What I Wish I’d Been Told About Divorce

I’ve been divorced now for nearly 8 weeks and aside from getting used to my new name, (after much consideration I’ve gone back to Miss Williams as I just couldn’t get my head around using the Mrs title when by law I was no longer married) I’ve also had time to reflect on what it actually feels like to get divorced. Now bear in mind that mine had been pretty easy compared to some of the stories I’ve heard, but none the less, it was still a process I went through.

Looking back over the year it took, from the day I sat in the solicitor’s office and told her why I wanted a divorce, to the day I received my Decree Absolute, I’ve now realised just how much of a monumental journey it was. There’s no denying that divorce is going to stir emotions, no matter how happy you are about your new life ahead, there will be days when you feel like a failure.

Nothing like inviting 100 people to a party, accepting all their presents, spending silly money on a dress you’ll wear once and then saying.

“Oh by the way, we made a mistake. Sorry we wasted your time, but hope you had a good day.”

It all feels a little false now looking back like everyone was pretending; playing a game where we all get dressed up. I said those vows for life, we’d made a family and that was that. Only it wasn’t, and I’ve now spent the same amount of money rectifying that mistake. When I see couples celebrating 50 years marriage, I can’t help feeling a little sadness in the reality that it’s very doubtful I’ll ever reach that milestone, divorce has made me see marriage very differently and If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, its that divorces can cost more than weddings.

And another thing, don’t expect your solicitor to be your confidant, friend or counsellor. They’re there to do a job, it’s a business arrangement and at times it felt more like they were making things more complicated just to eek out a bit more money from me. I learnt quickly to try to keep things simple just to get the job done as quickly and cheaply as possible. While they are the professionals, I wasn’t convinced they had my best interests at heart. Emotions just don’t come into it.

Now that’s the bad stuff out the way, let’s crack on to the surprises…. in all honesty, it was never as bad or as complicated as I imagined.

Now my divorce is completeI've looked back over the last 18 months and there were a few things I wish someone had told me at the beginning which would've taken away the worry

The kids will be alright

My children seemed to take the transition very well. I never talked about what was happening, kept everything age appropriate and checked in regularly to see if things were ok. I had amazing advice from other parents who’d been through a divorce and followed their advice. My boys proved that they were much more resilient than I’d given them credit for, swapping houses every other weekend became the norm very quickly.

You get a new lease of life!

And that’s a biggie. That’s something I NEVER anticipated. The 1st few months were spent doing things just for me, something I’d never done before. I booked haircuts in my child-free days, I recycled most of my clothes and started again. I joined the gym and embraced a much healthier lifestyle. Not having someone else to think about at meal times meant I could cook what I liked, the boys tried new foods and joined me on the healthy bandwagon.

We ended up changing our whole daytime routine, totally relaxing the rules.

Days out were no longer confined to getting home at 5 pm to cook dinner, evening baths moved to morning showers and weekends were relaxed and impulsive. My breakthrough moment came the morning after a night out, as my foggy, hungover head cleared and I processed the fun from the night before.  I realised the biggest change in me so far, aside from the confidence and optimism that I could do anything I set my mind to, I realised I’d started doing something I hadn’t done in a very long time; I danced.

A good night out for me now consisted of well and truly letting my hair down and strutting some questionable mum moves on the dancefloor while laughing and singing. I was finally just me, I can’t tell you why I’d never felt comfortable dancing before, but now the rhythm swept me up in a way where I just didn’t care who was watching or what they were thinking.

 I danced like no one was watching,

apart from Hayley. Hayley was watching – my partner in crime, the lady to my right, doing equally dodgy moves.  And were we bovvered? Nah.

Now my divorce is completeI've looked back over the last 18 months and there were a few things I wish someone had told me at the beginning which would've taken away the worry

You’ll gain friends and get used to being on your own

(see above ) I was amazed at the people who rallied around me in the early days, people became incredibly selfless and supportive for which I am eternally grateful. You do find you gravitate a little towards other singletons or divorcees as you have something in common, and while I may have lost a husband, I gained a few more fabulous friends.

I’m not going to lie, the thought of being on my own at first terrified me. It was 20 years since I’d been on my own and not even sure you can count it that as I was living at home, so technically, I’d NEVER been on my own.  I can count on one hand the evenings I spent in my house without my ex.

