Whether you’re at the beginning of the divorce process or in the thick of it, I can’t stress enough how helpful it can be to share your experience with others who are in or have gone through a divorce. Connecting with someone who’s been in your shoes can help put things in perspective, or at least make you feel a little less alone. If you don’t already have a friend who has gone through divorce, you can seek out a community that suits you. Try searching Meetup.com for “divorce” and you’ll likely find several groups that meet in person on a regular basis near you where you can develop new friendships. Or if you prefer to keep interactions digital, you can find a robust community giving and sharing advice and experiences on DivorceForce.
But I didn’t want you to have to go too far looking for advice, so I tapped the Hello Divorce community as well as a network of experts – all of whom have been or are going through divorce – to ask them to share the best divorce advice they’ve ever given or received.
Lots of good stuff here.
After nearly three years working through the divorce process, Kiedra Tyson’s divorce became final in May 2017. Looking back, she shares:
“The best advice I got during my divorce was that it hurts now but it will get better. Not everyone is meant to be together. You will find love again, so don’t give up.”
Vikki Ziegler is a force of nature. She’s a celebrity attorney, host of BravoTV’s “Untying the Knot,” author of The Pre-Marital Planner, CEO of Divorce Dating, an author and speaker. She’s also a divorcée and child of divorce. She gave me these pieces of advice to share with you:
Looking back at her own divorce process, Vikki says the best advice she ever received was:
“Stop worrying. Things will unfold and soon it will be over; you cannot get back the time you wasted worrying about things out of your control. Divorce can be a rebirth, so start reinventing yourself to be the best you for your next relationship.”
And as someone who has gone through divorce herself, for those beginning the process, she advises:
“Get prepared. Do your research and interview several lawyers through referrals and try to find one you feel comfortable with. Get a therapist or a life coach, take up yoga, and make sure your accountant is available to help you. Then let your lawyer work for you and protect you. Turn off from the divorce process at night and on the weekends and focus on things that make you happy and that you’re grateful for instead.”
Keenya Kelly was married for one year before her divorce process began. She had to leave the marriage quickly, which left her homeless, living in a hotel room that her friends rented, with a few hundred dollars in the bank and earning $22,500 a year at her job with a car without heat. While she runs a successful company today, this felt like rock bottom at the time. Keenya’s experience going through a difficult divorce process resulted in an important lesson:
“Don’t post on social media it about. During my time of divorce, I wanted to defend my name against assumptions people made as they saw things that were happening to my ex-husband. Instead, I just stayed quiet. I knew that one day my name would be vindicated, and I didn’t want to look insane during the divorce process by venting my dirty laundry on social media.”
Tom O’Keefe’s divorce was finalized seven years ago. He brings up a tough but important point: the court isn’t there to place blame, it’s there to process a divorce judgment that is financially equitable to both parties. He shares:
“You know that thing that you found shocking? The line your spouse crossed? That act of betrayal that you and everyone you know is shocked and appalled by? The court doesn’t care. Short of provable acts of abuse or addiction they don’t give a shit. Ultimately, the court is there to divvy up property not mete out vengeance. You’re never going to have that Perry Mason moment where your ex gets on the stand and has to admit to his or her douchebaggery. They just want to figure out who’s getting the couch and where the kids go on Christmas.”
Kate Campion has been divorced twice, is now married to a man who has been divorced, and she’s the daughter of divorced parents. She writes the blog My Sweet Home Life, designed to help readers organize, nurture and grow. Her divorce was a source of growth for her, and she shares these takeaways:
“My best advice is to speak with a lawyer immediately – even if you think it will be amicable. Chances are at some point, things could get nasty. You must protect what is rightfully yours. In addition, I have known several people to just walk away from their marriage and their entitlements because they just wanted to get out. It did not take long for them to realize this was a big mistake. Divorce has such a massive impact on your financial position, you don’t want those decisions affecting the rest of your life, or any future relationship you may have.
“The other advice I would give is don’t fight to stay in the family home. While you may feel attached now, that home represents a time of your life that has now ended. Living with those memories could be harder than you think. What’s more, when you meet someone new, they may not want to live in a home that represents your past marriage, either.”
And finally, this sage advice comes from MarDestinee Perez. Three years ago, she went through divorce unexpectedly; she didn’t see it coming and said there was nothing she could do to prevent it from happening. She and her ex did not own property or have children, so the legal process was straightforward – but she shared that divorce was the most emotionally taxing experience of her life. “I didn’t want to leave my house and face my family or friends. I felt broken, unlovable, and dead inside,” she told me. I think so many of us can relate.
Here are three ways MarDestinee recommends, from her own experience, to help you bounce back quickly, feel good, and love again after divorce:
1. Find a community of support. “I don’t mean a self-help group. Rather, find 1 or 2 friends who you can talk to about your feelings, and who will check in on you. DO NOT talk to married people. They won’t understand what you’re going through and will unintentionally make you feel worse. Also, stay away from judgmental people. Formerly divorced friends were my best supporters during this time.”
2. Find a good therapist. “Not just to vent openly, but to help you process your feelings and work on behaviors that may have contributed to your divorce. The last thing you want is to bring your negative feelings, trauma, and unhealthy relationship patterns into the future. With the help of a therapist, I understood my own role in my divorce and how to move forward in healthy ways.”
3. Actively engage in activities that will generate joy and/improve your self-esteem. “In the months during and after my divorce, I ran my first half marathon, traveled, enrolled in a wilderness basics course, backpacked, and went dancing at least once a month. I did these things even when I didn’t want to, even when I felt low and wanted to crawl into bed. Slowly, with time, I regained my confidence, self-respect, and self-love.”
Do you have advice to share? Tweet me at @HelloDivorce to share the best divorce advice you’ve ever given or received, and I’ll pass it along to the Hello Divorce community. Remember: we’re all in this together.