Trash the Dress Bridal Shower!

My bff (referred to as “Penny” in my  book, “Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s”) is getting remarried next month! Here we are at her bridal shower this past weekend. It was an intimate lunch with close friends. No big party needed this time around!

Here’s more proof of love and marriage post-divorce in your 20s. Happily ever after in your 30s!

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Penny and me. If you’re a Hanson fan like we are, then you’ll appreciate that caption.

 

Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Cheatin’ and Healin’

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One year ago I walked out on my husband. I often forget this part of my story. Although I was the one to walk out first, he was the one who asked for the divorce. My relationship was a broken record of “Andrea’s fault” so, even then, I thought walking out was a sign of weakness, not a moment of clarity or strength. After I found the infamous text from the infamous mistress, I realized my relationship was over and I had been lied to and betrayed. Our relationship was long since broken, but the tipping point of infidelity started my entire world on fire.

It’s been an entire year and I couldn’t be happier. Finally I’m the person I have always wanted to be. I’m assertive. I have power and control of my life. I, for the first time in 26 years, feel pretty. My divorce was the best-worst thing that ever happened to me. Without the shit-show I wouldn’t have grown into the bad-ass lady I am right now. With that said, I still struggle.

I am a person who looks to others’ stories to find answers, meaning, or the slightest moment of solace. I suppose that’s why I chose to blog about my experiences. Recently I have been trying to find articles about healing from cheating. The only thing I really find is how to make a relationship work after infidelity. Mine didn’t work (thank goodness), but the toil is still real.

Cheating is the suckiest thing you can do to another person. It’s a betrayal beyond belief and it really really hurts. Cheating isn’t about any emotional or physical interactions…it’s about secrets, deceit, deception, and the cowardice to not deal with the problems at hand. After you get past the fact your safe person destroyed the constructs of your monogamous relationship, you are left with an aftermath of duplicity. You and your ex’s friend circle is in shambles. No one wants to get in the middle of anything, and those who do are wrought with turmoil no matter how hard they try to help both parties. As time goes by, the memory of the bellicose ninety-day-divorce-waiting-period fades and everyone moves on with their lives. It’s not the same. The couple can’t be at parties together anymore. The friend group has to figure out who they are going to invite when. And eventually, the mistress becomes apart of the group and you see that smiling photo of her, where you once stood, on Facebook. And you cry, all the way home from the Apple store.

This is my reality and I’m still figuring out how to reconcile the thoughts and feelings surrounding the fear of replacement and my inability to trust, something I’ve never had before. I’m learning that there isn’t much to do with these issues except see the facts and sit with the emotional scars that are healing more and more everyday. I was not replaced because I do not want to be that body with his arm around. I know she isn’t better than me. I often want to explain this with “well I never went after a married man” but that’s a simple thought. I have worth that is absent of any comparison to another. And I do trust people when they earn it, and it is possible to earn it.

After writing this, I still don’t have the answer to this struggle. How do you let go of betrayal? How do you trust again? How do you stop laughing at mistress jokes (okay, this one will never happen…for purely clinical healing reasons of course…)? All I know is, as cliche as it sounds, time really does heal, which sucks because it takes a lot of time. Though, each day gets a little easier. Each day I am able to laugh a little more. And each day, the aftermath smoke from the fire settles and the air gets a little easier to breath. 

Top 5 Things I Learned From Divorce

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

How to Survive Your Awfulversary

“You have a lot of anniversaries it seems,” my boyfriend told me when I mentioned that today would’ve been my four year wedding anniversary. And well – he’s right. I have a number of days that mark both the good and the bad days that I had with my ex-husband.