I struggled the most when after my children left to go stay with their dad, that first hour was a killer, but I had a strategy in place and pretty soon I started to enjoy the moments it was just me to think about. Then, when my boys come home I refreshed and revitalised ready for the next round of solo parenting.

And the evenings when I do have company I love it, but also appreciate the nights in on my own; sitting in bed with a glass of wine and a movie. I was told these days would come and scoffed at the thought of ever being comfortable on my own, but they do. And when the time comes to share my home with another consenting adult, I have no doubt in my mind that the process will be equally strange to get used to; requiring a new carefully thought out strategy, compiled after intense telephone calls, What’s App messages and wine-fuelled debates with the same friends who guided me through the early months of being single.

Now my divorce is completeI've looked back over the last 18 months and there were a few things I wish someone had told me at the beginning which would've taken away the worry

Finances will not be as scary as you anticipated

I simply couldn’t see how I’d cope financially with only one wage coming in, the maths just didn’t add up. My home was mortgaged, I worked and loved my job so going on benefits was never an option and yet I didn’t want to put my children in full-time childcare, or for my older kids to be coming home to an empty house every night if I worked full time.

But is financial help for single parents;  tax credits and other benefits (such as single adult occupancy council tax) which you’re entitled to, I was lucky that I could work from home & juggle my job around my family. Being on my own every night also meant I could work in the evening or on the weekends I was childfree.

The negative is I’m limited to the events I can attend in the evening as my childcare is pretty much just my mum but I still managed to retrain and study as well as work for the first 9 months. The sheer determination to be able to provide for my boys as well as keep a roof over our heads being the driving factor.

I sat down and went through all my incomings and outgoings, working out where I could make cuts. It’s also a lot bloody easier to keep track of your finances when you’re the only one spending. Websites like https://www.gingerbread.org.uk were invaluable.

And one final word about divorce …

Please don’t for one minute think that I’m trying to sugar coat divorce, it sucks, end of. I’ve not shared this with you to champion the end of rocky patches in marriage, I still stand by my belief that relationships require work, they go through good times and bad.

You will know when those bad times become unpatchable though, and that 2 happy homes are better than one sad. If that’s you, I’m sorry you’ve reached that point and would like to think this gives you a little hope that things aren’t as bad as you think they will be.

Here’s my divorce journey if you’d like to read more;

  1. Status update. There’s something you should probably know.
  2. How To Exit A Marriage Gracefully
  3. You’re wondering how I’m feeling about my divorce?
  4. The one where I told you I was no longer married
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Divorce – to party or not to party?

D-day is almost here and I’ve been thinking about the best way to handle it. As Divorces go, it’s been ok I guess, that could just be down to my general approach to life; keep positive and look forward never dwell. Sure, there’s been hiccups and moments where I’ve wallowed in a massive pool of self pity, I’m an awful mother for putting my kids through this and I’ve failed at being a wife days.

There’s also been moments of complete and utter excitement as I anticipate what the future brings. I don’t dare plan too much, that’s the knock on of separation. After a long relationship is you realise life can always throw you a curve ball, and I’ve no idea if there will ever be a Mr Right in that future I don’t dare plan. I’m still an old romantic at heart and love the idea of happily ever after, but I’m not going to make that my sole mission in life.

For the first time, in a very long time, I’m quite happy being me, myself and I.

One thing no one warns you about, when you and your husband go your separate ways and you take on the role of My Single Friend, is you become a go-to and confidant for everyone else’s marriage troubles, that’s a great reminder of how much better off I am right now. That could be a reason to party.

So that clears up where I am on Separation Street, the perfect time to put it out there, that conversation which keeps popping up;

Are you going to have a divorce party?

Is a divorce ever something you should celebrate? After all, it’s a failure to maintain a relationship, and one which I worked bloody hard to keep going, but come the end, the lows far out weighed the highs, it was a pretty dark place for us all then things came to light which made the fight to stay together futile.

If I’m honest, there’s no denying I’m much happier with how life is right now, but do I celebrate the reason for why I’m here with a party? My release into my new life….

should you celebrate the end of your marriage with a divorce party?

