down, but I’m grateful for it now. It’s my phoenix from the ashes. It’s my chance at rebirth. Because I grew strong enough to know that I wasn’t being treated the way I should, and I deserve the chance to be happy. THAT is the reason I left my husband.

So thank you Trash The Dress for every solidifying quote. Thanks for your stories of women remarrying after divorce. Thank you for music that soothes my weary sole. Thank you for helping validate me in a way that no other book, community or friend can.

We are not mistakes. We may have made a few bad decisions in our past, but they were the best decisions we could make at the time. And now we are moving forward to the path with the greatest potential happiness. That is an act of courage and bravery. Thank you for letting me share in your stories and strength, as I rebuild my armor and become the strong woman I was so many years ago.

My feature on Huffington Post Divorce: Divorce Care Package Series

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Huffington Post Divorce asked me how I survived divorce in my twenties for their Divorce Care Package series. Read my “Divorce Care Package: 6 Things You Need To Survive Your Split, According To Joelle Caputa” slideshow.