Let’s see. There is (in no particular order):

  • March 8th, the day he said “I can’t do this anymore”
  • April 1st, our divorce date (hands down, the best day of the year this could have landed on)
  • June 8th, the first time he cheated
  • And August 7th, our wedding anniversary

Since this isn’t my first rodeo, I have some tips for you to get through what I’ve dubbed “awfulversaries”, because there is a widespread misconception that divorce is the end of all emotions pertaining to an ended relationship and well, that’s just crap to any of us who have been through this. Divorce is something that will always be with you and should be grieved (or when you’re ready, celebrated) as you see fit. Here are a few ideas that can help:

Forgive Yourself

That’s right. Forgive yourself. You are not the same person who walked into that marriage. You went in with the best intentions, and regardless of if you left or they did, it’s heartbreaking and exhausting to have to separate your life and start all over. So forgive yourself for the nights you cry, the times you feel guilty, the moments you are happy…and forgive them too (or at least fake it until you make it).

Also? Watch this. On repeat.

Lean on Your “Person”

If you’ve seen Grey’s Anatomy, you know that Meredith and Christina are each other’s “person.” Find your “person” and book them for that night. The right friend will know to be there for you and be up for anything – because you never know what you’ll feel like on an awfulversary – sometimes you want to dance it out, and sometimes you want to cry and watch Must Love Dogs (I mean, if your ex’s name is Kevin and you own a Newfoundland dog – it’s only fitting).

Write a Never Letter or a Pro/Con List

Whether it is a “could’ve, should’ve” or a “DEAR DARLA, I HATE YOUR STINKING GUTS” type of emotion you are feeling, grab some paper or open a Word doc and let it all come out… BUT DON’T SEND IT! Shred, burn or delete it. These are called Never Letters. Getting your feelings out on paper can help you accept the reality and work through it in a way that isn’t sending you right back into a bad situation. Think of it as a self-counseling session.

If you just need a quick pick me up – write a pro/con list. It’s okay to be sad about the happy things you miss about being together like those inside jokes, but also list the cons to help you figure out why it didn’t work and why you’re better off without them. Mine was a hard worker which was great, but he was also a compulsive porn addict, cheater and nail biter – definitely things I don’t miss!

Absolutely NO Lurking

Social media makes it all to easy to see what your ex is doing these days… but looking them up comes with a cost. Studies have shown that those who look up their exes are “more likely to be hung up on the breakup, with greater distress, negative feelings, longing for the ex-partner and lower personal growth.”

Ouch.

So think again before stalking the ex and their new beau; it only hinders your healing and I PROMISE you their lives aren’t as sweet as they’re making them out to be on Facebook.

Don’t believe me? Watch this:

Be liberal with that block button, my friends.

Make Awesome Plans

Look. If you stay in and cry all night, I am the last person that will judge you. But trust me, this tip is the best of them all.

Date yourself for a night. Clean your house the night before so you wake up feeling fresh and not overwhelmed, wear a new outfit, and go to a fancy dinner with friends or to that new movie you’ve wanted to see. Go to the Katy Perry concert and scream your guts out at every lyric that empowers you. Travel to a place that you’ve always wanted to see. Flirt with cute bartenders. Be adventurous, the world is your oyster for the night and nobody can tell you any different!

If you don’t feel up to partying, do something else memorable such as change your name back, put all photos of the two of you on an external hard drive, delete old emails; anything that helps you take back your own self and celebrate that you are a new, smart, independent woman and you will not be defined by your marital status. And then? Give yourself a pat on the back, you have now survived another awfulversary!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a massage to get to…

Especially in matters of divorce…

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Surviving the Storm

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Great way to start the day

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Start your day with caffeine and a compliment? Your post-divorce life will already be off to a better start than your marriage with this little knick knack from Etsy. Love it for your new home decor!

Why I Left…

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My fellow Trash the Dress Facebook girls decided to post the seven reasons why they decided to get a divorce. I loved the idea of getting it all out there and decided to follow suit and post mine as well.  My hopes were that someone else could relate to what I went through and see that no matter how far down another person can drag you down, you can always claw your way back up.  I have those same hopes for my first Trash the Dress Blog post.  So…here we go!