I’m not the angry, bitter, man-hating soon to be divorcee, so I don’t need a freedom style party. Neither do I feel the need to burn my wedding photos or dress. My current status is what it is and there were moments when married life was ace, 3 amazing kids being the ultimate showcase, and my best coping mechanism is to not dwell on the past or revisit old wounds.

And while I’m not proud of being a statistic; a single mum of three, purveyor of a broken home. I am proud of the life my boys and I have now, we may not be a home of 2 parents, 2.4 kids. But we’re a happy, relaxed set up.

What constitutes a normal family these days anyway?

So the alternative is to celebrate new beginnings and continue to look to the future. For me, divorce is an end of an era and stepping stone onto my next adventure. I’ve reflected on my part in the break up and learnt what not and what I should do next time.

And I’m sure I’ll have the odd moment of ‘what if I’d done this’ which I’ll then put it aside, raise a glass  and wish my ex husband well with the hope that we’ll both go onto have happy, healthy lives.

While he’s stands there,

burning wedding photos.
should you celebrate the end of your marriage with a divorce party?

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This Is How I’m Helping My Kids Through A Divorce

It’s been quite some time since I wrote about my separation, to be honest I’ve never been more uncomfortable sharing something so personal and there are still aspects I will keep to myself. But there are also some things which I wanted to share, things I’ve leant and never expected to feel. No one can truly prepare you for what lies ahead, everyone’s story is different. Yet there are things, or rather, situations which most people experience but never really tell you.

You will have to use every core of your emotions to put your children first

Right from the start I wanted to make my divorce as pain-free for my kids. They were entering a whole new lifestyle which had never been predicted. One day they were looking forward to a future with a mum & dad; A wedding day with all the family, mum and dad on the top table, not a step parents in sight and weekends doing family stuff, always in their own house. Holidays would carry on as normal and when they left home they’d come back to mum and dads for Sunday roasts.

All the things they’d taken for granted suddenly swept away.

I know how that feels, I’m a child of divorce too and that whole uncertainty of what life is going to be like is pretty scary, especially when you haven’t got a lifetime of experience and adult reasoning to rationalise things.

So one thing I had to do was put myself in their shoes, this meant sending myself right back to how I felt all those years ago, not a nice memory to try relive, I might have been 19 but divorce is hard on kids no matter what age . Yet if the boys and I were to come out of this storm unscathed, they had to come first and I had to try and remember how the whole thing felt. 

You will have to learn to be fake happy

I never want to wave them off to spend time with their dad, I want them with me. I want life as normal as possible, I want a noisy house, clutter everywhere, weekends spent driving them around to friends, early wake up calls from my toddler and pizza on the sofa on a Saturday.

My boys want to see their dad.

So with a fake smile and over jolly voice I open the door, lump in my throat, and watch them leave. The silence when they go is deafening and not something you ever get use to. But my kids need and want  to see their dad and so they should. That’s me, once again, using every core of my emotions to put their needs first and not be selfish. What went on between him & I is no business of theirs and who am I to dictate whether they see him or not? 

divorce is tough on everyone & if I'm going to make sure my kids come through it unscathed, there's a few things i need to do
You will have to encourage a good relationship with step parents & family

While we’ve not quite crossed this path yet, there have been new partners. I’ve been very careful not to ask too many questions or quiz them when they return home after a weekend with their dad. I wanted to, believe me, but I know that they’ll feel like their loyalty is being tested. My way of coping with the times away from them is to not think about it, not pry and try not to moan about what they have or haven’t done, eaten or watched.

What I don’t know what hurt me or ignorance is bliss

There are moments when I want to pick up the phone and yell what do you think you’re doing to my ex husband and his family. But truth be told, I never agreed with their ways when we were together, as if they’re going to give a stuff what I think now. I remind myself I have to beg to differ. And when a new girlfriend is on the scene I will have to be positive, sharing my kids was never something I bargained on, but if they have a good relationship with her, their dad will be happy and with any luck, together they’ll pu our kids needs first. 

Put simply, I need to set an example and not bitch.

You can’t dis their other parent in front of them

Now that was and still is a hard one. Slagging off my ex, their dad, to the kids is dangerous to say the least. While I might feel better getting a few things off my chest, I’m also aware it can totally back fire and make them more protective of him, they’ll also get to see a not-so-nice side to me. On the other hand I could end up totally trashing their relationship with their father & causing some serious issues. My children have a right to a life with 2 parents, whether I like it or not, and I can’t jeopardise or control how that pans out. Friends and my family are my go to’s for a bloody good moan, not my kids.

Instead I only say good things, I don’t want my kids growing up being scared to talk about dad in front of me and luckily my family are doing exactly the same. Fake smiles and words all round, we’re getting quite good at pretending!

And the good? There’s always a silver lining

Going through a divorce makes you look for any and every inch of positivity. I’m not perfect,  I’ve had my moments where it’s stressed me, upset me and battered me back and blue emotionally. It’s during those times when I’ve had to dig deep to find the positives in what I’m doing.

And there is, it’s called resilience and optimism – looking ahead to a happy future.

Our house is much calmer and my kids know it, I just need to remind them. I’m also showing them that you don’t have to accept a situation which feels wrong, you can make changes, however hard they might be and sometimes you have to do things which scare you to see the long term benefits.  They’ve whitnessed me stepping into the unknown as life as a single parent and being a much more relaxed, happier person because of it. Divorce is never the easy way out, it takes a whole heap of guts to admit something isn’t right. Staying is much easier. 

I came out of my parents divorce alright and I know that my boys’ll be building up resilience to any future emotional wobbles. I’m teaching them they can handle anything, they might not feel that way now, but one day, I’m hoping they’ll look back and realise they handled it pretty bloody amazingly and can take on any future emotional upheaval with the same gumption. 

And Finally, I’m also teaching them that there is no normal when it comes to family, everyone is different, and in a world where difference is not getting a good rap right now, I think that’s a pretty good lesson to learn.

divorce is tough on everyone & if I'm going to make sure my kids come through it unscathed, there's a few things i need to do

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How To Exit A Marriage Gracefully

Not one to reign doom and gloom on what should be the happiest time of year, but it’s given that many couples decided to part in the new year . I can only guessing it’s a case of out with the old, in with new which trigger most people to make such a momentous decision. Or maybe the stress of having extended time together makes people realise that they simply can’t abide another year or for some the drinking and partying led to extreme behaviour which couldn’t be forgiven. Who knows?  What ever the reason, though, it happens. My own parents are testament to it,  January 4th, if you need dates.

So if this is you,  lets put those extreme emotions aside and look at the practical side. First thing first, it happens, shit happens and it’s not a failure or a dirty word. It takes a strong person to stay in an unhappy marriage but an even stronger one to say I tried but it’s time to walk away for my own sanity and that of my family.  So for those with an inkling it’s on the cards, I’m dishing the dirt  on some of my own experience as I face the first Christmas on my own. (Not that I’m ever truly alone, I have my rock steady tribe of friends and family that see to that, but you get the gist.)

Lets begin by facing facts; Separation and divorce  is NEVER a private affair no matter how hard you try. Everyone has their opinion, it’s only natural that people take sides, whether it’s Team Husband or Team Wife. It’s where true friends show their allegiance and families stand firm and proud. It’s great if you can split amicably, I’m not saying in a grown up way as lets face it, how many grown ups do you know who wouldn’t want to defend their friends or family in this situation. There’s nothing grown up about it, quite the opposite, part of being grown up is supporting each other in their time of need. It’s the bitterness and nastiness that needs leaving at the Jeremy Kyle / Jerry Springer studio.

I personally have been trying my darn hardest to do things a little different. When I finally accepted that our time was up, I made a conscious decision to exit my marriage with grace and respect, to not play the victim and to hold my head up high,

And I’m not going to lie, it’s been one of the hardest approaches to something I have EVER made.

Inside I was screaming for injustice and revenge but as the fire died down and I reflected on what was and what could now be, the right and only course for me to take was the calm one. I’m not a drama queen by nature,  neither am I vengeful or scheming. So I had to go with what I do and know best and be calm, collected and in control.

Bonkers you say? “Get out there and fight” was that?

Just think about it, where exactly will it get you? You can’t fight fire with fire and there’s no more damaging emotion than hate and anger. So why be everyone else’s drama topic of the day? Nope, it’s the low road for me, plus karma does a pretty good job of sorting out the deserving & not so.