  1. My ex-husband is an addict.  I knew this going into the relationship but he had been clean for about five years.  To this day I do not know what triggered him to start using again but he was using all of our savings to get high for the last year of our marriage.
  2. I found out he was using because he overdosed twice.  The first time, I stuck by him, got him help, got him in rehab and myself and my family rallied around him and provided him with a wonderful support system.  He overdosed again about three months later, I woke up in the morning and had our son in my arms, walked down the stairs and found him slumped over the kitchen table, covered in sweat and overdosing on three different drugs, two of which he was injecting.
  3. Affairs, affairs, affairs.  I found a pair of underwear in our laundry pile and he swore up and down and even picked a fight with me when I confronted him with them.  He promised me he had no idea where they came from and vowed to “get to the bottom of it.”  Crazy I know and I hate to even sit here and type that incident because it makes me so mad at myself to this day that I even believed him.
  4. While he was in the hospital recovering from his last overdose I looked in his phone for the first time in our entire relationship (red flag again I know).  It was there that I found he was a member of ashleymadison.com, that disgusting website for married people to go on and have affairs. Seriously, the tag line is “life’s short, have an affair.” He took the best picture of us and cut me out of it and used it as his profile picture.  Makes my stomach turn thinking about it.
  5. He tried to alienate me from my friends.  He would always encourage me to go out with them but when I was out the texts and phone calls wouldn’t stop.  One time when I was out to dinner he called and accused me of cheating on him and demanded I come home right away.  I did (stupidly but I was so upset that staying through a dinner wasn’t an option) and we got into the worst fight I have ever been in in my life.  When it was all over he just looked at me and said “I know you would never cheat on me, I’m sorry.”
  6. He lost a lot of weight when he started using again and to mask that he started doing steroids so I and his/my family wouldn’t notice his weight loss right away.  Let me just say that “roid rage” has a whole new meaning to me now.  Not only was it the overall way he treated me but I saw him break a standing fan right in half when I refused to hand over my debit card so he could get money out of the ATM “to help his friend fix his car.”  I have never been so afraid for not only myself but our baby that was sleeping right in the next room.  That was one of the scariest nights of my life.
  7. The lies to cover up the lies that cover up the lies.  I loved that man with every inch of my soul, with everything I had and he constantly lied, cheated and stole from me and my family.  I used to believe in forever and fairy tales, he slapped me right into reality.  My hope is that one day I will meet someone and forever will truly mean just that.

 

Divorcee vs Meme: A Head to Head Battle

divorcee vs meme

Let’s meet our two competitors.

1. Divorcee: A divorced person. No, not a failure, not a weakling, not an idiot.
2. Meme: An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, usually in a humorous way, largely through Internet-based e-mail, blogs, forums, image boards, social networking sites, instant messaging and video sites such as YouTube. Can be used for evil by ignorant people.

They say living well is the best revenge. But, in my case, blogging well is the best revenge.

Not against my ex. I’m actually over that. We’ll have been separated two years in a couple of months – unfortunately the war for the divorcee has spread, not just to our exes, but to the people out there who believe we are irresponsible, we’ve given up, we don’t believe in marriage, we didn’t want forever.

The people who perpetuate the following memes:

 

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Story time.

A Facebook “friend” of mine posted the first meme. Not once, but twice, within a few days (The second time following the phrase “I said it once, and I’ll say it again” – gag me with a spoon.) The first time it showed up in my feed to point a finger and say “failure,” I chose to ignore it.

Second time around, I wasn’t so forgiving or forgetting.

So, I did what anyone would do, and reported it as spam to Facebook with the message:“Please consider those of us who are divorced and understand that this is offensive.”

I meant – don’t feel the need to post this every single day, please. It’s stupid. We’ll go into why, later.

She replied:

Well, that’s just what I believe I want for me. I never said that everyone has to do it. Sorry sorry if that offense you, not my intentions but please look outside the box and what I really ment. Never my intention to put you or anyone else down but Facebook is a place to voice whatever is on your mind. I don’t get mad or upset when people post about religion or politics cuz I know that’s how they feel and only mean to post that for themselves, not everybody.