And while the practicalities of the situation mean you will have to exercise your own opinion in some shape or form. Keeping your counsel and letting the professionals do what they do best. You need to try mediation prior to any divorce proceedings. This is involves sitting with a trained mediator who is completely neutral  while you discuss between you how to approach childcare arrangements, divving up your assets and anything else you need to discuss with your ex partner.

Once that’s all done and dusted (and whether it worked out or not, it’s not always suitable, especially in cases where there was domestic violence) Next step it to make it official by moving on to the divorce proceedings. If mediation worked out ok (which is the MUCH cheaper option) you can file for divorce by enlisting a solicitor firm online  check out Slater Gordon divorce solicitors to give you an idea of how this works, or  visiting a local firm. Most offer an initial mini free session which helps you get a feel if they’re the right person to take charge  of such a whopping great big life choice.

What’s important here is to try not to air your dirty washing on social media. Once those words are out there they’re permanent and can’t be unsaid. Choose your sounding out boards wisely, gather up the fun ones who’s distract you and  filter out the trusting few who you can vent to and know that it’ll go no further.

And while I’ve still got a lot of ground to cover before I’m out of the woods, I’d like to think that there is still a possibility I can exit this  marriage gracefully, even if I do trip up a little along the way.

If you’d like to read more posts on my journey from married to single try these;

 Status update, theres something you should know

What The Early Days As A Single Mum Feels Like

end of a long term relationship

why you need to hit rock bottom How To Exit A Marriage With Grace And Respect  

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post. 

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So you’re wondering how I’m feeling about my divorce?

I’ve been over analysing life a lot lately, trying to evaluate and understand the whats and whys in an attempt to understand me and what I do next. I’m playing many new roles right now; The (single) mum, the daughter, the sister, the friend, the businesswoman and the soon to be ex-wife. These life changes haven’t just affected me and I’m very conscious that it’s not just me that’s analysing me too.

With so much change and so many new experiences, I’m taking a baby steps approach to life. Never wanting to plan too far ahead as I float through each week in survival mode. It’s a strange and exciting feeling when your life plans take a sudden change, and that over analysing I’ve been doing is a product of the uncertainty of what I thought the future might be like. That old future is now a stranger to me now and I’m a little scared to dare dream of what the new one brings.

When people ask how I’m doing, I know what they’re really asking. But the truth is you could ask me that question every day and it will be different. Today I’m feeling good, I’m living for today. With a tired fuzzy head, my focus is on what I’m doing today and how good my bed will feel when I crawl in at the end of the day,

Today I’m too tired for planning and over analysing.

Today I’m not thinking about the holiday we’re off on next month.

Today I’m not thinking about what to do on my childfree weekend and fretting about being away from my boys.

Today I’m not thinking about the things which are lacking in my life and how I can change that.

Today I’m not thinking about how I’m going to get my new business thriving and bringing in enough money so I don’t lie awake at night thinking about all the bills I need to pay.

Today I’m NOT over analysing.

Today I’m giving my thinking brain a break.

I spent too much time doing that last night and I’m tired.

've decided the best thing I can do is pull up the anchor and see where the wind takes me

Yesterday I spent the afternoon clearing out the messy junk room under the stairs in an attempt to clear my jumbled thoughts. Decluttering and housework seem to help, it’s like osmosis – decluttering my mind. I’m still the optimistic, easy going me, just a little more distant at times as I fall down the rabbit hole of thinking.

I’m navigating unchartered waters right now so I’ve decided the best thing I can do is pull up the anchor and see where the wind takes me. I can’t plan a future right now, I can’t plan as I have no idea what it’ll look like.  The back pages of my story have been ripped out and replaced by blank ones, the words DIVORCE taking the title of the next chapter.

So excuse me if I’m a little vague in my answer about “How am I today?” or if I throw a question right back at you and change the subject. I don’t always know the answer, each day is different, and I apologise if I double book you or forget an arrangement, my fuzzy head can’t always see past the end of the day.

I’ve tried planning out my weeks and weekends and it unnerves me when those plans get changed. It sends me into a panic and reminds me that even tomorrow is still a little uncertain. So right now I don’t dare plan too much as recent events have taught me, even the best-laid plans have a habit of going astray.

And that right now pulling up anchor and going with the flow is the only way to go.

Everyone tackles a divorce differently, you never really know how you'll be feeling until you're going through it

 

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