If you’d like, you can go to my profile, click on friends and then click on the “show in feeds”, by doing that, you won’t have to see everything I post. You’re a cool person and would hate for you to be upset at me for something I didn’t mean. So maybe, that might help. Have a fantastic day. Please take care.

(Grammar and spelling have not been changed to protect the idiocy.)

My intention was never to call out someone personally and throw poop at them. I wanted to have a discussion about why these memes are offensive. I continued my conversation with her, however, I would like to post my dissertation here – not include more Facebook ramblings by a closed-minded person.

I WANT MY FIRST MARRIAGE TO BE MY ONLY MARRIAGE.

My reply:

Who doesn’t?
Who wants to be divorced?
Is the sky blue? Should we make a meme of that, too?

Did any of us walk down the aisle thinking, “I’d love to have my heart ripped out in about five years and start all over again wondering if this broken shell of a human will ever learn to love again.” I’m gonna pretty confidently say NO, WE DID NOT.

But here’s the other thing: My relationship, marriage, and everything that lead up to my divorce and utter heart destruction made me grow into who I am today. A stronger, wiser, more whole person. Yes, I am saying I am grateful for my divorce. I am grateful that whenever I meet someone that I’m interested in, I know what the end looks like and I know that if it comes, I can survive it. That another person cannot and will not begin or end my world – only I can do that. I would have never known these things if I had not been through the war I went through. If I had not beat the marriage cancer. ‘Cause I did. We all did. We are survivors.

So, to look down on my divorce and the fact that someday I might possibly have “two marriages” (oh, my dear lord! – *said in a Southern accent, fanning self*) PISSES ME OFF. Yes, it does. And not just for me, but for the army of women out there who I proudly stand in the company of. Who have faced the end of everything they knew and WENT ON.

What we’ve conquered is a miracle. So, don’t look down on my miracle. Don’t you dare.

As for you, second MEME,
Divorce IS an option. Period. Yes, that’s all.

I am grateful to have never been physically, mentally, or emotionally abused. I am grateful not to have been faced with major tragedy such as death, or loss of home. Or worse – so much worse.

But some of my sisters have been. And to look them in their face and tell them they were wrong, that they “gone work that shit out” is irresponsible.

“Oh, but Lindsay, there are exceptions – I meant it for me, not everyone else, I can post what I want, blah blah blah.”

I don’t care. The fact that you think this makes you an idiot – so post if you want to, but I will think less of you. Because you are so egotistical to the point where you think you know that “one marriage is for you”. When really, you don’t know. None of us did, and there’s more of us than you.

I’m saying its a kind of prejudice. You’re assuming a great many things about me and my life because I am divorced, and to you, that’s all I am.

Well, you’re wrong. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

And I don’t appreciate it.

So you, you who created these memes, who perpetrated these memes – shame on you. You’re posting a lie, and we don’t appreciate it. So, you know what we’ve done? We’ve made our own meme.

Check this out. Repost. Tag. Tweet. Blog. Go forth.

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Your Soul Sister,

Lindsay B.

 

Love is Patient

They say time heals all wounds, and it’s true, but some wounds take longer to heal than others. There’s no shame in taking longer to move on than you’d like, and there’s no shame in mourning a dream you’ve lost. Divorce isn’t easy, but just like the paperwork, it’s a process. Maybe you’re not where you want to be, or where you ever imagined, but maybe that’s exactly where you’re supposed to be. Maybe we go through the things we do so that we become the people we are meant to be…..and I have to say, I’m pretty proud of who I’ve become. I hate the circumstances and the man that put me here, but I know what I’m made of and it’s worth far more than he can ever hope to be.

Remember, love is patient and love is kind, so love and be kind to yourself!

Here are some things I try to remember every day:

dontgiveup

miss

moveon

judge